The Connection of Species at Risk, Biodiversity and Ecosystems Impact Each Other, and Us.
An often-heard phrase is “everything is connected,” and when applied to our natural world it is an important reminder of the impact each living thing has on another. Biological diversity, or biodiversity, is the scientific term for the variety of life on Earth. It refers not just to species but also to ecosystems which enable everything on the planet to thrive and depend on one another. Every living thing, including humans, is involved in these complex networks of interdependent relationships, and biodiversity is a key indicator of an ecosystem’s health.
Our world has many different ecosystems that consist of a geographic area where plants, animals, and other organisms, as well as weather and landscape all interact to form a bubble of life. Ecosystems contain living parts such as plants, animals and other organisms, as well as nonliving parts such as water, soil, and atmosphere.
An ecosystem’s survival depends on healthy biodiversity across all landscapes, including deserts, forests, grasslands, wetlands and oceans. Healthy ecosystems depend on plant and animal species as their foundations. When a species becomes endangered, it is a sign that the ecosystem is slowly falling apart. Each species that is lost triggers the loss of other species within its ecosystem.
As species numbers decline, the impact on food chains are significantly impacted. Animals that once ate the newly-extinct species have to find new food sources or starve and may not have the adapted biological characteristics to survive. This can damage the populations of other plants or animals. Furthermore, if predator numbers decline, its prey’s population can proliferate, creating imbalances in local ecosystems.
The main modern causes of species at risk are biodiversity loss and degradation of habitat (mainly deforestation), over exploitation (hunting, overfishing), invasive species, climate change, and various forms of pollution (air, water, etc.). This means that if the species were to disappear, the ecosystem would be forced to radically change, allowing new and possibly invasive species to populate the habitat.
Why should species at risk matter to us?
Organic and inorganic species are the building blocks of ecosystems, individually and collectively securing the conditions for life. They provide food, medicine and raw materials. They are the basis of soil formation, decomposition, water filtration and flow, pollination, pest control and climate regulation.
Science-Backed Reasons Why Species at Risk are Important:
• They are the sources of medicines, from antibiotics to anti-cancer agents;
• They are the first signal of serious environmental issues;
• They help keep crops (and by proxy, humans) healthy;
• They boost the economy.
The loss of iconic species is a tragedy with broad and deep impact as biodiversity keeps ecosystems functional. Healthy ecosystems allow us to survive, get enough food to eat and make a living.
Everything is connected.