Living things are dying out faster now than ever before. This means big changes for all of the other living things on Earth. Biodiversity
is the number of living things in one place, which can mean the number of different kinds of living things and how many individuals of each kind are living there. When living things die out, we lose biodiversity, which leads to more things dying out because they lost their food. We can't guess what groups of living things will die out years from now, but we can make guesses based on the number of those living things alive today. People are causing this to happen, but there are many things we can do to protect those living things, which we will look at now.
The different ecosystems- like the coral reef and prairies allows for many diverse species to exist.
Biodiversity is not the same everywhere. One lake may have over 500 kinds of just one fish, while another in a nearby place could have less than 100. Biodiversity loss
is when the number of living things in one place dies out or has to move to find food or water. It might not seem like a big deal for one kind of animal to die out, but the loss of that one kind of animal leads to other animals dying out also. This is happening quickly in rainforests, like the one below. While there is a lot of biodiversity, people are cutting down the trees for wood and for space to farm. This is causing many living things to die out, which will soon have an effect on people. People need living things to stay alive, just like all life on Earth. However, people are the only living things that are forever destroying nature and many of the things that we all need.
People and Biodiversity: Farming Genetic diversity
This tropical lowland rainforest in Madagascar is an example of a high biodiversity habitat.
is the different genes within one group of animals. For example, one cat can have four babies that all have different colors. This happens so that if one color of fur is bad for survival, that cat can't go on to have children that are that same color that caused it to die out, and that gene goes away because it is not helpful. The cats that have colors that don't die out will go on to have children that same color. This is important for groups of animals to be able to live in places that are always changing. You can look at genetic diversity to check the biodiversity of a place.
Potatoes are an example of genetic diversity in crops. If a farmer only plants one type of seed, then if something happens to that crop, like a sickness, then all of the food is gone. In Ireland in 1885 the potatoes plants all got sick and all of them died. Since that was the only crop planted, many people had no food at all and either died or had to move. Monoculture
is when just one kind of crop is grown in the same place on a farm. Farmers need to ensure that they don't have a group of clones and instead plant lots of different individuals of a crop. This way if one gets sick, there might be a few that survive.
People and Biodiversity: Fishing
The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a storage facility for seeds of Earth’s diverse crops.
People can grow their own food and raise their own animals to eat, but they still get food from the wild. This mostly happens through ocean fishing. Many people depend on fish to eat and sell, but there a fewer fish being caught today than ever before. Overfishing
is taking one kind of fish from the ocean faster than it can make more of its kind. This doesn't usually cause one group of fish to die out, but it does really change the ocean that these fish live in. Not only do people lose a kind of food when a group of fish dies out, but other animals who eat that food can also die out as a result. One way we can help solve this problem is by raising fish on a fish farm, so people can control the fish and where they live. This doesn't always work because this would lead to low genetic diversity, so if the fish got sick, all of them would die. A better idea would be to find ways to control how much fish can be eaten and sold to give fish a chance to make more fish.
Fish farms, like the one in Loch Ainort shown, are way to combat against overfishing.
The earth is always changing and being changed. When this happens, groups of animals can be forced to leave or die out. This leads to biodiversity loss, or when the number of different living things in a place dies out. Having genetic diversity, or differences in a group of the same animal, is important because it can give a group of living things a better chance at staying alive. If genetic diversity is low, like we see with monoculture, we risk that one crop getting sick and all dying out. We also see biodiversity loss from overfishing, taking more fish from the ocean that faster than more fish can be born. People need to see that changing our Earth is leading to groups of living things dying out, which not only affects those animals and the living things around them but at some point will affect people, too.