What is one (non-human) species you wouldn't want to live without?

Hi All,

In response to the UN’s dire report this week that we’re driving 1/8 of the world’s species to extinction, I’m putting together a pop-up interactive display on saving endangered species. I’m planning to show it in a variety of locations, in hopes of sparking conversation and offering people opportunities to learn and take action.

One of the questions I’m thinking of posing will be along the lines of: What is one (non-human) species you wouldn’t want to live without? I imagine I’ll hear mentions of dogs, cats, and food-plant species. To prompt conversation, I’ll also invite folks to consider a wide variety of rare and endangered species (by providing photos with their common names and a brief description of their ecosystem roles).

So I have two questions for you, as avid iNaturalists:

  1. Which species are important to include in the rare/endangered species photos?
  2. What is one (non-human) species you wouldn’t want to live without?

Thanks for any thoughts you might offer!


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So are you asking us what our favourite endangered species are?

There are few species I could live without (those few being mostly invasive species such as emerald ash borer, hemlock scale, Japanese barberry etc.), I don’t think I could actually name a single species over any other. If I had to choose one, I think it would have to be the eastern hemlock, but how could I live without the magnificence of the beech, or the pride of the trillium, or the wood thrush’s song? I can’t chose a favorite.


I would live without invasive rats, as european rats in South América. And I think, when covering endangered species, we should try to aboard curious animals and uglies ones. Have we realize we never talk about deep-sea animals or insects? We should point out the ecosystem importance of these organisms and their benefits to our environments.


what species would I not want to live without? Um, the very tasty ones of course. This one comes to mind…

As for endangered species, I’m not sure how tasty those are. Usually that’s frowned upon.


Of course, https://www.inaturalist.org/taxa/64340-Theobroma-cacao!

But seriously, I agree with other responses, no one choice is really possible without envisioning a biologically impoverished planet, and who would want to live there?


if the video doesn’t make sense, see the “explanation” following:



for those that don’t know, “kiwi” is a colloquialism for a person from New Zealand, or something that has an association with New Zealand. A big kiwi breakfast would signify a good hearty breakfast NZ-style…


I could definitely live without Domestic Cats, an awful invasive.

As for something I couldn’t live without?
I would have to say parrots, fun, loud, playful, and all over cities worldwide.


@mws, not necessarily, though you could answer that way. I was asking which endangered species to include in the photos I’ll offer in the display to increase awareness about the roles of endangered species in the ecosystems where they live, and/or how we depend on them for our survival.

And I was also asking which species (endangered or not) you couldn’t live without, knowing full well that it’s hard to answer that question. My hope in asking non-naturalists this, and talking about their answers, is to spark awareness of how much we depend on the other species we share the planet with.

Thank you for the poetry, humor & clarity of your answers.

I was surprised by the twist of naming the species you could live without, or the locations you would like them removed from. Invasives are one of the issues called out by the UN report, and it might come up in conversation at the display.

@diegoalmendras, I appreciate your suggestion about including deep-sea animals, insects and ugly-looking ones. I will.

@jdmore–here’s hoping we can move quickly enough to keep the biologically riches we have.

These aren’t “favorites” or even things I’m really that familiar with but a quick look at my (NY, U.S.) state’s Dept. of Conservation website’s list yielded some fine “uglies:” (beauty is in the eye if the beholder of course, I think they’re lovely)

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How about the rusty-patched bumble bee (Bombus affinis)? I am guessing that many people don’t know that bumble bees are threatened.

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I guess I’m pretty basic, but I think this would all be a pretty sad existence without elephants.

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@mira_l_b–thank you for this list of organisms. I agree–they’re lovely. And they’re probably mostly unnoticed, though a couple are critically imperiled.

@octobertraveler, that’s an excellent idea.

@bobby23, elephants are definitely in the group I’ll be highlighting.

Thank you all!


Whatever lives in my gut, and also saccharomyces cerevisiae.


:hearts:x100 there we go, that’s the answer I’m going with, too! As much as Carolina Wren is basically my spirit animal (sarcasm) and I’d hate to live without their humorous, grumpy/angry-adorable faces and ridiculous /sweet/efficient antics I’d have to say @schoenitz wins the day with that one. A world without gut flora and/or bacteria responsible for lacto-fermentation of delicious things would be awful for me.


@schoenitz & @mira_l_b: of course–microbes! The little-known rulers of the world.

I know it’s not just one species, but I couldn’t live without Ichneumon wasps. I love them so much, they’re absolutely fascinating. I may not see them often, but it’s always great when I do.


Your post prompted me to take a look at Ichneumonids. They’re beautiful!

Here are a few that caught my eye:


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