As a quick recap a specialist species is a species that can only thrive in a small specific type of area. (ie. Koala bears, Pandas etc)
So to dive in further, if you were to take away a specific food source in the area, that species would die off.
For example, 95% of a Panda’s diet consists of bamboo. If something were to happen where bamboo no longer grew in the area, Panda’s would quickly die off. Same thing for Koala’s and eucalyptus leaves.
Usually herbivores are specialist species. However, there is a very small amount of specialist species–Its kind of hard to find these special species.
There are a lot of steps and protections in conserving these species. Despite being a specialist species, they have less competition in the world.
There could be tons of different species living in the same niche that competition for area, food and other necessities are intense.
In all honesty, the images of thousands of people flocking to the nearest grocery store just before a hurricane came to mind. A large group of people (species) fighting for the same thing. (Food and personal necessities).
In comparison, give a Panda some bamboo and he’ll be happy as Po from Kung-Fu Panda.
Another example of this type of species is a book collector’s worst nightmare- bookworms. Also known as woodworms, these pesky little creatures are soft-bodied, wingless 1mm bugs that don’t eat the wood, but tunnel through and eat the microscopic organic matter and mold within it, as well as the paper around it. We don’t see many nowadays with the removal of wood from the spines of books, as the larva are buried in eggs within the wood.
For the cuteness overload, pygmy rabbits!
These cute little fluffy guys only cover a small region of northwestern America. Though they’re like your typical bunny, consuming any and all vegetation in area, these guys only live where a specific type of vegetation grows in the area. That’s why you would only see or hear about these rabbits if you happen to be in the area.
So just to clarify, specialist species theoretically don’t have to be endangered or solely be effected by what they eat.
However, this brings up a topic of debate.
Pygmy rabbits aren’t truly effected by the area. Because they are able to eat any other plant in the area. They are not just bound to a specific plant (like the panda). Though their main diet consists of sagebrush’s, they’ve been able to adapt to their surroundings to live through the various seasons.
In comparison, Nile hippos are in a similar case.
As their name suggests, they live along the Nile river, eating river grass and some water-based plants. They’re only specific to the Nile rive. If, theoretically, for some bizarre reason the Nile river were to dry up, hippos would adapt to a different water source near the area. They live both on land and water. So as long as there’s water, they’ll be able to thrive.
Our main concern of debate is why aren’t Nile Hippos considered specialist species?
Its up for debate.
Some articles state that because a pygmy rabbits diet is mostly from sagebrush’s, they are specialist specials where as Nile hippos are simply endangered. But for another loop, so are pygmy rabbits.
There’s too many loop-holes for that topic.
Overall, the main things to know about specialist species are:
– they have a lack of variable, livable resources
– they live in a small environment, or a very fragile environment
– a removal of a vital food would cause the extinction of the animal or plant.
Sources: Wikipedia, Yahoo answers,
Images: Google images