The history of the Kirtland’s warbler illustrates that a species may inhabit “ecological islands,” which the isolated jack pine stands of the right age range are for that bird. Recall that an ecological island is an area that is biologically isolated, so that a species living there cannot mix or only rarely mixes with any other population of the same species.
Mountaintops and isolated ponds are ecological islands. Real geographic islands may also be ecological islands. Insights gained from studies of the biogeography of islands have important implications for the conservation of endangered species and for the design of parks and preserves for biological conservation. Wildlife, fish, and endangered species are popular issues. We seem to have a deep feeling of connectedness to many wild animals we like to watch them, and we like to know that they still exist even when we cannot see them.
Wild animals have always been important symbols to people, sometimes sacred ones. The conservation of wildlife of all kinds is therefore valuable to our sense of ourselves, both as individuals and as members of a civilization. Ultimately, therefore, our decisions about where to focus our efforts in sustaining wild living resources depend on our values.