Species abundance is the study of how common a particular species is in a given community. This kind of research is popular in the field of macroecology. Environmental researchers use studies on the abundance of a species to help build a picture of overall biodiversity in an area.
Scientists refer to the idea of species populations as “relative species abundance” because they are studying species population in a community or habitat relative to other species and other habitats. Species abundance is applied to mammal species as well as birds, insects, and other creatures. It can even be applied to plants. Looking at species abundance and other aspects of biodiversity help scientists to figure out what is going on within a particular ecological environment.
In practical terms, studies on species abundance might lead to a particular type of animal being labeled as an endangered species. If the population estimates are low enough, the species might be labeled a critically endangered species. This will generate some specific laws in many nations protecting the remaining population from hunting, poaching or even habitat encroachment.
Because studies on abundance might use small areas as ecological environments, this kind of research might lead to a local law about protecting a species habitat. Often, these laws end up affecting local development or renovation of an existing human commercial or residential area. When this happens, scientists have to work with public officials to explain the problem to local residents, developers, or anyone else with an interest in local human systems. Some developers and others might not have much of an interest in animal habitats, and in these cases, local laws are the sole defense of an endangered species.
In the greater global context, species abundance research helps ensure that some of the world’s most interesting animals and creatures continue to exist. Extinction faces a lot of species every year, and most ecologists would say that biodiversity is not thriving relative to its historic levels. More detailed work on species abundance will show exactly what is happening to all of the world’s various animal and insect species, and what results that might have for the human community, and the biosphere as a whole. That’s why governments sometimes fund species abundance research and pay attention to what scientists come up with, even though it might not always be popular with the local constituency.