Manual Perspectives on Biodiversity: Valuing Its Role in an Everchanging World

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This indicated the amount of excess minerals in the water. Which stream will have a greater biodiversity and abundance of life? Which will be healthier, and how much healthier? Relevance: We believe that this experiment is relevant due to the trend of suburban sprawl that is and has been going on in the U.

Already, it is estimated that one third of U. This experiment aims to understand just how much humans are affecting the areas surrounding their cities, homes, and communities.

Background Information: The global significance of an all-round healthy ecosystem and a high level of diversity is of paramount importance and cannot be gainsaid. In nutshell, it is self-evident. According to the U. Thus, one might ask what significance our experiment concerning stream health might carry in the practical world. While it may not be ground breaking work, in this investigation, we delve into an idea that both serious and imperative - and that humanity has a core role and duty to keep the world relatively intact.

It must first be made clear that humans, in their ever-increasing numbers and innumerable areas of inhabitancy, impact pretty much everything in the world.

New Leadership Needed: The Convention on Biological Diversity |

According to Pam Speed, scientists are far from categorizing all the species on earth, but that more than 50 percent of these species will likely become extinct in the next 80 to Speed, p According to "The Importance of Biodiversity," "Living organisms represent only one percent of all the species that have ever been on earth The Biologist, The present day species will lead to future species. A lack of biodiversity in the present can have unprecedented ramifications for future generations of organisms, especially those of the aquatic variety, as over two-thirds of the earth is covered by water.

The extinction of numerous organisms leads to more than just a loss of aesthetic beauty. The plant rosy periwinkle, which was found in Madagascar, helped cure childhood leukemia and Hodgkin's cancer.


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These plants contain alkaloids, which inhibit cancer-growing cells. There are many more species of periwinkle in the world but many are coming close to extinction, and with extinction come the loss of the possibility of many cures. Campbell and Reece, The aquatic ecosystem has been vastly over-looked in regards to these cures.

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And if humans are destroying biodiversity, these items that can provide cures may be wiped out along the way. It should be pointed out that massive loss of species caused, as a result of human activities is tantamount to loss in biodiversity. Biodiversity, as referred in the article written by the Commission on Life Science; "Perspectives on Biodiversity: Valuing its Role in an Ever Changing World," includes more than merely species.

It encompasses variations within species, populations of these variations, and the distribution of species across a habitat, ecosystem, or landscape According to Dr. James Case, a biologist and founder of casebio. Biodiversity is obviously important in the animal community in general. When the general public hears the mention of the word biodiversity, what clicks in their minds is a vision of some lush tropical rainforest in South America. Hence, biodiversity is both the variety and variability of biological organisms.

Effects of biodiversity are enormous but are often minimized or misunderstood.

Biodiversity (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Brij Gopal's article; "Relevance and policy dimensions of research on biodiversity in freshwater ecosystems: a developing country perspective," explores the nature of scientific research. What follows here is question. Which came first, the science or the public policy? Gopal wants it understood that first, people need to be made aware of the importance of biodiversity to humans before they can research or do anything about it in a meaningful way.

The fact is that people can intellectually accept the importance of biodiversity on a very superficial level and not change their life to reflect this way of thinking. It must be made apparent that our systematic destruction of the biodiversity is affecting not only the rest of the world all those dumb animals , but also, us as well. In "Biodiversity: Why is it so important? According to author Ruth Patrick, biodiversity is "one of the most important bases of life for humans throughout our planet" Rivers and lake run off cause many problems.

Such as too much phosphorus and nitrogen in the water. Which will then provide an ideal habitat for algae, so the algae will over produce and survive. But when the algae dies it will fall to the bottom of the lake and the bacteria will start to eat it and take out all the oxygen in the water. This then causes a problem for the organisms in the lake. They are confined to a smaller habitat because of the loss of oxygen in the bottom layer of the lake. Not only does this cause a problem with the biodiversity in the lake but also the availability of water to humans has now decreased.

Human drinking water should have a level 10 or below have phosphorous and nitrate and when all the chemicals are poured into the water the level goes up and the lake or river becomes contaminated and undrinkable. Our lives are possible in the first place because of biodiversity. The very plants that we cut down, or the animals that we consider pests, are the foundations for our livelihoods. A varied plant population gives rise to a varied animal population, which sets up the entire food chain.

Plants also form the basis for the habitats, or houses that humans build for themselves to keep out the natural elements. Without wood, it would be much more difficult to create housing for ourselves Patrick et al. Even gasoline is, at its root, natural in source - created from decomposed organic elements and natural processes. Without the varied plant life of the past, we would not be able to heat our homes in the winter or drive anywhere. Without present day biodiversity, what aspects of life will become unavailable to us in the future?

Back to our experiment. It looks into the state of things at the present in a relatively average setting in the Midwest.

Environmental Science

Specifically, we are studying and comparing the biodiversity in two streams in Oxford, Ohio. By studying these two ecosystems, we will be investigating the effects of a relatively small community on the surrounding habitat, which we believe to be an accurate representation of what is happening in suburban average America and perhaps elsewhere across the world.

Numerous other experiments have been done on subjects such as ours. The streams in these urban environs also contained chemicals that are found in insecticides, pesticides, and herbicides Ann K. McPherson et al. The correlation is nearly irrefutable: Human intervention has ramifications for aquatic health and biodiversity. A unimodal response model and gradients pattern also is applicable to the case where objects are species and the units are features or traits. Here, shared habitat explains, and predicts, shared traits among species.

These may be the convergently derived traits referred to above that reflect functional diversity among species.


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  • Biodiversity at the level of functional trait diversity may be applied within an ecosystem. There are many measures of functional trait diversity Pla et al. Others use some measure of differences among species. This illustrates how the same objects and units may be linked by alternative pattern-process models. In all of these examples, greater biodiversity number of units provides greater option value, and also may correspond to greater current benefits or services.

    However, because the objects overlap in their units, the same number of objects as a subset may represent a large or a small amount of biodiversity. The section above refers to some early taxonomic distinctiveness methods that assign differential values to species through calculated phylogenetic distances, or differences, among species. Weitzman presents a general framework for biodiversity based on this idea of objects and measures of difference between pairs of objects.

    The biodiversity of a given set of objects then is reflected, not in a list of the different objects, but in the amount of difference represented by the set. This approach assumes that we know enough to define meaningful differences among the initial objects. One challenge for the objects-differences approach is that, even if a good definition of pair-wise difference is found, it is hard to covert this to an evaluation of a given set of objects.

    Weitzman presents a modified biodiversity model, creating an equivalent to the PD measure of Faith Recent debates about the properties of PD as a biodiversity measure illustrate other challenges in applying the objects and differences framework.

    Value of Biodiversity

    MacClaurin and Sterelny embrace the idea of biodiversity option value noting examples where apparently unremarkable species are later found to be valuable , but they find difficulties in linking this idea to the objects-and differences approach to biodiversity. This is an incorrect interpretation. Under the PD model, phylogenetic differences between species, if calculated, would correspond to path-length distances.

    In any case, the PD of a set of species is not a summation of such differences.


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    • Maclaurin and Sterelny appear to ignore the underlying evolutionary model for PD linking shared ancestry to shared features. This oversight also seems to be the basis also for their complaint that comprehensive knowledge about characters is required, but is unavailable. Maclaurin and Sterelny have particular interest in knowledge about those characters judged to be of value. In contrast, for Faith , this equality of features-as-units is exactly the requirement for talking about option value of biodiversity at the level of features. Disparity is therefore only tractable with respect to specific, empirically well-motivated morphospaces, which are rarely available.

      These discussions also highlight concerns that the many equally plausible ways to calculate distances or differences leave us with a profusion of plausible indices. A recent review of phylogenetic diversity and conservation Winter et al. Thus, the review highlights well the problems in choosing among different notions of differences. At the same time, Winter et al.

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      PD also sheds light on another difficulty in applying an objects-and differences approach to characterising biodiversity. Morgan argues that, even if one has objects and some agreed natural measure of differences, a remaining problem is how to trade off more objects for less differences or vice versa in order to make comparisons among different conservation outcomes. Are 4 somewhat different objects better than 3 very different objects? The comparisons among different outcomes are based on the inferred relative number of lower-level units, not on the number of objects, nor any sum of differences.

      Using PD as an example, a set of 4 species logically may have lower PD than a set of 3 species.