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ecological importance of biodiversity

Protecting Nature to Halt Climate Catastrophe, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB), Poaching, deforestation reportedly on the rise since COVID-19 lockdowns, Deforestation is also accelerating climate breakdown, The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity, major religions include elements of nature, Without traditional knowledge, there is no climate change solution, Protections for African wildlife face growing threat: a lack of money, We can limit global warming to 1.5 degrees — with nature’s help. Lake Victoria contained almost 500 species of cichlids (just one family of fishes that are present in the lake) before the introduction of an exotic species in the 1980s and 1990s caused a mass extinction. is no likely ecological impact. At a time when more than 1 million animals are at risk of extinction — and the links between human health and the health of the planet are clear — the stakes have never been higher, experts say. As a consequence, their soils are now being depleted unless they are maintained artificially at great expense. Biologists estimate that species extinctions are currently 500–1000 times the normal, or background, rate seen previously in Earth’s history. Biodiversity is important to most aspects of our lives. These ecological effects of biodiversity in turn are affected by both climate change through enhanced greenhouse gases, aerosols and loss of land cover, and biological diversity, causing a rapid loss of biodiversity and extinctions of species and local populations. Biodiversity is important, more than just the 'I want my children to enjoy it' reason. It is also useful to define ecosystem diversity: the number of different ecosystems on Earth or in a geographical area. The destruction of forest ecosystems is responsible for 11 percent of By … They occur within ecosystems, such as soil ecosystems, as a result of the diverse metabolic activities of the organisms living there, but they provide benefits to human food production, drinking water availability, and breathable air. That number has probably decreased to about 10 percent as natural plant ingredients are replaced by synthetic versions of the plant compounds. Humans are not the only animals to use plants for medicinal reasons. He argues that human evolutionary history has adapted us to living in a natural environment and that built environments generate stresses that affect human health and well-being. Plants acting as ecosystem engineers create habitats and facilitate biodiversity maintenance within plant communities. In other words, biodiversity increases closer to the equator (Figure 3). Biodiversity is the variety of species used in both the production and consumption of goods and services. Conservation researchers Paul R. and Anne Ehrlich posited in the 1980s that species are to ecosystems what rivets are to a plane’s Nature-related tourism is also a significant income generator for many people as well. worth US$ 2 to 6 trillion by 2050. We’d miss their leafy shade, fall colours and maple syrup. Ecological biogeography studies the current factors affecting the distribution of plants and animals. And; 2. and these changes are leading to a loss of biodiversity, declines in fisheries’ yields and a reduced ability to support humans. The Svalbard seed vault is deep into the rock of the arctic island. Loss of wild species related to a crop will mean the loss of potential in crop improvement. Lastly, the tropics have been perceived as being more stable than temperate regions, which have a pronounced climate and day-length seasonality. Biodiversity is not evenly distributed on the planet. Some of these compounds also work as human medicines. Deforestation is also accelerating climate breakdown, which in turn may boost the spread of disease by allowing disease Other key ecosystem services related to food production are plant pollination and crop pest control. Biodiversity is important in ecosystems because it prevents extinction of species, allows organisms to adapt to changes in the environment and provides a wide range of materials and foods for survival. projects expand deeper into tropical forests, humans are increasing their exposure to wild animals — and the diseases they may carry. Biologists have also identified alternate measures of biodiversity, some of which are important in planning how to preserve biodiversity. Traditionally, ecologists have measured biodiversity by taking into account both the number of species and the number of individuals of each species (known as relative abundance). ECOLOGICAL AND ECONOMICAL IMPORTANCE OF BIODIVERSITY Biodiversity is considered a cornerstone to the health of the environment. A common meaning of biodiversity is simply the number of species in a location or on Earth; for example, the American Ornithologists’ Union lists 2078 species of birds in North and Central America. Our biodiversity is very important to the well-being of our planet. source of inspiration for artists and designers. Examples of significant medicines derived from plant compounds include aspirin, codeine, digoxin, atropine, and vincristine (Figure 4). For example, potatoes were domesticated beginning around 7,000 years ago in the central Andes of Peru and Bolivia. But scientists have not been able to explain how greater energy input could translate into more species. Biodiversity is the amount of variety of life on Earth. However, the current accelerated extinction rate means the loss of tens of thousands of species within our lifetimes. Protecting the nature we all rely on for food, fresh water and livelihoods. The diversity of species provides humans with a wide range of economic benefits: Wild plants and animals maintain a valuable pool of genetic variation.This is important because domestic species are genetically uniform. Lake Huron in its present form is only about 7,000 years old, while Lake Victoria in its present form is about 15,000 years old. The complexity of tropical ecosystems may promote speciation by increasing the habitat complexity, thus providing more ecological niches. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic can likely be sourced to a wild animal and fish market in Wuhan, China. That biodiversity creates the conditions under which crops are able to grow through what are known as ecosystem services—valuable conditions or processes that are carried out by an ecosystem. Between 1970 and 2011, almost 20 percent of the Amazon rainforest was lost. They also lead to collateral damage by killing non-pest species as well as beneficial insects like honeybees, and risking the health of agricultural workers and consumers. Contemporary societies that live close to the land often have a broad knowledge of the medicinal uses of plants growing in their area. The current high rates will cause a precipitous decline in the biodiversity of the planet in the next century or two. It is estimated that, at one time, 25 percent of modern drugs contained at least one plant extract. Kangaroos graze in a field as smoke shrouds the Australian capital of Canberra, Australia, Wednesday, Jan. 1, 2020. However, biologists are using different measures of biodiversity, including genetic diversity, to help focus efforts to preserve the biologically and technologically important elements of biodiversity. Although crops are largely under our control, our ability to grow them is dependent on the biodiversity of the ecosystems in which they are grown. Utilitarian values include the many basic needs humans obtain from biodiversity such as food, fuel, shelter, and medicine. These same seed companies, however, have participated in the decline of the number of varieties available as they focus on selling fewer varieties in more areas of the world replacing traditional local varieties. An example of a largely extinct ecosystem in North America is the prairie ecosystem (Figure 2). It allows biologists to find and recognize the species after the initial discovery to follow up on questions about its biology. As the global wildlife trade continues and development Despite considerable effort, few fisheries on Earth are managed sustainability. Forests and wetland ecosystems provide crucial buffers to extreme storms and flooding related Although some agricultural soils are rendered sterile using controversial pesticide treatments, most contain a huge diversity of organisms that maintain nutrient cycles—breaking down organic matter into nutrient compounds that crops need for growth. These wetlands are of huge importance for other species/groups such as otter and water vole, waterfowl, great crested newt and a large array of insects, fish and plants. Describing species is a complex process by which biologists determine an organism’s unique characteristics and whether or not that organism belongs to any other described species. Regardless of the mechanisms, it is certainly true that biodiversity is greatest in the tropics. eagle and American bison are examples of conservation successes because of their role as national symbols. Despite considerable effort, knowledge of the species that inhabit the planet is limited. Moreover, these pesticides may migrate from the fields where they are applied and do damage to other ecosystems like streams, lakes, and even the ocean. Species are frequently integral to religious, cultural and national identities. Agriculture began after early hunter-gatherer societies first settled in one place and heavily modified their immediate environment. There are numerous reasons deeming biodiversity significant. The loss of the crop led to famine, death, and mass emigration. The world’s growing human population faces significant challenges in the increasing costs and other difficulties associated with producing food. Prairies once spanned central North America from the boreal forest in northern Canada down into Mexico. Biodiversity, also called biological diversity, the variety of life found in a place on Earth or, often, the total variety of life on Earth. January 16, 2020. Ecologists believe that the bulk of the work in removing pests is actually done by predators and parasites of those pests, but the impact has not been well studied. ‘Wiped out forever’ — the ecological impact of Australia’s wildfires. Without conservation methods in place, this could be the fate of many more ecosystems. Losing one might not be a disaster, but each loss adds to the likelihood of a serious problem. Estimates of numbers of prokaryotic species are largely guesses, but biologists agree that science has only just begun to catalog their diversity. It normally appears in one volume per year with typically 200–300 pages. If a regional seed bank stores varieties in Svalbard, losses can be replaced from Svalbard should something happen to the regional seeds. To qualify as a Road Verge of Ecological Importance (RVEI), the verge must support either a notable species and/or a species rich semi-natural habitat. There are various initiatives to catalog described species in accessible and more organized ways, and the internet is facilitating that effort. “For a relatively small investment, high-biodiversity forests and other ecosystems can be conserved and restored as a powerful means to rein in climate change while also helping communities cope with associated storms, flooding and other impacts,” Fishery extinctions rarely lead to complete extinction of the harvested species, but rather to a radical restructuring of the marine ecosystem in which a dominant species is so over-harvested that it becomes a minor player, ecologically. Biodiversity & Ecology publishes research papers as well as forum papers, reviews and reports on biodiversity, evolution, and ecology. These wild forms are often the source of new gene variants that can be bred with existing varieties to create varieties with new attributes. less likely to deliver those services, especially given the needs of an ever-growing human population. This is particularly true for struggling communities in developing countries, who often turn to high-biodiversity ecosystems as their source of food, fuel, medicines It’s important to protect biodiversity so that we don’t lose any of these important pieces. It is estimated that one third of pharmaceutical research and development is spent on natural compounds and that about 35 percent of new drugs brought to market between 1981 and 2002 were from natural compounds. . Protecting biodiversity plays a crucial part in achieving these emissions reductions. Biodiversity and ecology. The diversity is driven by the diverse demands of the dramatic elevation changes, the limited movement of people, and the demands created by crop rotation for different varieties that will do well in different fields. Millions of people also depend on nature and species for their day-to-day livelihoods. More sophisticated measures of diversity take into account the relative abundances of species. Epub 2017 Dec 4. to climate change. including birds, Nile crocodiles and hippos and a source of food and income for about 300,000 people. 1.5 Environmental Justice & Indigenous Struggles, 2.4 Energy Enters Ecosystems Through Photosynthesis, Chapter 4: Community & Population Ecology, Chapter 6: Environmental Hazards & Human Health, 6.1 The Impacts of Environmental Conditions, 7.5 Case Study: The Aral Sea - Going, Going, Gone, 8.2 Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering, Chapter 9: Conventional & Sustainable Agriculture, Chp 10: Air Pollution, Climate Change, & Ozone Depletion, Chapter 11: Conventional & Sustainable Energy, 11.1 Challenges and Impacts of Energy Use. Another five drugs are undergoing clinical trials and at least six drugs are being used in other countries. Protecting biodiversity plays a crucial part in achieving these emissions reductions. Biodiversity is important to the survival and welfare of human populations because it has impacts on our health and our ability to feed ourselves through agriculture and harvesting populations of wild animals. The potato demonstrates a well-known example of the risks of low crop diversity: during the tragic Irish potato famine (1845–1852 AD), the single potato variety grown in Ireland became susceptible to a potato blight—wiping out the crop. Until the emergence of humans, the earth supported more biodiversity than any other period in geological history. All of these species were found only in Lake Victoria, which is to say they were endemic. And we’d lose all the valuable oxygen, homes for birds and animals, and wood for buildings and furniture. Loss of diversity in pest enemies will inevitably make it more difficult and costly to grow food. The stability of tropical ecosystems might promote speciation. Biodiversity is a broad term for biological variety, and it can be measured at a number of organizational levels. The loss of biodiversity will include many species we know today. By 2007, the FDA had approved five drugs based on animal toxins to treat diseases such as hypertension, chronic pain, and diabetes. What accounts for the difference in diversity between Lake Victoria and Lake Huron? Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. Altogether, the food, commercial forestry and ecotourism industries could lose US$ 338 billion per year if the loss of biodiversity continues at its current pace. In recent years, animal venoms and poisons have excited intense research for their medicinal potential. The four major components of biodiversity are species diversity, ecological diversity, genetic diversity, and functional diversity. Langrand said. Biodiversity enhancement details . Many of the species survive, but the hugely productive ecosystem that was responsible for creating our most productive agricultural soils is now gone. Other toxins under investigation come from mammals, snakes, lizards, various amphibians, fish, snails, octopuses, and scorpions. Conservation biogeography, on the other hand, is focused on the protection and restoration of species based upon the known historical and current ecological information. Aside from representing billions of dollars in profits, these medications improve people’s lives. Naming and counting species may seem an unimportant pursuit given the other needs of humanity, but it is not simply an accounting. The decline in soil productivity occurs because the interactions in the original ecosystem have been lost. This system has flaws because over time seed varieties are lost through accidents and there is no way to replace them. Endemic species are found in only one location. Human-driven biodiversity loss and ecological effects ... With biodiversity loss, a huge impact on human health comes as well. The Ecological Footprint can help track the underlying drivers of biodiversity loss, although it needs to be complemented with other indicators for a comprehensive monitoring of the pressures humans pose on the Biosphere’s ecosystems and biodiversity. is the study of the distribution of the world’s species both in the past and in the present. Share this with Facebook Share this with Twitter Share this with LinkedIn Share this with Email Print this. The diversity of species and genes in ecological communities affects the functioning of these communities. The natural disaster prevention mechanisms in most ecosystems and other free services we all get from the surrounding environment are not easily replaceable or replicable, so maintaining biodiversity is important. The greater age provides more time for speciation, the evolutionary process of creating new species. all global greenhouse gas emissions caused by humans, so conserving forests would stop the release of these gases into the atmosphere. This post was originally published on the Zayed Future Energy Prize blog and is reprinted with permission. Biodiversity is important because it allows for organisms to adapt to their environment, and to survive dramatic environmental changes. By protecting biodiversity in Earth’s ecosystems, countries could save lives and money, while helping to prevent future pandemics. Biodiversity is important to the survival and welfare of human populations because it has impacts on our health and our ability to feed ourselves through agriculture and harvesting populations of wild animals. Genetic diversity is the raw material for evolutionary adaptation in a species and is represented by the variety of genes present within a population. Economic Benefits of Biodiversity. It is estimated that honeybee pollination within the United States brings in $1.6 billion per year; other pollinators contribute up to $6.7 billion. The potatoes grown in that region belong to seven species and the number of varieties likely is in the thousands. That subsequent research will produce the discoveries that make the species valuable to humans and to our ecosystems. There are three main fields of study under the heading of biogeography: ecological biogeography, historical biogeography (called paleobiogeography), and conservation biogeography. Trees and plants also store carbon in their tissue, making it even more necessary to protect them. By Jim Shelton. Also Read: Flagship Species. It includes organisms from Earth’s vastly different ecosystems, including deserts, rainforests, coral reefs, grasslands, tundra, and polar ice caps. In 2008, the Svalbard Global seed Vault, located on Spitsbergen island, Norway, (Figure) began storing seeds from around the world as a backup system to the regional seed banks. Although it is sometimes difficult to predict which species will become extinct, many are listed as endangered (at great risk of extinction). Modified from the original by Matthew R. Fisher. CEPF is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan and the World Bank. Jan 30, 2012 . There is considerable research into the psychologically regenerative benefits of natural landscapes that suggest the hypothesis may hold some truth. Much of this loss is occurring in tropical rainforests like the one pictured in Figure 1, which are very high in biodiversity but are being cleared for timber and agriculture. Since the beginning of human agriculture more than 10,000 years ago, human groups have been breeding and selecting crop varieties. Since the 1920s, government agriculture departments have maintained seed banks of crop varieties as a way to maintain crop diversity. The ability to create new crop varieties relies on the diversity of varieties available and the availability of wild forms related to the crop plant. Endemic species with highly restricted distributions, like the Barton Springs salamander, are particularly vulnerable to extinction. It also extracts monetary benefits through tourism. For example: imagine if maple trees disappeared. Ecosystems such as parks and other protected areas also provide recreation and a knowledge resource for visitors, and biodiversity is a frequent Biodiversity & Ecology publishes articles in English and exceptionally in German. Therefore, it is very important to have a good knowledge of biodiversity for a sustainable livelihood. Antibiotics, which are responsible for extraordinary improvements in health and lifespans in developed countries, are compounds largely derived from fungi and bacteria. Honeybee populations in North America have been suffering large losses caused by a syndrome known as colony collapse disorder, a new phenomenon with an unclear cause. Today our technology smooths out the harshness of existence and allows many of us to live longer, more comfortable lives, but ultimately the human species cannot exist without its surrounding ecosystems. This is the reason why beavers are known as a “keystone species”, a term used to describe a species that greatly affects its surroundings, to the point where other species are highly dependent on … The loss of a particular individual species may seem unimportant to some, especially if it is not a charismatic species like the Bengal tiger or the bottlenose dolphin. They are grown in soil. The other great apes, orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas have all been observed self-medicating with plants. This crop diversity matched the cultural diversity of highly subdivided populations of humans. One of the oldest observed patterns in ecology is that biodiversity typically increases as latitude declines. At least 40 percent of the world’s economy and 80 percent of the needs of the poor are derived from biological resources. These rainforests are the most diverse ecosystems on the planet and are being destroyed rapidly by deforestation. It provides us with nourishment, housing, fuel, clothing and several other resources. Importance of Biodiversity by OpenStax is licensed under CC BY 4.0. All major religions include elements of nature and 231 species are The people in this region traditionally lived in relatively isolated settlements separated by mountains. The Economic Importance of Biodiversity. Pharmaceutical companies are actively looking for new natural compounds that can function as medicines. But how exactly is biodiversity so important to humanity? In addition to humans losing the food source, these alterations affect many other species in ways that are difficult or impossible to predict. The loss of an ecosystem means the loss of the interactions between species and the loss of biological productivity that an ecosystem is able to create. This shows that we must take care of nature to take care of ourselves. For centuries in Europe, older knowledge about the medical uses of plants was compiled in herbals—books that identified the plants and their uses. One overriding importance is that biodiversity is responsible for the continuity of the planet because it supports majority of the vital environmental life cycles such as the oxygen cycle, the water cycle, and the nitrogen cycle just to mention a few. 4.2 Discuss the importance of the maintenance of biodiversity . Types of Biodiversity A species’ potential to adapt to changing environments or new diseases depends on this genetic diversity. The lake is under heavy pressure because of overfishing, cyclical drought, changing rainfall patterns and the diversion of water by upstream developments, Conditions within the vault are maintained at ideal temperature and humidity for seed survival, but the deep underground location of the vault in the arctic means that failure of the vault’s systems will not compromise the climatic conditions inside the vault. carriers like mosquitoes to extend their geographic ranges and infect new populations of humans. Abstract. For example, the richness of diversity allows medicines and foods to be naturally available. The chief proponent of this idea is famed entomologist E. O. Wilson. Importance of Biodiversity . Maintaining the genetic diversity of wild species related to domesticated species ensures our continued supply of food. Other pollinators include a diverse array of other bee species and various insects and birds. It has played a major role in shaping the diversity of nature at the genetic, species and ecological levels. Our ecosystems provide us with food, medicine, clean air and water, recreation, and spiritual and aesthetical inspiration. The geographic coverage ranges from the floodplains of the Brazilian Amazon to the agricultural landscapes of Southeast Asia, and the coral … Each variety has been bred to thrive at particular elevations and soil and climate conditions. They are now all but gone, replaced by crop fields, pasture lands, and suburban sprawl. Why is biodiversity necessary for the stability of the planet? For example, the extinction of one species may cause the extinction of another. Table 1. formally used as national symbols in 142 countries. It may not be self-evident, so here are five reasons. But since 1990, production from global fisheries has declined. Julie Shaw is director of communications for the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. A common measure of this variety, called species richness, is the count of species in an area. A recent estimate suggests that only 13% of eukaryotic species have been named (Table 1). Examples include the ornamental plants, birds and animals that people use to enrich their lives, the variety of foods they use to enrich their diet, the mix of biofuels or biofibres used to support productive activities. IMPORTANCE The increasing use of the term biodiversity is being driven by the fact that, in an ecological context, global biodiversity itself is being lost at an alarming rate . Historical biogeography, as the name implies, studies the past distribution of species. Seventy percent of emerging viral diseases have spread from animals to humans. Without a name and description, a species cannot be studied in depth and in a coordinated way by multiple scientists. Approximately 15 to 20 RVEIs are surveyed each year by the Hampshire Biodiversity Information Centre (HBIC) as part of an annual survey programme to assess their value for biodiversity. This table shows the estimated number of species by taxonomic group—including both described (named and studied) and predicted (yet to be named) species. Finally, it has been argued that humans benefit psychologically from living in a biodiverse world. Environmental Biology by Matthew R. Fisher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted. Every plant, animal, and fungus that has been cultivated by humans has been bred from original wild ancestor species into diverse varieties arising from the demands for food value, adaptation to growing conditions, and resistance to pests. Another experimental study found that introducing multiple enemies of pea aphids (an important alfalfa pest) increased the yield of alfalfa significantly. The ecological importance of intraspecific variation Nat Ecol Evol. This is likely to have dramatic effects on human welfare through the collapse of ecosystems. Importance of Biodiversity. Ecosystems weakened by the loss of biodiversity are One example of this is Kenya’s Lake Turkana — the world’s largest desert lake, a habitat for a variety of wildlife We value biodiversity for many reasons, some utilitarian, some intrinsic. Crops are not grown, for the most part, in built environments. Meanwhile The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) initiative estimates that global sustainable business opportunities from investing in natural resources could be The work of biogeographers is critical to understanding our physical environment, how the environment affects species, and how changes in environment impact the distribution of a species. 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