Biodiversity Loss And Its Impact On Humanity – Biodiversity is the incredible variety we see in all life on Earth. As living things adapt to their environment and evolve over time, greater diversity occurs. Scientists estimate that there are at least 8.7 million unique species of animals, plants, fungi, and other organisms on Earth, along with countless species of bacteria.1 Each of these species is adapted for a special role in its immediate environment, and this species. ensures that ecosystems function properly and are kept in balance. In agriculture, biodiversity also benefits humans: genetic diversity in crops and livestock helps protect our food from disease and other threats. Unfortunately, industrial agriculture takes advantage and productivity of biodiversity and relies on only a few species of plants and animals. Treating crops and livestock like parts of an assembly line threatens not only unique players in a dynamic system, but also wildlife and has serious implications for our own food supply. Sustainable agriculture embraces biodiversity by reducing its impact on wild ecosystems and by introducing multiple species of plants and animals into complex on-farm ecosystems.
Biodiversity is what makes every environment on Earth unique. When we see biodiversity in the amazing shapes and colors of the natural world, it starts with genetics. DNA is unique to all living things, and that genetic code evolves over time. Different genes correspond to different traits in the body. We can see many of these traits with our own eyes, but others are less obvious, such as genes for stress and disease resistance. This genetic diversity is essential to ensure that species survive in the ever-changing conditions of their environment.
Biodiversity Loss And Its Impact On Humanity
Biodiversity has been important to agriculture since the beginning. For a long time, humans have used and manipulated genetic diversity by domesticating edible plants and animals. Even without understanding genetics, early farmers did this simply by selecting plants that produced large, edible seeds. As these houseplants spread around the world, they developed their own variations. Like their wild counterparts, crops depend on genetic diversity for traits that help them resist disease and remain productive under stress. Genetic modification of crops also brings us many types of foods that we enjoy. Livestock biodiversity is important for these reasons, and there are thousands of heritage breeds of pigs, cattle, poultry and other animals that are beautiful, unique and specially adapted to their environment.
Cross Chapter Paper 1: Biodiversity Hotspots
Maintaining biodiversity in wildlife and crops benefits agriculture. Even though they are managed by humans, farms are still ecosystems. Plants, soil and animals all depend on each other for nutrients and habitat. In a functional agrosystem, healthy soil microbes feed plants whose root systems hold the soil in place. Plants provide food and habitat for beneficial insects and birds that pollinate them and control pests. Cattle can process the remaining parts of the crops and provide natural fertilizers to the fields and pastures through manure. Agroecosystems depend on diversity to stay in balance, and industrial agriculture disrupts this.
Agriculture relies on natural processes and living things to create food, but often changes the environment. Although farms can be managed in ways that minimize their damage to the environment, industrial agriculture’s focus on productivity means that too many farms disturb wildlife both near and far. When the environment is over-altered or polluted by industrial agriculture, vulnerable species can lose their habitat and even become extinct, harming biodiversity.
Whether it is growing fruits and vegetables, grains or animals, agriculture takes place. Prime agricultural land – land with good soil and water availability – is a limited resource. These areas often support wildlife-rich ecosystems such as prairies and forests; the conversion of these areas to farms destroys much of that wildlife biodiversity. Unfortunately, the continued expansion of agriculture is putting these sensitive and important wildlife areas at risk of extinction. This process of bringing more wild land into agriculture is called extensification.
Extensification of agriculture is not new. In the United States, grassland ecosystems such as the prairie once covered about 170 million acres and supported nearly as many plants and animals as tropical forests. Through controlled fires and other tactics, indigenous peoples have helped maintain a biologically rich environment in which bison and other animals thrive.2 But when settlers pushed indigenous peoples off their lands, that changed: the grasses’ deep roots eroded the soil. enriched with organic matter. which meant that it was suitable for plowing fertile lands. However, after 150 years of agricultural development, tallgrass prairies have been reduced to only one percent of their former area, often preserved in narrow strips between fields or along railroad tracks.3
Global Biodiversity Loss From Tropical Deforestation
The loss of the prairies contributed to the drastic decline of the species that depended on them, including the bison, which almost drove settlers to extinction and destroyed local ways of life, and these losses continue today.4 Although farmland in the United States In the United States as a whole, there are many areas where wildland is still under cultivation: 2.5 million acres of grassland were converted to new cropland between 2015 and 2016.5 The continued expansion of farmland into America’s grasslands has implications for is serious: for example, the population of pollinators such as monarchs has decreased by 70 percent in recent decades.6
Pollinator diversity is important because native pollinators visit more plant species than European bees—which keeps native plant populations healthy, in addition to increasing farm productivity.7 Even when farmland is abandoned and replanted. wild species, the number of plant species an area supports, can take decades to recover. This in turn limits the number of insects, birds and other animals that the environment can support.
One of the most striking examples of biodiversity loss through expansion is the ongoing destruction of tropical forests. Rainforests are biodiversity hotspots, containing about 25 percent of all terrestrial species in the Amazon alone.8 80 percent of deforestation worldwide is related to agricultural expansion.9 While farmers “slash and burn”— where the peasants cut and burned the small things. before moving on to another continent – often blamed for deforestation, these approaches are less damaging than industrial-scale agriculture, which always replaces forests. Growing crops such as soybeans and oil palm or raising livestock provides farmers with more income than maintaining forests, resulting in the ongoing deforestation of more than 100,000 square kilometers per year.
The impact of industrial agriculture is not limited to the destruction of the environment by expanding its footprint: its dependence on heavy chemicals to create giant monocultures has serious consequences for the biodiversity of plants, animals and microorganisms.
Explained: What Does Biodiversity Mean?
A number of innovations made it possible to intensify agriculture throughout the 20th century. Widespread use of steel plows, hybrid seeds, GMOs, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides have helped farmers produce more food per hectare. Recently, the adoption of genetically modified seeds has helped to increase the yield even more. However, this productivity comes at a high cost. Vast fields of single crops (called monocultures) are a convenience for farmers and a constant supply of food for factory farms, but they are biodiversity deserts. Maintaining monocultures requires heavy chemical inputs that reduce the abundance of wild species both on and off the farm.
Pesticides and herbicides are designed to kill pests that can damage or compete with crops, but these chemicals can harm plants and animals outside of farmland. Excessive use of herbicides and severe soil disturbance affects both plant diversity on and around farms—researchers studying plant communities around intensively managed farms found they had fewer species than their organic counterparts. The widespread adoption and increased use of the herbicide glyphosate in the US, for example, has dramatically reduced the diversity of wild plants in and around farmland, which in turn has harmed populations of beneficial insects such as monarch butterflies that rely on milkweed plants. delivered. 13
Although herbicides can disrupt food webs (including the animals within them), insecticides can directly harm other animals. Pesticides such as neonicotinoids harm bees and other insects by limiting colony growth and disrupting communication, 14 which severely limits their ability to pollinate crops and other plants. Some insecticides are also toxic to fish, amphibians, and birds; Agricultural pollution is a major threat to many species worldwide.15
Industrial agriculture also damages soil biodiversity. When farmers till the land, communities of insects and other invertebrates disrupt their habitats and disrupt their ability to process dead plants into the rich, stable organic carbon that makes the soil fertile. disrupts the process involved: scientists have found fewer species of beneficial bacteria and fungi in soils treated with chemical fertilizers and pesticides.17 Ultimately, these soils become more biodiverse and healthier for crops. Such changes also contribute to climate change: soils worldwide store more than 1.6 trillion tons of carbon dioxide, but highly degraded soils with low biodiversity are rapidly losing it.