When we think of extinction, we often picture the last individual of its kind leading a solitary life until its death marks the species' disappearance from the face of the Earth. Called “numerical extinction,” this is the traditional concept of extinction, and it forms the basis for many conservation decisions.
But there is another type, called “functional extinction,” which takes a more ecological approach. Some scientists argue that the threshold for extinction should not be the complete disappearance of a species, but instead the point at which there aren’t enough individuals left in that species to perform whatever roles it was playing in the ecosystem.
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