Conservation biology .docx

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Biomedical Engineering
BMEN 515
William Huddleston

 Conservation biology – an applied scientific discipline devoted to preserving the diversity of life on Earth ■ modern conservation biology is supported by and integrated with other scientific disciplines ■ humans study the full array of goods and services that humans derive from species and ecosystems ■ it's a normative discipline – embraces certain values and applies scientific methods to the goal of achieving these values ■ motivated by belief that preservation of biodiversity is good and that its loss is bad  Conservation biology is guided by 3 basic principles: ■ Evolution is the process that unites all of biology ■ The ecological world is dynamic ■ Humans are a part of ecosystems  early photosynthetic prokaryotes and eukaryotes generated oxygen, making Earth's atmosphere unsuitable for anaerobic organisms  plants accelerated weathering of the rocks, gaining access to rock-bound nutrients  endemic species – species that are found nowhere else  humans have been exterminating species for 1000s of years due to over-hunting  People value biodiversity because: ■ Humans depend on other species for food, fiber and medicine ■ Species are necessary for the functioning of ecosystems and the many benefits and services those ecosystems provide to humanity ■ Human derive enormous aesthetic pleasure from interacting with other species ■ Extinctions deprive us of opportunities to study and understand ecological relationships among organisms ■ Living in ways that cause extinction of other species raises serious ethical issues because species are judged to have intrinsic value How Do Biologists Predict Changes in Biodiversity?  To preserve Earth's biodiversity, we need to both maintain the processes that generate new species and provide conditions that will keep extinction rates no higher than typical levels  4 reasons that scientists cannot predict the number of extinctions that will occur: ■ We do not know how many species live on Earth ■ We do not know where species live ■ It is difficult to determine when a species actually becomes extinct ■ We do not know what will happen in the future  North America's largest woodpecker, the ivory-billed pecker, was considered extinct for 60 years until recently where there have been claimed sightings  Species-area relationship – a well-established mathematical relationship between the size of an area and the number of species it contains  conservation biologists have measured the rate at which species richness decreases with decreasing habitat patch size ■ found that a 90% loss of habitat will result in the loss of half the species that live in and depend on that habitat ■ current loss of tropical evergreen forests (the most species-rich biome) is 2% per year  conservation biologists develop statistical models that incorporate information about a population's size, its genetic variation, mor
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