Some of the major importance of biodiversity are as follows:
1. Source of food and improved varieties 2. Drugs and Medicines 3. Fibres 4. Useful products 5. Ecosystem Services 6. Ecological Balance 7. Ecosystem stability, productivity and health.
Different species of living organisms have come into existence due to evolution, including human. So, human civilizations have developed on the foundation of biodiversity. The easily human societies were supported by various species of plants and animals.
1. Source of food and improved varieties:
There are nearly 80,000 species of edible plants. But only 30 species are mostly used as major source of food and 85% of the world’s food production is met by cultivating less than 20 plant species. Three carbohydrate rich crops such as wheat, corn (maize) and rice alone yield nearly two-third of the food production.
To meet the growing demand of ever increasing human population, man is exploring new varieties of plants and animal food. For breeding improved varieties biodiversity is also used as a source material. To improve the desired traits, commercial/domesticated species are crossbred with their wild relatives. In this way, disease resistant and high yielding varieties of crops (e.g. wheat, rice, maize, sugar cane) and fruits have been developed.
Hybrid animal varieties have been produced to increase the production of milk, meat, eggs etc. This indicates the need for protecting biodiversity for breeding programmes in agriculture, horticulture, animal husbandry, sericulture, lac culture, poultry and fishery.
2. Drugs and Medicines:
Drugs and medicines are manufactured from various chemicals such as alkaloids, resins, fatty acids, glycosides, essential oils are obtained from medicinal plants. Ayurvedic medicines available in the market for treating numerous diseases in man are based on plant products. But unfortunately few species of these types of plants are investigated in detail for their medicinal value.
Fibre yielding plants such as cotton, flax, hemp, jute, etc. are the major sources of fibres. More and more varieties of plants are being explored for obtaining superior fibres.
4. Useful products:
Plants produce large number of useful products such as gums, dyes, rubber, tannins, latex, paper, tea, coffee, perfumes, waxes and dry fruits. Similarly, animal species provide wool, fur, skin, leather, honey, lac, silk, waxes, pearls, horn, antlers etc. for trade. Discovery of more such economically important species of plants and animals will yield more useful products for human use.
5. Ecosystem Services:
Biodiversity plays a major role in many ecosystem services such as replenishing oxygen through photosynthesis, pollination through bees, regulation of global climate, control of flood, and soil erosion, nutrient cycling”, microbial waste treatment, biological control of pests etc.
6. Ecological Balance:
Biodiversity of species enhance ecological balance. Disappearance of any link in a food chain may upset nature’s balance and create problems. For example, large scale killing of snakes will increase population of rats and hence large scale destruction of crops. Indiscriminate killings of tiger and lion will increase the population of herbivores that will damage forests, grass lands or crops, deforestation will affect rain full and thereby entire ecosystem and also human economy.
7. Ecosystem stability, productivity and health:
Biodiversity is essential for stability of an ecosystem. Communities having more species tend to be more stable than those with less species. A stable ecosystem is able to resist occasional disturbance. Ecosystem with higher biodiversity (example: tropical rain forest) are more productive than ecosystems with lower biodiversity (example: temperate forests). Biodiversity is essential for maintenance and health of ecosystems through the occurrence of various checks, controls, negative and positive feed backs.
Biodiversity is the variation in the living animals on the earth.
It is interesting to see so many types of living beings in both plants and animals.
However, all of them are interdependent for survival.
We can see biodiversity in different habitats of environment like aquatic biodiversity, terrestrial biodiversity, soil biodiversity, etc. This diversity on the micro level can be attributed to chemical diversity, genetic diversity, functional diversity, etc. Also, there is diversity concerning gender (as male and female), age, size, etc.
This indicates that biodiversity is present in every aspect of life.
The importance of biodiversity in the environment comes from the fact that every living being including humans is dependent on it directly.
Any damage to it also affects humans at large. So we need to conserve biodiversity for our survival.
Why is maintaining biodiversity important
1. Provides stability. The air we breath is always fresh with sufficient oxygen. This oxygen ration is is kept in balance due to biodiversity. The plants produce the oxygen during photosynthesis by taking carbon dioxide. While humans and other animals breath in oxygen and leave out carbon-dioxide. This mutual dependence gives stability to life. Similarly plants consume nitrogen from soil to grow. The microbes decay the plant and its materials when dead to replace back the fertility back to soil.
2. Keep limits on population; The number of living beings are always kept under check by nature itself due to biodiversity. In a forest number of herbivorous animals like goats, buffaloes, deer which grow their numbers by reproduction. They are being killed by wild animals like tigers, lions, hyenas etc for food. These animals if not killed will rise in their population exponentially. The biodiversity as carnivores and herbivores keeps check on their population.
3. Helps keep environment clean and healthy: Since ages there are many dead. These are decayed by bacteria to keep the environment clean. Or else this world would have been full of corpses. Similarly small animals like rats, insects, birds, pigs, dogs (stray) help to clear of waste around us. Hence we can see these living forms thriving in drainage canals, waste dumps indicating their role in environment.
4. Provides food to all the living beings: If you come across food chain in the nature, you will notice all the living beings are dependent on plants directly or indirectly. Carnivores depend on herbivores which in-turn depend on plants for survival.
Plants <—– cow <—–Lion
Plants <—–insects <—–frog <—– Snake <—— Eagle.
Plants <—-small fish <—– Big fish <—– Shark.
5. Maintains health: Biodiversity is seen even in genetic diversity. There are also two types of genetic combinations during multiplication as mitosis and meiosis. In meiosis, we see two cells with a similar but distinct type of chromosomes getting merged. The out come of such combination is an offspring with better character than parents. Hence due to variation in genes, we develop more strong individuals. This is the reason we avoid marriage among blood relatives. Due to minimal genetic variation, there is chances of birth defects in children born.
6. Sustainability and growth. Due to gender differences, there is maintenance of population. The number of animals dead are replaced by the ones born. This is possible due to gender difference which leads for sexual reproduction. Without this gender biodiversity, reproduction would be impossible in higher animals. While in lower forms like bacteria and fungi even asexual reproduction is possible, still sexual reproduction helps the entertainment of the species for long. Also this reproduction is possible only after certain age. Thus growth and sustenance of species depends on biodiversity in terms of gender and age.
7. Adaptation to different habitats: Biodiversity enables living beings to adopt to different environments. Hence we can see aquatic animals have different set of respiration system suitable to breath in water. They cannot survive on earth as that respiration system does not support to breath air directly. Similarly, they can swim for long due to their modification of limbs in the form of fins.This adaptation is possible due to biological variation in them.
Humans tend to kill some or other elements of biodiversity by excess use of natural resources.
This, in turn, can be harmful to humans in the long run.
We need conserve the wildlife, soil and also prevent pollution to safe guard biodiversity.