Whither the Stephan’s Riffle Beetle?
Its continued existence is questionable. For the past 8 ½ years I have been researching the Stephan’s Riffle Beetle, and other forgotten, obscure, unsexy, unvalued species of plant and animal. I have documented the lack of knowledge, the lack of effort to stem their decline, the trouncing of unique and ecologically valuable ecosystems, through ignorance, lack of will and greed, the victory of private property rights and the excesses of the few, versus protection of the environment to ensure a healthy future for all life on this planet.
Now I am bitter and jaded. I am passing the torch on to others that are still filled with belief and motivation to change things. Those people really can make a difference. I can get rejuvenated too. I just need not to be reading about this stuff for a while or hanging out day in and day out with people equally cynical as me.
So what does it matter if the tiny narrow endemic species known as the Stephan’s riffle beetle is still in existence? It lives exclusively on Forest Service land (land of many uses, including wildlife habitat) in a small area, that has no commercial use, but that has been highly modified. It would be easy to save if there was a will or legal mandate to. Perhaps all it would need would be monitoring, maintenance of of water levels and a sign telling hikers of its existence, or establishment of a refugia population. It wouldn’t cost us much to save it. However as far as we can tell its uniqueness compared to other species of riffle beetle amounts to different numbers of leg hairs. Its loss will almost certainly not cause the already disturbed ecosystem to collapse. As far as we know humanity has never used it, and its pretty doubtful that it holds the cure for, cancer, AIDs or the common cold. Species go extinct all the time. Many things cause that from natural disasters to the effects of a great variety of species. The only thing that I can say is we just should. Our species are responsible for an unprecedented wave of recent extinctions. We are like a poorly adapted parasite, killing its host. Its time for us to evolve into better mutualists.