Biodiversity: Let us tell you 'bout the birds and the bees.
While “climate change” may be more of a buzzword than biodiversity in today’s world, it’s increasingly necessary to have a good understanding of both. Today’s #DailyRevolution is to learn the basics of biodiversity, and understand its significance in our daily lives.
Biodiversity is necessary to the health of all ecosystems, and it can have an enormous impact on our everyday lives. It helps to keep some of our favorite foods around, such as peanut butter and coffee (which could be on their way out if we aren’t careful), via diversity of plants, soils, and pollinators (like bees or hummingbirds). It also makes our rivers cleaner and more sustainable, and our forests more adaptable to wildfires or natural disasters.
But let’s back up a second: What is biodiversity, and why does it matter?
Whether we’re tracking total the number of species on earth (8.7 million) or examining the different living things in a backyard pond, most simply, biodiversity is the variety of life.
Specifically, genetic biodiversity is diversity within a species in a specific geographical location or ecosystem. The more variation that exists in a species or ecosystem, the stronger and more able it is to resist disease or adjust to changes in its environment. In contrast, when the variety of a species erodes over time, that species is on a fast track to extinction.
Ecological diversity, on the other hand, is the interaction between species, and all the varied ways that plants and animals co-exist. The ecological diversity in one forest can be wildly different from another one nearby, and changes in one can trigger massive upheaval in another. The relationships between species and plant life are very delicately balanced — in many ecosystems, even the slightest disturbance in the natural biodiversity can drastically throw off that balance, causing irreversible damage. And yes, larger, man-made disturbances (including pollution) are responsible for devastating the diversity of ecosystems across the world.
For example, dams are a leading culprit in devastating the ecological and genetic diversity of rivers, and are considered a contributing factor to the near extinction of many creatures including native wild salmon. Varieties of wild atlantic salmon used to fill rivers across North America, but as dams were erected, entire ecosystems changed. Dams cause surrounding areas to flood, reducing water flow to downstream habitat and stopping the exchange of nutrients between ecosystems. This includes plant and animal life as the migratory patterns of fish are cut off abruptly and species become isolated. Now, what’s left are the farm-raised salmon that have dramatically impacted the natural ecosystems, are less sustainable, and are much less genetically diverse, (and tbh much less tasty).
In fact, 12 specific populations, including at least four species of salmon and steelhead have been under the protection of the Endangered Species Act since 1991.
In light of everything else 45 has done to damage our nation and the lives of its citizens, it can be hard to focus on things like variation in plantlife, species or breed diversity, and preservation of native ecosystems. But we’ve already seen the introduction of many legislative attacks this year seeking to strip federal protections from specific species or undercutting the Endangered Species Act.
Today’s #DailyRevolution gives you a chance to familiarize yourself with just how important these sleeper issues are, and spread your new knowledge with everyone around you. Stay tuned for future posts about how to fight back.
The Global Solution to Extinction - The New York Times
Any Changes to Current Endangered Species Act will Weaken its Purpose - The Hill
What Can Humans Do to Save the Pacific Northwest’s Iconic Salmon? - Smithsonian Magazine