Figure 4.2: Natural capital. This diagram illustrates the major components of the earth’s biodiversity—one of the earth’s most important renewable resources and a key component of the planet’s natural capital (see Figure 1-4, p. 9). See an animation based on this figure at CengageNOW. Question: What role do you play in such degradation?
Male golden toad in Costa Rica’s high altitude Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve. This species has recently become extinct because changes in climate dried up its habitat.
Monarch butterfly feeds on pollen in a flower and many other insects pollinate flowering plants that serve as food for many other plant eaters.
The praying mantis and many other insects help control the insect populations of most of the insect populations that we classify as pests.
Concept and characteristics of biodiversity
Concepts and Characteristics of
Morphology , Taxonomy &
Biodiversity of Vectors
Biodiversity is defined as “the intrinsically-inbuilt plus the
externally-imposed variability in and among living organisms
existing in terrestrial, marine and other ecosystem at a specific
period of time”.
“The web of life"is divided into three parts to help simplify a
very complex concept:
Estimated Number of Described Species
Biodiversity has Intrinsic Value
Intrinsic Value = Something that has value
in and of itself
Biodiversity also has Utilitarian Value
Utilitarian Value = the value something has as a
means to another’s end.
What do we get from biodiversity?
Should we be concerned about
The Earth is losing species at an alarming rate
• Some scientists estimate that as many as 3 species per
hour are going extinct and 20,000 extinctions occur
• when species of plants and animals go extinct, many
other species are affected.
• Species diversity: Variety of organisms within a
• Genetic diversity: Variety of genes within a population, or
within a species on earth. Greater Genetic diversity means a
population will have an easier time adapting to environmental
• Ecosystem diversity:
– Biomes: regions with distinct climates/species
• Functional diversity: The variety of processes that occur
whithin an ecosystem
Fig. 4-2, p. 82
Functional Diversity The biological and
chemical processes such as energy flow
and matter recycling needed for the survival
of species, communities, and ecosystems.
Ecological Diversity The
variety of terrestrial and
in an area or on the
meat eaters)Heat Heat
Genetic Diversity The
of genetic material within
Species Diversity The number
and abundance of species
present in different communities.
• Diversity at the level of
community and ecosystem
exists along 3 levels.
• It could be within-
community diversity (alpha
diversity (beta diversity) or
• diversity of the habitats over
the total landscape or
geographical area (gamma
Community and ecosystem diversity
All life forms that make up biodiversity, including humans,
are ultimately connected to all other life forms, and to their
• No one living element of any ecosystem can survive
independent of the others.
• Connections among living and non-living elements keep the
environment functioning and healthy.
• Because biodiversity represents the interconnectedness of all
things, the effects of some causes can be surprising.
• Human impact on the environment, therefore, directly or
indirectly affects the function of other living things, and, by
CHARACTERISTICS OF BIODIVERSITY
BIODIVERSITY HAS LIMITS:
• Physical environments, even healthy ones, can support just so
many of any species, including people, indefinitely.
• This maximum number is termed the carrying capacity for that
• Species can cause changes in environmental conditions, and
vice versa, leading to changes in carrying capacity for
themselves and for other species.
• Another way to express limits and carrying capacity is through
the term ecological footprint.
• Over the short term, these limits can be exceeded by a
population or species, including people, a condition often
• Overshoot, in the short term, often degrades the associated
environment; in the long term, it causes a sharp, considerable
decline in a population or species, or even its elimination from
BIODIVERSITY HAS VALUE:
• Biodiversity has evolutionary, ecological, economic, social,
cultural, and intrinsic values.
• Biodiversity is nature’s insurance policy
• Biologically diverse ecosystems offer a variety of natural
products, including medical ingredients that enhance human
health and standard of living.
• Biodiversity provides ecosystem services: water purification;
clean air, fertile soil, climate regulation, flood control, as well
as pest regulation and disease resistance, essentially for the
cost of letting natural systems function.
• Biological diversity is key to long term ecosystem
sustainability (e.g.75% of cash crops rely on a variety of
insects and other organisms for pollination; a biologically
diverse agricultural ecosystem provides stability, nutrients to
the soil and natural pest resistance).
• Biodiversity is key in sustaining the natural beauty of National
and Provincial Parks and green spaces for recreational use and
• Biologically diverse ecosystems maintain a stable environment
capable of providing a high quality of life.
• Healthy, stable, diverse environments are able to respond to
change more efficiently than degraded or simple systems.
Benefits of Biodiversity
• Ecological benefits/services (Indirect use value) –
Biodiversity supplies the buffering capacity and stability to life on
the planet by maintaining the interactive dynamics of the
ecosystems of the world.
• Economical benefits
Food value – providing food to the human population on this earth
for thousands of years.
Commercial value –timber which is a major component of
material used for providing shelter to man.
Natural fibres like cotton and silk are still used for clothing by
Medicinal value –Medicines, drugs and pharmaceuticals. Many
plant genetic resources are used from derivation of basic drugs.
These plant resources vary from actinomycetes and fungi to large
Traditional knowledge of indigenous people still keeps an
edge over the scientific knowledge in this field.
Aesthetic value – Man has always been fascinated by the natural
beauty and nature has inspired him resulting in development of his
moral and ethical values.
This intrinsic value of plants and animals are independent of
their economic and commercial value.
BIODIVERSITY IS IN TROUBLE:
• There is growing scientific concern about the major, rapid
decline in biodiversity around the world. The extinction of
each additional species and the loss of variation within species
brings the irreversible loss of unique genetic diversity.
• The scientific community has linked human activity to the
accelerated rate of recent and current extinctions.
Biodiversity is declining because of:
• Habitat loss
• Invasive species
• Population Growth
• Over-consumption (Unsustainable use)
• Climate change
CLIMATE CHANGE AND BIODIVERSITY:
• Ecosystems fluctuate around a state of equilibrium. In the long
run, however, ecosystems and their components always change
when climate changes.
Climate change resulting from, among other things, unsustainable
use of fossil fuels results in loss of biodiversity:
Temperature increase makes certain environments
uninhabitable to previously indigenous species.
Loss of indigenous species allows introduced species to
flourish, thus increasing the loss of other indigenous
Changing composition of environments and loss of species
directly effects ecosystem services.
Extinct Extinct (EX)
Extinct in the Wild (EW)
Conservation Dependent (CD)
Of less concern
Not evaluated (EV)
SOCIETY’S ROLE IN SUPPORTING BIODIVERSITY
“Conserving biodiversity is not necessarily about
preserving everything currently in existence. It is
more a question of walking lightly on the Earth.”
Biosphere reserves are areas of terrestrial and
coastal ecosystems promoting solutions to reconcile the
conservation of biodiversity with its sustainable use.
Government, non governmental organizations, community
groups, academic institutions and individuals use a variety of
means to protect plants and animals.
• Preservation of local natural areas (woods, old fields,
wetlands, etc) allows the plants and animals that depend on
these areas to continue to live.
• Restoration of habitat that has been lost (school yard
naturalization, naturalized gardening, and removal of invasive
species) can increase the number of different species found in
• Development and institution of recovery plans for species at
• Zoos and botanical gardens and other facilities can participate
in captive breeding with the intent of reintroducing the species
when habitat problems have been solved through processes
such as ecological restoration.
Science Focus: Insects
• Around for ~400 million years
• Bad reputation
• Useful to humans and ecosystems
• Vital roles in sustaining life
– Natural pest control
– Renewing soils
Order Diptera - Flies
If Halteres are in
Characterized by one pair
of wings. Note a second
pair of appendages behind
the wings, halteres.
These vibrate like wings.
This is an inertial guidance
system that stabilizes the
creature during flight.
Order Diptera -
Mouthparts can be spongy or modified
into a tube as on a mosquito. Mosquito
antennae are feathery while many flies
have them highly reduced. Eyes tend to be
Not Wasps or Bees….Order Diptera
– Flies…one pair of wings…Mimicry
is reflected in a number of insect
Eyes can be
part of the
Eyes can also make
you look a little
mean like this
have the attitude to
back it up…
Eye diversity to the max!
This is a stalkeyed fly.
They are predominantly
found in Old World
Recent research has
found that this is a
with wider eyes seem to
be more successful at
finding a mate.
Order Lepidoptera – Butterflies, Moths and
Large winged with respect to body
size. Antennae can be feathered as
in this cecropia moth or thin with a
club as in this monarch Mouthparts
are usually long and coiled.
It has a coiled mouthpart but, it has really hard hairs at the end.
Instead of collecting nectar and such, it will abrade your skin to
blister capillaries for a blood meal. Example of adaptation and
exploitation of a niche.
Wings are covered with
scales…an individual scale is to
the right…it’s a diffraction
grating. Color is produced by
an effect known as Quantified
Interference and Diffraction.
This effect can produce nearly metallic coloration. Metallic looking
beetles use the same optical physics trick (in addition to
hummingbirds and peacocks…)
Many moths appear relatively
drab. They are largely nocturnal
and rest during the day.
This is an underwing moth, a member of the family
Noctuidae. If they are alerted to a predator the front wings
open quickly revealing highly colored hind wings, which
may even look like eyespots. This “flash” can momentarily
startle a potential predator giving the moth time to get
away…this is way incredible.