Why biodiversity important
In this article, we are going to learn and understand, “why biodiversity important”? We shall also discuss the protection of biodiversity.
Approximately 10 million types of organisms living on this planet but less than one-third have been found and put in the record (cataloged) by scientists. Diversity among the Earth’s organisms is more common than the fundamental unit of life.
The term biodiversity has been derived from two words, ‘bio’ and ‘diversity. Diversity refers to variety within a species and among species. It is the measure of the variety of living things that inhabited different regions (ecosystem) of the Earth. The diversity of both plants (flora) and animals (fauna) in an ecosystem depends on the climate, soils and altitude, and the existence of other species. Biodiversity does not confine only to this planet (Earth) but also reaches the richest in the tropics. Biodiversity in temperate areas of earth present in abundance while there are less fewer species in the polar regions. Tropical forests cover less than 10% of the earth’s surface and contain about 90% of the world’s species. Marine life is usually highest in coasts in the western Pacific, where sea surface temperature is highest and in the mid-latitudinal band in all oceans. There is a latitudinal gradient in species diversity. Biodiversity usually tends to cluster in hotspots and has been increasing with time but will be likely slow in the future. It has been estimated that the total mass of biodiversity as much as 4Ttc (trillions of tons of carbon). Before years in July 2016, scientists reported identifying as a set of 355 genes from the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) of all organisms living on earth.
The estimated age of the earth is 4.54 billion years, the earliest undisputed evidence of life on earth dates at least 3.5 billion years ago during the Eoarchean Era after a geological crust started to solidify following the earlier molten Hadean Eon. Microbial mat fossils found in 3.48 billion years old sandstone discovered in Western Australia. Other early physical evidence of a biogenic substance Graphite in 3.7 billion years old metasedimentary rocks found in Western Greenland. More recently in 2015 remains of biotic life were found in 4.1 billion years old rocks in Western Australia. According to the researchers, if life arose relatively immediately on Earth then it could be more on the Universe. However, the origin of life is not well known to scientists, though limited evidence suggests that until 600 million years ago, all life consisted of simple living creatures including bacteria and similar unicellular organisms.
Why biodiversity important
Biodiversity provides food for humans and other organisms like herbivorous and carnivorous etc. A significant proportion of medicines are derived directly or indirectly, from biological sources. Biodiversity increases ecosystem productivity where each species, no matter how small, has an important role to play. For example, a very large number of plant species is a source of a great variety of crops. Greater diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life. A wide range of industrial materials e.g. building materials, fibers, dyes, resins, gums, adhesives, rubber, and oils are derived directly from plants.
Biodiversity plays an important role in making and maintaining an ecosystem. It plays a vital role in regulating the physical and chemical nature of our atmosphere.
Healthy biodiversity gives a number of natural services for every living thing:
- Biological resources such as,
- Wood products
- Ornamental plants
- Breeding stock
- Medicinal drugs
- Future resources
- Diversity in genes, species, and ecosystem
- Social benefits such as,
- Education, research, and monitoring
- Recreation and Tourism
- Cultural values
- Ecosystem services such as,
- Protection of water bodies
- Protection and formation of soil
- Maintenance of ecosystem
- Nutrient recycling and storage
- Pollution breakdown
- Recovery from unpredictable events
Besides the above-demonstrated services, Biodiversity plays a crucial role in human nutrition through its impact on world food production, as it ensures the sustainable productivity of soil and provides the genetic resources of all crops, livestock, and marine species harvested for food. Biodiversity is important for human beings for many reasons. It is also considered by many to have intrinsic value, that is, each species has a value and right to exist, whether or not it is known to have value humans.
PROTECTION OF BIODIVERSITY
Biodiversity protection refers to the upliftment and management of biodiversity in order to obtain sustainable benefits for present and future generations. During the last century, loss of biodiversity has been increasingly noted. Due to human activities, in the recent age, species and ecosystems are threatened with destruction to an extent rarely seen in early Earth history. A species that no longer live in any ecosystem is generally known as extinct species. The stability of an ecosystem severely disturbs, the extinction of any single species of that ecosystem. Biologists pointed out that the global ecosystem would destroy if biodiversity lasts to be reduced at the same rate. Due to human actions, some species are at a risk to be extinct in near future, such species are termed endangered species.
Biodiversity and its conservation methods
Biodiversity generally refers to the variability of life on earth. It can be protected or conserved in two ways:
- In-situ Conservation
- Ex-situ Conservation
In-situ Conservation: In-situ conservation of biodiversity is the conservation of species in their natural habitat. In this method, the natural ecosystem is maintained and protected. There are so many advantages of In-situ conservation. Following are some important benefits of In-situ conservation.
- It is a cost-effective and most convenient method of conserving biodiversity.
- A very large number of living organisms can be protected at the same time.
- Since the organisms are in their natural ecosystem, that is why they evolve better and easily adjust to different environmental conditions. Certain protected areas where In-situ conservation takes place including national parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and biosphere reserves.
Ex-situ Conservation: Ex-situ conservation involves the breeding and maintenance of endangered species in artificial ecosystems e.g. zoos, botanical gardens, gene banks, etc. There is less competition for food, water, light, and space among organisms. Ex-situ has the following advantages,
- The animals are provided with a longer time breeding activity
- Genetic techniques can be applied for the protection of endangered species.