A species is considered endangered if it is in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range. Species include birds, insects, fish, reptiles, mammals, crustaceans, flowers, grasses and trees. There are approximately 1,300 endangered or threatened species in the U.S. today.
The importance of biological diversity to human society is immeasurable. However, human activities the world over are causing the progressive loss of species of plants and animals at a rate far higher than the natural background rate of extinction.
An estimated 40 percent of the global economy is based on biological products and processes. Poor people, especially those living in areas of low agricultural productivity, depend especially heavily on the genetic diversity of the environment. The effective use of biodiversity at all levels — genes, species and ecosystems — is therefore a precondition for sustainable development. (Source: EPA, UNEP, NOAA / Photo: Flickr)