Biodiversity in a Changing World - University of Houston ...

Biodiversity in a Changing World - University of Houston ...

Biodiversity in a Changing World Brenda Weiser, Ed. D. EIH/UHCL Topics What is Biodiversity? Importance of Biodiversity Threats to Biodiversity Invasive Species

Biodiversity is: the variety of life on Earth at all its levels, from genes to ecosystems, and the ecological and evolutionary processes that sustain it. Source: AMNH-CBC Dimensions of biodiversity Genetic component within individuals Spatial

component communities ecosystems within populations between populations between species landscapes ecoregions biogeographic regions

Functional component e.g. reproductive behavior, predation, parasitism Temporal component daily seasonal annual geological or

evolutionary Genetic Diversity The variation in the nucleotides, genes, chromosomes, or whole genomes of organisms Source: Human Genome Project, Department of Energy Population Diversity Variation in the quantitative and spatial characteristics between populations Importance of population variation

Loss of isolated populations along with their unique component of genetic variation is considered by some scientists to be one of the greatest but most overlooked tragedies of the biodiversity crisis. Species diversity vs. richness Species richness: the number of species present in a given area Species diversity: species number weighted by measure of importance, such as abundance, productivity or size Many people use the term species diversity when they mean species richness Community Diversity Variation in the groups of populations and

species that share an environment Ecosystem Diversity An ecosystem is a community plus the physical environment that it occupies at a given time. Some examples of ecosystems coral reefs tallgrass prairie

coastal wetlands old-growth forest tropical rainforest Mangroves, Belize Source: Harrison AMNH Source: Brumbaugh AMNH-CBC Inter-species interactions impact ecosystem diversity There are very many potential interactions among species, such as:

predation, competition, parasitism, mutualism Some of these involve very close ecological and evolutionary associations between the organisms and are an important component of community and ecosystem biodiversity consider for example plant pollinators and seed dispersers Examples of distinct communities and

ecosystems Species associated with: ripening figs in a tropical forest, Species clustered around a hydrothermal vent on the ocean floor, Species in the spray zone of a waterfall, Species under warm stones in

the alpine zone on a mountaintop. Source: AMNH Global Biodiversity Gradient Biodiversity is not distributed evenly across the planet: Source: Sterling AMNH-CBC Source: Kristan Hutchison,NSF: US Antarctic Program Species diversity for most taxa is

lowest near the poles, and increases toward the tropics, reaching a peak in tropical rain forests (may contain more than half the species on Earth). Areas of endemism A species is endemic to a certain region if its distribution is restricted to that region Endemism contributes to the uniqueness and special importance of the biodiversity in particular areas. Some areas of the world have particularly high levels of endemism The Major Extinction Events

Adapted from Kaufman and Mallory (1986) The Last Extinction fig 2.1 Recovery time from previous extinctions Evolution required 10 million years or more to attain prior levels of species diversity Sixth mass extinction Homo sapiens (humans) may be the cause of a sixth major extinction in history. Reasons for extinction: human population pollution global climate change over hunting

The extinct dodo bird How a 6th mass extinction might differ from previous mass extinctions causes - apparently human induced rate - possibly greater possible breadth of taxonomic groups affected it can be stopped or at least slowed! Why is Biodiversity Important? Values are Subjective: Perspectives and Scales Land developer

Local communities Government agency Oil company Source: Sterling/Frey AMNH-CBC Aquaculture company Environmental group The Value of Biodiversity

Intrinsic/inherent value Extrinsic/utilitarian/ instrumental value Source: Burmbaugh AMNH-CBC Intrinsic/inherent value The value of something independent of its value to anyone or anything else A philosophical concept

Source: Frey AMNH-CBC Categorizing Values Direct Use Value(Goods) Indirect Use Value (Services) Non-Use Values Food, medicine, building material, fiber, fuel

Atmospheric and climate regulation, pollination, nutrient recycling Potential (or Option) Value Future value either as a good or service Cultural, Spiritual and Aesthetic

Existence Value Value of knowing something exists Bequest Value Value of knowing that something will be there for future generations Direct Use Value: Goods

Food Building Materials Fuel Paper Products Fiber (clothing, textiles) Industrial products (waxes, rubber, oils) Medicine Source: AMNH-CBC

Medicine About 80% of the people in developing countries use plants as a primary source of medicine. Source: AMNH-CBC 57% of the 150 mostprescribed drugs have their origins in biodiversity Indirect Use Values: Services

Regulating global processes, such as atmosphere and climate Soil and water conservation Nutrient cycling Pollination and seed dispersal Control of agricultural pests Genetic library Inspiration and information Scientific and educational Tourism and recreation Cultural, spiritual, and aesthetic Community Resilience Strategic Source: AMNH-CBC

Global Processes: Atmospheric Regulation Photosynthetic biodiversity created an oxygenated atmosphere, and also has the potential to moderate the rising amounts of atmospheric carbon dioxide linked to global climate change Source: Frey AMNH-CBC Global Processes: Climate Regulation

Forests and other vegetation modify climate: by affecting sun reflectance, water vapor release, wind patterns and moisture loss. Forests help maintain a humid environment, for example, half of all rainfall in Amazon basin is produced locally from forest-atmosphere cycle Source: Bain AMNH-CBC Soil and Water Conservation Example: Coastal wetlands and mangroves Filters excess nutrients and traps sediments that would otherwise impact neighboring

marine and aquatic areas Other services: Minimizes damage from waves and floods Serves as a nursery for juvenile commercial fish Provides habitat for many birds, fish, and shellfish Source: Ersts AMNH-CBC Nutrient Cycling Biodiversity is critical to nutrient cycling

and soil renewal Decomposers such as algae, fungi, and bacteria Source: Snyder AMNH-CBC Pollination and Seed Dispersal Many flowering plants depend on animals for pollination to produce food. 30% of human crops depend on free services of pollinators;

replacement value estimated billions of dollars/year in US alone Source: Spector AMNH-CBC Source of Inspiration or Information Biomimicry Applied Biology Medical Models Education and Scientific Research Source: Brumbaugh AMNH-CBC

Spiritual and Cultural Values The survival of natural areas and species are important to different cultures around the world. Thousands of cultural groups in the world, each have distinct traditions and knowledge for relating to natural world Source: Projecto Gato Andino Bolivia, Villalba & Bernal, 1998 Aesthetic Value

Source: Brumbaugh AMNH-CBC Ecological Value: Does Diversity Make Communities More Resilient? Resilient ecosystems are characterized by: Constancy (Lack of fluctuation) Inertia (Resistance to perturbation) Renewal (Ability to repair damage) Not all species are critical to an ecosystems function; many fill redundant roles; basis for community resilience and integrity If too many species or keystone species are lost, eventually it leads to the failure of ecosystem function

Non-Use or Passive Values Existence value Bequest value Potential or Option value Principal Threats Direct Fragmentation Invasive Species

Overexploitation Pollution Global Climate Change Underlying Overpopulation Over-consumption Reduced or negative incentives to conserve Lack of enforcement What are the Threats to Biodiversity? Ecosystem Loss and Fragmentation

Causes Agriculture Human Settlement Resource Extraction Industrial Development Result Small isolated patches

Many too small to support a diverse mix of species Source: SterlingAMNH-CBC Causes of Fragmentation Natural SOURCE: DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, A. ADAMS Complex patch Less distinct edge Human Caused

SOURCE: FREYCBC-AMNH Distinct Edge Simplified Patch Invasive Species Invasives outcompete, displace or extirpate local species Exotic species Live outside their native range, not always invasive 3 Phases

Dispersal Establishment Integration Dispersal Accidental Introduction Norway Rat Tree Snake Diseases - small pox, measles, rabies, distemper Deliberate Introduction Wind Break - Casuarinas Pest Management - Cane toad Pets - Cats

Food - pigs Laverty CBC/AMNH Consequences of Invasion Hybridization with native species Disruption of an ecosystems structure and function Displacement of native species as invasives outcompete them for resources Local or even global extinctions Overexploitation Unsustainable levels of consumption,

harvest or loss Direct Commercial pressures Source: FreyAMNH-CBC Indirect Unintentional exploitation, e.g. bycatch of sea turtles in fishery operations Source: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration/ Commerce Department

Source: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration / Commerce Department Pollution Many classifications possible Wide variety of types and impacts Result is a disruptive, persistent and cumulative impact Source: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration / Commerce Department Climate Change Global impact Increased rate of change

Appears that the Northern Hemisphere increase in last 100 years fastest in the last 1,000 years Not all areas affected equally Alpine and Coastal areas most impacted Impacts of Climate Change Wide and rapid changes in distribution of vegetation types and animal species Rise in sea level as glaciers and snow cover retreat Species living close to their

limits will be most immediately impacted Amplify threats to already endangered ecosystems Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration / Commerce Department Addressing the Threats Priority setting at the SpeciesLevel Atelopus varius Robert Puschendorf. IUCN Red List Program

Structure of the categories Fundacion ProAves Ognorhynchus icterotis Anthony G. Miller. Dendrosicyos socotrana Global-scale priority setting

Name Variables used to measure threat Reference Global 200 Total Habitat Loss eco-regions Degree of Fragmentation (WWF) Water quality Estimates of future threat Dinerstein et al. 1995

Hotspots (CI) Habitat Loss (70% or more of primary vegetation lost) Myers et al. 2000, Myers 2003 Frontier Forests (WRI) Commercial logging Other biomass harvest

Forest Clearing Road Construction and Infrastructure Development Bryant et al. 1998 Last Wild Places (WCS) Population Density Land Transformation Accessibility Power Infrastructure

Sanderson et al. 2002 Hot Spots (CI) Source: (Conservation International) Regional-scale priority setting Name Variables used to measure threat Reference

TNCs Eco-regional planning approach Severity, Scope, Contribution, Irreversibility Groves et al. 2002 WWFs Eco-regional planning approach Conversion, Degradation, Wildlife exploitation

Dinerstein et al. 2000 Invasive Species What is an Invasive Species? A species of plant, animal, or microorganism: Living outside native range - an exotic Not all exotics are invasive Successfully reproduces and establishes Negative impacts: Ecological Economic

Social Pathways of Introduction Aquarium/pet trade and pet owners Plant nurseries and landscaping/horticulture Live seafood markets

Shipping & boating Ballast Hull and trailer fouling Cargo Transportation Agriculture

Scientific research institutions, public aquariums, and zoos, and wildlife preserves Biological control Impacts of Invasive Plant Ecological Compete, prey or parasitize native species for resources Species diversity - monoculture Pathogens to native populations

Ecosystem alteration Degrade water quality Change fire regimes Habitat availability Predator/prey relationships Economic $138 billion per year Social

Human health Quality of life: sense of place and aesthetics Characteristics of Invasive Species Reproductive Adaptability

Prolific reproducers Varying methods of reproduction Temperature Soil types Wet or dry High survival High growth rates Vines or rhizomes (runners)

Lack of ecological checks and balances No natural predators Disease resistant Tolerate varying conditions: Establishment

Thrive in disturbed/stressed habitats Alter surrounding environment Change soil chemistry Modify hydrology of aquatic

habitats Crowd out natives Sources of Information The Quiet Invasion: Invasive Plants of the Galveston Bay Area A Guide to Pocket field guide available Online field guide

USDA Plants Database Texas invasive plant database Native plant database How to get involved in citizen science USGS NAS Database Best invasives photo collection on web

NBII CSWGCIN NBII CSWGCIN regional invasives page (w/database) Resources Network of Conservation Educators and Practioners§ionnav=home National Project Learning Tree World Wildlife Fund and l Biodiversity and Conservation

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