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 Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) spends so much of its annual time at sea that the species is classified as a marine mammal; however, it is also commonly...
East African halophyticsLast Updated on 2014-12-22 14:42:45
WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection
The East African Halophytics ecoregion is composed of two hypersaline lakes situated within Tanzania, along the Great Rift Valley. These lakes constitute an inhospitable environment for most plants and animals, since the waters are saline, elevated in temperature, and subject to rapid salinity changes following rains. In fact, Lake Natron, exhibits one of the highest salinities of any lacustrine body on Earth, attaining super-saturated salt levels of 340 parts per thousand.
However, the lakes are home to huge flocks of lesser and greater flamingos that breed on the mudflats which surround the lakes. The lesser flamingos filter the blue-green algae from the salty waters, and the greater flamingos feed on copepod larvae within the shallow lake waters. The East African Halophytics habitat is threatened by active... More »
Species diversityLast Updated on 2014-12-07 19:11:57
Species diversity is a measure of the diversity within an ecological community that incorporates both species richness (the number of species in a community) and the evenness of species' abundances. Species diversity is one component of the concept of biodiversity.
Species diversity is influenced by species richness. All else being equal, communities with more species are considered to be more diverse. For example, a community containing 10 species would be more diverse than a community with 5 species.
Species diversity is also influenced by the relative abundance of individuals in the species found in a community. Evenness measures the variation in the abundance of... More »
OverfishingLast Updated on 2014-12-07 17:22:32Overfishing is the human act of extracting aquatic (that is, marine and freshwater) fauna from natural water bodies at a rate greater than the reproductive and recruitment functions can replace that extraction. While there is some evidence that localized overfishing may have occurred in prehistoric eras, the bulk of overfishing has taken place in the last 150 years as the human population has expanded greatly and fishing technologies have enabled harvesting of many species at rates not imagined in earlier times. For over a century man's role in the depletion of certain regional fisheries has been noted. A functional definition of overfishing is sometimes given as the reduction in catch per unit effort by fishermen. Typically the concept of overfishing is linked to an individual aquatic species, and this issue is most often discussed within a specific marine or lacustrine province... More »
BiogeographyLast Updated on 2014-11-30 22:10:52Biogeography is the study of the spatial distribution of biological organisms. The scale of analysis ranges from very small micro-topography regimes to continental dimensions. Fundamental concepts in this field of study are the nature of barrier formation and response of species in their patterns of travel and migration; in particular, the presence of rivers, mountain ranges, deserts and other natural boundaries are examples of large scale barriers. Besides such major landform barriers, there are soil, topographic and meteorological factors that influence the distribution of each species. In the case of smaller scale regimes that are applicable for some bacteria or limited range plant species, there are often very restricted niches; for example, certain bacteria extremophiles may be limited to such localized features as small geyser pools, and some rare plants may have a single extant... More »
BiomeLast Updated on 2014-11-30 22:01:13Biomes organize the biological communities of the earth based on similarities in the dominant vegetation, climate, geographic location, and other characteristics. Aspects of the physical environment such as precipitation, temperature, and water depth, have a strong influence on the traits of species living in that natural environment, and thus biological communities experiencing similar environmental conditions often contain species that have evolved similar characteristics. There is no single classification of biomes that is agreed upon by all scientists because different scientists wish to emphasize different characteristics by their definition. Historically however, biomes have been identified and mapped based on general differences in vegetation type associated with regional variations in climate and terrain.
Terrestrial biomes characterize ecosystems on land, and are usually... More »
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