Biodiversity – Nov. 26/12
- Human dependence on biodiversity: Our species is dependent on biodiversity for many things,
including food, raw materials for clothing and shelter,
- Ecosystem Services (Biodiversity Services): The United Nations did a study in 2005 called
Millennium Ecosystem Assessment. Premise – Natural ecosystems (biodiversity) are humanity’s life
support system. They provide essential services to all of humanity. It was a four-year study involving
1300 leading biological scientists worldwide. It defined four categories of ecosystem/biodiversity
services provided by biodiversity worldwide – provisioning services, regulating services, cultural
services, and supporting services.
- Provisioning services (supplying humans with necessities): To provision means to supply with
necessities such as food and water. The provisioning services include food (crops, seafood, fish from
lakes and rivers, spices), raw materials for pharmaceuticals to help us overcome illness (ex.
antibiotics), raw industrial materials for shelter and clothing (lumber, pulp for paper, silk, cotton for
clothes), and means to produce energy (fossil fuels, flowing water to produce hydropower, trees for
- Regulating services (regulating essential aspects of our environment): Ecosystems/biodiversity
regulate components of our environment that we depend on for survival. This includes regulation of
climate/atmosphere (carbon cycle, carbon sequestration, O2, clean air), regulation of freshwater
(hydrologic cycle provides freshwater for consumption), and storm water management (freshwater
ecosystems such as wetlands). Wetlands are essential. Wetlands are a terrestrial ecosystem
permanently or seasonally saturated with water. Aquatic plants are located here and they are
adapted to the wet environment. Wetlands are important in storm water management because they
have the capacity to hold large amounts of water. They soak up water like a sponge during flooding.
- Cultural services (providing essential experiences): These include cultural, intellectual, and spiritual
inspiration (literature, poetry, film, painting, sculpture). Cultural services provide recreational
experiences, fun, relaxation, and stress reduction. Biodiversity is a source of inspiration for humans.
It also provides places to have fun and relax. Being in nature has been scientifically shown to reduce
stress. Walton Ford’s nature paintings sell for a lot of money.
- Supporting services (providing essential services): These are natural processes that are essential for
the ecosystem and ultimately human health. Decomposition involves nutrient cycling and soil
formation. Processes of animal and plant growth and reproduction (ex. pollination and seed
dispersal) are important.
- Biodiversity is in serious decline worldwide due to human activities. Individual species and entire
ecosystems are at risk.
- HIPPO – direct causes of biodiversity decline today: H – habitat destruction, I – invasive alien species,
P – pollution (including climate change), P – population (human overpopulation), O – overharvesting
(overfishing/hunting for human consumption). HIPPO was created by EO Wilson (he coined the term
biodiversity). These are complex, multi-faceted issues. HIPPO is a classification scheme for describing
- HIPPO – Habitat destruction: This is complete obliteration of parts of whole ecosystems for various
human needs/wants. Residential and commercial development of the land – houses, shopping
centres, location of developments. Agriculture (areas to grow crops/farm fish) – Once the land is
cleared, biodiversity is lost. However, different agricultural practices have vastly different impacts on
the environment. Energy – oil and gas development, mining. The process of extracting these things is
bad for the earth. Deforestation is a complex issue. Forests are cleared for various human
needs/wants, such as residential and commercial development, agriculture, and timber harvest. Trees are cut down and the wood is used to create products people will buy (furniture, lumber, toilet
paper, paper). The neotropical rainforest has deforestation. Mid-elevation of mountains is the most
diverse part of the tropical rainforest, and this is where deforestation is occurring. Deforestation is
not just a problem of the tropics. It also occurs here in London.
- HIPPO – Invasive alien species: Native range is the natural or pre-existing range of a species, prior to
movement of the species by humans. Native species is the specie