In this essay I will talk about the loss of biodiversity. The four important things to know about the loss of biodiversity are what it is, why it is important, why it is being lost, and what we can do to stop it. These are important to know because loss of biodiversity can greatly affect humanity, and it is up to us to stop it before it does some real damage. What is biodiversity? Merriam-Webster (2015) defines biodiversity as “the existence of many different kinds of plants and animals in an environment” (Merriam-Webster, 2015, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/biodiversity) . More specifically, biodiversity is comprised of three separate components: ecosystem diversity, genetic diversity, and species diversity. Ecosystem diversity refers to how many ecosystems are in an area, genetic diversity refers to how much variation there is in the genes of species, and species diversity refers to how many different species are in an area. Together, these things make up biodiversity. The more of each component an area has, the higher biodiversity it has.
Why is biodiversity important? There are lots of reasons why biodiversity is important. One reason is that it helps preserve the balance of nature. An ecosystem with great biodiversity can handle the loss of a species better than one who has little. If an ecosystem with no biodiversity loses a species, it is likely that it will cause some negative effects because there is probably at least one other species relying on it. But if an ecosystem with a lot of biodiversity loses a species, it is less likely to set off a chain reaction that will knock everything else out of balance because there are so many other species and so much variation in those species, that the ecosystem can adapt. Even so, it may seem that this only affects the animals in that ecosystem. This however, is not the case. The effects of the loss of biodiversity could include loss of major crops, and other animals and plants that we greatly depend on. It could cause the extinction of any species, from cotton to the honeybee. It could also cause certain species to overpopulate if the animal that preyed on then died out. This could in turn cause other species to die out as a result of food shortages, and loss of other species habitats.
Why is biodiversity being lost? The short answer is, humans. We as a species have caused the factors that contribute to the loss of biodiversity. One thing that humans have caused that directly lessens biodiversity is overhunting. Overhunting is the excessive hunting of an animal (oxforddictionaries.com, 2015), and can greatly contribute to extinction.
However, not all human contributions to loss of biodiversity are so direct. Humans also cause air, soil, and water pollution, which can also cause loss of biodiversity. Pollution can directly cause some loss of biodiversity by causing some animals populations to die out. Oil spills can cause birds to die, and plastic bags in water can cause sea turtles to mistake them for food and die. Pollution can also cause habitat loss, by ruining the habitat so that native species can no longer survive there (National Wildlife Foundation, 2015). Some other causes of habitat loss include deforestation, slash-and-burn agriculture, and desertification.
Another indirect human cause of loss of biodiversity is the introduction of invasive species. Invasive species can throw food chains out of balance in the way that extinction can. Invasive species can cause native species to die out by eating species directly, eating food which native species also eat, or by carrying disease that can wipe out native populations. All of these can lead to overpopulation and extinction, and can throw the whole food chain out of balance.
The last indirect human cause of loss of biodiversity is human caused climate change. Climate change can devastate populations of animals that rely on specific temperatures to survive. A famous example is the polar bear. Polar bears are dying out because of the melting polar ice caps. Global warming can also directly cause animals to die out without necessarily destroying habitats. The American Pika is a rodent that relies on the cool temperatures of its habitat. Exposure to abnormally warm temperatures can kill the animal in a matter of hours. Although these aren’t the only animals affected by climate change, these illustrate very clearly the dire situations it can cause.
Now that you know what biodiversity is, why it’s important, and what causes it to be loss, it’s important to know how it can be preserved. The simplest of ways to help reduce loss of biodiversity is to try to minimize your contributions to pollution. This means avoiding littering, recycling when you can, and trying to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions (from natural gas power machines, and electricity usage). In addition to being conscious of pollution, you should also try to avoid excessive hunting of any one animal in an area, and bringing non-native species back home from travels elsewhere. It may seem like you couldn’t possibly make a difference, but if we stand together we can.
Biodiversity is a very important part of our planet’s ecosystems and we should try our best to preserve it. As a review, biodiversity is the variation of life in an ecosystem. Loss of biodiversity is important because it can directly affect humans and cause extinction and famine. Loss of biodiversity is caused by human activities such as pollution, deforestation, and overhunting. Together, we can stop loss of biodiversity and conserve our planet’s precious ecosystems.