How does biodiversity benefit human health?

The prerequisites for “biological diversity” concept have been created by biogeographer making estimates of the degree of the Earth diversity. In the XVIII-XIX centuries schemes of botanical-geographical and zoogeographical division of the surface of our planet were developed based on the degree of flora and fauna specifics.

It is known that this term was first used in 1892 by Henry Walter Bates in his study of insects of the Amazon. He is the creator of one more term and a phenomenon discovered by him, which is mimicry.

There are three main types of it:

  1. Genetic, reflecting intraspecific diversity and caused by the variability of individuals;
  2. Species, reflecting the diversity of living organisms (plants, animals, fungi and microorganisms). Currently, about 1.7 million species are described, although their total number, according to some estimates, is up to 50 million;
  3. Ecosystem, covering differences between ecosystem types, diversity of habitats and ecological processes.

The importance of this matter is that it enhances the sustainability of the species (ecosystem, biosphere) before environmental changes. It also has economic significance: people actively use nature resources as food, materials and raw materials for industrial manufacturing.

The natural specifics spectrum can dramatically decrease both because of natural reasons (mass extinction of species in the process of evolution), and in connection with human activities. The necessity of the natural spectrum conservation has been recognized at the level of state leaders and international organizations. Its maintenance requires the adoption of such measures as creation of protected areas, prohibition of rare species hunting, elimination of poaching and conservation of endangered species.

All types of nature spectrum are interrelated: genetic – provides a variety of species. The ecosystems and landscapes create the conditions for the formation of new species. Increase in species number increases the overall genetic potential of living organisms in the Biosphere. Each of the species contributes to the diversity – from this point of view there are no useless and harmful species.

At present, under the influence of anthropogenic factors, nature spectrum is reduced due to the extinction or destruction of species. In the last century, under the influence of human activity, the rate of extinction of species has many times exceeded the natural rate (according to some estimates by 40,000 times). This process usually is developed in two directions – direct extirpation (hunting, fishing) and indirect (destruction of habitat, and other). Excessive fishing and hunting are the most obvious direct cause of reduction in the number of species, but it has far less effect on extinction than indirect causes of habitat changes (chemical contamination of territory or deforestation).

In order to register over-exposed species many countries have created Red Books where rare and endangered species are listed. Specially protected natural areas – nature reserves, national parks, reserves, genetic data banks are created to preserve and maintain biosphere.

Published at 09/09/2018