When the red ants discovered that a new variety of canned goods had arrived, they mounted guard around the cassoulet. It wouldn’t have been advisable to leave a freshly opened can standing; they’d have summoned the whole nation of red ants to the shack. There are no bigger communists anywhere. And they’d have eaten up the Spaniard too. –Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1934)
Conservation biology explores how best to protect and restore biodiversity. The applied science aims at maintaining diversity at a variety of levels of biological organization, including genes, subspecies, species, ecosystems and biomes.
But conservation efforts aren’t interested in preserving things alone. Ecologies are defined by processes; competition, predation, symbioses, and higher-order nutrient cycling among them. Organisms are actualized in part by the actions they take upon, or with, each other.
In any environment we look at we’ll find a food web of some sort. In losing species, local ecologies can degrade and the ability of an ecosystem to buffer a disturbance of one sort of another can be compromised.