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Biodiversity Notes

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Western University
Biology 3484A/B
Nina Zitani

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 wood/fire). - 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 biodiversity decline. - 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
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