Skip to main content

Oregon Family Magazine

We’re All Connected

01/31/2022 ● By Museum of Natural and Cultural History
The world is full of amazing animals, from enormous elephants to tiny termites. There are roughly 8.7 million species of animals found on Earth. It’s our planet’s biodiversity and the connections between all living things that make Earth a unique, wonderful place to live!

What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity is the variety of living species—including plants, bacteria, animals, and humans—found in a specific place, such as a region or ecosystem, or in the world.

Why is biodiversity important?

Our world depends on insects that pollinate, plants that provide oxygen, and shellfish that filter pollution. These are just a few of the many, many interactions between living things and their environments that keep the planet healthy for us all. Everything is interconnected. Removing just one species can affect all the others, including humans.

While Earth’s biodiversity is so abundant that many species have yet to be discovered, many other species are being threatened with extinction due to human activities like pollution, over-hunting, and environmental changes. When species go extinct, it puts Earth’s amazing biodiversity at risk.

More than 40,000 plants and animals are currently threatened with extinction. But not all hope is lost. Habitat preservation and other protections are helping some species survive.

Bald Eagles—A Success Story

The bald eagle became our national symbol in 1782. At the time, there were over 100,000 bald eagles in the United States. By 1963, less than 1,000 eagles remained due to human actions, such as the use of harmful chemicals and destruction of their natural habitat. Bald eagles were in danger of extinction.

But people found ways to protect them. We:

  • Created the Endangered Species Act in 1973 and declared the bald eagle an endangered animal.
  • Passed laws to protect eagles from hunting or habitat loss.
  • Banned the use of harmful chemical pesticides.

Because of these actions, bald eagles have enjoyed a remarkable recovery and been removed from the list of endangered species. Today, there are almost 70,000 bald eagles in North America!

Interested in learning more? Starting March 5, 2022, visit the Museum of Natural and Cultural History to see our latest exhibit, Photo Ark—Photography by Joel Sartore. This bilingual English-Spanish exhibit features powerful images, interactive stations, and compelling video that inspire us to care about these incredible, vanishing species. Join us during grand opening week for additional indoor and outdoor activities for all ages. Photo Ark is developed and traveled by the National Geographic Society.

The Museum of Natural and Cultural History is open to the public Wednesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays. Stay tuned to our website ( and follow us on social media for the latest on our new lineup of online and in-person programs.