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Biodiversity has always been in a flux with species adapting to new environments or extinction but these circumstances are all through natural occurrences and through a period of thousands of years and so allowing the dependant consumers and trophic levels to adapt. However, since the Human population began to expand hugely since the industrial revolution we have been directly responsible for the extinction of dozens of species such as the Passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) and indirectly responsible for many others. As the human population continues to grow we will require more resources and to expand our living area, in this case we have exploited the natural resources to breaking point and have expanded into synthetic products that damage the ecosystem even further. The idea that we should be working to repair the damage that has been caused by our rapid growth is a relatively new concept and has still not been accepted by many countries but efforts are being made to protect the remaining communities and ecosystems.
Humans have modified ecosystems for our benefit such as agriculture which focuses on the mass production of a selected few products for our consumption; this is extremely effective in feeding a large population while incorporating only 3 trophic levels, the producer (crops), the primary and secondary consumers (humans, livestock). This method also benefits energy, keeping any loss at a minimum especially when combined with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. However when looking at the damage this method causes to other populations there is huge fallout, we use pesticides which kill any local insect populations, and fertilizers run off the fields and contaminate the local areas, freshwater and coastal ecosystems both biotic and abiotic. we effectively destroy large areas to accommodate these fields which remove natural habitats for many species which places a huge pressure on the ecosystem (McShaffrey: http://www.marietta.edu/~mcshaffd/)
Using biotechnology scientists have adapted blue green algae to act as a cost-effective bio fertilizer, utilising its natural nitrogen fixation to add nutrients to crops instead of relying on the more harmful, synthetic fertilizer, reducing harmful effects of the man-made substances, using natural bio waste and recycling energy flows far more efficiently. http://agritech.tnau.ac.in/org_farm/orgfarm_biofertilizertechnology.html) [email protected] Department of Agricultural Microbiology
The human effect on the ecosystem has damaged many areas both directly and indirectly such as pollution, climate change and introduction of foreign species. In the last 50 years the global economic activity has increased 7 fold in the last 50 years and trends suggest that as our population continues to rise the ecosystem will suffer more http://www.greenfacts.org. Land and forests are in greater demand for agricultural, industrial and housing which destroy natural habitats of native species and force them out. Forest fragmentation increases the risk of extinction as the smaller a space the smaller the population it can support. Combining this with the introduction of alien species, i.e. imported from other countries and then escape into a new ecosystem, this is a major cause of the extinction to local species such as the American mink escaping into the British countryside, this non-native carnivore has posed a significant threat to fish, poultry and game birds, The introduction of new diseases that can prove devastating, Dutch elm disease has wiped out the British elm tree which then saw a huge decline in the producers for oxygen and allowed more non-native trees to grow in their place. (UK Pest Control Directory | Pest Control UK | www.pestcontrol-uk.org.)
With recent attempts to cut our ‘ecological footprint’ and ease pressure on the ecosystem as much as possible we have introduced measures that manage as much of our resources as possible, Protected areas and set-aside fields have given wildlife a chance to recover its nutrients from decades of abuse while the government allows a subsidy to the farmers that do this. While protected areas such as these are a good start it is not sufficient to recover biodiversity. The restoration process is producing strong results and is evolving rapidly due to increased awareness and changes in priority, Using a holistic approach Restoration technology is now able to return certain damaged areas of ecosystems to their natural balance . (B. C. Rana Damaged Ecosystems and Restoration) Ecological damage is now a large part of political arguments, bringing them to the public attention and changing the public attitude towards these issues as well.
“Ecosystems are already showing negative impacts under current levels of climate change â€¦ which is modest compared to future projected changesâ€¦. In addition to warming temperatures, more frequent extreme weather events and changing patterns of rainfall and drought can be expected to have significant impacts on biodiversity”. (Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (2010)
Pollutants such as oil, gas fumes, and synthetic chemicals have created the most widespread impact to the ecosystem with temperatures in flux, the polar icecaps melting, acid rain and the damage to the Ozone layer. Native plants are unable to thrive in the acid rich soils making for fewer producers and less for the primary consumers to absorb this carries throughout the chain (Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009)
In conclusion, While biodiversity is still present it is true that the increased pressure has from pollutants and destruction of natural environments has greatly affected the progress, wiping out many species and allowing other to thrive in their stead have changed the ecosystem entirely. However since the introduction of conservation policies there are signs that damage is slowing, but not significantly, ultimately in order for the biodiversity to recover to a sustainable amount we need to employ a strict long term plan to reduce any further growth and concentrate on technology or holistic remedies to repair any recoverable damage from the environments
Environmental Biology Sequence – Ecosystems. 2013. Environmental Biology Sequence – Ecosystems. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.marietta.edu/~biol/102/ecosystem.html#HumanvsNaturalFoodChains7
UK Pest Control Directory | Pest Control UK | www.pestcontrol-uk.org.
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