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Consequences of biodiversity

Submitted by:

Neeru Singh Redhu 2007BS158M

What is Biodiversity?
The term biodiversity - or biological diversity - refers to the immense variety of species on this planet and the complex communities or ecosystems these species form.

About 1.75 million different species have been identified on Earth so far. There may actually be some 13 million species, although some estimates range as high as 100 million. Each species plays its role and together they contribute to the formation of the ecosphere that supports all life.

Biodiversity also refers to the genetic differences within species - such as the differences between varieties of crops or breeds of livestock. It also refers to the diversity of ecosystems, such as those that occur in prairies, forests, wetlands, lakes, rivers, and agricultural landscapes. In each ecosystem, living creatures form a community, interacting with one another and with the air, water, and soil.

Ecosystems provide food, fuel, fiber, and drinkable water, regulate local and regional climate, and recycle needed nutrients, among other things. An ecosyste's ability to sustain functioning may depend on the number of species residing in the ecosystem--its biological diversity--but this has been a controversial hypothesis.

Biodiversity and People

It is the diversity of life forms and their interactions with each other and with the rest of the environment that has made the earth a habitable place for humans. Biodiversity provides a range of materials and services that sustain us - from the production of oxygen and nutrients to the purification of wastes

Our economy and lifestyle based on the unsustainable consumption of resources from plants and animals, which also involves the release of wastes and toxic materials into the environment, contributes to species loss. Species are disappearing at 50 to 100 times the natural rate of extinction and this is expected to rise dramatically during this century. Based on current trends, an estimated 34,000 plant and 5,200 animal species - including one in eight of the world's bird species - currently face extinction.

Agricultural systems have also relied on a broad range of plant and animal species and varieties. But diversity is also shrinking, as modern agriculture focuses on relatively few, highly productive crop varieties and livestock breeds.

Vast areas of forests, wetlands, prairies and other ecosystems have been destroyed, degraded, fragmented, or converted to less diverse agricultural systems, forest plantations, or urban areas. Losses of these systems are the biggest threat to species biodiversity. Humaninduced global changes like ozone depletion and climate change add to this threat.

Each species and ecosystem has intrinsic value. Together they provide "goods and services" that support life, including human life. Some of these invaluable services Provision of food, fuel and Generation and renewal of fibre soil fertility, including include:
Provision of shelter and building materials Purification of air and water Detoxification and decomposition of wastes Stabilization and moderation of Earth's climate Moderation of floods, droughts, temperature extremes and wind nutrient cycling Pollination of plants, including many crops Control of pests and diseases Maintenance of genetic resources as key inputs to crop varieties and livestock breeds, medicines, and other products Cultural and aesthetic benefits Ability to adapt to change

Consequences of Biodiversity Loss

The loss of biodiversity has often been seen as an aesthetic or bioethical issue. The lack of a broader understanding of the consequences of the declining diversity of our living resources has been an important gap in our scientific understanding of the world.

Results emerging from the most extensive research ever on the ecological impacts of biodiversity have begun to fill this gap. A large-scale study called the BIODEPTH project has shown that reduced plant diversity impairs important aspects of ecosystem functioning. The research demonstrated that reduced biodiversity of grassland plants also lowers the productivity of the land. These findings have important implications for agriculture, grassland management, water quality and sustainable land use. (BIODEPTH is an acronym for BIODiversity and Ecosystem Processes in Terrestrial Herbaceous Ecosystems.)

Plant biodiversity is declining worldwide because of intensive farming, land abandonment, pollution, and other environmental change. To mimic this gradual loss of plant species, researchers created a series of small meadows that contained progressively fewer plant species. They created the miniature meadows by removing the existing vegetation and sowing different flower and grass seeds of local origin, basing the highest diversity upon the species richness of neighbouring grasslands. Five levels of diversity were sown, from the highly diverse to single species monocultures typical of modern agriculture.

plantations are primarily considered an efficient means of producing timber, there is increasing interest in their potential contribution to biodiversity conservation. Plantations may have both positive and negative consequences for biodiversity, at a range of scales.

plantation scenarios proposed for cleared rainforest landscapes in tropical and subtropical area
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The scenarios were monocultures of: (i) hoop pine (ii) exotic pine (iii) eucalypts (iv) mixed species plantations (v) a mosaic of monoculture plantations (vi) a mosaic of plantations and ecological restoration plantings.

Climate change is a growing concern to society. Since the mid-1800s global temperatures have increased by about 0.6C, impacting the entire world, from low-lying islands in the tropics to the vast Polar Regions. Current climate change predictions estimate further increases in temperatures of 1.4C to 5.8C by 2100. This will undoubtedly have severe consequences on biodiversity. Climate change is already forcing living organisms and ecosystems to adapt either through shifting habitat, changing life cycles, or the development of new physical traits. Those species that are unable to adapt are facing extinction. In fact, predictions estimate that up

The new great threat to biodiversity