What happens to us as the wild world unravels?

Our occasional essay series, called Vanishing, explores some of the human stakes of the wildlife extinction crisis.

We asked scientists, novelists, activists, artists, poets and others to pick a species they have a personal connection with and tell us what they would miss if that animal or plant disappeared.

One goal here is to highlight that the loss of species — for we lose about one every hour from our planet — isn’t just some cold, abstract occurrence in a far-off place. Whether we’re conscious of it or not, we have a deep and abiding connection to the animals and plants around us. They inhabit our histories, our languages and our mythologies. We share DNA, the mysteries of the universe and our home.

When a species goes extinct, part of us does too.

We’ll collect the essays here, and you can continue the conversation online. Use the #VanishingSpecies hashtag and let us know what plant or animal you’d miss most if it disappeared. And why it matters to you.

The Essays:

Song for the Bobolink” by Rochelle L. Johnson

The Bleaching in My Backyard” by Juli Berwald

An Augury of Antlers” by Joanna Lilley

Avatars of Sweetness” by Almah LaVon Rice

A Bond Across Centuries” by Daniel Hudon

Sawfishes Are Weird and Wonderful — But Important, Too” by Helen Yan

In the Mountains, It Need Not Be Lonely at the Top” by Laura Dassow Walls

In Love With the Blue Oaks” by Obi Kaufmann