Biodiversity …How does it all fit together?

“To keep every cog and wheel is the first precaution of intelligent tinkering.”

-Aldo Leopold-

What do we understand about the interdependence of species and ecosystems and the complex web of all living things, including humans?  We often hear about the rare species that are on the brink of extinction and how critical it is to take action now to save them.  The thing is these endangered species were indeed once common species.  Therefore it is of major importance to consider all species in terms of protecting habitats.  Those in the most urgent need of protection certainly have priority but not without due consideration of the common species of today as well.  Careful planning and management of all ecosystems so that all biodiversity is conserved will ensure that all species including the common ones will continue to survive.

Common species often play important roles in helping to balance ecosystems.  The loss of once-common species can have far-reaching impacts on an ecosystem. The loss of top predators such as wolves for example could have incredibly important impact in the regulation of all levels within an ecosystem.  In such a case, over-browsing of deer in areas along rivers and streams could cause trout numbers to decline. The protective vegetation, once removed, could cause the once clear rivers to turn murky and to warm.  There would in turn be a devastating loss of fish and other sensitive species.  This type of scenario occurs throughout nature making it all the more important to protect all native species.

Keystone species, such as beavers, are species that have a great influence on shaping their ecosystems. Their presence has a big impact on the overall diversity and function of their community. Through its own instincts of survival, the beaver, changes its habitat to make access to trees easier and to avoid predators. By damming waterways, beavers create a whole new habitat and can influence an entire watershed. Some species of frogs, ducks, fish and insects all benefit from the new habitat, while others may be forced to move on.  Such are the cascading effects that keystone species have on an ecosystem.

Also of great value to understanding the interdependence of all species are the “bioindicators” like frogs.  These species are particularly sensitive to the quality of their habitat and changes in population can point to problems in the environment such as pollution and UV radiation.  Protecting and monitoring indicator species populations provides insight into the health of the ecosystems they inhabit. Environmental problems like pollution once recognized can therefore be improved protecting all species.

The importance of the interdependence of species and ecosystems and the complex web of all living things is a clearly acknowledged fact in this modern age.  Ignorance can no longer be claimed. The long-term human impacts on the land and waterways must be taken into consideration prior to any further development.  Conservation measures must be implemented where possible to help to prevent further loss of all species both common and rare.

Today’s “stone” is  Day 39   harmony, balance, mindful, circle of life


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