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What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity or biological diversity means the diversity or variety of plants and animals and other living things in a particular area or region.

 

Why is it necessary?

Biodiversity is an essential part of our environment and ecosystem (which is a community of living organisms in conjunction with non living components of their environment interacting as a system). A loss of biodiversity disturbs the intricate relationships between living organisms and the environment necessary to maintain th health of an ecosystem causing a disturbance or disruption to the ecosystem.

Ecosystems provide a variety of essential services to human beings such as the production and storage of essential requirements such as air, food and water, regulating the climate and weather, pollination, nutrient cycling as well as providing recreational value. When ecosystems are disrupted problems may arise in their ability to provide these essential services, causing a variety of problems to human society.

Thus there is an imperative need to conserve biodiversity and ensure ecosystem health and sustainability.

 

What are the current problems being faced by the biodiversity of the planet?

  1. Extinction due to habitat loss

There has been an expansion of cities, towns and villages as well as the growth of the amount of land under agricultural crops as a result of the growth of the human population. Thus a lot of natural wilderness areas are being lost to construction and development. The clear felling of forests and other activities such as mining also contribute to the destruction of the natural wilderness which serves as a habitat for most species. The loss of this habitat leads to the loss of the biodiversity of that particular habitat which is unable to survive without it.

  1. Competition with invasive species-

An invasive species is a species that is intentionally or accidentally introduced into a habitat which does not have it. Many ecosystems have evolved naturally with their own fauna and flora and often these naturally occurring species may not be as fit as the invading species and get outcompeted for resources (if the invading species has similar requirements) or predated upon (such as in the case where the invasive species is a predator).

  1. The threat to the genetic integrity of wild species -

Sometimes feral (domesticated animals that have escaped and become wild) can interbreed with their wild counter parts (such as in the case of chickens with wild jungle fowl, or feral pigs with wild boar). Also genetically modified organisms (especially plants) may also out compete or breed with their wild counterparts. In both cases, the integrity of the genes of populations of the wild counterparts are compromised by interbreeding with non wild individuals.

  1. Over exploitation of biodiversity -

Biodiversity is exploited for a number of purposes such as for food (example - fisheries), the pet trade (example - exotic pets), for entertainment and for display in zoos and marine parks. When certain species are harvested or removed from their natural environment at a rate greater than they reproduce it leads to the extinction of the species.

  1. Pollution and environmental degradation -

Pollution and environmental degradation can cause a loss of biodiversity through a number of ways such as acid rain harming wildlife, plastic in the ocean leading to the death of marine life, toxic industrial effluents causing the death of wildlife etc.

 

 

Why is research important for scientific conservation of biodiversity?

  1. Identification of the problems facing an ecosystem or the biodiversity of a place -

Research enables the collection of base line data (which is data initially collected that serves as a basis for comparison with subsequently acquired data) which helps in identification of the problems associated with the ecosystem or biodiversity of a place.

  1. Assessment of the requirements of biodiversity for the construction of conservation plans -

Research can shed light on the requirements of biodiversity for survival in an ecosystem and help to create scientific conservation and management action plans to conserve particular species which are in danger or manage the ecosystem to alleviate disturbance to it and restore it’s health.

  1. Assessment of the success of management and conservation initiatives carried out -

The success or failure of management and conservation initiatives that have been enacted to conserve biodiversity can be assessed through research.

  1. Sustainable use of resources -

Biodiversity research is also required to enable the production of scientific management plans for the sustainable use/harvesting of biodiversity resources.

 

 

 

As this site focuses on practical techniques and actionable information more in depth information on the above for purposes of awareness may be found at the following links to comprehensive wikipedia articles.

Biodiversity

Ecosystems

Ecosystem Services