July 23, 2012

Positive consequences of biodiversity loss

From a review in Nature by Bradley J. Cardinale and coauthors (Biodiversity loss and its impact on humanity):
Finally, there are instances where increased biodiversity may be deleterious. For example, although diverse assemblages of natural enemies (predators, parasitoids and pathogens) are frequently more effective in reducing the density of herbivorous pests, diverse natural enemy communities sometimes inhibit biocontrol, often because enemies attack each other through intra-guild predation. Another example relates to human health, where more diverse pathogen populations are likely to create higher risks of infectious disease, and strains of bacteria and viruses that evolve drug resistance pose health and economic burdens to people. Such examples caution against making sweeping statements that biodiversity always brings benefits to society.
For example, in one data synthesis, 39% of experiments in crop production systems reported that plant species diversity led to greater yield of the desired crop species, whereas 61% reported reduced yield.

1 comment:

  1. It appears to me that there are several things we can at least begin to think about: learn how to live without fossil fuels; adapt to the end of economic growth; substitute a steady-state economy for the one we have now; stabilize human population numbers worldwide; and deal with the relentless dissipation of Earth’s limited resources, the reckless degradation of its environs, the wanton extirpation of its biodiversity as well as confront other human-induced threats to our planetary home as a fit place for human habitation. In any event, I trust most of us can agree that stealing the birthright of children everywhere, mortgaging their future, and exposing them and life as we know it to danger cannot somehow be construed as the right things to be doing.

    We have to think clearly and as keep our wits about us as we move away from big-business-as-usual practices to a way of life that embraces true sustainability, I suppose. Perhaps necessary changes to more sustainable lifestyles and right-sized corporate enterprises are in the offing.

    Thank you.

    Steven Earl Salmony