Wildlife

Articles on the amazing biodiversity of Earth’s animals and wildlife, their ecological importance, and the threats they and their habitats face from humans and climate change, known as the sixth mass extinction.

Bee covered in pollen

Why Are Pollinators So Important to the Planet?

Pollination is an ecological process whereby pollen from the male reproductive organ of a plant’s flower is accidentally transferred to the female reproductive organ of another plant’s flower by an insect, bird or animal. This fertilization process leads to the development of seed-bearing fruit, which can then grow into new plants. We look at how pollination works and the pollinators who do it, such as bees, wasps, butterflies, moths and other creatures.

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Vultures act as decomposers

Decomposers & Decomposition

As soon as a living creature dies it starts to decompose. Decomposition is nature’s way of disassembling a dead animal or plant into its basic components, so they can be reused by other life forms. It also prevents the spread of disease. We explain the different stages of the decomposition process, and how decomposers and detritivores operate on land and in the ocean. We also look at scavengers, like vultures, who are equally important to the ecological health of the environment.

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Rabbit Eating Grass

Food Web on Land: Who Eats Who?

What is the Food Web? How does it begin? How many trophic levels does it have? What are primary producers? What are apex predators? How many different types of food webs are there? What is a food energy pyramid? How do toxins flow through a food web? How does climate change affect the food chain? We explain the answers to all these questions and more.

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Pond Ecosystem

What is an Ecosystem? How Does it Work?

What is ecology? What is an ecosystem? How does it work? Where does its energy come from? And how are ecosystems affected by climate change? We explain the answers to these and other questions. It’s a fascinating glimpse into our environment and how all species are inter-dependent. Predators feed on weaker animals, helping to reduce disease and keep species strong. Microscopic organisms decompose the dead and redistribute their nutrients.

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Wetland bog biome

9 Major Biomes of the World

A biome is a large community of plant and animal wildlife adapted to a specific type of location and climate. We explain the geographical and climatic features of all the major terrestrial biomes, including: polar, tundra, boreal forest, temperate forest, tropical rainforest, grassland, savanna, desert, and freshwater ecosystems (including lakes, rivers and wetlands).

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Pride of lions, Tanzania

Effects of Climate Change On Animals

Climate change is devastating wildlife. Elevated temperatures upset animal and plant life cycle rhythms (phenology). Heatwaves deplete water holes and water supplies, resulting in stressful competition between species. Drought and high temperatures trigger wildfires leading to mass fatalities among animals. Marine heatwaves and ocean warming can lead to loss of corals and shellfish. Excess CO2 emissions lead to ocean acidification and deoxygenation with deadly impacts on marine life. Loss of sea ice means fewer and weaker polar bears. The list of climate impacts is endless.

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Blue and Yellow Macaw (Ara ararauna), also known as the blue-and-gold macaw

10 Birds Threatened by Climate Change

A growing number of bird species are threatened by the effects of global warming. Rising seas cause a loss of coastal habitats and nesting areas. Ocean warming upsets the close links between seabirds and their marine prey. Heatwaves can damage habitats and disrupt the food web. Unseasonable temperatures can upset life-cycle events, like mating, egg hatching and migration. We explain the plight of migrating birds, like Siberian Cranes; species of seabirds like albatrosses and storm petrels, and coastal-nesters like the Spoon-billed Sandpiper.

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Bald eagle about to launch, USA

10 Endangered Birds of Prey

Birds of prey like eagles, vultures, condors and other raptors, become endangered due to various threats to their survival. In most cases a human fingerprint is clearly visible. Illegal hunting or poaching, human encroachment or aggressive responses to the death of livestock, commercial development and also climate change, or any combination of these factors, are usually responsible. We explain the dangers to which ten of these spectacular bird species are exposed.

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Biodiversity: Facts & Information

We explain the importance of biological diversity (biodiversity), of animals and plants, their ecological and medicinal benefits and their vulnerability to climate change. We also consider a range of human actions that endanger wildlife around the world. Anthropogenic pollution, for example, is decimating species of apex predators. Illegal poaching continues to devastate big game animals, like elephants, rhinos and gorillas. Civil wars, invasive species, mining, logging and farming are also ever-present threats.

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Polar bear with cubs

Loss of Biodiversity: How Bad Is It?

The current loss of biodiversity is being referred to by scientists as the “sixth mass extinction”, which shows how serious it is. We explain how we poach and kill animals for their body parts; how we tear down their forest habitats; how we pollute the oceans with plastics and heavy metals; how we devastate habitats and contaminate groundwater by mining and drilling; how we burn fossil fuels to create climate change. This depletion of the animal and plant kingdoms is a clear sign that we’re living in the Anthropocene Epoch.

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Bengal Tiger Up Close

10 Endangered Animals

We examine the plight of 10 endangered animals – that is, animal species that are listed as endangered or at risk of extinction on the Red List of Threatened Species, compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Most of the dangers these creatures face are man-made. They are caused by poachers, illegal hunters, soldiers, farmers clearing or encroaching onto animal habitats, or commercial developers. Climate change can exacerbate these threats, notably in the case of droughts and water shortages.

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Chimpanzees: One of Africa's Endangered Species

Endangered Species of Animals

We outline the main threats to animals on the list of endangered species compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). We list critically endangered creatures – the animals most in danger of extinction – along with vulnerable and near-threatened species.

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Tiger in the wild

What Is The Biosphere?

We explain the ecological structure and content of “the living Earth” – its biogeographical realms, bioregions and ecoregions, along with its communities of species, populations and individual organisms. We also ask: how is the biosphere affected by climate change?

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Information & Facts about Wildlife

• The population of wildlife throughout the world decreased in size by approximately 52 percent between 1970 and 2010. The human population more than doubled in size during the period.

• Four percent of the mammals in the world are wild animals. Thirty-six percent are human beings and 60 percent are farm animals. 

• More than 650,000 marine mammals are killed or seriously injured annually, as a result of accidental entanglement or capture in fishing gear.

• The tiger is classified as endangered since 1986. Its numbers have dropped by 96 percent since 1900.

• 100 years ago, wild dog packs in Africa usually consisted of approximately 100 members. Now the average pack size is 10. 

• An average of 96 elephants are killed for their ivory in Africa each day.

• One in three bites of food you eat comes from plants that are pollinated by birds, butterflies or other wildlife.  

• More than 1 billion animals were killed during wildfires in Australia in 2019-2020. (Later estimates upped this to 3 billion animals).

• The blue whale can exceed 29.5 meters (96 feet) in length and 190 tons in weight, making it the largest animal on the planet. Until around 1900, blue whales were hunted almost to extinction. Their current population is around 10,000-25,000, but studies show those numbers will reduce as global warming takes hold.