Environmental Science 101
Sustaining Biodiversity

Saving Species

There are threats to biodiversity at the genetic, species, ecosystem and global levels.
Main efforts to preserve biodiversity:
Conservation in Preserves
Habitat restoration
Changing Human Behavior

Conservation in Preserves

Preserve: an area of land set aside with varying degrees of protection for organisms and ecosystems that exist within the boundaries.
~12% of Earth’s land surface in preserves.
Common types of ecosystem preserves:
- National Park
- Wildlife Sanctuary
- Forest Reserve
Common types of species preserves:
- Zoos, Zoological Gardens, Aquariums and Wildlife Farms
- Botanical Centers, Gardens, and Arboretums

Biodiversity Hotspot

Areas containing high numbers of endemic species.
- Presence of 1500 or more species of endemic plants.
- 70 percent of the area disturbed by human activity.
Conservation International:
- 34 biodiversity hotspots. Originally covered 16% Earth's land surface. 86% of this area has been destroyed, leaving only 2.3% of Earth’s land surface.
- 50% of world’s plant species
- 42% of all terrestrial vertebrate species
- These are areas which are suffering biodiversity loss and where attention is needed.

Habitat Restoration

Can improve biodiversity of degraded ecosystems.
Reintroduction of Species
Wolves in Yellowstone National Park in 1995
Keystone species (a species on which other species largely depend; if removed ecosystem would change)

Habitat Restoration

General guidelines for restoring an ecosystem:
1. Assess site.
     - Current conditions of site; Causes of disturbance;
     - Identify methods for stopping or reversing disturbance.
2. Develop project goals.
     - Use reference sites (nearby sites in natural condition)
     - Consult historical sources that describe site pre-disturbance.
3. Remove sources of disturbance.
     - Remove toxic materials; Remove causes of erosion;
     - Reduce overpopulation of species; Eradicate invasive species.
4. Restore natural processes & disturbance cycles.
     - Restore water flow and quality; Rehabilitate substrates;
     - Restore soil; Restore natural flood & fire cycles.
5. Restore vegetation / Reintroduce species.
     - Direct re-vegetation or seeding of a site using native species;
     - Relocation of species.
6. Monitor and maintain site.

Changing Human Behavior

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, 1975
Endangered Species Act, 1973
Migratory Bird Treaty Act, 1918

Non-profit, non-governmental organizations

Changing Individuals:
At present, growing urbanization of human population is a force that mitigates against valuing biodiversity.
- 54% of world’s population lives in urban centers.
- 81% of U.S. population lives in urban centers.
- Many people no longer come in contact with natural environments and the species that inhabit them.

20 Things You Can Do to Save Endangered Species

1. Know what species in your area are endangered.
2. Volunteer time to protect wildlife in your area.
3. Make certain that your home is not a hazard to wildlife.
4. Plant native flora.
5. Do not use toxic herbicides or pesticides.
6. Watch the road and drive carefully.
7. Recycle and buy recycled or reusable products.
8. Do not purchase illegal, endangered species products.
9. Support zoos and other wildlife parks.
10. Get active and spread the word.
11. Donate to organizations that are working to help endangered species.
12. Reduce your water consumption.
13. Reduce amount of pollution that you cause.
14. Do not buy plastic products.
15. Do not purchase products from companies that are known polluters.
16. Join a conservation organization.
17. Read up on the subject.
18. Turn off the lights.
19. Consume less.
20. Spread the word.