The key difference between extinction and extirpation is that extinction refers to the complete disappearance of a species from the earth while extirpation refers to the disappearance of a species from a given or specific area.
Extinction and extirpation are two different phenomena often confused people. Extinction is the termination of an evolutionary lineage. There are no living representatives of that particular species. In contrast, extirpation is the disappearance of a species from a specific region. Here, a particular species is no longer found in a particular geographic area as they have migrated to another region. These two terms are applied to both plants and animals. Moreover, anthropogenic activities are one of the key factors affecting both extinction and extirpation.
1. Overview and Key Difference
2. What is Extinction
3. What is Extirpation
4. Similarities Between Extinction and Extirpation
5. Side by Side Comparison – Extinction vs Extirpation in Tabular Form
What is Extinction?
Extinction is the termination of the existence of a species or group of taxa. There are no living representative individuals in that species. The death of the last individual of that species confirms the moment of extinction. Extinction reduces biodiversity. However, extinction is evolutionarily important, and it opens up opportunities for the emergence of new species.
There are many reasons for the extinction of a species. Environmental forces such as habitat fragmentation, global change and natural disaster, etc. overexploitation of species for human use and evolutionary changes in their members such as genetic inbreeding, poor reproduction, and decline in population numbers are major causes of extinction.
Extinction rate varies among different species. Moreover, it is an ongoing process. Fossil records indicate extinction of a wide variety of flora and fauna. Ten million years ago, the extinction of brontosaurus took place. Woolly mammoth became extinct ten thousand years ago. Moreover, ten decades ago, passenger pigeon disappeared from the earth. Megalodon is another species which is in the fossil records.
What is Extirpation?
Extirpation is the situation in which a species or a population no longer exists in a specific region, but they persist in other regions. They can recolonize after extirpation. However, this phenomenon can reduce genetic diversity. Species or population migrates into new regions due to many reasons. Climatic change, availability of food, or the presence of predators and competitive species are several reasons for extirpation.
Extirpation affects the balance of an ecosystem. For example, if a predator species extirpated, the population size of the species on the lower trophic levels can increase. It can lead to the disruption of the ecological balance due to the limitation of resources.
Gray wolf is a species that extirpated from around two-thirds of their historic natural habitat ranges due to human influences. The wild turkey is another example of a species that showed local extinction from New Hampshire.
What are the Similarities Between Extinction and Extirpation?
- Extinction is the complete disappearance of a species while extirpation is the local disappearance of a species.
- Both extinction and extirpation can take place naturally.
- Moreover, humans play a significant role in the extirpation of species, leading to extinctions.
- Extinction and extirpation occur in plants as well as in animals.
What is the Difference Between Extinction and Extirpation?
Extinction is the complete disappearance of a species while extirpation is the local extinction of a species. In extirpation, a species or a population no longer exists in a specific region. This is the key difference between extinction and extirpation. Therefore, there are no living representative organisms when extinction takes place. But in extirpation, species live in other areas.
Below infographic summarizes the differences between extinction and extirpation.
Summary – Extinction vs Extirpation
Extinction is the cessation of existence of a species or group of taxa. The death of the last individual of a species confirms the moment of extinction of that species. Human activities including overexploitation and industrial revolution, greenhouse gasses, global warming and climatic changes accelerate the extinction of species. Extirpation, on the other hand, is the situation in which a species or a population no longer exists in a specific region. Species or a population migrates into a new region, confirming the extirpation from that area. Thus, this summarizes the difference between extinction and extirpation. Unlike in extinction, there are living species in other areas in extirpation. Extinction and extirpation reduce diversity. Human activities are largely responsible for extinction and extirpation.
1. “Wild Turkeys” By Jo (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr
2. “Bufo periglenes2” By Bufo_periglenes1.jpg: Charles H. Smithvergrößert von Aglarechderivative work Purpy Pupple (talk) – Bufo_periglenes1.jpgU.S. Fish and Wildlife ServiceUploaded with derivativeFX (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia