Biodiversity Loss: Threat to Earth’s Ecosystem

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The sole feature of Earth is the existence of life, and the most extraordinary feature of life is its diversity. Approximately nine million types of plants, animals, protists and fungi inhabit the Earth. So, too, do seven billion people. Biological diversity shortened as Biodiversity, the term that comprises number, degree of variation and variances of unique living entities and non-living systems on the planet. It encompasses the microscopic organisms to the largest top predator. Biodiversity is very essential to human well-being and it is assurance for the good human life on our earth. Human actions were dismantling the Earth’s ecosystems, eliminating genes, species and biological traits at an alarming rate. The loss of biodiversity has severe adverse effects on ecosystem services as well as on human life such as on food chain, climate change, balances health, natural resources, energy security and access to the clean water, air and other materials. The following threats can be considered as loss of biodiversity.

  • Habitat loss: Habitat loss is the first biggest problem and severe impact on biodiversity occurs due to deforestation, wildfire, and over-use urbanization. Habitat loss is also identified as a main threat to 85% of all species described in the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red Lists.
  • High population rate: Human population number, growth, use of land, density and migration are underlying causes of biodiversity loss. Increased demand for goods and services to meet the needs of a growing population will exert more pressure on the components of biodiversity ecosystems, genes and species.
  • Environment Pollution: Human activity influences the natural environment producing negative, direct or indirect, effects that alter the flow of energy, the chemical and physical constitution of the environment and abundance of the species.
  • Global climate change: Heating of the Earth’s surface affects biodiversity because it endangers all the species that adapted to the cold due to the latitude (the Polar species) or the altitude (mountain species).
  • Overexploitation of natural resources: When the activities connected with capturing and harvesting (hunting, fishing, farming) a renewable natural resource in a particular area is excessively intense, the resource itself may become exhausted, as for example, is the case of sardines, herrings, cod, tuna and many other species that man captures without leaving enough time for the organisms to reproduce.
  • Species extinction/Loss of Wild Species: Extinction is a natural process. The geological record indicates that many hundreds of thousands of plant and animal species have disappeared over the eras as they have failed to adapt to changing conditions. Recent findings however indicate that the current rate of species extinction is at least a hundred to a thousand times higher than the natural rate.
  • Introduction of exotic species and genetically modified organisms: Species originating from a particular area, introduced into new natural environments can lead to different forms of imbalance in the ecological equilibrium. Exotic species and genetically modified organisms are listed as example in this case.

It is our responsibility to protect biodiversity loss which is vital for human life on earth. Let us Follow a sustainable way of life and let us leave a healthy planet for the next generation.

Author: Palle Ranadheer, Project Fellow-II, Bioengineering and Environmental Sciences lab, CEEFF, CSIR-IICT, Hyderabad.

Image source: https://www.dreamstime.com

References:

  • Loreau, M.et al. Biodiversity and ecosystem functioning: Current knowledge and future challenges.Science294, 804–-808 (2001).
  • Huston, M. A. Hidden treatments in ecological experiments: Re-evaluating the ecosystem function of biodiversity. Oecologia 11, 449– 460 (1997).
  • Cardinale, B.J., Duffy, J.E., Gonzalez, A., Hooper, D.U., Perrings, C., Venail, P., Narwani, A., Mace, G.M., Tilman, D., Wardle, D.A. and Kinzig, A.P., 2012. Biodiversity loss and its impact on humanity. Nature, 486(7401), p.59.

Posted By : ScienceIndia Administrator
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