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Song of Life

audio icon Listen to "Simple Gifts"

Many people say that the loss of an individual species really doesn't matter, because life goes on anyway. Environmentalists respond that biodiversity means that there are connections and relationships among different species of animals and plants that may not be immediately apparent. Life will go on without some species, but it will be changed.

How would a symphony sound without some of its musical instruments? The music would play on, but it wouldn't sound the same. Without the woodwinds or the timpani much of what creates beautiful music is lost. Biodiversity represents the same kind of symphony. When species disappear, life goes on. But, the fragile links of life are changed forever.

RADIO EXPEDITIONS uses a musical piece--the old Shaker hymn, "Simple Gifts"--to show how an integrated group, like an orchestral ensemble, is affected as various instruments go "extinct."

Return to  Life on the Brink

Photo by George F. Mobley © National Geographic Society

Photo by Bales Littlehouse © National Geographic Society

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