Broken Equilibrium

Site-specific Installation by ARTR346 Relief

Lawrence Hall, University of Oregon, Fall 2021

I’m not one of these artists who is spending a lot of time imagining a better ecological future. I’m more the kind of artist who is holding up a mirror to the present.

Mark Dion, from Art 21, “Ecology”

What are Endangered/Threatened Species and Invasive Species?

Endangered species, any species that is at risk of extinction because of a sudden rapid decrease in its population or a loss of its critical habitat. Previously, any species of plant or animal that was threatened with extinction could be called an endangered species. Roughly 99 percent of threatened species are at risk because of human activities alone. By the early 21st century it could be said that human beings (Homo sapiens) are the greatest threat to biodiversity. The principal threats to species in the wild are:

  1. Habitat loss and habitat degradation
  2. The spread of introduced species (that is, non-native species that negatively affect the ecosystems they become part of)
  3. The growing influence of global warming and chemical pollution
  4. Unsustainable hunting
  5. Disease

Although some of these hazards occur naturally, most are caused by human beings and their economic and cultural activities. The most pervasive of these threats is habitat loss and degradation—that is, the large-scale conversion of land in previously undisturbed areas driven by the growing demand for commercial agriculture, logging, and infrastructure development. Because the rates of loss are highest in some of the most biologically diverse regions on Earth, a perpetual battle is waged to manage destructive activities there while limiting the impact that such restrictions may have on the well-being of local communities. The relative importance of each threat differs within and among taxa. So far, incidental mortality from ecological disturbance, temporary or limited human disturbance, and persecution have caused limited reductions in the total number of species; however, these phenomena can be serious for some susceptible groups. In addition, global warming has emerged as a widespread threat, and much research is being conducted to identify its potential effects on specific species, populations, and ecosystems.

Invasive species, also called introduced species, alien species, or exotic species, any nonnative species that significantly modifies or disrupts the ecosystems it colonizes. Such species may arrive in new areas through natural migration, but they are often introduced by the activities of other species. Human activities, such as those involved in global commerce and the pet trade, are considered to be the most common ways invasive plants, animals, microbes, and other organisms are transported to new habitats. Most introduced species do not survive extended periods in new habitats, because they do not possess the evolutionary adaptations to adjust to the challenges posed by their new surroundings. Some introduced species may become invasive when they possess a built-in competitive advantage over indigenous species in invaded areas. Under these circumstances, new arrivals can establish breeding populations and thrive, especially if the ecosystem lacks natural predators capable of keeping them in check. The ecological disruption that tends to follow such invasions often reduces the ecosystem’s biodiversity and causes economic harm to people who depend on the ecosystem’s biological resources. Invasive predators may be so adept at capturing prey that prey populations decline over time, and many prey species are eliminated from affected ecosystems. Other invasive species, in contrast, may prevent native species from obtaining food, living space, or other resources. Over time, invading species can effectively replace native ones, often forcing the localized extinction of many native species. Invasive plants and animals may also serve as disease vectors that spread parasites and pathogens that may further disrupt invaded areas.

Artists:

  • Moriah Arnold
  • Alexis Barrett
  • Malaya Bradford
  • Gracie Cummings
  • Kelly Eriksen
  • Ben Gregg
  • Jordan Hogan
  • Cade Hole
  • Mary Hubbert
  • Melozie Madland
  • Ella Neiwert
  • Ellie Reis
  • Mack Rhoten
  • Lucy Stout
  • Alivia Thomas
  • Michael Todea
  • Olive Trump
  • Mika Aono (Instructor)

Resources