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What is Ecosystem Diversity?

The Importance of Ecosystem Diversity and Definitions. What is Ecosystem Diversity, why is Ecosystem diversity important?

Introduction

We have discussed two components of biodiversity. One is at the fundamental level of biodiversity that is genetic diversity and second is the next level that is species diversity. These variations describe the building blocks of life forms and the types of life forms on Earth.

All living creatures and organisms need a place to call home. Whether it’s in the rainforest, the ocean, or the desert, these environments become the place where life forms and organisms find refuge. These environments are known as ecosystem.

An ecosystem refers to a community within a certain physical environment where it occupies. Even though the word seems to describe something big, an ecosystem doesn’t need to be large for it to be an ecosystem for any community. In fact, an ecosystem can occur at any scale.

What is Ecosystem Diversity?

When talking about diversity in an ecosystem, larger physical environments or areas are often the focus. Areas such as rainforests, coral reefs, grasslands, or desserts are all different types of ecosystems.

Ecosystem diversity means the variety of ecosystems that exist within a given geographical area. It includes the diversity of habitat types, communities, and various ecological processes. All different types of species and communities coexist and interact in a particular harmony.

There are two related meanings when talking about ecosystem diversity. The first refers to the number of different ecosystems present in a certain area. And two, refers to the number of ecological processes and interactions among the life forms in a certain area.

Countries such as Brazil, Indonesia, and Australia are countries with rich ecosystem diversity. From rainforests to inland swamps to high mountain ranges to wide savannas, these countries have many ideal conditions for a wide variety of species to thrive in.

Generally, places with more different types of terrains have more ecosystem diversity than areas with homogenous topography. This is because ecosystem diversity depends on the various physical characteristics of a given environment.

Why is diversity important in an ecosystem?

A healthy ecosystem stems from rich biodiversity. An ecosystem will have a higher productivity rate and more robust ecological processes when more different life forms can thrive and survive. Since each species has a role to play, a diverse ecosystem allows them to interact and reach symbiosis.

The complex functionality of an ecosystem depends on the richness of species and its diversity. The balance within our biosphere can be disrupted when one ecosystem is flawed or destroyed. Although the ecosystems for many different species are often taken into account in terms of its larger scale, even the smallest life form in the smallest ecosystem plays an important role.

Every life form on Earth is dependent on one another no matter how long a species has survived or how well it can adapt to the environment. The reason why this species can survive and why it can adapt well is due to diversity.

Whether it’s genetic, species, or ecosystem, diversity is our lifeline and it has to be protected at all costs. The disruption in one can cause a chain reaction of catastrophe that will negatively impact everyone and everything.

Unfortunately, human activities are doing more harm than good in the preservation of our biodiversity. Even though more and more parties are making the effort to reduce our carbon footprints and work toward greener practices, we need more initiatives to ensure our biodiversity stays healthy and robust.

It’s not just humans who depend on biodiversity to survive. Every single life form and organism on Earth needs one another to thrive.

Diversity-Stability hypothesis

The Diversity-Stability Hypothesis is a common and popular hypothesis when discussing biodiversity. It relates to the correlation between diversity and stability of a community. The hypothesis states that the more a community is diverse, the more productive and stable the community is.

This is because when a community is productive and stable, the individuals within that community can utilize the resources better and much more efficiently. It doesn’t just focus on the richness of species within an ecosystem, but rather it evaluates the relationship between the species and the functions of the ecosystem.

Since each species within an ecosystem rely on each other for many aspects, it’s important for variability to exist in the community. Multiple dimensional relationships can exist and benefit each species when the species within that community can thrive.

Stability is important because it contributes to healthy biodiversity. Without healthy biodiversity, many types of life forms will suffer and may even become extinct.

What can we do to protect and encourage biodiversity?

There are millions of species on Earth and it can feel a little overwhelming if want to save them all. However, there are many things that we can do to protect and encourage biodiversity.

Since each species need each other and there’s no way to turn back the clock if one of them goes extinct, we need to make sure we’re doing everything we can. Whether it’s through individual efforts or collective community work, we can all work together towards conserving biodiversity.

Educate ourselves

One of the easiest ways to raise our awareness on conserving biodiversity is to educate ourselves about the environment and its issues. As we know, as much as it’s important to us, human activities do a lot of damage to the environment.

In order for us to concentrate our efforts to conserve biodiversity, we need to increase our awareness of what biodiversity loss does to us and to every other species on Earth. When we educate ourselves, we can relay important information to those around us.

We need to raise awareness as much as possible because currently, our biodiversity is under threat. More and more animal species are endangered. Species richness is dwindling. Species evenness is tipped off scale due to one species being more dominant than others.

We can become our own environment advocates if we choose to be aware of the severe environmental issues that are happening around us. No matter how small our effort may seem, we need to tackle biodiversity loss head-on.

Participate in conservation efforts

Since biodiversity is affected almost everywhere around the globe, you can easily identify areas around you that need conservation efforts. Places such as wildlife conservation or tree planting estates are great places to start participating in conservation efforts.

You can contribute by volunteering at these places. The time and effort you invest in helping out at these places does more impact than you think. Not only you’re a part of a team that helps to prevent biodiversity loss, but you also get to witness the side effects of human activities have on this endangered wildlife and on the environment.

Even if there are no conservation centers near you, you can still do your part in conserving biodiversity.

Simple things such as using environmentally friendly products that are recyclable and biodegradable can go a long way in preventing biodiversity loss. Eradicating any unnecessary use of natural resources can have positive impacts on the environment and biodiversity.

Plant your own crops and flowers

Instead of buying from commercial producers, you can reduce carbon footprints in the environment by planting your own crops. You may not have a large farm or plot for your vegetables or flowers, but each plant helps to protect biodiversity.

Not only that, you can reduce the need to use chemical fertilizers when you plant your own vegetables and flowers. Many commercial producers use harmful and synthetic fertilizers, which is dangerous for insects and the environment.

Choosing to use natural fertilizers is a good option because they can be broken down by the plants and other animals, which in turn promotes a healthy relationship between all species. Not only that, natural fertilizers also don’t have negative side effects on human.

Manage the use of water

Water is one of nature’s most valuable resources. In many parts of the world, many people are struggling to get access to clean water. If you’re privileged enough to have access to clean water, then you shouldn’t take it for granted.

Even though 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, human and animals can only consume freshwater. And there’s only about 2.5% supply of freshwater. If we’re not careful, we will soon run out of freshwater supply and this can cause a major catastrophe.

We should try to save water and limit our water usage as much as possible. Things such as having a quick shower instead of long baths, or turning off the tap while we brush our teeth, can contribute towards water conservation.

Remember, we’re not the only ones on Earth who need water. We need to be mindful and careful of our water usage so other species are able to consume and use water as well.

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About the author

Susanne Ricee

Susanne Ricee is the Diversity and Inclusion Specialist and Researcher at Diversity for Social Impact. Sue brings over 15 years of HR and Diversity, Equity, Inclusion consultation experience.
Sue's previous experience includes Microsoft, Target, and Kraft. Sue is also the manager of Diversity Leadership Directory