Conservation biology addresses the preservation of species and their habitats throughout the world. Techniques used in these endeavors include genetics, vegetation restoration, wildlife management and other natural resource management activities. During the last 10,000 years, species extinctions have been occurring at an alarming rate, due to the human population explosion, and resulting habitat destruction for agriculture and other human purposes. The importance of conservation biology is underscored by the fact that an estimated 1800 populations per hour are being lost at the present pace of ecological damage. Conservation biology seeks to maintain populations of plants and animals, with an emphasis upon rare and endangered species.
An intrinsic part of conservation biology is identification of species interactions, in order to understand the core elements of preserving an intact habitat in its full functionality. Equally important is an understanding of genetic diversity within each species and the population dynamics that underlies the progression of species numbers from one generation to the next. Conservation biology is practiced by governmental agencies, but also by private organizations, since key element of land ownership are often privately owned; coordination of a regional strategy among landowners is vital for the preservation of biological corridors. Captive breeding programs are used as a defense of last resort in the preservation of a species.
The long-finned pilot whale (scientific name: Globicephala melas) is one of two species in the genus Globicephala. The pilot whale is so named because when swimming, the groups...
Habitat fragmentationLast Updated on 2014-09-24 22:49:58Habitat fragmentation involves alteration of habitat resulting in spatial separation of habitat units from a previous state of greater continuity.
Figure 1. Aerial photograph of dry forest scrub in southern Zambia, fragmented by agricultural land conversion. 2008
This phenomenon occurs naturally on a geologic time-scale or in unusual and catastrophic events: however, since the Holocene era, humans have produced dramatic and swift transformation of landscapes throughout the world, resulting in a level of habitat fragmentation that has induced worldwide reduction in biodiversity and interuption of sustainable yields of natural resources.
Humans produce habitat fragmentation chiefly from agricultural land conversion, urbanization, pollution, deforestation and introduction of alien species; ironically, both human caused wildfires as well as the... More »
EcosystemLast Updated on 2014-09-24 22:46:28An ecosystem is a community of organisms interacting with each other and with their environment such that energy is exchanged and system-level processes, such as the cycling of elements, emerge.
The ecosystem is a core concept in Biology and Ecology, serving as the level of biological organization in which organisms interact simultaneously with each other and with their environment. As such, ecosystems are a level above that of the ecological community (organisms of different species interacting with each other) but are at a level below, or equal to, biomes and the biosphere. Essentially, biomes are regional ecosystems, and the biosphere is the largest of all possible ecosystems.
Ecosystems include living organisms, the dead organic matter produced by them, the abiotic environment within which the organisms live and exchange elements (soils, water, atmosphere), and the interactions... More »
BiodiversityLast Updated on 2014-09-15 23:53:05
The word "biodiversity" is a contracted version of "biological diversity". The Convention on Biological Diversity defines biodiversity as:"the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; this includes diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems."
Thus, biodiversity includes genetic variation within species, the variety of species in an area, and the variety of habitat types within a landscape. Perhaps inevitably, such an all-encompassing definition, together with the strong emotive power of the concept, has led to somewhat cavalier use of the term biodiversity, in extreme cases to refer to life or biology itself. But biodiversity properly refers to the variety of living... More »
SpeciesLast Updated on 2014-09-15 11:53:19A species is a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring of both genders, and separated from other such groups with which interbreeding does not characteristically occur: however, for asexual organisms, a distinct species may be considered a collection of organisms which have very similar DNA or physical characteristics. Certain species are further subdivided into subspecies.
The early Greeks and Romans had a well established set of taxonomic names for species of animals and plants, based upon the macroscopically observable characteristics of organisms, with Aristotle being the chief architect of this codification; even earlier, the Egyptians and Cretans developed basic symbols and names for species important in farming and culture. It was not until the year 1686 when English naturalist John Ray introduced the concept that species were... More »
Climate change effects on birdsLast Updated on 2014-09-06 19:35:56
Many birds species all over the world are highly sensitive to the effects of climate change. Scientists have found declines of up to 90 percent in some bird populations, as well as total and unprecedented reproductive failure in others, althought the role of any change in climate is typically not determined. Population declines generally have several associative causal factors including habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and pollution.
Specific groups that are at high risk from climate change include migratory birds, mountain birds, island birds, wetland birds, Arctic birds, Antarctic birds and seabirds. Bird species that can move easily to new habitat are expected to continue to do well; however, bird species that thrive only in a narrow environmental range can be expected to decline, and to be outcompeted by invasive species.
With a 0.8°C average... More »
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