Habitat Reduction and Loss of Biodiversity - Population Health & Environment Assessment Answers

August 21, 2017
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Question: Environment Assignment

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course:- Environment and Population Health

Assignment:- Habitat Reduction and Loss of Biodiversity

Species extinction - causes, ecological impacts and human health

Explain the chain of events that links the extinction of a species and the health of populations. Use examples to illustrate your answer.

In your answer you should consider:

  • the cause of extinction
  • impact of the extinction on the ecosystem
  • how the impact on the ecosystem impacts on human health.

 

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Solution: Habitat Reduction and Loss of Biodiversity

Background

Natural selection and evolution is a slow process that naturally leads to extinction of species over the course of time. But it has been observed that the current rate with which the species are getting extinct is around 1,000 times higher than the natural rate of extinction. This alarming increase in the rate of extinction has been attributed to a number of reasons some of which include alteration and loss of habitat, over exploitation of resources, change in favorable climatic conditions, pollution and introduction of exotic species. Though many reasons have been observed, habitat loss is still considered to be the greatest threat to biodiversity (Brooks et al., 2002; Hanski, 2005). The natural habitat of plants, animals and microbes is being converted into lands for agriculture, commercial plantation, pastures, households and industries owing to the increasing needs to human population.

Effect of habitat loss on biodiversity

It is obvious that plants and animals will suffer when their habitats get degraded or lost permanently.  It was observed that 85% of all the species listed in IUCN’s Red List got extinct because of destruction caused to their habitat.

Here I would like to quote an example. Tropical regions of Africa, America and Asia are being cleared at an accelerated rate for developing palm oil plantations. This has led to large scale damage to the natural habitat of many species including tigers, elephants, rhinos and especially orangutans. These species soon got isolated and became endangered due to decline in availability of food and shelter. Also these species invade the areas occupied by humans when their own natural living space gets destroyed. This further leads to killing or captivation of these species by human beings (Terrettaz, 2016).

The great barrier coral reef bleaching is another issue which is gaining concern of scientists. Rapidly changing climatic conditions have severely impacted the beautiful coral reefs, which is one among the world's most valuable natural treasures. Corals live in close association with algae, which give them vibrant color and food for survival. The rising temperature of the ocean beds is leading to stress in corals. In stressed conditions corals expel the microscopic algae and turn white. Corals gradually die due to loss of food producing source. Australia is facing this problem as 60% of its total heritage of corals has already got affected. As corals are home for hundreds of other species they may also die because of loss of habitat (Authority, 2014).

Impact of the biodiversity loss on the ecosystem

The ecosystem refers to a large community where living organisms live in close association with each other and various physical factors surronding them. All the species inhabiting this earth are linked together directly or indirectly. Thus extinction of even one of the species from the food chain can lead to serious problem of imbalance in the ecosystem. The major functions of ecosystem like biomass production, cycling of nutrients, flux of elements in biogeochemical cycles, etc. strongly depend on the richness biodiversity. Extinction of certain species will leave a big impact on the life and habitat of the humans as well (Cardinale et al., 2012).

Link between biodiversity, ecosystem and human well-being

Biological diversity form a rich resource which help in sustaining many families, communities, nations and even the future generations. All the species form an interconnected network creating a huge web of life. So loss of bioversity simply means that millions of people will soon encounter food and water crisis. The quality of life will also detiorate as natural sources which help in various life processes like soil formation and protection, pollution breakdown and absorption, climate stability and recovery from natural disasters will no longer be avaiable.

Following are a few exampes to highlight the importace of biodiversity and a balanced ecosystem (UN, 2016):

  1. According to the report generated by IUCN, the World Conservation Union, the goods and services obtained from ecosystem if seen in terms of money, account for 33 trillion US dollars per year.
  2. Floral diversity in the world consist of many plants and herbs of high medicinal value. It has been estimated that around 50,000-70,000 plant species are harvested worldwide for making traditional and modern medicines.
  3. Many aquatic species are used all over the world as food source or for many goods of high value. Fishes, molluscs and crustaceans obtained from natural sources are estimated to be around 100 million metric tonnes. The mangroves of Gulf of California alone support fisheries of economic value of  $37,500 per hectare of the area.
  4. The people living under high poverty and food insecurity conditions strongly depend upon meat from wild animals for their food and other livelihood activities.
  5. Also the the national parks in Canada form a rich source of carbon. They store around 4.43 gigatonnes of carbon worth between $11 billion and $2.2 trillion.
  6. Tourism industry in many parts of the world too depends on the treasure hidden in the lapse of the nature. Nature-based tourism in Africa contributes same amount of revenue as collectively obtained from farming, forestry and fisheries. Similarly, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia contributes nearly AUS$6 billion to its economy.

So it is self-evident that biological diversity and its crucial role in maintaing the ecological balance is very important for human well-being.

Conclusion

The human population will get adversely affected by the loss of biological diversity. The extinction of the species from the ecosystem imparts a great impact on the environmental condition thereby disturbing the balance of ecosystem. Thus, the extinction of different species is related to human beings in the direct or indirect way. It is our duty to monitor the activities which are leading to extinction of the species. We must take a concrete step towards the conservation of the ecosystem.

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