Vedantu

Introduction to Biodiversity Loss

In the biosphere of earth, there is a huge diversity that exists at all levels of biological organisation. The variety that exists in the number and type of genes, the species, organisms, and large biological communities or biomes is known as Biodiversity. The loss resulting due to the decrease or reduction in this variety due to different factors can be called Biodiversity loss. Even in the smallest of the biological communities in a particular region the current loss of biodiversity is caused due to human activities. The loss of biodiversity in a region may lead to the extinction of certain species which can lead to the extinction of the entire ecosystem in that particular area.


The idea of biodiversity is usually considered in terms of the variety or diversity of species called species richness. Hence, simplistically biodiversity loss is identified with the loss of species from a particular region, ecosystem, or biome, but the consequences of biodiversity loss of a species will have adverse effects on the entire ecosystem or the biome. This is because the biodiversity decline leads to disruption of the food chain and nutritional dependence on a particular species.


Loss of Biodiversity

The loss of biodiversity definition can be given as the extinction and/or reduction of species in a certain habitat worldwide resulting in biodiversity depletion. This loss of biodiversity is caused due to various factors over periods of the earth’s timeline. But all of these factors have been a part of the natural order system of mass extinction. The loss of biodiversity and ecosystem loss or the mass extinction happening currently at 100 to 1000 more rate than the natural manner is due to human activities. Human activities have led to a huge aggravation of factors associated with mass extinction events. 


The consequences of biodiversity loss in a given region may lead to a decline in plant production, lowered resistance to grievous environmental changes and increased variability in ecosystem processes, for example, plant productivity, water use and disease cycles. Other consequences of biodiversity loss are the coextinction of species because of disruption in the food chain and food web, destruction of alternative pathways for the ecosystem to withstand adverse conditions, and immediate danger of food security for humankind in a particular habitat.


Factors of Biodiversity Loss

As already mentioned above the loss of biodiversity is caused due to human activities such as improper disposal and release of industrial waste and gases. The major causes of Biodiversity Loss are explained below.

  1. Habitat Loss and Fragmentation: It is one of the major causes that drive the loss of diversity in an ecosystem. Habitat loss meaning is understood in simple terms as losing your own home. A very common cause or example of the reason for biodiversity depletion is reducing forest cover. The most drastic and dramatic example is the loss of tropical rainforests. They are being destroyed fast. Once they covered 14% of the earth’s land surface and now they cover only around 6%. Loss of biodiversity definition is exemplified by the biodiversity decline in populations of migratory birds, mammals unique to a particular region, etc. because of human activities and pollution leading to habitat loss meaning destruction of their natural living conditions.


  1. Over-Exploitation: Natural resources which seemed infinite some thousand years ago now seem very much limited owing to the increased population of human beings alone. Also, the greed of many human enterprises and endeavours over the past centuries has led to overexploitation of natural resources which in turn has led to the destruction of biodiversity. Species like Steller's sea cow and passenger pigeon have gone extinct in the last 500 years because of overexploitation. Land-use intensification has been one of the major causes of biodiversity and ecosystem loss. Thus, the above-mentioned habitat loss meaning is exemplified by the over-exploitation of the land resources. On an alarming note, humans are using natural resources at 25% more than the planet. 


  1. Alien Species Invasion: Alien species for a particular region can be defined as the species that originally didn't inhabit the particular habitat or have not evolved in that particular habitat. When a foreign species is introduced knowingly or unknowingly in a given region, it can turn invasive and cause biodiversity loss. Biodiversity depletion or biodiversity decline of more than 200 species of cichlid fish in Lake Victoria of east Africa was caused due to the introduction of Nile perch. Not only do the new species become invasive but also when they compete for the niche with the indigenous species and replace them, the entire ecosystem based upon and surrounding the indigenous ones suffers. It is not only the loss of biodiversity introduction in the local area but also the simultaneous biodiversity and ecosystem loss.


  1. Co-Extinctions: Loss of biodiversity is caused due to human activities that increase the rate of factors of biodiversity loss such as habitat loss because of overexploitation of the resources and invasion by foreign species. Biodiversity loss meaning, in this regard, is characterized by the loss of diversity in the ecosystem and the food web that is dependent on the native species in a given region. Loss of biodiversity meaning in this scenario says that when a species becomes extinct, the plant and the animal species that were associated with it also become extinct. Loss of biodiversity meaning in this case implies co-extinction. When a host fish species goes extinct, the assemblage of the parasite species also faces the same fate. Thus, loss of biodiversity in a region may lead to not only the extinction of one species but also coextinction due to a combination of biodiversity and ecosystem loss.


The biodiversity loss meaning is clear in the above mentioned short note. The consequences of biodiversity loss are dire. Scientific studies have shown that biologically diverse ecosystems are more productive even for human beings. It is well known that the high rates of modern extinctions are because of overexploitation, pollution, and habitat loss due to human activities. Nature's ability to provide essential products such as food, clean water and a stable survivable climate is reduced gravely because of these rates of extinction. Therefore, it is important to preserve biodiversity and many steps are being taken by various organizations around the world with that regard.


Importance of Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the source that is giving life to living organisms. So the importance of biodiversity has gotten more attention than any other. Especially when it comes to the times at which we are facing global warming scenarios. That is why, for protecting biodiversity, each organism is given a special place based on its uniqueness.


The book of CSIRO(Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) describes the human's place on biodiversity based on the five core values. They are:

  • Scientific

  • Recreation

  • Economic

  • Cultural

  • Ecological life support


Biodiversity exists through links and connections throughout the system. In that way, it is made possible to take information and process our livelihood with understanding. In the method of recreation, we enjoy watching nature like going camping, bird watching, hiking, and fishing. It is this way, the tourism industry has got much popularity, by taking advantage of human instincts. The livelihood inside the biodiversity survives through the raw materials provided by the biodiversity. We began living like animals by hunting and thereafter dominating the earth’s species with intellectual behavior. In many parts like Australia, some people still believe to live aside from the natural habitats. The spiritual beliefs entangled help them be stronger and to have a closer connection with plants and animals. The ecological support we get from biodiversity is amazing. Everything that is provided whether good or harmful is made suitable enough for the living organisms to survive. And just like the food chain, nature continues to amaze us and exist.


Anything that happens to harm the natural habitats is interlinked with human beings. So the measures we take to protect it come with assessments. So there are services that are made responsible for conservation of all of these values that we are getting out of biodiversity. They are:

  • Supporting services

  • Provisional services

  • Cultural services

  • Regulating services


Conserving Biodiversity

The functioning of the ecosystems that includes a safe environment for human beings comes after biodiversity. So the biodiversity just like the term means, the diversity in the number of plants, animals, and other micro-macro species have to be conserved. Some of the ways by which we can conserve biodiversity are mentioned below:

  • The invasion has always been the crazy idea of humans for taking charge of a location. So it is to be reduced for giving a safe zone for other organisms to survive.

  • After the recreation is done for human needs, the loss of natural habitats and hunting down lead to the extinction of several unique species. This does affect the food chain drastically and so needs to be avoided. 

  • Climate change has to be reduced by living eco-friendly as much as possible.

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FAQs on Biodiversity Loss

1. Why is biodiversity so relevant?

Any organism that exists in this world does have a purpose to fulfill. It may be for the support in the survival of another organism. And also it could be for helping in decaying and decomposing the dead as well. Biodiversity always does have the level of consistency in providing and taking back. Also by making sure that the ecosystem has always been clean just like before. However, introducing something so artificial or man-made doesn’t go well with biodiversity. This is because we are trying to deteriorate the natural rhythm of biodiversity.

2. Which are the five threats to biodiversity?

The major threat is human invasion itself. For our survival, we are trying to mine out the conserved and reserved natural resources in an exploiting way. And this is not the right way since we are digging our own grave along with that.

 

The pollution caused by artificial agents introduced has been exploiting our natural resources including basic needs like food and water. The invasion of hills and lands has led to landslides and many other natural disasters. The climate change that came after the imbalance in the natural algorithm of biodiversity is a threat that we are facing today. It is not only exploiting biodiversity but also our ecosystem to survive too. And in a way, this has led to pandemics with unknown viruses like a corona.

3. What should we do to conserve biodiversity?

We can conserve biodiversity by:

  • Recycling and reusing will help to reduce the accumulation of wastes.

  • While cleanups are conducted, it is advised to volunteer as much as you can. Since a little help can lead to so much difference.

  • By planting trees.

  • Developing education and a career that asks to conserve the environment.

4. Can you give some examples of biodiversity?

Some examples of biodiversity are:

  • Species diversity

  • Genetic diversity

  • Ecosystem diversity

These are the three types of diversities ecologists can assess and point down as examples. If you want to know more about biodiversity and for reading biodiversity-related articles, you can visit the Vedantu website and apps.

5. Which are the biodiversity hotspots in India?

In total there are 34 hotspots. And in India, there are four. They are:

  • Indo-Burma

  • Sundaland

  • Sri Lanka and the Western Ghats

  • Eastern Himalaya


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