Think of every species as a pebble tossed into a lake. Everything a species does—what it eats, where it lives, how much it poops—radiates outward, affecting the rest of the ecosystem and its inhabitants. There are species that create ecological ripples
, and there are ones that create ecological tidal waves
. Large mammals create tidal waves.
But there are a few other reasons why they get our attention. One, big mammals are more heavily researched, so scientists have a lot of data to inform conservation strategies. Two, for better or worse, people tend to rally around fluffy species. (You remember that polar bear, right?) And three, large mammals support ecosystems that are more diverse, resilient, and capable of storing carbon in their soil and vegetation—which helps us mitigate and adapt
to climate change.