What does biodiversity mean?
Biodiversity, or biological diversity, is the great diversity of ecosystems and the various species that each incorporate and exist on the planet as a result of millions of years of evolution. It is one of the most unique and important features of our planet, in which there are many species adapted to different vital environments and carriers of immense genetic variability.
When considering biodiversity, all life forms on the planet are taken into account, both plants and animals such as fungi and protozoa. The term refers not only to the number of possible species but also to the genetic diversity within the species themselves. The term also applies to the set of all possible ecosystems.
As a result, the different natural regions of the world have different biodiversity and reach very high rates in jungle habitats near the equator. The same goes for the large oceanic coral reefs around which many underwater species revolve.
What are the Importance of biodiversity?
Biodiversity is one of the great treasures of our planet. Due to the diversity and amount of available life, only a fragment of all animal or plant species is known.
Because of this, many answers can be found in this large percentage of unknown beings: medicines, materials, keys to understanding life itself, or even better understanding the history of our planet.
It is impossible to know what is hidden in the vastness of planetary life. Therefore, if we can first benefit from it without destroying it, it would be unforgivable to destroy it and deprive us of all that we know, learn and do.
On the other hand, biodiversity is necessary for the extremely complex biological and biogeochemical cycles on our planet. The impoverishment of life on the planet has a direct impact, whether we can appreciate it or not, on the quality of all life, including humans.
For example, the destruction of wild habitats by deforestation exposes us to new forms of diseases which, if left in their original cycle, would never have come into contact with us or have endangered our health.
Threat to biodiversity
While natural disasters endanger the diversity of life, their greatest threat comes from the economic and industrial activities of humans. As a species, the biodiversity of our planet is becoming increasingly poor and we are ultimately attacking ourselves.
The main threats to human biodiversity are:
- The modification of the land, soil, and territories for agriculture and cattle raising.
- Sustained deforestation to feed industry wood and paper, or to expand farmlands.
- The selective and intensive breeding of some species of commercial value, to the detriment of the biological balance existing in nature.
- The activities of dredging, channeling of rivers, filling of humid lands, and other forms of alteration of the habitat of the species.
- The pollution of various ecosystems existing, due to the byproducts of industrial activity or increasing production of waste and waste.
- The indiscriminate hunting of some species for commercial purposes, which has brought them to the brink of extinction.
- The destruction of soils due to open-pit mining and the subsequent contamination of surface waters with the extracted metals or the substances used to extract them.
- The accidental introduction of species into distant ecosystems, in which they invade niches and cause biological imbalance.
- The incessant growth of the human population and the geographical expansion of cities.
Biodiversity and evolution
Biodiversity is the result of evolution. As we know thanks to Charles Darwin and his later followers, species of living beings have their origin in adapting pre-existing species to new living conditions by distancing themselves physically or socially from their predecessors until the difference becomes so great that it already exists two completely different types.
For example, Darwin discovered that some species of birds in the Galapagos Islands were very similar to those on land, but with particular changes in the shape of their beaks that showed an adaptation to different feeding niches: long beaks for removing worms from wood, sturdy and short beaks for opening seeds, etc.
However, they all had common traits that show their common origin so that they were once the same species. However, as time, adaptation, and specialization of their diets made them two new species, increasing the biodiversity of the area.
Measures to conserve biodiversity
Protecting biodiversity is a task that humans must take on as their own. In many ways, this involves rethinking the way various economic activities are carried out. Indeed, many international organizations are trying to bring the various nations together so that they can collectively make relevant decisions on this matter.
However, the most urgent measures to protect biodiversity are:
- Regulate economic exploitation activities that have a high environmental impact, such as deforestation, basic industries, mining, or extensive agriculture, in such a way that their profitability is threatened if they are carried out in an unfriendly way with the environment.
- Similarly, prosecute and stop illegal economic activities, which are not subject to any type of regulation (neither ecological nor otherwise).
- Promote responsible consumption, reuse, and recycling, as part of a more friendly way of life with the planet, in which we do not fill the habitat of other living beings with plastic and chemical waste.
- Invest in sustainable forms of energy that have a lower ecological cost and do not threaten life on the planet. At the same time, manage energy responsibly and not wastefully.
- Strengthen the control of the movement of animal and plant species to prevent the accidental introduction of species into habitats where they can become a pest.
- Tighten controls regarding the indiscriminate hunting of endangered species, and at the same time invest in the protectionist efforts of organizations that seek to breed and reintroduce them to their habitat.
What does biodiversity mean? Importance, Evolution, & Threat1