Biodiversity means the number and variety of species in a particular habitat or in a specific geographical area.
It is the diversity of plant and animal species present in a habitat. This includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.
Biodiversity actually comes from two words, ’Bio’ meaning life and ‘diversity’ meaning variety. It is the presence of vide range of life forms at a given place in a given time.
Approximately 9 million types of plants, animals, fungi and micro organisms and about 7 billion people inhabit the Earth.
Types and Examples of biodiversity
There are many types of biodiversity.
Genetic biodiversity occurs within a specie. It is the variety of genes within a specie. For example there are many varieties of a domestic dog or cat so a dog or cat has high genetic diversity. A lion has low genetic diversity.
Another type is species diversity. This refers to the variety and number of species within a particular area or habitat. This includes pattern of distribution of species and specie richness.
For Example tropical forests are rich in biodiversity as there are many different kinds of species present there and they are distributed in the forests. Rainforests and coral reefs are also rich in specie biodiversity. Invertebrates have more species diversity than vertebrates.
Ecosystem biodiversity refers to the number or variety of different ecosystems that are present in an area. More the ecosystems, more the specie types and more the biodiversity is present.
An ecosystem covers a large area such as a pond, lake or forest. For example Madagascar has ecosystem biodiversity.
The loss of biodiversity
Biodiversity loss is the decrease in number of species. It is the extinction of species due to various reasons.
The current rate of global diversity loss is estimated to be a 1000 times higher than the naturally occurring extinction rate.
The loss of biodiversity can be temporary or permanent depending on whether the habitat loss or resource loss can be reversed or is permanent.
The global biodiversity loss is mostly permanent. The loss of biodiversity is occurring and it is a continuous phenomenon that occurs due to various reasons. Main causes of biodiversity loss are:
- Habitat destruction and degradation
- Environmental pollution
- Over hunting
- Climate change
- Over exploitation of resources (we are using 25% more natural resources than the Earth can sustain)
- Introduction of invasive alien species in a habitat ( they disturb natural biodiversity of a place)
What is the loss of biodiversity really means to us?
Many times, the question is asked that what is the loss of biodiversity really means to us? Or what is the effect of biodiversity loss on us.
The loss of biodiversity affects us in many ways. It has wide ranging effects on our environment and on human population.
Biological diversity is the resource upon which future generations, communities and nations depend. Biodiversity is the nature’s gift. It increases resistance in an ecosystem. We are severely affected by loss of biodiversity in many ways may or may not be in short run but surely in the long run.
- The ecosystems are made up of plants, animals, humans and abiotic factors. If one thing is affected then all other thing are also affected. If any specie becomes extinct or decline then the whole ecosystem is affected or be in danger.
- Biodiversity loss damages important services provided by the nature (animals, plants and microorganisms)
- The loss of biodiversity can lead to reduced variety and quantity of foods and other products including cotton, rubber, leather, animal body parts, wood etc.
- Due to tree cutting, the phenomenon of climate change is occurring
- Due to loss in genetic diversity, there will be less gene pool and this lead to weak varieties of crops and less resistant species.
- Various species that are useful for us became extinct as a result of biodiversity loss
- It affects food security. Biodiversity increase food security by providing a variety of edibles and better yield of crops. Loss of biodiversity means less food availability.
- Biodiversity loss leads to vulnerability against disasters. Like mangrove forests and coral reefs are a rich source of biodiversity and they are excellent natural buffers against floods and storms. Their loss lead to more flooding and storms encounters.
- Biodiversity is directly related to our health. We use many species of plants and animals as food. About 7,000 species of plants and several hundred species of animals are used for human food consumption. Over-hunting or over-fishing has led to less availability of nutrients that cause serious effects in many areas that depend on specific food.
- Greater wildlife diversity may decrease the spread of many wildlife pathogens to humans
- Biodiversity provides us energy sources like wood is used as fuel or biomass. Less biodiversity means less energy resources.
It can be seen that the loss of biodiversity is affecting our lives as well as our environment. If the loss of biodiversity continues, then soon there will be many extinct species and loss of many rare and precious species as well as many ecosystem services that they’ll provide.
Mankind will suffer the most and the ecosystems will be disturbed severely. So it is the time to conserve the flora and fauna of our home and to save our planet, our ecosystems and ourselves. The loss of biodiversity can be very disastrous in future.
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