The Impact of Wildlife Extinction and the Importance of Biodiversity
Biodiversity is all of the different varieties of species that inhabit the planet. Genetic differences within a species can mean differences in shape, size, smell, and color. Diversity of populations are “measured in both the number of individuals within a local group — the size of the loon population in northern Wisconsin — and the distribution of a species’ geographic range — the presence of loon populations from Alaska to Maine” (How Do Scientists Define Biodiversity). The variety of species within a natural community means all the various species in a particular habitat. “A wide array of natural communities and ecosystems throughout the world, from tropical rainforests to tall grass prairies to boreal forests” make up the biodiversity of the world. Biodiversity is the natural make up of plants and animals of the world, and it should be valued highly. (How Do Scientists Define Biodiversity)
Humans play a tremendous role in wildlife extinction. Habitat loss, degradation, and fragmentation are the leading factors that cause wildlife extinction to occur. The second largest threat is from introducing nonnative species into ecosystems. Many species are accidentally introduced. Many are introduced because of their value as a food source and as pest control. The problem with these nonnative species is that they have no “natural predators, competitors, parasites, or pathogens” that control their population.(Sustaining Biodiversity). Poaching and hunting is another cause of wildlife extinction, but it is a very lucrative business so it is popular. Predator control is also causing extinction. “Since 1929 U.S.ranchers and government agencies have poisoned 99% of North America’s prairie dogs because horses and cattle sometimes step into the burrows and break their legs” (Sustaining Biodiversity).
The market for exotic pets and plants are also a cause of wildlife extinction. “About 25 million U.S. households have exotic birds as pets, 85% of them imported. More than 60 bird species, mostly parrots, are endangered or threatened because of this wild bird trade” (Sustaining Biodiversity). The reason that pollution and climate change also impacts species and causes extinction because of pesticides and rapid climate change. “According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, each year in the United States, pesticides kill about one-fifth of the country’s beneficial honeybee colonies, more than 67 million birds, and 6–14 million fish. They also threaten about one-fifth of the country’s endangered and threatened species” (Sustaining Biodiversity). Humans are causing wildlife extinction to happen a lot faster than it should.
The impact of deforestation on wildlife extinction is severe. Deforestation is “the greatest eliminator of terrestrial species.”(Sustaining Biodiversity) As shown in the last slide habitat loss is the greatest factor in wildlife extinction and habitat loss is caused by deforestation. When deforestation occurs many species lose their natural homes and food supplies. It happens so rapidly that they do not have time to adapt and species are lost. These areas are industrialized, commercialized, urbanized, and used for agriculture. Deforestation not only causes many plants and animals to become extinct it also causes soil degradation which causes more habitat loss and extinction.
Wildlife extinction has a large impact on our world that most people are not aware of. “it will take at least 5 million years for speciation to rebuild the biodiversity we are likely to destroy during this century!” (Sustaining Biodiversity) The instrumental value of some species should be taken into consideration. “Species provide economic value in the form of food crops, fuelwood and lumber, paper, and medicine” (Sustaining Biodiversity). The genetic information in species is also very important to mankind. The information is used to create new crop types, as well as food, medicines, and vaccines. The plants and animals of the earth are also important because of the recreational pleasure they provide us with. More people in America spend time watching wildlife than they do watching movies or sports. “Eco-tourism, generates at least $500 billion per year worldwide” (Sustaining Biodiversity) There are many ways wildlife extinction has an influence on the world.
“Biologists conservatively estimate that the current rate of extinction is at least 1,000 to 10,000 times the rate before we arrived. This amounts to an annual extinction rate of 0.1% to 1% per year.” These estimated extinction rats are startling and noteworthy. “1% extinction rate at least 20% of the world’s current animal and plant species could be gone by 2030 and 50% could vanish by the end of this century.” (Sustaining Biodiversity)At these rates the amount of extinction will damage the world so drastically that it will take twenty times the amount of time it took to damage it, to fix it. The worst part is the rate of loss is likely to increase over the next “50- 100 years”. (Sustaining Biodiversity)
Land life zones are categorized as desert, forest, grassland, and tundra. They are the home to many species and are constantly threatened. Climate change and pollution is affecting these biomes and the species that inhabit them. Deforestation is happening constantly and this is extremely harmful to all of these biomes. Without some sort of protection many land life zones will be lost.
Aquatic life zones are categorized as freshwater and marine. Aquatic life zones are a major natural resource and should be respected and taken care of. These biomes are the most complex and also the most threatened. At “34%” fish are the most endangered species in the world (Sustaining Biodiversity). Freshwater life zones suffer terribly from pollution, and “runoff containing fertilizer and other wastes and industrial dumpings enter into rivers, ponds, and lakes and tend to promote abnormally rapid algae growth” (The world’s biomes). Overfishing is also ruining these biomes. Aquatic life zones support so many of the species of this planet, and they should be treated as important as they are.
Aquatic Diversity Management Areas will help preserve Aquatic biodiversity because they manage and protect the biodiversity in given areas. Another method of preservation is Marine Reserves; these reserves are spaces within the sea that fishing is banned in. Bioregional Management is a strategy for the entire ecosystem that balances conservation, and social and economic needs in order to protect biodiversity. A list of threatened and endangered species is compiled in order to alert people of the species possible extinction. These lists help protect these species.
Sustaining Biodiversity: The Species Approach, Living in the environment. (2005)
How Do Scientists Define Biodiversity. (n.d.) Retrieved July 15, 2007 fromhttp://www.biodiversityproject.org/bdscientists.htm
The world’s biomes. (n.d.) Retrieved July 15, 2007 from, http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/exhibits/biomes/index.php
Originally published at http://sarahganly.blogspot.com.