Biodiversity is the variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or for the entire Earth.

Biodiversity is often used as a measure of the health of biological systems. The biodiversity found on Earth today consists of many millions of distinct biological species, which is the product of nearly 3.5 billion years of evolution.[1][2] 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity.

International Year of Biodiversity
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The International Year of Biodiversity (IYB) is a year-long celebration of biological diversity and its value for life on Earth, taking place around the world in 2010. Coinciding with the date of the 2010 Biodiversity Target, the Year was declared by the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly in 2006. The International Year of Biodiversity will help raise awareness of the importance of biodiversity all over the world. Saving biodiversity requires an effort from everyone. Through activities and events in many countries, the global community will work together to ensure a sustainable future for us all.

[edit] Slogan
Biodiversity is life Biodiversity is our life

[edit] Main messages
Humans are part of nature’s rich diversity and have the power to protect or destroy it. Biodiversity, the variety of life on Earth, is essential to sustaining the living networks and systems that provide us all with health, wealth, food, fuel and the vital services our lives depend on. Human activity is causing the diversity of life on Earth to be lost at a greatly accelerated rate. These losses are irreversible, impoverish us all and damage the life support systems we rely on everyday. But we can prevent them. 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. Let’s reflect on our achievements to safeguard biodiversity and focus on the urgency of our challenge for the future. Now is the time to act.


[edit] Main goals
The celebrations of the International Year of Biodiversity are a unique opportunity to raise public awareness about the vital role of biodiversity sustaining life on Earth, supporting ecosystem services and of its importance to human wellbeing and poverty reduction. The main goals of the International Year of Biodiversity are to:
• • • • •

Enhance public awareness of the importance of conserving biodiversity and of the underlying threats to biodiversity Raise awareness of the accomplishments to save biodiversity that have already been realized by communities and governments Promote innovative solutions to reduce the threats to biodiversity Encourage individuals, organizations and governments to take immediate steps to halt biodiversity loss Start dialogue between stakeholders for the steps to be taken in the post-2010 period.

Every person in the world is invited to participate, to act and to share experiences with others.

[edit] Background
The United Nations General Assembly declared 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity (resolution 61/203). This year coincides with the 2010 Biodiversity Target adopted by the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity and by Heads of State and government at the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg in 2002. The Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity, based in Montreal, Canada, is coordinating the International Year of Biodiversity. Established at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is an international treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and the equitable sharing of the multiple benefits of biodiversity. The CBD has near-universal participation, with 191 Parties.

[edit] Celebrations around the world
At the international level International organizations will celebrate the year through a number of events that highlight what is being done. By Governments Governments are the main coordinators of the celebrations. While governments are making plans, here are some ideas of what to do:


• • • •

• • • • • • • •

Extensive website and information materials distributed widely; Coordinated series of celebrations at national, regional and local levels; Extensive support to events created by civil society organizations and others; National support to promote “2010 Success Stories”, including recognition through prizes and certificates of exemplary actions by citizens in support for biodiversity; Exhibition on “2010 Success Stories” at the CEPA fair, at COP-10; Release of National Reports and National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPs); Extensive mobilization of Natural History Museums, including support for the organization of travelling exhibitions; Sponsor and publicize activities organized by biodiversity-related scientific societies and research centres; Partnerships with broadcasters, including sponsorship of film festivals; Support for local biodiversity monitoring programmes; Holding of youth events, including symposia, competitions, etc.; Integration of biodiversity issues into the Education system.

• • •

• • •

Adapt and adopt the International Year of Biodiversity messages and then diffuse them in your networks. Highlight and promote your own 2010 success stories. Provide support and resources to national events including on: o the International Day for Biodiversity 22 May. o the World Environment Day, 5 June, and other events. Build links between biodiversity and other environmental and development themes. Organise events at key international meetings. Become involved in the Convention on Biological Diversity process.

By anyone who wishes to participate As part of the International Year of Biodiversity, people around the world are invited to submit ideas of biodiversity-friendly practices, which:
• • • • • • •

have a positive impact on biodiversity. promote the sustainable use of biodiversity. promote innovative solutions to biodiversity-related problems. motivate individual action to protect biodiversity. can be adapted and imitated by others. raise people’s awareness of biodiversity. show the relationship between biodiversity and other themes.

[edit] Biodiversity-friendly practices in everyday life
Everyone can help biodiversity and the environment by living in a sustainable manner. How are we affecting our surrounding environment? How do our actions affect more distant ecosystems and other people? To consume less, waste less, reuse


and recycle are only the first steps to help biodiversity. Simple everyday activities make a difference.

[edit] What can I do?
Learn about biodiversity and environmental issues in your area and in your country. You need to know a bit about what biodiversity is before you can act. You can participate in the International Year of Biodiversity at the local level by joining environmental NGOs and volunteering in environmental actions. Saving biodiversity starts in the community. Find out about the celebrations in your country and participate. If there are no celebrations in your area, you can organize biodiversityrelated activities, conferences and events yourself. Your biggest contribution though is in your daily actions. Thoughtful consumption that takes into account the impact of your actions on the ecosystems of our planet is the way you can conserve and sustainably use the biodiveristy of our planet.

[edit] Etymology
The term was used first by wildlife scientist and conservationist Raymond F. Dasmann in a lay book[3] advocating nature conservation. The term was not widely adopted for more than a decade, when in the 1980s it and "biodiversity" came into common usage in science and environmental policy. Use of the term by Thomas Lovejoy in the Foreword to the book[4] credited with launching the field of conservation biology introduced the term along with "conservation biology" to the scientific community. Until then the term "natural diversity" was used in conservation science circles, including by The Science Division of The Nature Conservancy in an important 1975 study, "The Preservation of Natural Diversity." By the early 1980s TNC's Science program and its head Robert E. Jenkins, Lovejoy, and other leading conservation scientists at the time in America advocated the use of "biological diversity" to embrace the object of biological conservation. The term's contracted form biodiversity may have been coined by W.G. Rosen in 1985 while planning the National Forum on Biological Diversity organized by the National Research Council (NRC) which was to be held in 1986, and first appeared in a publication in 1988 when entomologist E. O. Wilson used it as the title of the proceedings[5] of that forum.[6] Since this period both terms and the concept have achieved widespread use among biologists, environmentalists, political leaders, and concerned citizens worldwide. The term is sometimes used to equate to a concern for the natural environment and nature conservation. This use has coincided with the expansion of concern over extinction observed in the last decades of the 20th century. A similar concept in use in the United States, besides natural diversity, is the term "natural heritage." It pre-dates both terms though it is a less scientific term and more easily comprehended in some ways by the wider audience interested in conservation. "Natural Heritage" was used when Jimmy Carter set up the Georgia Heritage Trust 4

while he was governor of Georgia; Carter's trust dealt with both natural and cultural heritage. It would appear that Carter picked the term up from Lyndon Johnson, who used it in a 1966 Message to Congress. "Natural Heritage" was picked up by the Science Division of the US Nature Conservancy when, under Jenkins, it launched in 1974 the network of State Natural Heritage Programs. When this network was extended outside the USA, the term "Conservation Data Center" was suggested by Guillermo Mann and came to be preferred.

[edit] Definitions
A Sampling of fungi collected during summer 2008 in Northern Saskatchewan mixed woods, near LaRonge is an example regarding the species diversity of fungi. In this photo, there are also leaf lichens and mosses. "Biological diversity" or "biodiversity" can have many interpretations and it is most commonly used to replace the more clearly defined and long established terms, species diversity and species richness. Biologists most often define biodiversity as the "totality of genes, species, and ecosystems of a region". An advantage of this definition is that it seems to describe most circumstances and present a unified view of the traditional three levels at which biological variety has been identified:

genetic diversity

Genetic diversity
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search Genetic diversity is a level of biodiversity that refers to the total number of genetic characteristics in the genetic makeup of a species. It is distinguished from genetic variability, which describes the tendency of genetic characteristics to vary. The academic field of population genetics includes several hypotheses and theories regarding genetic diversity. The neutral theory of evolution proposes that diversity is the result of the accumulation of neutral substitutions. Diversifying selection is the hypothesis that two subpopulations of a species live in different environments that select for different alleles at a particular locus. This may occur, for instance, if a species has a large range relative to the mobility of individuals within it. Frequencydependent selection is the hypothesis that as alleles become more common, they become less fit. This is often invoked in host-pathogen interactions, where a high frequency of a defensive allele among the host means that it is more likely that a pathogen will spread if it is able to overcome that allele.

[edit] Importance of genetic diversity


There are many different ways to measure genetic diversity. The modern causes for the loss of animal genetic diversity have also been studied and identified.[1][2] A 2007 study conducted by the National Science Foundation found that genetic diversity and biodiversity are dependent upon each other -- that diversity within a species is necessary to maintain diversity among species, and vice versa. According to the lead researcher in the study, Dr. Richard Lankau, "If any one type is removed from the system, the cycle can break down, and the community becomes dominated by a single species."[3]

[edit] Survival and adaptation
Genetic diversity plays a very important role in survival and adaptability of a species because when a species’s environment changes, slight gene variations are necessary to produce changes in the organisms' anatomy that enables it to adapt and survive. A species that has a large degree of genetic diversity among its population will have more variations from which to choose the most fit alleles. Increase in genetic diversity is also essential for an organism to evolve. Species that have very little genetic variation are at a great risk. With very little gene variation within the species, healthy reproduction becomes increasingly difficult, and offspring often deal with similar problems to those of inbreeding.[4] The vulnerability of a population to certain types of diseases can also increase with reduction in genetic diversity.

[edit] Agricultural relevance

When humans initially started farming, they used selective breeding to pass on desirable traits of the crops while omitting the undesirable ones. Selective breeding leads to monocultures: entire farms of nearly genetically identical plants. Little to no genetic diversity makes crops extremely susceptible to widespread disease. Bacteria morph and change constantly. When a disease causing bacterium changes to attack a specific genetic variation, it can easily wipe out vast quantities of the species. If the genetic variation that the bacterium is best at attacking happens to be that which humans have selectively bred to use for harvest, the entire crop will be wiped out.[5] A very similar occurrence is the cause of the infamous Potato Famine in Ireland. Since new potato plants do not come as a result of reproduction but rather from pieces of the parent plant, no genetic diversity is developed, and the entire crop is essentially a clone of one potato, it is especially susceptible to an epidemic. In the 1840s, much of Ireland’s population depended on potatoes for food. They planted namely the “lumper” variety of potato, which was susceptible to a rot-causing plasmodiophorid called Phytophthora infestans.[6] This plasmodiophorid destroyed the vast majority of the potato crop, and left tens of thousands of people to starve to death.

[edit] Coping with poor genetic diversity


The natural world has several ways of preserving or increasing genetic diversity. Among oceanic plankton, viruses aid in the genetic shifting process. Ocean viruses, which infect the plankton, carry genes of other organisms in addition their own. When a virus containing the genes of one cell infects another, the genetic makeup of the latter changes. This constant shift of genetic make-up helps to maintain a healthy population of plankton despite complex and unpredictable environmental changes.[7] Cheetahs are a threatened species. Extremely low genetic diversity and resulting poor sperm quality has made breeding and survivorship difficult for cheetahs –- only about 5% of cheetahs survive to adulthood.[8] About 10,000 years ago, all but the jubatus species of cheetahs died out. The species encountered a population bottleneck and close family relatives were forced to mate with each other, or inbreed.[9] However, it has been recently discovered that female cheetahs can mate with more than one male per litter of cubs. They undergo induced ovulation, which means that a new egg is produced every time a female mates. By mating with multiple males, the mother increases the genetic diversity within a single litter of cubs.[10]

species diversity

Species diversity
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search Species diversity is an index that incorporates the number of species in an area and also their relative abundance. It is generally a much more useful value than species richness. The most common index of species diversity is a family of equations called Simpson's Diversity Index[1]. Here is one such example D = (n / N)2 Where n is the total number of organisms of a particular species and N is the total number of organisms of all species. D is the value of diversity. It can range between 0 and 1, where 0 is infinite diversity, and 1 is the least diverse an ecosystem can possibly be (i.e. only one species present). Humans have a huge effect on species diversity; the main reasons are: - Destruction, Modification, and/or Fragmentation of Habitat - Introduction of Exotic Species - Overharvest - Global Climate Change


ecosystem diversity

Ecosystem diversity
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search Ecosystem diversity refers to the diversity of a place at the level of ecosystems. It is contrasted with biodiversity, which refers to variation in species rather than ecosystems.

This multilevel conception is consistent with the early use of "biological diversity" in Washington. D.C. and international conservation organizations in the late 1960s through 1970's, by Raymond F. Dasmann who apparently coined the term and Thomas E. Lovejoy who later introduced it to the wider conservation and science communities. An explicit definition consistent with this interpretation was first given in a paper by Bruce A. Wilcox commissioned by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) for the 1982 World National Parks Conference in Bali [7] The definition Wilcox gave is "Biological diversity is the variety of life all levels of biological systems (i.e., molecular, organismic, population, species and ecosystem)..." Subsequently, the 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro defined "biological diversity" as "the variability among living organisms from all sources, including, 'inter alia', terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are part: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems". This is, in fact, the closest thing to a single legally accepted definition of biodiversity, since it is the definition adopted by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity. The current textbook definition of "biodiversity" is "variation of life at all levels of biological organization".[8] For geneticists, biodiversity is the diversity of genes and organisms. They study processes such as mutations, gene exchanges, and genome dynamics that occur at the DNA level and generate evolution. Consistent with this, along with the above definition the Wilcox paper stated "genes are the ultimate source of biological organization at all levels of biological systems..."

[edit] Measurement
Main article: Measurement of biodiversity

Measurement of biodiversity
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Jump to: navigation, search Main article: Biodiversity Polar bears on the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean, near the north pole. A variety of objective measures have been created in order to empirically measure biodiversity. Each measure of biodiversity relates to a particular use of the data. For practical conservationists, measurements should include a quantification of values that are commonly-shared among locally affected organisms, including humans. For others, a more economically defensible definition should allow the ensuring of continued possibilities for both adaptation and future use by humans, assuring environmental sustainability. As a consequence, biologists argue that this measure is likely to be associated with the variety of genes. Since it cannot always be said which genes are more likely to prove beneficial, the best choice for conservation is to assure the persistence of as many genes as possible. For ecologists, this latter approach is sometimes considered too restrictive, as it prohibits ecological succession. Biodiversity is usually plotted as taxonomic richness of a geographic area, with some reference to a temporal scale. Whittaker[1] described three common metrics used to measure species-level biodiversity, encompassing attention to species richness or species evenness:
• • •

Species richness - the least sophisticated of the indices available. Simpson index Shannon-Wiener index

Recently, another new index has been invented called the Mean Species Abundance Index (MSA); this index calculates the trend in population size of a cross section of the species. It does this in line with the CBD 2010 indicator for species abundance.[2] There are three other indices which are used by ecologists:

• •

Alpha diversity refers to diversity within a particular area, community or ecosystem, and is measured by counting the number of taxa within the ecosystem (usually species) Beta diversity is species diversity between ecosystems; this involves comparing the number of taxa that are unique to each of the ecosystems. Gamma diversity is a measurement of the overall diversity for different ecosystems within a region.

A variety of objective measures have been created in order to empirically measure biodiversity. Each measure of biodiversity relates to a particular use of the data. For practical conservationists, measurements should include a quantification of values that are commonly-shared among locally affected organisms, including humans. For others, a more economically defensible definition should allow the ensuring of


continued possibilities for both adaptation and future use by humans, assuring environmental sustainability.

[edit] Distribution
A conifer forest in the Swiss Alps (National Park). Selection bias continues to bedevil modern estimates of biodiversity. In 1768 Rev. Gilbert White succinctly observed of his Selborne, Hampshire "all nature is so full, that that district produces the most variety which is the most examined."[9] Nevertheless, biodiversity is not distributed evenly on Earth. It is consistently richer in the tropics and in other localized regions such as the Cape Floristic Province. As one approaches polar regions one generally finds fewer species. Flora and fauna diversity depends on climate, altitude, soils and the presence of other species. In the year 2006 large numbers of the Earth's species were formally classified as rare or endangered or threatened species; moreover, many scientists have estimated that there are millions more species actually endangered which have not yet been formally recognized. About 40 percent of the 40,177 species assessed using the IUCN Red List criteria, are now listed as threatened species with extinction - a total of 16,119 species.[10] Even though biodiversity declines from the equator to the poles in terrestrial ecoregions, whether this is so in aquatic ecosystems is still a hypothesis to be tested, especially in marine ecosystems where causes of this phenomenon are unclear.[11] In addition, particularly in marine ecosystems, there are several well stated cases where diversity in higher latitudes actually increases. Therefore, the lack of information on biodiversity of Tropics and Polar Regions prevents scientific conclusions on the distribution of the world’s aquatic biodiversity. A biodiversity hotspot is a region with a high level of endemic species. These biodiversity hotspots were first identified by Dr. Norman Myers in two articles in the scientific journal The Environmentalist.[12][13] Dense human habitation tends to occur near hotspots. Most hotspots are located in the tropics and most of them are forests. Brazil's Atlantic Forest is considered a hotspot of biodiversity and contains roughly 20,000 plant species, 1350 vertebrates, and millions of insects, about half of which occur nowhere else in the world. The island of Madagascar including the unique Madagascar dry deciduous forests and lowland rainforests possess a very high ratio of species endemism and biodiversity, since the island separated from mainland Africa 65 million years ago, most of the species and ecosystems have evolved independently producing unique species different from those in other parts of Africa. Many regions of high biodiversity (as well as high endemism) arise from very specialized habitats which require unusual adaptation mechanisms. For example the peat bogs of Northern Europe.


[edit] Evolution
Apparent marine fossil diversity during the Phanerozoic Eon Biodiversity found on Earth today is the result of 4 billion years of evolution. The origin of life has not been definitely established by science, however some evidence suggests that life may already have been well-established a few hundred million years after the formation of the Earth. Until approximately 600 million years ago, all life consisted of archaea, bacteria, protozoans and similar single-celled organisms. The history of biodiversity during the Phanerozoic (the last 540 million years), starts with rapid growth during the Cambrian explosion—a period during which nearly every phylum of multicellular organisms first appeared. Over the next 400 million years or so, global diversity showed little overall trend, but was marked by periodic, massive losses of diversity classified as mass extinction events. The apparent biodiversity shown in the fossil record suggests that the last few million years include the period of greatest biodiversity in the Earth's history. However, not all scientists support this view, since there is considerable uncertainty as to how strongly the fossil record is biased by the greater availability and preservation of recent geologic sections. Some (e.g. Alroy et al. 2001) argue that, corrected for sampling artifacts, modern biodiversity is not much different from biodiversity 300 million years ago.[14] Estimates of the present global macroscopic species diversity vary from 2 million to 100 million species, with a best estimate of somewhere near 13–14 million, the vast majority of them arthropods.[15] Most biologists agree however that the period since the emergence of humans is part of a new mass extinction, the Holocene extinction event, caused primarily by the impact humans are having on the environment. It has been argued that the present rate of extinction is sufficient to eliminate most species on the planet Earth within 100 years.[16] New species are regularly discovered (on average between 5–10,000 new species each year, most of them insects) and many, though discovered, are not yet classified (estimates are that nearly 90% of all arthropods are not yet classified).[15] Most of the terrestrial diversity is found in tropical forests.

[edit] Human benefits
Summer field in Belgium (Hamois). Biodiversity also supports a number of natural ecosystem processes and services [17]. Some ecosystem services that benefit society are air quality [18], climate (both global CO2 sequestration and local), water purification pollination, and prevention of erosion.[18].


Since the stone age, species loss has been accelerated above the geological rate by human activity. The rate of species extinction is difficult to estimate, but it has been estimated that species are now being lost at a rate approximately 100 times as fast as is typical in the geological record, or perhaps as high as 10 000 times as fast.[19] To feed such a large population, more land is being transformed from wilderness with wildlife into agricultural, mining, lumbering, and urban areas for humans. Non-material benefits that are obtained from ecosystems include spiritual and aesthetic values , knowledge systems and the value of education.

[edit] Agriculture
The economic value of the reservoir of genetic traits present in wild varieties and traditionally grown landraces is extremely important in improving crop performance[citation needed]. Important crops, such as the potato and coffee, are often derived from only a few genetic strains[citation needed]. Improvements in crop plants over the last 250 years have been largely due to harnessing the genetic diversity present in wild and domestic crop plants[citation needed]. Interbreeding crops strains with different beneficial traits has resulted in more than doubling crop production in the last 50 years as a result of the Green Revolution[citation needed]. Crop diversity is also necessary to help the system recover when the dominant crop type is attacked by a disease:

The Irish potato blight of 1846, which was a major factor in the deaths of a million people and migration of another million, was the result of planting only two potato varieties, both of which were vulnerable. When rice grassy stunt virus struck rice fields from Indonesia to India in the 1970s. 6273 varieties were tested for resistance.[20] One was found to be resistant, an Indian variety, known to science only since 1966.[20] This variety formed a hybrid with other varieties and is now widely grown.[20] Coffee rust attacked coffee plantations in Sri Lanka, Brazil, and Central America in 1970. A resistant variety was found in Ethiopia.[21] Although the diseases are themselves a form of biodiversity.

Amazon Rainforest in Brazil Monoculture, the lack of biodiversity, was a contributing factor to several agricultural disasters in history, the European wine industry collapse in the late 1800s, and the US Southern Corn Leaf Blight epidemic of 1970.[22] See also: Agricultural biodiversity Higher biodiversity also controls the spread of certain diseases as pathogens will need to adapt to infect different species[citation needed]. Biodiversity provides food for humans[citation needed]. Although about 80 percent of our food supply comes from just 20 kinds of plants[citation needed], humans use at least 40,000 species of plants and animals a day[citation needed]. Many people around the world depend on these species for their food, shelter, and clothing[citation needed]. There is untapped


potential for increasing the range of food products suitable for human consumption, provided that the high present extinction rate can be stopped.[16]

[edit] Human health

The diverse forest canopy on Barro Colorado Island, Panama, yielded this display of different fruit The relevance of biodiversity to human health is becoming a major international political issue, as scientific evidence builds on the global health implications of biodiversity loss.[23][24][25] This issue is closely linked with the issue of climate change[26], as many of the anticipated health risks of climate change are associated with changes in biodiversity (e.g. changes in populations and distribution of disease vectors, scarcity of fresh water, impacts on agricultural biodiversity and food resources etc). Some of the health issues influenced by biodiversity include dietary health and nutrition security, infectious diseases, medical science and medicinal resources, social and psychological health[27], and spiritual well-being. Biodiversity is also known to have an important role in reducing disaster risk, and in post-disaster relief and recovery efforts.[28][29] One of the key health issues associated with biodiversity is that of drug discovery and the availability of medicinal resources [30]. A significant proportion of drugs are derived, directly or indirectly, from biological sources; Chivian and Bernstein report that at least 50% of the pharmaceutical compounds on the market in the US are derived from natural compounds found in plants, animals, and microorganisms, while about 80% of the world population depends on medicines from nature (used in either modern or traditional medical practice) for primary healthcare.[24] Moreover, only a tiny proportion of the total diversity of wild species has been investigated for potential sources of new drugs. Through the field of bionics, considerable technological advancement has occurred which would not have without a rich biodiversity. It has been argued, based on evidence from market analysis and biodiversity science, that the decline in output from the pharmaceutical sector since the mid-1980s can be attributed to a move away from natural product exploration ("bioprospecting") in favour of R&D programmes based on genomics and synthetic chemistry, neither of which have yielded the expected product outputs; meanwhile, there is evidence that natural product chemistry can provide the basis for innovation which can yield significant economic and health benefits.[31][32] Marine ecosystems are of particular interest in this regard,[33] however unregulated and inappropriate bioprospecting can be considered a form of over-exploitation which has the potential to degrade ecosystems and increase biodiversity loss, as well as impacting on the rights of the communities and states from which the resources are taken.[34][35][36]

[edit] Business and Industry
A wide range of industrial materials are derived directly from biological resources. These include building materials, fibers, dyes, resirubber and oil. There is enormous potential for further research into sustainably utilizing materials from a wider diversity of organisms. In addition, biodivesity and the ecosystem goods and services


it provides are considered to be fundamental to healthy economic systems. The degree to which biodiversity supports business varies between regions and between economic sectors, however the importance of biodiversity to issues of resource security (water quantity and quality, timber, paper and fibre, food and medicinal resources etc) are increasingly recognized as universal.[37][38][39] As a result, the loss of biodiversity is increasingly recognized as a significant risk factor in business development and a threat to long term economic sustainability. A number of case studies recently compiled by the World Resources Institute demonstrate some of these risks as identified by specific industries.[40]

Eagle Creek, Oregon hiking

[edit] Other ecological services
See also: Ecological effects of biodiversity

Ecological effects of biodiversity
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search The diversity of species and genes in ecological communities affects the functioning of these communities. These ecological effects of biodiversity in turn affect both climate change through enhanced greenhouse gases, aerosols and loss of land cover, and biological diversity, causing a rapid loss of ecosystems and extinctions of species and local populations. The current rate of extinction is sometimes considered a mass extinction, with current species extinction rates on the order of 100 to 1000 times as high as in the past.[1] The two main areas where the effect of biodiversity on ecosystem function have been studied are the relationship between diversity and productivity, and the relationship between diversity and community stability. More biologically diverse communities appear to be more productive (in terms of biomass production) than are less diverse communities, and they appear to be more stable in the face of perturbations. Also animals that inhabit an area may alter the surviving conditions by factors assimilated by climate.

[edit] Definitions of diversity, productivity, and stability
In order to understand the effects that changes in biodiversity will have on ecosystem functioning, it is important to define some terms. Biodiversity is not easily defined, but may be thought of as the number and/or evenness of genes, species, and ecosystems in a region. This definition includes genetic diversity, or the diversity of


genes within a species, species diversity, or the diversity of species within a habitat or region, and ecosystem diversity, or the diversity of habitats within a region. Two things commonly measured in relation to changes in diversity are productivity and stability. Productivity is a measure of ecosystem function. It is generally measured by taking the total aboveground biomass of all plants in an area. Many assume that it can be used as a general indicator of ecosystem function and that total resource use and other indicators of ecosystem function are correlated with productivity. Stability is much more difficult to define, but can be generally thought of in two ways. General stability of a population is a measure that assumes stability is higher if there is less of a chance of extinction. This kind of stability is generally measured by measuring the variability of aggregate community properties, like total biomass, over time [2] The other definition of stability is a measure of resilience and resistance, where an ecosystem that returns quickly to an equilibrium after a perturbation or resists invasion is thought of as more stable than one that doesn't.[3]

[edit] Productivity and stability as indicators of ecosystem health
The importance of stability in community ecology is clear. An unstable ecosystem will be more likely to lose species. Thus, if there is indeed a link between diversity and stability, it is likely that losses of diversity could feedback on themselves, causing even more losses of species. Productivity, on the other hand, has a less clear importance in community ecology. In managed areas like cropland, and in areas where animals are grown or caught, increasing productivity increases the economic success of the area and implies that the area has become more efficient, leading to possible long term resource sustainability.[4] It is more difficult to find the importance of productivity in natural ecosystems. This will be discussed in more detail later.

[edit] Does biodiversity have value?
Beyond the value biodiversity has in regulating and stabilizing ecosystem processes, there are direct economic consequences of losing diversity in certain ecosystems and in the world as a whole. Losing species means losing potential foods, medicines, industrial products, and tourism, all of which have a direct economic effect on peoples lives.[5] For more information, see the economic role of biodiversity.

[edit] Effects of diversity on community productivity
[edit] How species diversity may influence productivity

Complementarity Plant species coexistence is thought to be the result of niche partitioning, or differences in resource requirements among species. By complementarity, a more diverse plant community should be able to use resources more completely, and thus be more productive.[4][6] Also called niche differentiation, this mechanism is a central principle in the functional group 15

approach, which breaks species diversity down into functional components. [7]

Facilitation Facilitation is a mechanism whereby certain species help or allow other species to grow by modifying the environment in a way that is favorable to a co-occurring species.[9] Plants can interact through an intermediary like nitrogen, water, temperature, space, or interactions with weeds or herbivores among others. Some examples of facilitation include large desert perennials acting as nurse plants, aiding the establishment of young neighbors of other species by alleviating water and temperature stress,[10] and nutrient enrichment by nitrogen-fixers such as legumes. The Sampling Effect The sampling effect of diversity can be thought of as having a greater chance of including a species of greatest inherent productivity in a plot that is more diverse. This provides for a composition effect on productivity, rather than diversity being a direct cause. However, the sampling effect may in fact be a compilation of different effects. The sampling effect can be separated into the greater likelihood of selecting a species that is 1) adapted well to particular site conditions, or 2) of a greater inherent productivity. Additionally, one can add to the sampling effect a greater likelihood of including 3) a pair of species that highly complement each other, or 4) a certain species with a large facilitative effect on other members of the community.

[edit] Review of data
Field experiments to test the degree to which diversity affects community productivity have found many things, but many long term studies in grassland ecosystems have found that diversity does indeed enhance the productivity of ecosystems. [11][12][13] Evidence of the relationship has also been found in grassland microcosms. However, these different studies have come to different conclusions as to whether the cause was due more to diversity or to species composition. Recent mathematical models have highlighted the importance of ecological context in unraveling this problem. Some models have indicated the importance of disturbance rates and spatial heterogeneity of the environment,[14] others have indicated that the time since disturbance and the habitat's carrying capacity can cause differing relationships.[15] Each ecological context should yield not only a different relationship, but a different contribution to the relationship due to diversity and to composition.

[edit] Implications for ecology/future research
In order to correctly identify the consequences of diversity on productivity and other ecosystem processes, many things must happen. First, it is imperative that scientists stop looking for a single relationship. It is obvious now from the models, the data, and the theory that there is no one overarching effect of diversity on productivity. Scientists must try to quantify the differences between composition effect and diversity effects, as many experiments never quantify the final realized species diversity (instead only counting numbers of species of seeds planted) and confound a sampling effect for facilitators (a compositional factor) with diversity effects. Relative amounts of overyielding (or how much more a species grows when grown with other species than it does in monoculture) should be used rather than absolute 16

amounts as relative overyielding can give clues as to the mechanism by which diversity is influencing productivity, however if experimental protocols are incomplete, one may be able to indicate the existence of a complementary or facilitative effect in the experiment, but not be able to recognize its cause. Experimenters should know what the goal of their experiment is, that is, whether it is meant to inform natural or managed ecosystems, as the sampling effect may only be a real effect of diversity in natural ecosystems (managed ecosystems are composed to maximize complementarity and facilitation regardless of species number). By knowing this, they should be able to choose spatial and temporal scales that are appropriate for their experiment. Lastly, to resolve the diversity-function debate, it is advisable that experiments be done with large amounts of spatial and resource heterogeneity and environmental fluctuation over time, as these types of experiments should be able to demonstrate the diversity-function relationship more easily.[4]

[edit] Effects of diversity on community stability
[edit] How species diversity may influence community stability

Averaging Effect If all species have differential responses to changes in the ecosystem over time, then the averaging of these responses will cause a more temporally stable ecosystem if more species are in the ecosystem.[2]. This effect is a statistical effect due to summing random variables. Negative Covariance Effect If some species do better when other species are not doing well, then when there are more species in the ecosystem, their overall variance will be lower than if there were fewer species in the system. This lower variance indicates higher stability. [16] This effect is a consequence of competition as highly competitive species will negatively covary. Insurance Effect If an ecosystem contains more species then it will have a greater likelihood of having redundant stabilizing species, and it will have a greater number of species that respond differently to perturbations. This will enhance an ecosystem's ability to buffer perturbations.[17] Resistance to Invasion Diverse communities may use resources more completely than simple communities because of a diversity effect for complementarity. Thus invaders may have reduced success in diverse ecosystems, or there may be a reduced likelihood that an invading species will introduce a new property or process to a diverse ecosystem.[8][18][19] Resistance to Disease A decreased number of competing plant species may allow the abundances of other species to increase, facilitating the spread of diseases of those species. [18][19][20]

[edit] Review of temporal stability data
Models have predicted that empirical relationships between temporal variation of community productivity and species diversity are indeed real, and that they almost have to be. Some temporal stability data can be almost completely explained by the averaging effect by constructing null models to test the data against.[2][11] Competition, which causes negative covariances, only serves to strengthen these relationships.

[edit] Review of resistance/resilience stability data

This area is more contentious than the area of temporal stability, mostly because some have tried generalizing the findings of the temporal stability models and theory to stability in general. While the relationship between temporal variations in productivity and diversity has a mathematical cause, which will allow the relationship to be seen much more often than not, it is not the case with resistance/resilience stability. Some experimenters have seen a correlation between diversity and reduced invasibility, though many have also seen the opposite. [21] The correlation between diversity and disease is also tenuous, though theory and data do seem to support it.[20]

[edit] Implications for ecology/future research
In order to more fully understand the effects of diversity on the temporal stability of ecosystems it is necessary to recognize that they are bound to occur. By constructing null models to test the data against (as in Doak et al. 1998[2]) it becomes possible to find situations and ecological contexts where ecosystems become more or less stable than they should be. Finding these contexts would allow for mechanistic studies into why these ecosystems are more stable, which may allow for applications in conservation management. More importantly more complete experiments into whether diverse ecosystems actually resist invasion and disease better than their less diverse equivalents as invasion and disease are two important factors that lead to species extinctions in the present day.

[edit] Theory and preliminary effects from examining food webs
One major problem with both the diversity-productivity and diversity-stability debates discussed up to this point is that both focus on interactions at just a single trophic level. That is, they are concerned with only one level of the food web, namely plants. Other research, unconcerned with the effects of diversity, has demonstrated strong top-down forcing of ecosystems (see keystone species). There is very little actual data available regarding the effects of different food webs, but theory helps us in this area. First, if a food web in an ecosystem has a lot of weak interactions between different species, then it should have more stable populations and the community as a whole should be more stable.[3] If upper levels of the web are more diverse, then there will be less biomass in the lower levels and if lower levels are more diverse they will better be able to resist consumption and be more stable in the face of consumption. Also, top-down forcing should be reduced in less diverse ecosystems because of the bias for species in higher trophic levels to go extinct first.[22] Lastly, it has recently been shown that consumers can dramatically change the biodiversity-productivity-stability relationships that are implied by plants alone.[23] Thus, it will be important in the future to incorporate food web theory into the future study of the effects of biodiversity. In addition this complexity will need to be addressed when designing biodiversity management plans.

[edit] Conclusions


It is imperative that we come to a realization that there is no single overarching effect of diversity on either productivity or stability. The realized effects will depend heavily on environmental context and the time scale over which the effects are studied. However, it has become obvious that biodiversity is indeed important for both managed and natural ecosystems, though the relative contributions of diversity and composition remain unclear. It is therefore necessary for legislators to understand the basic science in order to maintain diversity at its current levels. If current human growth and resource management patterns do not change, it is likely that we will lose many important species, and the ecosystems of the world may never recover.

Biodiversity provides many ecosystem services that are often not readily visible. It plays a part in regulating the chemistry of our atmosphere and water supply. Biodiversity is directly involved in water purification, recycling nutrients and providing fertile soils. Experiments with controlled environments have shown that humans cannot easily build ecosystems to support human needs; for example insect pollination cannot be mimicked by human-made construction, and that activity alone represents tens of billions of dollars in ecosystem services per annum to humankind. The stability of ecosystems is also related to biodiversity, with higher biodiversity producing greater stability over time, reducing the chance that ecosystem services will be disrupted as a result of disturbances such as extreme weather events or human exploitation.

[edit] Leisure, cultural and aesthetic value
Many people derive value from biodiversity through leisure activities such as hiking, birdwatching or natural history study. Biodiversity has inspired musicians, painters, sculptors, writers and other artists. Many cultural groups view themselves as an integral part of the natural world and show respect for other living organisms. Popular activities such as gardening, caring for aquariums and collecting butterflies are all strongly dependent on biodiversity. The number of species involved in such pursuits is in the tens of thousands, though the great majority do not enter mainstream commercialism. The relationships between the original natural areas of these often 'exotic' animals and plants and commercial collectors, suppliers, breeders, propagators and those who promote their understanding and enjoyment are complex and poorly understood. It seems clear, however, that the general public responds well to exposure to rare and unusual organisms—they recognize their inherent value at some level. A family outing to the botanical garden or zoo is as much an aesthetic or cultural experience as it is an educational one. Philosophically it could be argued that biodiversity has intrinsic aesthetic and spiritual value to mankind in and of itself. This idea can be used as a counterweight to the notion that tropical forests and other ecological realms are only worthy of conservation because they may contain medicines or useful products.


An interesting point is that evolved DNA embodies knowledge,[41] and therefore destroying a species resembles burning a book, with the caveat that the book is of uncertain depth and importance and may in fact be best used as fuel.

[edit] Number of species
Main article: Undiscovered species Undiscovered and discovered species

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Undiscovered species) Jump to: navigation, search For other uses, see Species (disambiguation). The hierarchy of biological classification's eight major taxonomic ranks. A genus contains one or more species. Intermediate minor rankings are not shown. In biology, a species is:
• •

a taxonomic rank (the basic rank of biological classification) or a unit at that rank (in which case the plural is "species". This is sometimes abbreviated: "spec." or "sp." singular, or "spp." plural).

There are many definitions of what kind of unit a species is (or should be). A common definition is that of a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring of both genders, and separated from other such groups with which interbreeding does not (normally) happen. Other definitions may focus on similarity of DNA or morphology. Some species are further subdivided into subspecies, and here also there is no close agreement on the criteria to be used.

[edit] Biologists' working definition
A usable definition of the word "species" and reliable methods of identifying particular species is essential for stating and testing biological theories and for measuring biodiversity. Traditionally, multiple examples of a proposed species must be studied for unifying characters before it can be regarded as a species. It is generally difficult to give precise taxonomic rankings to extinct species known only from fossils. Some biologists may view species as statistical phenomena, as opposed to the traditional idea, with a species seen as a class of organisms. In that case, a species is defined as a separately evolving lineage that forms a single gene pool. Although properties such as DNA-sequences and morphology are used to help separate closelyrelated lineages, this definition has fuzzy boundaries.[1] However, the exact definition of the term "species" is still controversial, particularly in prokaryotes,[2] and this is


called the species problem.[3] Biologists have proposed a range of more precise definitions, but the definition used is a pragmatic choice that depends on the particularities of the species concerned.[3]

[edit] Common names and species
The commonly used names for plant and animal taxa sometimes correspond to species: for example, "lion", "walrus", and "Camphor tree" – each refers to a species. In other cases common names do not: for example, "deer" refers to a family of 34 species, including Eld's Deer, Red Deer and Elk (Wapiti). The last two species were once considered a single species, illustrating how species boundaries may change with increased scientific knowledge. Because of the difficulties with both defining and tallying the total numbers of different species in the world, it is estimated that there are anywhere between 2 and 100 million different species.[4]

[edit] Placement within genera
Ideally, a species is given a formal, scientific name, although in practice there are very many unnamed species (which have only been described, not named). When a species is named, it is placed within a genus. From a scientific point of view this can be regarded as a hypothesis that the species is more closely related to other species within its genus (if any) than to species of other genera. A genus is commonly included in a hierarchy, with as the best-known taxonomic ranks: life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. This assignment to a genus is not immutable; later a different (or the same) taxonomist may assign it to a different genus, in which case the name will also change. In biological nomenclature, the name for a species is a two-part name (a binomial name), treated as Latin, although roots from any language can be used as well as names of locales or individuals. The generic name is listed first (with its leading letter capitalized), followed by a second term, the specific name (or specific epithet). For example, the species commonly known as the Longleaf Pine is Pinus palustris; gray wolves belong to the species Canis lupus, coyotes to Canis latrans, golden jackals to Canis aureus, etc., and all of those belong to the genus Canis (which also contains many other species). The name of the species is the whole binomial, not just the second term (which may be called specific name for animals). This binomial naming convention, later formalized in the biological codes of nomenclature, was first used by Leonhart Fuchs and introduced as the standard by Carolus Linnaeus in his 1753, Species Plantarum (followed by his, 1758 Systema Naturae, 10th edition). At that time, the chief biological theory was that species represented independent acts of creation by God and were therefore considered objectively real and immutable, so the hypothesis of common descent did not apply.

[edit] Abbreviated names
Books and articles sometimes intentionally do not identify species fully and use the abbreviation "sp." in the singular or "spp." in the plural in place of the specific 21

epithet: for example, Canis sp. This commonly occurs in the following types of situations:

The authors are confident that some individuals belong to a particular genus but are not sure to which exact species they belong. This is particularly common in paleontology. The authors use "spp." as a short way of saying that something applies to many species within a genus, but do not wish to say that it applies to all species within that genus. If scientists mean that something applies to all species within a genus, they use the genus name without the specific epithet.

In books and articles, genus and species names are usually printed in italics. If using "sp." and "spp.", these should not be italicized.

[edit] Difficulty of defining "species" and identifying particular species
Main article: Species problem The Greenish Warbler demonstrates the concept of a ring species. It is surprisingly difficult to define the word "species" in a way that applies to all naturally occurring organisms, and the debate among biologists about how to define "species" and how to identify actual species is called the species problem. Most textbooks follow Ernst Mayr's definition of a species as "groups of actually or potentially interbreeding natural populations, which are reproductively isolated from other such groups".[5] Various parts of this definition serve to exclude some unusual or artificial matings:
• • •

Those which occur only in captivity (when the animal's normal mating partners may not be available) or as a result of deliberate human action. Animals which may be physically and physiologically capable of mating but do not normally do so in the wild, for various reasons. Animals whose offspring are normally sterile.

The typical textbook definition above works well for most multi-celled organisms, but there are several types of situations in which it breaks down:

By definition it applies only to organisms that reproduce sexually. So it does not work for asexually reproducing single-celled organisms and for the relatively few parthenogenetic multi-celled organisms. The term "phylotype" is often applied to such organisms. Biologists frequently do not know whether two morphologically similar groups of organisms are "potentially" capable of interbreeding.


• •

There is considerable variation in the degree to which hybridization may succeed under natural conditions, or even in the degree to which some organisms use sexual reproduction between individuals to breed. In ring species, members of adjacent populations interbreed successfully but members of some non-adjacent populations do not. In a few cases it may be physically impossible for animals that are members of the same species to mate. However, these are cases in which human intervention has caused gross morphological changes, and are therefore excluded by the biological species concept.

Horizontal gene transfer makes it even more difficult to define the word "species". There is strong evidence of horizontal gene transfer between very dissimilar groups of prokaryotes, and possibly between dissimilar groups of single-celled eukaryotes; and Williamson[6] argues that there is evidence for it in some crustaceans and echinoderms. All definitions of the word "species" assume that an organism gets all its genes from one or two parents which are very like that organism, but horizontal gene transfer makes that assumption false.

[edit] Definitions of species
See also: Species problem The question of how best to define "species" is one that has occupied biologists for centuries, and the debate itself has become known as the species problem. Darwin wrote in chapter II of On the Origin of Species: No one definition has satisfied all naturalists; yet every naturalist knows vaguely what he means when he speaks of a species. Generally the term includes the unknown element of a distinct act of creation.[7] But later, in The Descent of Man, when addressing "The question whether mankind consists of one or several species", Darwin revised his opinion to say: it is a hopeless endeavour to decide this point on sound grounds, until some definition of the term "species" is generally accepted; and the definition must not include an element which cannot possibly be ascertained, such as an act of creation.[8] The modern theory of evolution depends on a fundamental redefinition of "species". Prior to Darwin, naturalists viewed species as ideal or general types, which could be exemplified by an ideal specimen bearing all the traits general to the species. Darwin's theories shifted attention from uniformity to variation and from the general to the particular. According to intellectual historian Louis Menand, Once our attention is redirected to the individual, we need another way of making generalizations. We are no longer interested in the conformity of an individual to an ideal type; we are now interested in the relation of an individual to the other individuals with which it interacts. To generalize about groups of interacting individuals, we need to drop the language of types and


essences, which is prescriptive (telling us what finches should be), and adopt the language of statistics and probability, which is predictive (telling us what the average finch, under specified conditions, is likely to do). Relations will be more important than categories; functions, which are variable, will be more important than purposes; transitions will be more important than boundaries; sequences will be more important than hierarchies. This shift results in a new approach to "species"; Darwin concluded that species are what they appear to be: ideas, which are provisionally useful for naming groups of interacting individuals. "I look at the term species", he wrote, "as one arbitrarily given for the sake of convenience to a set of individuals closely resembling each other ... It does not essentially differ from the word variety, which is given to less distinct and more fluctuating forms. The term variety, again, in comparison with mere individual differences, is also applied arbitrarily, and for convenience sake." [9] Practically, biologists define species as populations of organisms that have a high level of genetic similarity. This may reflect an adaptation to the same niche, and the transfer of genetic material from one individual to others, through a variety of possible means. The exact level of similarity used in such a definition is arbitrary, but this is the most common definition used for organisms that reproduce asexually (asexual reproduction), such as some plants and microorganisms. This lack of any clear species concept in microbiology has led to some authors arguing that the term "species" is not useful when studying bacterial evolution. Instead they see genes as moving freely between even distantly-related bacteria, with the entire bacterial domain being a single gene pool. Nevertheless, a kind of rule of thumb has been established, saying that species of Bacteria or Archaea with 16S rRNA gene sequences more similar than 97% to each other need to be checked by DNA-DNA Hybridization if they belong to the same species or not.[10] This concept has been updated recently, saying that the border of 97% was too low and can be raised to 98.7%.[11] In the study of sexually reproducing organisms, where genetic material is shared through the process of reproduction, the ability of two organisms to interbreed and produce fertile offspring of both genders is generally accepted as a simple indicator that the organisms share enough genes to be considered members of the same species. Thus a "species" is a group of interbreeding organisms. This definition can be extended to say that a species is a group of organisms that could potentially interbreed – fish could still be classed as the same species even if they live in different lakes, as long as they could still interbreed were they ever to come into contact with each other. On the other hand, there are many examples of series of three or more distinct populations, where individuals of the population in the middle can interbreed with the populations to either side, but individuals of the populations on either side cannot interbreed. Thus, one could argue that these populations constitute a single species, or two distinct species. This is not a paradox; it is evidence that species are defined by gene frequencies, and thus have fuzzy boundaries.


Consequently, any single, universal definition of "species" is necessarily arbitrary. Instead, biologists have proposed a range of definitions; which definition a biologists uses is a pragmatic choice, depending on the particularities of that biologist's research. Typological species A group of organisms in which individuals are members of the species if they sufficiently conform to certain fixed properties. The clusters of variations or phenotypes within specimens (i.e. longer and shorter tails) would differentiate the species. This method was used as a "classical" method of determining species, such as with Linnaeus early in evolutionary theory. However, we now know that different phenotypes do not always constitute different species (e.g.: a 4-winged Drosophila born to a 2-winged mother is not a different species). Species named in this manner are called morphospecies[12] Morphological species A population or group of populations that differs morphologically from other populations. For example, we can distinguish between a chicken and a duck because they have different shaped bills and the duck has webbed feet. Species have been defined in this way since well before the beginning of recorded history. This species concept is much criticised because more recent genetic data reveal that genetically distinct populations may look very similar and, contrarily, large morphological differences sometimes exist between very closely-related populations. Nonetheless, most species known have been described solely from morphology. Biological / Isolation species A set of actually or potentially interbreeding populations. This is generally a useful formulation for scientists working with living examples of the higher taxa like mammals, fish, and birds, but more problematic for organisms that do not reproduce sexually. The results of breeding experiments done in artificial conditions may or may not reflect what would happen if the same organisms encountered each other in the wild, making it difficult to gauge whether or not the results of such experiments are meaningful in reference to natural populations. Biological / reproductive species Two organisms that are able to reproduce naturally to produce fertile offspring of both genders. Organisms that can reproduce but almost always make infertile hybrids of at least one gender, such as a mule, hinny or F1 male cattalo are not considered to be the same species. Recognition species based on shared reproductive systems, including mating behavior. The Recognition concept of species has been introduced by Hugh E. H. Paterson. Mate-recognition species A group of organisms that are known to recognize one another as potential mates. Like the isolation species concept above, it applies only to organisms that reproduce sexually. Unlike the isolation species concept, it focuses specifically on pre-mating reproductive isolation. Evolutionary / Darwinian species A group of organisms that shares an ancestor; a lineage that maintains its integrity with respect to other lineages through both time and space. At some point in the progress of such a group, some members may diverge from the main population and evolve into a subspecies, a process that eventually will


lead to the formation of a new full species if isolation (geographical or ecological) is maintained. Phylogenetic (Cladistic)[verification needed] A group of organisms that shares an ancestor; a lineage that maintains its integrity with respect to other lineages through both time and space. At some point in the progress of such a group, members may diverge from one another: when such a divergence becomes sufficiently clear, the two populations are regarded as separate species. This differs from evolutionary species in that the parent species goes extinct taxonomically when a new species evolve, the mother and daughter populations now forming two new species. Subspecies as such are not recognized under this approach; either a population is a phylogenetic species or it is not taxonomically distinguishable. Ecological species A set of organisms adapted to a particular set of resources, called a niche, in the environment. According to this concept, populations form the discrete phenetic clusters that we recognize as species because the ecological and evolutionary processes controlling how resources are divided up tend to produce those clusters. Genetic species based on similarity of DNA of individuals or populations. Techniques to compare similarity of DNA include DNA-DNA hybridization, and genetic fingerprinting (or DNA barcoding). Phenetic species based on phenotypes.[verification needed] Microspecies Species that reproduce without meiosis or fertilization so that each generation is genetically identical to the previous generation. See also apomixis. Cohesion species Most inclusive population of individuals having the potential for phenotypic cohesion through intrinsic cohesion mechanisms. This is an expansion of the mate-recognition species concept to allow for post-mating isolation mechanisms; no matter whether populations can hybridize successfully, they are still distinct cohesion species if the amount of hybridization is insufficient to completely mix their respective gene pools. Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU) An evolutionarily significant unit is a population of organisms that is considered distinct for purposes of conservation. Often referred to as a species or a wildlife species, an ESU also has several possible definitions, which coincide with definitions of species. In practice, these definitions often coincide, and the differences between them are more a matter of emphasis than of outright contradiction. Nevertheless, no species concept yet proposed is entirely objective, or can be applied in all cases without resorting to judgment. Given the complexity of life, some have argued that such an objective definition is in all likelihood impossible, and biologists should settle for the most practical definition. For most vertebrates, this is the biological species concept (BSC), and to a lesser extent (or for different purposes) the phylogenetic species concept (PSC). Many BSC subspecies are considered species under the PSC; the difference between the BSC and


the PSC can be summed up insofar as that the BSC defines a species as a consequence of manifest evolutionary history, while the PSC defines a species as a consequence of manifest evolutionary potential. Thus, a PSC species is "made" as soon as an evolutionary lineage has started to separate, while a BSC species starts to exist only when the lineage separation is complete. Accordingly, there can be considerable conflict between alternative classifications based upon the PSC versus BSC, as they differ completely in their treatment of taxa that would be considered subspecies under the latter model (e.g., the numerous subspecies of honey bees).

[edit] Numbers of species
Undiscovered and discovered species Bearing in mind the aforementioned problems with categorising species, the following numbers are only a soft guide. They break down as follows:[13] Total number of species (estimated): 7–100 millions (identified and unidentified), including:
• •

5–10 million bacteria[14]; 74,000–120,000 fungi[15];

Of the identified eukaryote species we have:

1.6 million, including: o 297,326 plants, including:  15,000 mosses,  13,025 Ferns and horsetails,  980 gymnosperms,  258,650 angiosperms,  199,350 dicotyledons,  59,300 monocotyledons,  9,671 Red and green algae, o 28,849 fungi & other non-animals, including:  10,000 lichens,  16,000 mushrooms,  2,849 brown algae, o 1,250,000 animals, including:  1,203,375 invertebrates:  950,000 insects,  81,000 mollusks,  40,000 crustaceans,  2,175 corals,  130,200 others;  59,811 vertebrates:  29,300 fish,  6,199 amphibians,  8,240 reptiles, 27

 

9,956 birds, 5,416 mammals.

At present, organisations such as the Global Taxonomy Initiative, the European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy and the Census of Marine Life[16] (the latter only for marine organisms) are trying to improve taxonomy and implement previously undiscovered species to the taxonomy system. Due to the fact that we know but a portion of the organisms in the biosphere, we do not have a complete understanding of the workings of our environment. To make matters worse, despite the discovery of new species, according to professor James Mallet, we are wiping out these species at an unprecedented rate. [17]This means that even before a new species has had the chance of being studied and classified, it may already be extinct.

[edit] Importance in biological classification
The idea of species has a long history. It is one of the most important levels of classification, for several reasons:
• • •

It often corresponds to what lay people treat as the different basic kinds of organism – dogs are one species, cats another. It is the standard binomial nomenclature (or trinomial nomenclature) by which scientists typically refer to organisms. It is the highest taxonomic level which mostly cannot be made more or less inclusionary.

After years of use, the concept remains central to biology and a host of related fields, and yet also remains at times ill-defined.

[edit] Implications of assignment of species status
The naming of a particular species should be regarded as a hypothesis about the evolutionary relationships and distinguishability of that group of organisms. As further information comes to hand, the hypothesis may be confirmed or refuted. Sometimes, especially in the past when communication was more difficult, taxonomists working in isolation have given two distinct names to individual organisms later identified as the same species. When two named species are discovered to be of the same species, the older species name is usually retained, and the newer species name dropped, a process called synonymization, or colloquially, as lumping. Dividing a taxon into multiple, often new, taxons is called splitting. Taxonomists are often referred to as "lumpers" or "splitters" by their colleagues, depending on their personal approach to recognizing differences or commonalities between organisms (see lumpers and splitters). Traditionally, researchers relied on observations of anatomical differences, and on observations of whether different populations were able to interbreed successfully, to distinguish species; both anatomy and breeding behavior are still important to assigning species status. As a result of the revolutionary (and still ongoing) advance in microbiological research techniques, including DNA analysis, in the last few decades, a great deal of additional knowledge about the differences and similarities between 28

species has become available. Many populations which were formerly regarded as separate species are now considered to be a single taxon, and many formerly grouped populations have been split. Any taxonomic level (species, genus, family, etc.) can be synonymized or split, and at higher taxonomic levels, these revisions have been still more profound. From a taxonomical point of view, groups within a species can be defined as being of a taxon hierarchically lower than a species. In zoology only the subspecies is used, while in botany the variety, subvariety, and form are used as well. In conservation biology, the concept of evolutionary significant units (ESU) is used, which may be define either species or smaller distinct population segments.

[edit] The isolation species concept in more detail
A mule is the infertile offspring of a male donkey and a female horse. In general, for large, complex, organisms that reproduce sexually (such as mammals and birds), one of several variations on the isolation or biological species concept is employed. Often, the distinction between different species, even quite closely related ones, is simple. Horses (Equus caballus) and donkeys (Equus asinus) are easily told apart even without study or training, and yet are so closely related that they can interbreed after a fashion. Because the result, a mule or hinny, is not fertile, they are clearly separate species. But many cases are more difficult to decide. This is where the isolation species concept diverges from the evolutionary species concept. Both agree that a species is a lineage that maintains its integrity over time, that is diagnosably different from other lineages (else we could not recognise it), is reproductively isolated (else the lineage would merge into others, given the chance to do so), and has a working intra-species recognition system (without which it could not continue). In practice, both also agree that a species must have its own independent evolutionary history—otherwise the characteristics just mentioned would not apply. The species concepts differ in that the evolutionary species concept does not make predictions about the future of the population: it simply records that which is already known. In contrast, the isolation species concept refuses to assign the rank of species to populations that, in the best judgement of the researcher, would recombine with other populations if given the chance to do so.

[edit] The isolation question
There are, essentially, two questions to resolve. First, is the proposed species consistently and reliably distinguishable from other species? Second, is it likely to remain so in the future? To take the second question first, there are several broad geographic possibilities.

The proposed species are sympatric—they occupy the same habitat. Observation of many species over the years has failed to establish even a single instance of two diagnostically different populations that exist in 29

sympatry and have then merged to form one united population. Without reproductive isolation, population differences cannot develop, and given reproductive isolation, gene flow between the populations cannot merge the differences. This is not to say that cross breeding does not take place at all, simply that it has become negligible. Generally, the hybrid individuals are less capable of successful breeding than pure-bred individuals of either species.

The proposed species are allopatric—they occupy different geographical areas. Obviously, it is not possible to observe reproductive isolation in allopatric groups directly. Often it is not possible to achieve certainty by experimental means either: even if the two proposed species interbreed in captivity, this does not demonstrate that they would freely interbreed in the wild, nor does it always provide much information about the evolutionary fitness of hybrid individuals. A certain amount can be inferred from other experimental methods: for example, do the members of population A respond appropriately to playback of the recorded mating calls of population B? Sometimes, experiments can provide firm answers. For example, there are seven pairs of apparently almost identical marine snapping shrimp (Alpheus) populations on either side of the Isthmus of Panama, which did not exist until about 3 million years ago. Until then, it is assumed, they were members of the same seven species. But when males and females from opposite sides of the isthmus are placed together, they fight instead of mating. Even if the isthmus were to sink under the waves again, the populations would remain genetically isolated: therefore they are now different species. In many cases, however, neither observation nor experiment can produce certain answers, and the determination of species rank must be made on a 'best guess' basis from a general knowledge of other related organisms. The proposed species are parapatric—they have breeding ranges that abut but do not overlap. This is fairly rare, particularly in temperate regions. The dividing line is often a sudden change in habitat (an ecotone) like the edge of a forest or the snow line on a mountain, but can sometimes be remarkably trivial. The parapatry itself indicates that the two populations occupy such similar ecological roles that they cannot coexist in the same area. Because they do not crossbreed, it is safe to assume that there is a mechanism, often behavioral, that is preventing gene flow between the populations, and that therefore they should be classified as separate species. There is a hybrid zone where the two populations mix. Typically, the hybrid zone will include representatives of one or both of the 'pure' populations, plus first-generation and back-crossing hybrids. The strength of the barrier to genetic transmission between the two pure groups can be assessed by the width of the hybrid zone relative to the typical dispersal distance of the organisms in question. The dispersal distance of oaks, for example, is the distance that a bird or squirrel can be expected to carry an acorn; the dispersal distance of Numbats is about 15 kilometres, as this is as far as young Numbats will normally travel in search of vacant territory to occupy after leaving the nest. The narrower the hybrid zone relative to the dispersal distance, the less gene flow there is between the population groups, and the more likely it is that they will continue on separate evolutionary paths. Nevertheless, it can be very


difficult to predict the future course of a hybrid zone; the decision to define the two hybridizing populations as either the same species or as separate species is difficult and potentially controversial.

The variation in the population is clinal; at either extreme of the population's geographic distribution, typical individuals are clearly different, but the transition between them is seamless and gradual. For example, the Koalas of northern Australia are clearly smaller and lighter in colour than those of the south, but there is no particular dividing line: the further south an individual Koala is found, the larger and darker it is likely to be; Koalas in intermediate regions are intermediate in weight and colour. In contrast, over the same geographic range, black-backed (northern) and white-backed (southern) Australian Magpies do not blend from one type to another: northern populations have black backs, southern populations white backs, and there is an extensive hybrid zone where both 'pure' types are common, as are crossbreeds. The variation in Koalas is clinal (a smooth transition from north to south, with populations in any given small area having a uniform appearance), but the variation in magpies is not clinal. In both cases, there is some uncertainty regarding correct classification, but the consensus view is that species rank is not justified in either. The gene flow between northern and southern magpie populations is judged to be sufficiently restricted to justify terming them subspecies (not full species); but the seamless way that local Koala populations blend one into another shows that there is substantial gene flow between north and south. As a result, experts tend to reject even subspecies rank in this case.

[edit] The difference question
Obviously when defining a species, the geographic circumstances become meaningful only if the population groups in question are clearly different: if they are not consistently and reliably distinguishable from one another, then we have no grounds for believing that they might be different species. The key question in this context, is "how different is different?" and the answer is usually "it all depends". In theory, it would be possible to recognise even the tiniest of differences as sufficient to delineate a separate species, provided only that the difference is clear and consistent (and that other criteria are met). There is no universal rule to state the smallest allowable difference between two species, but in general, very trivial differences are ignored on the twin grounds of simple practicality, and genetic similarity: if two population groups are so close that the distinction between them rests on an obscure and microscopic difference in morphology, or a single base substitution in a DNA sequence, then a demonstration of restricted gene flow between the populations will probably be difficult in any case. More typically, one or other of the following requirements must be met:

It is possible to reliably measure a quantitative difference between the two groups that does not overlap. A population has, for example, thicker fur, rougher bark, longer ears, or larger seeds than another population, and although this characteristic may vary within each population, the two do not 31

grade into one another, and given a reasonably large sample size, there is a definite discontinuity between them. Note that this applies to populations, not individual organisms, and that a small number of exceptional individuals within a population may 'break the rule' without invalidating it. The less a quantitative difference varies within a population and the more it varies between populations, the better the case for making a distinction. Nevertheless, borderline situations can only be resolved by making a 'bestguess' judgement.

It is possible to distinguish a qualitative difference between the populations; a feature that does not vary continuously but is either entirely present or entirely absent. This might be a distinctively shaped seed pod, an extra primary feather, a particular courting behaviour, or a clearly differentDNA sequence.

Sometimes it is not possible to isolate a single difference between species, and several factors must be taken in combination. This is often the case with plants in particular. In eucalypts, for example, Corymbia ficifolia cannot be reliably distinguished from its close relative Corymbia calophylla by any single measure (and sometimes individual trees cannot be definitely assigned to either species), but populations of Corymbia can be clearly told apart by comparing the colour of flowers, bark, and buds, number of flowers for a given size of tree, and the shape of the leaves and fruit. When using a combination of characteristics to distinguish between populations, it is necessary to use a reasonably small number of factors (if more than a handful are needed, the genetic difference between the populations is likely to be insignificant and is unlikely to endure into the future), and to choose factors that are functionally independent (height and weight, for example, should usually be considered as one factor, not two).

[edit] Historical development of the species concept
Linnaeus believed in the fixity of species. In the earliest works of science, a species was simply an individual organism that represented a group of similar or nearly identical organisms. No other relationships beyond that group were implied. Aristotle used the words genus and species to mean generic and specific categories. Aristotle and other pre-Darwinian scientists took the species to be distinct and unchanging, with an "essence", like the chemical elements. When early observers began to develop systems of organization for living things, they began to place formerly isolated species into a context. Many of these early delineation schemes would now be considered whimsical and these included consanguinity based on color (all plants with yellow flowers) or behavior (snakes, scorpions and certain biting ants). In the 18th century Carolus Linnaeus classified organisms according to differences in the form of reproductive apparatus. Although his system of classification sorts organisms according to degrees of similarity, it made no claims about the relationship between similar species. At that time, it was still widely believed that there was no 32

organic connection between species, no matter how similar they appeared. This approach also suggested a type of idealism: the notion that each species existed as an "ideal form". Although there are always differences (although sometimes minute) between individual organisms, Linnaeus considered such variation problematic. He strove to identify individual organisms that were exemplary of the species, and considered other non-exemplary organisms to be deviant and imperfect. By the 19th century most naturalists understood that species could change form over time, and that the history of the planet provided enough time for major changes. JeanBaptiste Lamarck, in his 1809 Zoological Philosophy, offered one of the first logical arguments against creationism. The new emphasis was on determining how a species could change over time. Lamarck suggested that an organism could pass on an acquired trait to its offspring, i.e., the giraffe's long neck was attributed to generations of giraffes stretching to reach the leaves of higher treetops (this well-known and simplistic example, however, does not do justice to the breadth and subtlety of Lamarck's ideas). With the acceptance of the natural selection idea of Charles Darwin in the 1860s, however, Lamarck's view of goal-oriented evolution, also known as a teleological process, was eclipsed. Recent interest in inheritance of acquired characteristics centers around epigenetic processes, e.g. methylation, that do not affect DNA sequences, but instead alter expression in an inheritable manner. Thus, neolamarckism, as it is sometimes termed, is not a challenge to the theory of evolution by natural selection. Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace provided what scientists now consider as the most powerful and compelling theory of evolution. Darwin argued that it was populations that evolved, not individuals. His argument relied on a radical shift in perspective from that of Linnaeus: rather than defining species in ideal terms (and searching for an ideal representative and rejecting deviations), Darwin considered variation among individuals to be natural. He further argued that variation, far from being problematic, actually provides the explanation for the existence of distinct species. Darwin's work drew on Thomas Malthus' insight that the rate of growth of a biological population will always outpace the rate of growth of the resources in the environment, such as the food supply. As a result, Darwin argued, not all the members of a population will be able to survive and reproduce. Those that did will, on average, be the ones possessing variations—however slight—that make them slightly better adapted to the environment. If these variable traits are heritable, then the offspring of the survivors will also possess them. Thus, over many generations, adaptive variations will accumulate in the population, while counter-adaptive traits will tend to be eliminated. It should be emphasized that whether a variation is adaptive or non-adaptive depends on the environment: different environments favor different traits. Since the environment effectively selects which organisms live to reproduce, it is the environment (the "fight for existence") that selects the traits to be passed on. This is the theory of evolution by natural selection. In this model, the length of a giraffe's neck would be explained by positing that proto-giraffes with longer necks would have had a significant reproductive advantage to those with shorter necks. Over many generations, the entire population would be a species of long-necked animals.


In 1859, when Darwin published his theory of natural selection, the mechanism behind the inheritance of individual traits was unknown. Although Darwin made some speculations on how traits are inherited (pangenesis), his theory relies only on the fact that inheritable traits exist, and are variable (which makes his accomplishment even more remarkable.) Although Gregor Mendel's paper on genetics was published in 1866, its significance was not recognized. It was not until 1900 that his work was rediscovered by Hugo de Vries, Carl Correns and Erich von Tschermak, who realised that the "inheritable traits" in Darwin's theory are genes. The theory of the evolution of species through natural selection has two important implications for discussions of species—consequences that fundamentally challenge the assumptions behind Linnaeus' taxonomy. First, it suggests that species are not just similar, they may actually be related. Some students of Darwin argue that all species are descended from a common ancestor. Second, it supposes that "species" are not homogeneous, fixed, permanent things; members of a species are all different, and over time species change. This suggests that species do not have any clear boundaries but are rather momentary statistical effects of constantly changing gene-frequencies. One may still use Linnaeus' taxonomy to identify individual plants and animals, but one can no longer think of species as independent and immutable. The rise of a new species from a parental line is called speciation. There is no clear line demarcating the ancestral species from the descendant species. Although the current scientific understanding of species suggests that there is no rigorous and comprehensive way to distinguish between different species in all cases, biologists continue to seek concrete ways to operationalize the idea. One of the most popular biological definitions of species is in terms of reproductive isolation; if two creatures cannot reproduce to produce fertile offspring of both genders, then they are in different species. This definition captures a number of intuitive species boundaries, but it remains imperfect. It has nothing to say about species that reproduce asexually, for example, and it is very difficult to apply to extinct species. Moreover, boundaries between species are often fuzzy: there are examples where members of one population can produce fertile offspring of both genders with a second population, and members of the second population can produce fertile offspring of both genders with members of a third population, but members of the first and third population cannot produce fertile offspring, or can only produce fertile offspring of the homozygous gender. Consequently, some people reject this definition of a species. Richard Dawkins defines two organisms as conspecific if and only if they have the same number of chromosomes and, for each chromosome, both organisms have the same number of nucleotides (The Blind Watchmaker, p. 118). However, most if not all taxonomists would strongly disagree[citation needed]. For example, in many amphibians, most notably in New Zealand's Leiopelma frogs, the genome consists of "core" chromosomes which are mostly invariable and accessory chromosomes, of which exist a number of possible combinations. Even though the chromosome numbers are highly variable between populations, these can interbreed successfully and form a single evolutionary unit. In plants, polyploidy is extremely commonplace with few restrictions on interbreeding; as individuals with an odd number of chromosome sets are usually sterile, depending on the actual number of chromosome sets present, this results in the odd situation where some individuals of the same evolutionary unit can


interbreed with certain others and some cannot, with all populations being eventually linked as to form a common gene pool. The classification of species has been profoundly affected by technological advances that have allowed researchers to determine relatedness based on molecular markers, starting with the comparatively crude blood plasma precipitation assays in the mid20th century to Charles Sibley's ground-breaking DNA-DNA hybridization studies in the 1970s leading to DNA sequencing techniques. The results of these techniques caused revolutionary changes in the higher taxonomic categories (such as phyla and classes), resulting in the reordering of many branches of the phylogenetic tree (see also: molecular phylogeny). For taxonomic categories below genera, the results have been mixed so far; the pace of evolutionary change on the molecular level is rather slow, yielding clear differences only after considerable periods of reproductive separation. DNA-DNA hybridization results have led to misleading conclusions, the Pomarine Skua – Great Skua phenomenon being a famous example. Turtles have been determined to evolve with just one-eighth of the speed of other reptiles on the molecular level, and the rate of molecular evolution in albatrosses is half of what is found in the rather closely related storm-petrels. The hybridization technique is now obsolete and is replaced by more reliable computational approaches for sequence comparison. Molecular taxonomy is not directly based on the evolutionary processes, but rather on the overall change brought upon by these processes. The processes that lead to the generation and maintenance of variation such as mutation, crossover and selection are not uniform (see also molecular clock). DNA is only extremely rarely a direct target of natural selection rather than changes in the DNA sequence enduring over generations being a result of the latter; for example, silent transition-transversion combinations would alter the melting point of the DNA sequence, but not the sequence of the encoded proteins and thus are a possible example where, for example in microorganisms, a mutation confers a change in fitness all by itself.

According to the Global Taxonomy Initiative[42] and the European Distributed Institute of Taxonomy, the total number of species for some phyla may be much higher as what we know currently:
• • • •

10–30 million insects;[43] (of some 0,9 we know today [44]) 5–10 million bacteria;[45] 1.5 million fungi;[46] (of some 0,4 million we know today [44]) ~1 million mites[47]

Due to the fact that we know but a portion of the organisms in the biosphere, we do not have a complete understanding of the workings of our environment. To make matters worse, according to professor James Mallet, we are wiping out these species against an unprecedented rate.[48] This means that even before a new species has had the chance of being studied and classified, it may already be extinct.

[edit] Threats


Loss of old growth forest in the United States; 1620, 1850, 1920, and 1992 maps: From William B. Greeley's, The Relation of Geography to Timber Supply, Economic Geography, 1925, vol. 1, p. 1–11. Source of "Today" map: compiled by George Draffan from roadless area map in The Big Outside: A Descriptive Inventory of the Big Wilderness Areas of the United States, by Dave Foreman and Howie Wolke (Harmony Books, 1992). These maps represent only virgin forest lost. Some regrowth has occurred but not to the age, size or extent of 1620 due to population increases and food cultivation. During the last century, erosion of biodiversity has been increasingly observed. Studies show that 30% of all natural species will be extinct by 2050.[49] Of these, about one eighth of the known plant species are threatened with extinction.[50] Some estimates put the loss at up to 140,000 species per year (based on Species-area theory) and subject to discussion.[51] This figure indicates unsustainable ecological practices, because only a small number of species come into being each year. Almost all scientists acknowledge [50] that the rate of species loss is greater now than at any time in human history, with extinctions occurring at rates hundreds of times higher than background extinction rates. The factors that threaten biodiversity have been variously categorized. Jared Diamond describes an "Evil Quartet" of habitat destruction, overkill, introduced species, and secondary extensions. Edward O. Wilson prefers the acronym HIPPO, standing for Habitat destruction, Invasive species, Pollution, Human OverPopulation, and Overharvesting.[52][53] The most authoritative classification in use today is that of IUCN’s Classification of Direct Threats[54] adopted by most major international conservation organizations such as the US Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International, and Birdlife International.

[edit] Destruction of habitat
Main article: Habitat destruction

Habitat destruction
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search The Chaco thorn forest is being felled at a rate considered among the highest in the world to give way to soybean cultivation. Habitat destruction is the process in which natural habitat is rendered functionally unable to support the species present. In this process, the organisms which previously used the site are displaced or destroyed, reducing biodiversity. Habitat destruction by human activity mainly for the purpose of harvesting natural resources for industry production and urbanization. Clearing habitats for agriculture is the principal cause of habitat destruction. Other important causes of habitat destruction include mining, logging, trawling and urban sprawl. Habitat destruction is currently ranked as the most important cause of species extinction worldwide.[1] It is a process of 36

environmental change important in evolution and conservation biology. Additional causes include habitat fragmentation, geological processes, climate change, invasive species, ecosystem nutrient change and human activities mentioned below. The terms "loss of habitat" and "habitat reduction" are also used in a wider sense including loss of habitat from other factors, such as water and noise pollution.

[edit] Impacts on organisms
In the simplest terms, when a habitat is destroyed, the plants, animals, and other organisms that occupied the habitat have a reduced carrying capacity so that populations decline and extinction becomes more likely.[2] The perhaps greatest threat to organisms and biodiversity is the process of habitat loss.[3] Temple (1986) found that 82% of endangered bird species were significantly threatened by habitat loss. Endemic organisms that obtains limited ranges are most affected by habitat destruction, mainly because these organisms are not found anywhere else within the world and thus, have less chance of recovering. This is also contributed by that many endemic organisms obtains very specific requirements for their survival that perhaps can only be found within a certain ecosystem, resulting in their extinction. Habitat destruction can also decrease the range of certain organism populations. This can result in the reduction of genetic diversity and perhaps the production of infertile youths, as these organisms would have a higher possibility of mating with related organisms within their population, or different species.

[edit] Geography
Satellite photograph of deforestation in Bolivia. Originally dry tropical forest, the land is being cleared for soybean cultivation.[4] Biodiversity hotspots are chiefly tropical regions that feature high concentrations of endemic species and, when all hotspots are combined, may contain over half of the world’s terrestrial species.[5] These hotspots are suffering from habitat loss and destruction. Most of the natural habitat on islands and in areas of high human population density has already been destroyed (WRI, 2003). Islands suffering extreme habitat destruction include New Zealand, Madagascar, the Philippines, and Japan.[6] South and east Asia—especially China, India, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Japan—and many areas in West Africa have extremely dense human populations that allow little room for natural habitat. Marine areas close to highly populated coastal cities also face degradation of their coral reefs or other marine habitat. These areas include the eastern coasts of Asia and Africa, northern coasts of South America, and the Caribbean Sea and its associated islands.[6] Regions of unsustainable agriculture or unstable governments, which may go hand-inhand, typically experience high rates of habitat destruction. Central America, SubSaharan Africa, and the Amazonian tropical rainforest areas of South America are the main regions with unsustainable agricultural practices or government mismanagement.[6]


Areas of high agricultural output tend to have the highest extent of habitat destruction. In the U.S., less than 25% of native vegetation remains in many parts of the East and Midwest.[7] Only 15% of land area remains unmodified by human activities in all of Europe.[6]

[edit] Ecosystems
Jungle burned for agriculture in southern Mexico Tropical rainforests have received most of the attention concerning the destruction of habitat. From the approximately 16 million square kilometers of tropical rainforest habitat that originally existed worldwide, less than 9 million square kilometers remain today.[6] The current rate of deforestation is 160,000 square kilometers per year, which equates to a loss of approximately 1% of original forest habitat each year.[8] Other forest ecosystems have suffered as much or more destruction as tropical rainforests. Farming and logging have severely disturbed at least 94% of temperate broadleaf forests; many old growth forest stands have lost more than 98% of their previous area because of human activities.[6] Tropical deciduous dry forests are easier to clear and burn and are more suitable for agriculture and cattle ranching than tropical rainforests; consequently, less than 0.1% of dry forests in Central America's Pacific Coast and less than 8% in Madagascar remain from their original extents.[8]

Farmers near newly cleared land within Taman Nasional Kerinci Seblat (Kerinci Seblat National Park), Sumatra. Plains and desert areas have been degraded to a lesser extent. Only 10-20% of the world's drylands, which include temperate grasslands, savannas, and shrublands, scrub and deciduous forests, have been somewhat degraded.[9] But included in that 1020% of land is the approximately 9 million square kilometers of seasonally dry-lands that humans have converted to deserts through the process of desertification.[6] The tallgrass prairies of North America, on the other hand, have less than 3% of natural habitat remaining that has not been converted to farmland.[10] Wetlands and marine areas have endured high levels of habitat destruction. More than 50% of wetlands in the U.S. have been destroyed in just the last 200 years.[7] Between 60% and 70% of European wetlands have been completely destroyed.[11] About onefifth (20%) of marine coastal areas have been highly modified by humans.[12] Onefifth of coral reefs have also been destroyed, and another fifth has been severely degraded by overfishing, pollution, and invasive species; 90% of the Philippines’ coral reefs alone have been destroyed.[13] Finally, over 35% mangrove ecosystems worldwide have been destroyed.[13]

[edit] Human activity


Deforestation and roads in Amazonia, the Amazon Rainforest. Habitat destruction caused by humans includes conversion of land to agriculture, urban sprawl, infrastructure development, and other anthropogenic changes to the characteristics of land. Habitat degradation, fragmentation, and pollution are aspects of habitat destruction caused by humans that do not necessarily involve overt destruction of habitat, yet result in habitat collapse. Desertification, deforestation, and coral reef degradation are specific types of habitat destruction for those areas (deserts, forests, coral reefs). Geist and Lambin (2002) assessed 152 case studies of net losses of tropical forest cover to determine any patterns in the proximate and underlying causes of tropical deforestation. Their results, yielded as percentages of the case studies in which each parameter was a significant factor, provide a quantitative prioritization of which proximate and underlying causes were the most significant. The proximate causes were clustered into broad categories of agricultural expansion (96%), infrastructure expansion (72%), and wood extraction (67%). Therefore, according to this study, forest conversion to agriculture is the main land use change responsible for tropical deforestation. The specific categories reveal further insight into the specific causes of tropical deforestation: transport extension (64%), commercial wood extraction (52%), permanent cultivation (48%), cattle ranching (46%), shifting (slash and burn) cultivation (41%), subsistence agriculture (40%), and fuel wood extraction for domestic use (28%). One result is that shifting cultivation is not the primary cause of deforestation in all world regions, while transport extension (including the construction of new roads) is the largest single proximate factor responsible for deforestation.[14]

[edit] Drivers
Nanjing Road in Shanghai While the above-mentioned activities are the proximal or direct causes of habitat destruction in that they actually destroy habitat, this still does not identify why humans destroy habitat. The forces that cause humans to destroy habitat are known as drivers of habitat destruction. Demographic, economic, sociopolitical, scientific and technological, and cultural drivers all contribute to habitat destruction.[13] Demographic drivers include the expanding human population; rate of population increase over time; spatial distribution of people in a given area (urban versus rural), ecosystem type, and country; and the combined effects of poverty, age, family planning, gender, and education status of people in certain areas.[13] Most of the exponential human population growth worldwide is occurring in or close to biodiversity hotspots.[5] This may explain why human population density accounts for 87.9% of the variation in numbers of threatened species across 114 countries, providing indisputable evidence that people play the largest role in decreasing biodiversity.[15] The boom in human population and migration of people into such species-rich regions are making conservation efforts not only more urgent but also


more likely to conflict with local human interests.[5] The high local population density in such areas is directly correlated to the poverty status of the local people, most of whom lack an education and family planning.[14] From the Geist and Lambin (2002) study described in the previous section, the underlying driving forces were prioritized as follows (with the percent of the 152 cases the factor played a significant role in): economic factors (81%), institutional or policy factors (78%), technological factors (70%), cultural or socio-political factors (66%), and demographic factors (61%). The main economic factors included commercialization and growth of timber markets (68%), which are driven by national and international demands; urban industrial growth (38%); low domestic costs for land, labor, fuel, and timber (32%); and increases in product prices mainly for cash crops (25%). Institutional and policy factors included formal pro-deforestation policies on land development (40%), economic growth including colonization and infrastructure improvement (34%), and subsidies for land-based activities (26%); property rights and land-tenure insecurity (44%); and policy failures such as corruption, lawlessness, or mismanagement (42%). The main technological factor was the poor application of technology in the wood industry (45%), which leads to wasteful logging practices. Within the broad category of cultural and sociopolitical factors are public attitudes and values (63%), individual/household behavior (53%), public unconcern toward forest environments (43%), missing basic values (36%), and unconcern by individuals (32%). Demographic factors were the in-migration of colonizing settlers into sparsely populated forest areas (38%) and growing population density—a result of the first factor—in those areas (25%). There are also feedbacks and interactions among the proximate and underlying causes of deforestation that can amplify the process. Road construction has the largest feedback effect, because it interacts with—and leads to—the establishment of new settlements and more people, which causes a growth in wood (logging) and food markets.[14] Growth in these markets, in turn, progresses the commercialization of agriculture and logging industries. When these industries become commercialized, they must become more efficient by utilizing larger or more modern machinery that often are worse on the habitat than traditional farming and logging methods. Either way, more land is cleared more rapidly for commercial markets. This common feedback example manifests just how closely related the proximate and underlying causes are to each other.

[edit] Impact on human population
The draining and development of coastal wetlands that previously protected the Gulf Coast contributed to severe flooding in New Orleans, Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.[16] Habitat destruction vastly increases an area's vulnerability to natural disasters like flood and drought, crop failure, spread of disease, and water contamination.[13] On the other hand, a healthy ecosystem with good management practices will reduce the chance of these events happening, or will at least mitigate adverse impacts.


Agricultural land can actually suffer from the destruction of the surrounding landscape. Over the past 50 years, the destruction of habitat surrounding agricultural land has degraded approximately 40% of agricultural land worldwide via erosion, salinization, compaction, nutrient depletion, pollution, and urbanization.[13] Humans also lose direct uses of natural habitat when habitat is destroyed. Aesthetic uses such as birdwatching, recreational uses like hunting and fishing, and ecotourism usually rely upon virtually undisturbed habitat. Many people value the complexity of the natural world and are disturbed by the loss of natural habitats and animal or plant species worldwide. Probably the most profound impact that habitat destruction has on people is the loss of many valuable ecosystem services. Habitat destruction has altered nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur, and carbon cycles, which has increased the frequency and severity of acid rain, algal blooms, and fish kills in rivers and oceans and contributed tremendously to global climate change.[13] One ecosystem service whose significance is becoming more realized is climate regulation. On a local scale, trees provide windbreaks and shade; on a regional scale, plant transpiration recycles rainwater and maintains constant annual rainfall; on a global scale, plants (especially trees from tropical rainforests) from around the world counter the accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere by sequestering carbon dioxide through photosynthesis.[6] Other ecosystem services that are diminished or lost altogether as a result of habitat destruction include watershed management, nitrogen fixation, oxygen production, pollination, waste treatment (i.e., the breaking down and immobilization of toxic pollutants), and nutrient recycling of sewage or agricultural runoff.[6] The loss of trees from the tropical rainforests alone represents a substantial diminishing of the earth’s ability to produce oxygen and use up carbon dioxide. These services are becoming even more important as increasing carbon dioxide levels is one of the main contributors to global climate change. The loss of biodiversity may not directly affect humans, but the indirect effects of losing many species as well as the diversity of ecosystems in general are enormous. When biodiversity is lost, the environment loses many species that provide valuable and unique roles to the ecosystem. The environment and all its inhabitants rely on biodiversity to recover from extreme environmental conditions. When too much biodiversity is lost, a catastrophic event such as an earthquake, flood, or volcanic eruption could cause an ecosystem to crash, and humans would obviously suffer from that. Loss of biodiversity also means that humans are losing animals that could have served as biological control agents and plants that could potentially provide higheryielding crop varieties, pharmaceutical drugs to cure existing or future diseases or cancer, and new resistant crop varieties for agricultural species susceptible to pesticide-resistant insects or virulent strains of fungi, viruses, and bacteria.[6] The negative effects of habitat destruction usually impact rural populations more directly than urban populations.[13] Across the globe, poor people suffer the most when natural habitat is destroyed, because less natural habitat means less natural resources per capita, yet wealthier people and countries simply have to pay more to continue to receive more than their per capita share of natural resources.


Another way to view the negative effects of habitat destruction is to look at the opportunity cost of keeping an area undisturbed. In other words, what are people losing out on by taking away a given habitat? A country may increase its food supply by converting forest land to row-crop agriculture, but the value of the same land may be much larger when it can supply natural resources or services such as clean water, timber, ecotourism, or flood regulation and drought control.[13]

[edit] Outlook
The rapid expansion of the global human population is increasing the world’s food requirement substantially. Simple logic instructs that more people will require more food. In fact, as the world’s population increases dramatically, agricultural output will need to increase by at least 50%, over the next 30 years.,[17] which outcome is at best problematic. In the past, continually moving to new land and soils provided a boost in food production to appease the global food demand. That easy fix will no longer be available, however, as more than 98% of all land suitable for agriculture is already in use or degraded beyond repair.[18] The impending global food crisis will be a major source of habitat destruction. Commercial farmers are going to become desperate to produce more food from the same amount of land, so they will use more fertilizers and less concern for the environment to meet the market demand. Others will seek out new land or will convert other land-uses to agriculture. Agricultural intensification will become widespread at the cost of the environment and its inhabitants. Species will be pushed out of their habitat either directly by habitat destruction or indirectly by fragmentation, degradation, or pollution. Any efforts to protect the world’s remaining natural habitat and biodiversity will compete directly with humans’ growing demand for natural resources, especially new agricultural lands.[17]

[edit] Solutions
Chelonia mydas on a Hawaiian coral reef. Although the endangered species is protected, habitat loss from human development is a major reason for the loss of green turtle nesting beaches. In most cases of tropical deforestation, three to four underlying causes are driving two to three proximate causes.[14] This means that a universal policy for controlling tropical deforestation would not be able to address the unique combination of proximate and underlying causes of deforestation in each country.[14] Before any local, national, or international deforestation policies are written and enforced, governmental leaders must acquire a detailed understanding of the complex combination of proximate causes and underlying driving forces of deforestation in a given area or country.[14] This concept, along with many other results about tropical deforestation from the Geist and Lambin study, can easily be applied habitat destruction in general. Governmental leaders need to take action by addressing the underlying driving forces, rather than merely regulating the proximate causes In a


broader sense, governmental bodies at a local, national, and international scale need to emphasize the following: 1. Considering the many irreplaceable ecosystem services provided by natural habitats, 2. Protecting remaining intact sections of natural habitat, 3. Educating the public about the importance of natural habitat and biodiversity, 4. Developing family planning programs in areas of rapid population growth, 5. Finding ways to increase agricultural output than simply increasing the total land in production, 6. Preserving habitat corridors to minimize prior damage from fragmented habitats.

Most of the species extinctions from 1000 AD to 2000 AD are due to human activities, in particular destruction of plant and animal habitats. Raised rates of extinction are being driven by human consumption of organic resources, especially related to tropical forest destruction.[55] While most of the species that are becoming extinct are not food species, their biomass is converted into human food when their habitat is transformed into pasture, cropland, and orchards. It is estimated that more than a third of the Earth's biomass[56] is tied up in only the few species that represent humans, livestock and crops. Because an ecosystem decreases in stability as its species are made extinct, these studies warn that the global ecosystem is destined for collapse if it is further reduced in complexity. Factors contributing to loss of biodiversity are: overpopulation, deforestation, pollution (air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination) and global warming or climate change, driven by human activity. These factors, while all stemming from overpopulation, produce a cumulative impact upon biodiversity. There are systematic relationships between the area of a habitat and the number of species it can support, with greater sensitivity to reduction in habitat area for species of larger body size and for those living at lower latitudes or in forests or oceans.[57] Some characterize loss of biodiversity not as ecosystem degradation but by conversion to trivial standardized ecosystems (e.g., monoculture following deforestation). In some countries lack of property rights or access regulation to biotic resources necessarily leads to biodiversity loss (degradation costs having to be supported by the community). A September 14, 2007 study conducted by the National Science Foundation found that biodiversity and genetic diversity are dependent upon each other—that diversity within a species is necessary to maintain diversity among species, and vice versa. According to the lead researcher in the study, Dr. Richard Lankau, "If any one type is removed from the system, the cycle can break down, and the community becomes dominated by a single species."[58] At present, the most threathened ecosystems are those found in fresh water. The marking of fresh water ecosystems as the ecosystems most under threat was done by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005, and was confirmed again by the project


"Freshwater Animal Diversity Assessment", organised by the biodiversity platform, and the French Institut de recherche pour le développement (MNHNP).[59]

[edit] Exotic species
Main article: Introduced species

Introduced species
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search "Alien species" redirects here. For life on planets other than Earth, see extraterrestrial life. For a list of extraterrestrials in fiction, see List of alien species. Sweet clover (Melilotus sp.), introduced and naturalized to the U.S. from Eurasia as a forage and cover crop. An introduced, alien, exotic, non-indigenous, or non-native species, or simply an introduction, is a species living outside its native distributional range, which has arrived there by human activity, either deliberate or accidental. Some introduced species are damaging to the ecosystem they are introduced into, others negatively affect agriculture and other human uses of natural resources, or impact on the health of animals and humans. A list of introduced species is given in a separate article. Introduced species and their effects on natural environments is a controversial subject and one that has gained much scrutiny by scientists, governments, farmers and others.

[edit] Terminology
The terminology associated with introduced species is presently in flux for a variety of reasons. Other terms that are used sometimes interchangeably (having the same or similar meanings) with introduced are acclimatized, adventive, naturalized, immigrant, and xenobiotic. Nonetheless, distinctions can and should be made between some of these terms. In the broadest and most widely used sense, an introduced species is synonymous with non-native and therefore applies as well to most garden and farm organisms; these adequately fit the basic definition given above. However, some sources add to that basic definition: "...and are now reproducing in the wild",[1] which removes from consideration as introduced all of those species raised or grown in gardens or farms that do not survive without tending by people. With respect to plants, these latter are in this case defined as either ornamental or cultivated plants. The following definition from the United States Environmental Protection Agency, although perhaps lacking ecological sophistication, is more typical: introduced species are .."[s]pecies that have become able to survive and reproduce outside the habitats where they evolved or spread naturally".[2] However, introduction of a species


outside its native range is often all that is required to be qualified as an "introduced species" such that one can distinguish between introduced species that may only occur in cultivation, under domestication or captivity whereas other become established outside their native range and reproduce without human assistance. Such species might be termed "naturalized", "established", "wild non-native species", or "invasive". The transition from introduction, to establishment and invasion has been described by in the context of plants.[3] Introduced species are essentially "non-native" species. Invasive species are those introduced species that spread-widely or quickly, and cause harm, be that to the environment,[4] human health, other valued resources or the economy. There have been calls from scientists to consider a species "invasive" only in terms of their spread and reproduction rather than the harm they may cause.[5]. An invasive species is one that has been introduced and become a pest in its new location, spreading (invading) by natural means. The term is used to imply both a sense of urgency and actual or potential harm. For example, U.S. Executive Order 13112 (1999) defines "invasive species" as "an alien species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health".[6] Although some argue that "invasive" is a loaded word and harm is difficult to define, [1] the fact of the matter is that organisms have and continue to be introduced to areas where they are not native, sometimes with, usually without, much regard to the harm that could result. From a regulatory perspective, it is neither desirable nor practical to simply list as undesirable or outright ban all non-native species (although the State of Hawaii has adopted an approach that comes close to this). Regulations require a definitional distinction between non-natives that are deemed especially onerous and all others. Introduced pest species that are officially listed as invasive, best fit the definition of an invasive species. In Great Britain the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 prevents the introduction of any animal not naturally occurring in the wild, and also any of a list of both animals or plants which have been introduced previously and have proved to be invasive. Table of terms related to "Introduced Species" NON-NATIVE NATIVE INTRODUCED (broad definition) Established in the wild CULTIVATED INTRODUCED INDIGENOUS (narrow definition) and or ENDEMIC LIVESTOCK INVASIVE All others (pest) not listed* *Not listed in any "official" source as a pest species

[edit] Nature of introductions


By definition, a species is considered “introduced” when its transport into an area outside of its native range is human mediated. Introductions by humans can be described as either intentional or accidental. Intentional introductions have been motivated by individuals or groups who believe that the newly introduced species will be in some way beneficial to humans in its new location. Unintentional or accidental introductions are most often a byproduct of human movements, and are thus unbound to human motivations. Subsequent range expansion of introduced species may or may not involve human activity.

[edit] Intentional introductions
Species that humans intentionally transport to new regions can subsequently become successfully established in two ways. In the first case, organisms are purposely released for establishment in the wild. It is sometimes difficult to predict whether a species will become established upon release, and if not initially successful, humans have made repeated introductions to improve the probability that the species will survive and eventually reproduce in the wild. In these cases it is clear that the introduction is directly facilitated by human desires. In the second case, species intentionally transported into a new region may escape from captive or cultivated populations and subsequently establish independent breeding populations. Escaped organisms are included in this category because their initial transport to a new region is human motivated. Perhaps the most common motivation for introducing a species into a new place is that of economic gain. Examples of species introduced for the purposes of benefiting agriculture, aquaculture or other economic activities are widespread.[7] Eurasian carp was first introduced to the United States as a potential food source. The apple snail was released in Southeast Asia with the intent that it be used as a protein source, and subsequently to places like Hawaiʻi to establish a food industry. In Alaska, foxes were introduced to many islands to create new populations for the fur trade. The timber industry promoted the introduction of Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata) from California to Australia and New Zealand as a commercial timber crop. These examples represent only a small subsample of species that have been moved by humans for economic interests. Introductions have also been important in supporting recreation activities or otherwise increasing human enjoyment. Numerous fish and game animals have been introduced for the purposes of sport fishing and hunting. The introduced amphibian (Ambystoma tigrinum) that threatens the endemic California salamander (Ambystoma californiense) was introduced to California as a source of bait for fishermen.[8] Pet animals have also been frequently transported into new areas by humans, and their escapes have resulted in several successful introductions, such as those of feral cats and parrots. Many plants have been introduced with the intent of aesthetically improving public recreation areas or private properties. The introduced Norway Maple for example occupies a prominent status in many of Canada's parks.[9] The transport of ornamental plants for landscaping use has and continues to be a source of many introductions.


Some of these species have escaped horticultural control and become invasive. Notable examples include water hyacinth, salt cedar, and purple loosestrife. In other cases, species have been translocated for reasons of “cultural nostalgia,” which refers to instances in which humans who have migrated to new regions have intentionally brought with them familiar organisms. Famous examples include the introduction of starlings to North America by Englishman Eugene Schieffelin, a lover of the works of Shakespeare, who, it is rumoured, wanted to introduce all of the birds mentioned in Shakespeare's plays into the United States. He deliberately released eighty starlings into Central Park in New York City in 1890, and another forty in 1891. Yet another prominent example is the introduction of the European rabbit to Australia by one Thomas Austin, a British landowner who had the rabbits released on his estate in Victoria because he missed hunting them. A more recent example is the introduction of the wall lizard to North America by a Cincinnati boy, George Rau, in the 1950s after a family vacation to Italy.[10] Intentional introductions have also been undertaken with the aim of ameliorating environmental problems. A number of fast spreading plants such as Garlic Mustard and kudzu have been introduced as a means of erosion control. Other species have been introduced as biological control agents to control invasive species and involves the purposeful introduction of a natural enemy of the target species with the intention of reducing its numbers or controlling its spread. A special case of introduction is the reintroduction of a species that has become locally endangered or extinct, done in the interests of conservation. Examples of successful reintroductions include wolves to Yellowstone National Park in the U.S., and the Red kite to parts of England and Scotland. Introductions or translocations of species have also been proposed in the interest of genetic conservation, which advocates the introduction of new individuals into genetically depauperate populations of endangered or threatened species.[11] The above examples highlight the intent of humans to introduce species as a means of incurring some benefit. While these benefits have in some cases been realized, introductions have also resulted in unforeseen costs, particularly when introduced species take on characteristics of invasive species. Non-native species can become such a common part of an environment, culture, and even diet that little thought is given to their geographic origin. For example, soybeans, kiwi fruit, wheat and all livestock except the llama and the turkey are non-native species to North America. Collectively, non-native crops and livestock comprise 98% of US food.[12] These and other benefits from non-natives are so vast that, according to the Congressional Research Service, they probably exceed the costs.[13]

[edit] Accidental introductions
Unintentional introductions occur when species are transported by human vectors. For example, three species of rat (the Black, Norway and Polynesian) have spread to most of the world as hitchhikers on ships. There are also numerous examples of marine organisms being transported in ballast water, one being the zebra mussel. Over 200 species have been introduced to the San Francisco Bay in this manner making it the 47

most heavily invaded estuary in the world.[14] Increasing rates of human travel are providing accelerating opportunities for species to be accidentally transported into areas in which they are not considered native.

[edit] Introduced plants and algae
Many non-native plants have been introduced into new territories, initially as either ornamental plants or for erosion control, stock feed, or forestry. Whether an exotic will become invasive is seldom understood in the beginning, and many non-native ornamentals languish in the trade for years before suddenly naturalizing and becoming invasive. Peaches, for example, originated in Persia, and have been carried to much of the populated world. Tomatoes are native to the Andes. Squash (pumpkins), maize, and tobacco are native to the Americas, but were introduced to the Old World. Many introduced species require continued human intervention to survive in the new environment. Others may become feral, but do not seriously compete with natives, but simply increase the biodiversity of the area. Dandelions are also introduced species to North America. A very troublesome marine species in southern Europe is the seaweed Caulerpa taxifolia. Caulerpa was first observed in the Mediterranean Sea in 1984, off the coast of Monaco. By 1997, it had covered some 50 km². It has a strong potential to overgrow natural biotopes, and represents a major risk for sublittoral ecosystems. The origin of the alga in the Mediterranean was thought to be either as a migration through the Suez Canal from the Red Sea, or as an accidental introduction from an aquarium. Japanese knotweed grows profusely in many nations. Human beings introduced it into many places in the 19th century. It is a source of resveratrol, a dietary supplement.

[edit] Introduced animals

Male Lophura nycthemera (Silver Pheasant), a native of East Asia that has been introduced into parts of Europe for ornamental reasons. One example of introducing an exotic animal was carried out by a lover of the works of Shakespeare, who wanted to introduce all of the birds mentioned in Shakespeare's plays into the United States. He deliberately released eighty starlings into Central Park in New York City in 1890, and another forty in 1891. The starling had been introduced previously into Ohio and had failed to survive. Other examples of introduced animals include the gypsy moth in eastern North America, the zebra mussel and alewife in the Great Lakes, the Canada Goose and Gray Squirrel in Europe, the Muskrat in Europe and Asia, the Cane Toad and Red fox in Australia, Nutria in North America, Eurasia, and Africa, and the Common Brushtail Possum in New Zealand.


[edit] Invasive exotic diseases
History is rife with the spread of exotic diseases, such as the introduction of smallpox into the Americas, where it obliterated entire Native American civilizations before they were ever even seen by Europeans. Problematic exotic disease introductions in the past century or so include the chestnut blight which has virtually extinguished the American chestnut, and Dutch elm disease, which has severely damaged the American elm.

[edit] Most commonly introduced species
Some species, such as the Brown Rat, House Sparrow, Ring-necked Pheasant and European Starling, have been introduced very widely. In addition there are some agricultural and pet species that frequently become feral; these include rabbits, dogs, goats, fish, pigs and cats.

[edit] Introduced species on islands
Perhaps the best place to study problems associated with introduced species is on islands. Depending upon the isolation (how far an island is located from continental biotas), native island biological communities may be poorly adapted to the threat posed by exotic introductions. Often this can mean that no natural predator of an introduced species is present, and the non-native spreads uncontrollably into open or occupied niche. An additional problem is that birds native to small islands may have become flightless because of the absence of predators prior to introductions, and cannot readily escape danger. The tendency of rails in particular to evolve flightless forms on islands has led to the disproportionate number of extinctions in that family. The field of island restoration has developed as a field of conservation biology and ecological restoration, a great deal of which deals with the eradication of introduced species.

[edit] New Zealand
Main article: Introduced species in New Zealand In New Zealand the largest commercial crop is Pinus radiata, the Monterey Pine from California, which grows better in New Zealand than in California. However, the pine forests are also occupied by deer from North America and Europe and by possums from Australia. All are exotic species and all have thrived in the New Zealand environment. The pines are seen as beneficial while the deer and possums are regarded as serious pests. Common gorse, originally a hedge plant in Scotland, was introduced to New Zealand for the same purpose. Like the radiata pine, it has shown a favour to its new climate and is regarded as a noxious plant which threatens to obliterate native plants in much 49

of the country and is hence routinely eradicated, though it can also provide a nursery environment for native plants to reestablish themselves. Rabbits, introduced as a food source by sailors in the 1800s, have become a severe nuisance to farmers, notably in South Island. The myxomatosis virus was illegally imported and illegally released but it had little lasting effect upon the rabbit population other than to make it more resistant to the virus. Rats, brought either by the first humans to arrive in New Zealand (the Maori) or by Europeans have had a devastating effect upon native birdlife, particularly as many New Zealand birds are flightless. Feral cats and dogs which were originally brought as pets are also known to kill large numbers of birds. A recent (2006) study in South Island has shown that even domestic cats with a ready supply of food from their owners may kill hundreds of birds in a year, including natives. Sparrows, which were brought to control insects upon the introduced grain crops, have displaced native birds as have Rainbow Lorikeets and cockatoos (both from Australia) which fly free around areas west of Auckland City such as the Waitakere Ranges. In much of the New Zealand the Australian black swan has effectively eliminated the existence of the previously introduced mute swan. Two notable varieties of spiders have also been introduced: the white tail spider and the black widow spider. Both may have arrived inside shipments of fruit. Prior to this the only spider (and the only poisonous animal) dangerous to humans was the native katipo which is very similar to the black widow and which is known to successfully interbreed with the more aggressive North American variety.

[edit] Genetic pollution
Main article: Genetic pollution Purebred naturally evolved region specific wild species can be threatened with extinction in a big way[15] through the process of genetic pollution i.e. uncontrolled hybridization, introgression and genetic swamping which leads to homogenization or replacement of local genotypes as a result of either a numerical and/or fitness advantage of introduced plant or animal[16]. Nonnative species can bring about a form of extinction of native plants and animals by hybridization and introgression either through purposeful introduction by humans or through habitat modification, bringing previously isolated species into contact. These phenomena can be especially detrimental for rare species coming into contact with more abundant ones where the abundant ones can interbreed with them swamping the entire rarer gene pool creating hybrids thus driving the entire original purebred native stock to complete extinction. Attention has to be focused on the extent of this under appreciated problem that is not always apparent from morphological (outward appearance) observations alone. Some degree of gene flow may be a normal, evolutionarily constructive process, and all constellations of genes and genotypes cannot be preserved however, hybridization


with or without introgression may, nevertheless, threaten a rare species' existence[17] [18] . Further information: Comparison of biodiversity health by nation The rich diversity of unique species across many parts of the world exist only because they are separated by barriers, particularly large rivers, seas, oceans, mountains and deserts from other species of other land masses, particularly the highly fecund, ultracompetitive, generalist "super-species". These are barriers that couldn't have been easily crossed by natural processes, except through continental drift. However, humans have invented transportation with the ability to bring into contact species that they've never met in their evolutionary history; also, this is done on a time scale of days, unlike the centuries that historically have accompanied major animal migrations. As these species that never met before come in contact with each other, the rate at which species are extincting is increasing still. See below for an example. The widespread introduction of exotic species by humans is a potent threat to biodiversity. When exotic species are introduced to ecosystems and establish selfsustaining populations, the endemic species in that ecosystem that have not evolved to cope with the exotic species may not survive. The exotic organisms may be either predators, parasites, or simply aggressive species that deprive indigenous species of nutrients, water and light. These invasive species often have features, due to their evolutionary background and new environment, that make them highly competitive; able to become well-established and spread quickly, reducing the effective habitat of endemic species. Exotic species are introduced by human, either unwillingly or intentionally. Examples on unwilling introduction are fore example ladybugs, ... These were bred to help in combating pests in agriculture (for greenhouses). Other examples of unwilling introduction are species that are unknowingly brought in by vessel or automotive. These include eg certain bacteria, spiders, seeds of certain plants, ... Examples of intentional introduction are the planting of exotic plants in gardens. It is clear that with simple measures the preventing of the spread of exotic plants, yet as of present, trying to reduce the inflow of exotic species has remained low on the political agenda. Also, the intentional planting of species that are marked as "indiginous", yet are from a non-indigenous strain can be considered exotic and create problems in the ecosystem. For example in Belgium, Prunus spinosa (an indigenous species) that originates from Eastern Europe has been introduced. This has created problems, as the this tree species comes into leave much sooner than their West European counterparts, bringing the Thecla betulae butterfly (which feed on the leaves) into trouble. As a consequence of the above, if humans continue to combine species from different ecoregions, there is the potential that the world's ecosystems will end up dominated by relatively a few, aggressive, cosmopolitan "super-species". At present, several countries have already imported so much exotic species, that the own indigenous fauna/flora is greatly outnumbered. For example, in Belgium, only 5% of the indigenous trees remain.[60][61]


In 2004, an international team of scientists estimated that 10 percent of species would become extinct by 2050 because of global warming.[62] “We need to limit climate change or we wind up with a lot of species in trouble, possibly extinct,” said Dr. Lee Hannah, a co-author of the paper and chief climate change biologist at the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science at Conservation International.

[edit] Genetic pollution
Main article: Genetic pollution

Genetic pollution
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search Genetic pollution is undesirable gene flow into wild populations. The term is usually associated with the gene flow from a genetically engineered (GE) organism (or genetically modifed organism - GMO) to a non GE organism;[1][2] however, conservation biologists and conservationists are using it to describe gene flow from a domestic, feral, non-native or invasive species to a wild indigenous population.[3][4] The use of this term is controversial.

[edit] Genetic engineering
The term genetic pollution was popularized by environmentalist Jeremy Rifkin in his 1998 book The Biotech Century.[5] While intentional crossbreeding between two genetically distinct varieties is described as hybridization with the subsequent introgression of genes, Rifkin used genetic pollution to describe the risks that might occur due the unintentional process of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) dispersing their genes into the natural environment by breeding with wild plants or animals.[1][6][7] The usage of genetic pollution by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is currently defined as: “Uncontrolled spread of genetic information (frequently referring to transgenes) into the genomes of organisms in which such genes are not present in nature.”[8] In a 10 years study of four different crops, none of the genetically modified plants were found to be more invasive or more persistent than their conventional counterparts.[9] An often cited example of genetic pollution is the reputed discovery of transgenes from GE maize in landraces of maize in Oaxaca, Mexico. The report from Quist and Chapela, [10] has since been discredited on methodological grounds. [11] The scientific journal that originally published the study concluded that "the evidence available is not sufficient to justify the publication of the original paper." [12] More


recent attempts to replicate the original studies have concluded that genetically modified corn is absent from southern Mexico in 2003 and 2004. [13] A 2004 study performed near an Oregon field trial for a genetically modified variety of creeping bentgrass (Agrostis stolonifera) revealed that the transgene and its associate trait (resistance to the glyphosate herbicide) could be transmitted by wind pollination to resident plants of different Agrostis species, up to 14 km from the test field.[14] In 2007, the Scotts Company, producer of the genetically modified bentgrass, agreed to pay a civil penalty of $500,000 to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The USDA alleged that Scotts "failed to conduct a 2003 Oregon field trial in a manner which ensured that neither glyphosate-tolerant creeping bentgrass nor its offspring would persist in the environment".[15]

[edit] Invasive species
While in the field of agriculture, agroforestry and animal husbandry genetic pollution is being used to describe the undesirable gene flow between GE species and wild relatives;[1] conservationists are using the term to describe the undesirable gene flow from domestic, feral, non-native and invasive species into wild indigenous species.[3][4] For example, TRAFFIC is the international wildlife trade monitoring network which works to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature. They promote the awareness of the harmful effects of introduced invasive species that may "hybridize with native species, causing genetic pollution".[16] The Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) is the statutory adviser to the Government of United Kingdom and international nature conservation. Its work contributes to maintaining and enriching biological diversity and educating about the harmful effects of the introduction of invasive/non-native species. In this context they have advised that invasive species: "will alter the genetic pool (a process called genetic pollution), which is an irreversible change.”[17]

[edit] Controversial term
Whether genetic pollution or similar terms, such as “genetic deterioration”, “genetic swamping”, “genetic takeover” and “genetic aggression”, are an appropriate scientific description of the biology of invasive species is debated. Hymer and Simberloff argue that these types of terms: "...imply either that hybrids are less fit than the parentals, which need not be the case, or that there is an inherent value in “pure” gene pools". [18] They recommend that gene flow from invasive species be termed genetic mixing since: “ "Mixing" need not be value-laden, and we use it here to denote mixing of gene pools whether or not associated with a decline in fitness". [18]


Even environmentalists such as Patrick Moore, an ex-member and cofounder of Greenpeace, questions if the term genetic pollution is more political than scientific. In an interview he comments: "If you take a term used quite frequently these days, the term “genetic pollution,” otherwise referred to as genetic contamination, it is a propaganda term, not a technical or scientific term. Pollution and contamination are both value judgments. By using the word “genetic” it gives the public the impression that they are talking about something scientific or technical--as if there were such a thing as genes that amount to pollution."[19] Purebred naturally evolved region specific wild species can be threatened with extinction[63] through the process of genetic pollution i.e. uncontrolled hybridization, introgression and genetic swamping which leads to homogenization or replacement of local genotypes as a result of either a numerical and/or fitness advantage of introduced plant or animal.[64] Nonnative species can bring about a form of extinction of native plants and animals by hybridization and introgression either through purposeful introduction by humans or through habitat modification, bringing previously isolated species into contact. These phenomena can be especially detrimental for rare species coming into contact with more abundant ones. The abundant species can interbreed with the rarer, swamping the entire gene pool and creating hybrids, thus driving the entire native stock to complete extinction. Attention has to be focused on the extent of this under appreciated problem that is not always apparent from morphological (outward appearance) observations alone. Some degree of gene flow may be a normal, evolutionarily constructive, process, and all constellations of genes and genotypes cannot be preserved. However, hybridization with or without introgression may, nevertheless, threaten a rare species' existence.[65]

[edit] Hybridization and genetics
See also: Food Security In agriculture and animal husbandry, the green revolution popularized the use of conventional hybridization to increase yield by creating "high-yielding varieties". Often the handful of hybridized breeds originated in developed countries and were further hybridized with local varieties in the rest of the developing world to create high yield strains resistant to local climate and diseases. Local governments and industry have been pushing hybridization which has resulted in several of the indigenous breeds becoming extinct or threatened. Disuse because of unprofitability and uncontrolled intentional and unintentional cross-pollination and crossbreeding (genetic pollution), formerly huge gene pools of various wild and indigenous breeds have collapsed causing widespread genetic erosion and genetic pollution. This has resulted in loss of genetic diversity and biodiversity as a whole.[67] A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using the genetic engineering techniques generally known as recombinant DNA technology. Genetically Modified (GM) crops today have become


a common source for genetic pollution, not only of wild varieties but also of other domesticated varieties derived from relatively natural hybridization.[68][69][70][71][72] Genetic erosion coupled with genetic pollution may be destroying unique genotypes, thereby creating a hidden crisis which could result in a severe threat to our food security. Diverse genetic material could cease to exist which would impact our ability to further hybridize food crops and livestock against more resistant diseases and climatic changes.[67]

[edit] Climate Change
Main article: Effect of Climate Change on Plant Biodiversity The recent phenomenon of global warming is also considered to be a major threat to global biodiversity.[citation needed] For example coral reefs -which are biodiversity hotspots- will be lost in 20 to 40 years if global warming continues at the current trend.[73]

[edit] Conserving biodiversity
Main article: Conservation biology A schematic image illustrating the relationship between biodiversity, ecosystem services, human well-being, and poverty.[74] The illustration shows where conservation action, strategies and plans can influence the drivers of the current biodiversity crisis at local, regional, to global scales. Conservation biology matured in the mid- 20th century as ecologists, naturalists, and other scientists began to collectively research and address issues pertaining to global declines in biodiversity.[75][76][77] The conservation ethic differs from the preservationist ethic, historically lead by John Muir, who advocate for protected areas devoid of human exploitation or interference for profit.[76] The conservation ethic advocates for wise stewardship and management of natural resource production for the purpose of protecting and sustaining biodiversity in species, ecosystems, the evolutionary process, and human culture and society.[75][77][78][79] Conservation biologists are concerned with the trends in biodiversity being reported in this era, which has been labeled by science as the Holocene extinction period, also known as the sixth mass extinction.[80] Rates of decline in biodiversity in this sixth mass extinction exceeds the five previous extinction spasms recorded in the fossil record.[80][81][82][83][84] In response to the extinction crisis, the research of conservation biologists is being organized into strategic plans that include principles, guidelines, and tools for the purpose of protecting biodiversity.[75][85][86] Conservation biology is a crisis orientated discipline and it is multi-disciplinary, including ecological, social, education, and other scientific disciplines outside of biology. Conservation biologists work in both the field and office, in government, universities, non-profit organizations and in industry.[75][77] The conservation of biological diversity is a global priority in strategic conservation plans that are designed to engage public policy and concerns affecting local, regional and global scales of communities, ecosystems, and cultures.[87] Conserving biodiversity


and action plans identify ways of sustaining human well-being and global economics, including natural capital, market capital, and ecosystem services.[88][89]

[edit] Means
One of the strategies involves placing a monetary value on biodiversity through biodiversity banking, of which one example is the Australian Native Vegetation Management Framework. Other approaches are the creation of gene banks, as well as the creation of gene banks that have the intention of growing the indigenous species for reintroduction to the ecosystem (eg via tree nurseries, ...)[90] The eradication of exotic species is also an important method to preserve the local biodiversity. Exotic species that have become a pest can be identified using taxonomy (eg with DAISY, barcode of life[91], ...) and can then be eradicated. This method however can only be used against a large group of a certain exotic organism due to the econimic cost. Other measures contributing to the preservation of biodiversity include: the reduction of pesticide use and/or a switching to organic pesticides, ... These measures however, are of less importance than the preserving of rural lands, reintroduction of indigenous species and the removal of exotic species. Finally, if the continued preservation of native organisms in an area can be guaranteed, efforts can be made in trying to reintroduce eliminated native species back into the environment. This can be done by first determining which species were indiginous to the area, and then reintroducing them. This determination can be done using databases as the Encyclopedia_of_life, Global Biodiversity Information Facility, ... Extermination is usually done with either (ecological) pesticides, or natural predators.

[edit] Strategies
As noted above (Distribution), biodiversity is not as rich everywhere on the planet. Regions as the tropics and subtropics are considerably much richer in biodiversity than regions in temperate climates. In addition, in temperate climates, allot of countries are located which are already vastly urbanised, and require -in additiongreat amounts of space for the growing of crops. As rehabilitating the biodiversity within these countries would again require the clearing and redeveloping of spaces, it has been proposed of some that efforts are best instead directed unto the tropics. Arguments include economics, it would be far less costly and more efficient to preserve the biodiversity in the tropics, especially as many countries in these areas are only now beginning to urbanise.[92] However, only directing the efforts into these areas would not be enough, as many species still need to migrate at certain times of the year, requiring a connection to other regions/countries. In the more urbanised countries in temperate climates, this would mean that wildlife corridors need to be made. However, making wildlife corridors would still be considerably cheaper and easier than clearing/preserving entirely new areas.

[edit] Judicial status


Biodiversity is beginning to be evaluated and its evolution analysed (through observations, inventories, conservation...) as well as being taken into account in political and judicial decisions:

The relationship between law and ecosystems is very ancient and has consequences for biodiversity. It is related to property rights, both private and public. It can define protection for threatened ecosystems, but also some rights and duties (for example, fishing rights, hunting rights). Law regarding species is a more recent issue. It defines species that must be protected because they may be threatened by extinction. The U.S. Endangered Species Act is an example of an attempt to address the "law and species" issue. Laws regarding gene pools are only about a century old[citation needed]. While the genetic approach is not new (domestication, plant traditional selection methods), progress made in the genetic field in the past 20 years have led to a tightening of laws in this field. With the new technologies of genetic analysis and genetic engineering, people are going through gene patenting, processes patenting, and a totally new concept of genetic resources.[93] A very hot debate today seeks to define whether the resource is the gene, the organism itself, or its DNA.

The 1972 UNESCO World Heritage convention established that biological resources, such as plants, were the common heritage of mankind. These rules probably inspired the creation of great public banks of genetic resources, located outside the sourcecountries. New global agreements (e.g.Convention on Biological Diversity), now give sovereign national rights over biological resources (not property). The idea of static conservation of biodiversity is disappearing and being replaced by the idea of dynamic conservation, through the notion of resource and innovation. The new agreements commit countries to conserve biodiversity, develop resources for sustainability and share the benefits resulting from their use. Under new rules, it is expected that bioprospecting or collection of natural products has to be allowed by the biodiversity-rich country, in exchange for a share of the benefits. Sovereignty principles can rely upon what is better known as Access and Benefit Sharing Agreements (ABAs). The Convention on Biodiversity spirit implies a prior informed consent between the source country and the collector, to establish which resource will be used and for what, and to settle on a fair agreement on benefit sharing. Bioprospecting can become a type of biopiracy when those principles are not respected. Uniform approval for use of biodiversity as a legal standard has not been achieved, however. At least one legal commentator has argued that biodiversity should not be used as a legal standard, arguing that the multiple layers of scientific uncertainty inherent in the concept of biodiversity will cause administrative waste and increase litigation without promoting preservation goals. See Fred Bosselman, A Dozen Biodiversity Puzzles, 12 N.Y.U. Environmental Law Journal 364 (2004)


[edit] Analytical limits
[edit] Taxonomic and size bias
Less than 1% of all species that have been described have been studied beyond simply noting its existence.[94] Biodiversity researcher Sean Nee points out that the vast majority of Earth's biodiversity is microbial, and that contemporary biodiversity physics is "firmly fixated on the visible world" (Nee uses "visible" as a synonym for macroscopic).[95] For example, microbial life is very much more metabolically and environmentally diverse than multicellular life (see extremophile). Nee has stated: "On the tree of life, based on analyses of small-subunit ribosomal RNA, visible life consists of barely noticeable twigs. The size bias is not restricted to consideration of microbes. Entomologist Nigel Stork states that "to a first approximation, all multicellular species on Earth are insects".[96] Even in insects, however, the extinction rate is high and indicative of the general trend of the sixth greatest extinction period that human society is faced with.[97][98] Moreover, there are species co-extinctions, such as plants and beetles, where the extinction or decline in one is reciprocated in the other.[99]

[edit] Definition
1. Biodiversity is the variety of life: the different plants, animals and microorganisms, their genes and the ecosystems of which they are a part. It is home to more than one million species of plants and animals, many of which are found nowhere else in the world.[100] 2. “Biodiversity” is often defined as the variety of all forms of life, from genes to species, through to the broad scale of ecosystems (for a list of variants on this simple definition see Gaston 1996). "


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