Biodiversity

Why is Earth's biodiversity so important?
Answered by Jaymi Heimbuch and HowStuffWorks
  • Jaymi Heimbuch

    Jaymi Heimbuch

  • HowStuffWorks

    HowStuffWorks

  1. Jaymi Heimbuch Treehugger.com
    There's no more apt description for biodiversity than "web of life." The complex ways in which plants, animals and organisms are linked can be mind-boggling, and we often don't realize the importance of one species to the survival of another until after that balance has been disrupted.

    When there are a wide range of plants an animals in a habitat, it is less disruptive if one of them dies out for whatever reason. The remaning species can adapt to the loss and focus on another species for food, shelter, and so on. Imagine if there is only one plant, one herbivore, and one carnivore existing in an ecosystem and one of them were wiped out. If it's the predator, the herbivores would go nuts on the plant and kill it off. If it's the plant, then the herbivores starve and so to do the predators. If it's the herbivore, then the plants go nuts (possibly to the point of self-destruction) and the predators starve. But when there is a wide range of species thriving in an ecosystem, the loss of one is not so dramatic.

    Additionally, different species perform different tasks for an ecosystem. Some are the "garbage workers" that clean off sick or injured prey animals -- this actually helps to keep that prey species healthy so that only the best genes are passed on. Other species are the pollinators, such as birds, bats, bees and other insects -- but it is important to note that some species will pollinate certain types of plants but not others. In order for all the plant species to survive, there needs to be a great diversity in pollinators. Having a significant biodiversity in a habitat ensures it functions at tip-top shape.


    Biggest Threat Biodiversityqa1
    (Stockbyte/Thinkstock)

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  2. Earth is home to a startling variety of plants and animals, all of which depend on one another to survive. What's more, without significant biodiversity, agriculture, pharmaceutical production and even the Earth's climate would be adversely affected. Several Cornell scientists estimated the value of all the services that the world's plants and animals provide, and they came up with a figure of $2.9 trillion.

     

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