The loss of any species is devastating. However, the decline or extinction of one species can trigger an avalanche within an ecosystem, wiping out many species in the process. When biodiversity losses cause cascading effects within a region, they can eliminate many data-deficient species — animals that have eluded scientific study or haven’t been researched enough to understand how best to conserve them.
“Some species that are rare or hard to detect may be declining so quickly that we might not ever know that we’re losing them,” said Elise Zipkin, MSU integrative biologist and the study’s lead author. “In fact, this study is less about snakes and more about the general loss of biodiversity and its consequences.”