Biodiversity refers to the animals, plants, and microorganisms that exist in a particular ecosystem. Habitat loss, overexploitation, climate change, pollution and the spread of invasive species are some of the factors that threaten biodiversity (Markussen, 2005).
Habitual loss occurs when there are substantial changes to the environment to the point that it cannot support the existence of the present species (Edwards, Worthing and Australian Theological Forum, 2004). Habitat loss may be natural or human-made. The most common form of habitat loss is through human invasion. For example. Human beings have cleared large vegetation’s of natural habitats to facilitate urbanization and production. Also, human beings have cleared large plants for agricultural purposes. Furthermore, other causes of natural habitat loss include mining (Markussen, 2005).
Overexploitation is the harvesting of species from the environment at a rate faster than recovery (Perlman & Adelson, 2009). Examples of overexploitation include overfishing and hunting of animals to extinction. The American bison is an example of an animal that was close to extinction because of extreme hunting activities by Americans. Furthermore, examples of animals that were hunted to extinction are great auks and passenger pigeons (Markussen, 2005). Overfishing activities among major coasts are because of improved fishing methods. Overfishing has greatly reduced the number of fish and aquatic mammals. Overexploitation is, therefore, a human-made phenomenon that puts species in direct danger of extinction.
Climatic change is a worldwide cause of concern for humans (Edwards, Worthing and Australian Theological Forum, 2004). Global warming is the primary cause of climate change which has led to a decrease of snow cover, climatic variability, increased sea levels and ocean acidification. The rise of greenhouse gases, for example, carbon dioxide, has endangered the livelihood of natural ecosystems (Markussen, 2005). For example, polar bears and seals are losing their natural habitat because of decreased snow cover and increase in ocean levels.
All forms of pollution, whether air, water or soil pollution, hurt biodiversity. According to Perlman and Adelson (2009), the increase of nitrogen and phosphorus in the environment is a major cause of loss of biodiversity and ecosystem dysfunction. Air pollution is the main form of pollution around the world; it affects soil quality, water quality and the composition of some species of plants. Furthermore, water pollution destroys natural habitats for fish and other aquatic animals. Therefore, pollution causes ecosystems to be dysfunctional and hence biodiversity is threatened.
Spread of invasive species
Invasive species are natural living organisms existing in an ecosystem but are not native to the ecosystem in question. Invasive species cause harm to other living organisms in the ecosystem. According to Edwards, Worthing and Australian Theological Forum (2004), invasive species cause devastating effects to ecosystems including extinction of other organisms. More than 42% of all endangered species in the United States face the risk of extinction due to invasive species. Invasive species compete with other species for food and water, carry diseases or kill the young ones of other species to prevent reproduction. Examples of invasive species are plant species such as the kudzu (Edwards, Worthing and Australian Theological Forum, 2004). Also, water hyacinths are invasive species that prevent other species, such as fish to survive.
In conclusion, the loss of biodiversity is a significant factor that world governments are fighting to prevent. Major world governments are protecting natural ecosystems and endangered species. It is important to reduce poaching, clearing of forests, pollution, the spread of invasive species and climate change to protect biodiversity.
Edwards, D., Worthing, M. W., & Australian Theological Forum. (2004). Biodiversity and ecology as interdisciplinary challenge. Hindmarsh, Adelaide, S. Aust: ATF Press.
Markussen, M. (2005). Valuation and conservation of biodiversity: Interdisciplinary perspectives on the convention on biological diversity. Berlin: Springer.
Perlman, D. J., & Adelson, G. (2009). Biodiversity: Exploring values and priorities in conservation. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.