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As I understand, biodiversity has two benefits:

  1. Species might be a functional part of the ecosystem, e.g. balancing other species' numbers or beeing part of the foodchain.
  2. Species with diverse abilities make sure that "life as a whole" can adapt to changing environments.

These hold true for most species currently alive. For species that have only a few thousand or even a few dozen exemplars left, neither function seems to be achievable. Yet there is a wide consens in protecting such species - what's the reasoning?

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    $\begingroup$ The concept of benefit depends upon what we ethically judge to be good. In those terms, biodiversity has other benefits (and, arguably, drawbacks) that are very unrelated to biology such as an appreciation for richness and pretty landscape for example. A sense of guilt and melancholy toward extinct species plays a big role in what species we decide to protect as a society. Hence, the reasons for protecting a species go way beyond biology and those reasons cannot be discussed on a biology website only. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Feb 28 '18 at 19:26
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    $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close as off-topic because the question asks for justification of political decision that go beyond the field of biology. $\endgroup$ – Remi.b Feb 28 '18 at 19:27
  • $\begingroup$ Consider that to protect a single species, we must protect its essential habitat. In protecting its habitat, we afford protection not only to the target species, but all species that utilize that habitat. One reason for putting emphasis on species that have suffered drastic declines is that they are often associated with concomitant reduction in their habitat, which endangers many other species, and even entire ecosystems. $\endgroup$ – prefectionist Feb 28 '18 at 20:04
  • $\begingroup$ This seems like a question for philosophy or political policy, not biology $\endgroup$ – valuevillage Mar 1 '18 at 1:00
  • $\begingroup$ I agree with all the comments above, but also think it is a valid question. Besides the value of biodiversity for both ecosystem function and aesthetics, the use of species as indicators of whole ecosystems, and the moral values we impose upon ourselves, it can also be said that we can never know if a species may hold some property that we will need for our own survival. $\endgroup$ – Karl Kjer Mar 1 '18 at 12:00

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