Ever wonder what happens to wildlife when their habitat is destroyed?
Habitat loss is one of the major causes of species extinction.
With no place to live or find their usual sources of food, wildlife population and diversity falls: fewer numbers of creatures, fewer different types of creatures.
As one species becomes scarce, those that normally dine on them, die out. Those creatures that they used to themselves dine upon, may over-proliferate, and the balance of nature gets out of whack.
Balance Is Key
When you think of nature, what comes to your mind? Do you see forests with tall, ancient trees reaching up for the sky? Deserts with rich red rocks and packed sand, stretching to the horizon? Waterfalls and oceans? Or something else? The very fact that so many different images come to mind when talking about nature can be credited to the incredible biodiversity our planet has.
An ecosystem rich in biodiversity is an ecosystem that has a great variety of different species living in it. Such ecosystems have many advantages over those that are more homogeneous for several reasons.
For one, a forest that has many different tree species growing in it is able to support a greater variety of primary consumers (herbivores). In turn, it can support more secondary consumers (carnivores). Being able to support more species overall leads to a more stable ecosystem, one that is more resilient in the face of change, such as the loss of a consumer species. The more complex an environment is with different species, the more balanced and resilient it is.
In addition, ecosystems rich in biodiversity offer tangible benefits to humanity. Did you know that a lot of pharmaceutical drugs were originally developed from plants? For example, acetylsalicylic acid, aspirin’s main ingredient, comes from a willow plant that was common in North America centuries ago.
That’s just one common medicine from one type of plant. Can you imagine how may different cures and treatments are out there in other plants, and even some animals? We only have those opportunities because our planet’s ecosystems are all rich in biodiversity.