As the world's population continues to grow, we're producing more pollution and using up more resources. This means we protect the planet, because we're consuming resources faster than the environment can replenish them. That's where conservation comes in. It's all about protecting and managing ecosystems so we can preserve life on earth. Many people see it as an ethical, religious, or cultural duty. But there are also personal and economic reasons to conserve our planet. We rely on the productivity of many other species to survive, so it's in our best interest to protect them. Conservation means carefully managing the environment, its inhabitants, and the resources it provides. There are many examples of conservation projects, such as national parks, marine parks, zoos, frozen zoos, botanical gardens, and seed banks. National parks are areas where wildlife and the environment are protected. Humans are only allowed to do limited activities in these areas. They aim to protect wild species in their natural habitats. In the UK, some examples of national parks include the Lake District, Brecon Beacons, and North York Moors.
Marine parks are just like national parks, but they're designed to protect endangered marine ecosystems and species. They have strict rules that limit overfishing and pollution. Both national and marine parks are popular tourist destinations, attracting thousands of visitors every year. This not only helps raise awareness about conservation efforts, but it also generates revenue that can be used to fund these efforts.
Zoos are a last resort for species that can't survive in their natural environment. Endangered species are placed in captivity to be conserved, and sometimes their offspring are released into the wild through breeding programmes. Zoos also allow scientists to study animals' behaviors, needs, and genetics up close. However, there some downsides to zoos. They can reduce genetic diversity, and some argue that they don't provide a suitable environment for animals.
To clarify, endangered species are those that are at risk of becoming extinct.
Frozen zoos are facilities that store the genetic information of animals at extremely low temperatures, which preserves their DNA. This information can be used to breed more individuals of a species through in-vitro fertilization (IVF) and genetic engineering, which becomes important when traditional conservation methods are no longer effective in saving a species.
Genetic engineering is the deliberate modification of DNA using gene technology. This procedure includes CRISPR-Cas9, a tool that allows the precise insertion and deletion of DNA bases.
Botanic gardens are essentially zoos for plants. Cuttings and seeds are used to develop a species population in captivity that can later be reintroduced into habitats. Tissue culturing and cloning can also obtain large numbers of plants from a small sample size.
Seed banks are facilities that dry and store seeds in temperature-controlled environments to be used to regrow extinct plant species. As seeds have a limited shelf life, they are grown into plants and fresh seeds are harvested periodically.
An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) is a designated area in the United Kingdom that is marked for conservation due to its significant landscape value and scenic beauty. Examples of AONBs in England include Cornwall, the Isle of Wight, and the North Devon Coast.
UNESCO World Heritage Sites are important sites around the world that are identified as part of an effort to preserve the world's cultural and natural heritage. They were created by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites showcase the development of human history and represent the diversity of our planet. There are more than 1,000 World Heritage sites across the globe, and they fit into three categories: Cultural (such as temples), Natural (such as rainforests), and Mixed. Examples of UNESCO sites include the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Mogao caves in China, and the Speyer Cathedral in Germany.
Human activities often alter the process of succession in many types of ecosystems. For instance, humans can clear and repurpose wide areas of land very quickly, destroying established ecosystems and preventing recolonisation from occurring. Agricultural, residential, and recreational land are usually highly controlled by humans. For instance, the crops grown in farms are carefully controlled, and naturally occurring weeds are prevented from growing. Thus, a climax community cannot develop. However, as we will learn, this is not always bad! Succession: the process of change in the species structure of an ecological community over time. Climax community: the final stage of ecological succession that a community can achieve.
When ecosystems move between different stages of succession, different species can be lost as they are either:
Outcompeted by more dominant species Their habitats are destroyed or significantly altered, Human activities can disrupt the ecosystem even further and enhance progression to the next stage of succession. Communities at intermediate stages of succession are more diverse than climax communities and often contain species that could not survive progression to the climax community. These species might be rare or endangered or provide vital resources for other species. Diverse communities are more resilient to change and disruption. Because of this, from a conservation point of view, it can be beneficial to deliberately prevent succession from proceeding in specific environments such as these diverse communities. Habitats and the species they harbour can thus be preserved by artificially managing the process of succession. There are several methods we can use to prevent succession deliberately. For instance, habitats such as moorland support a wide array of mosses, low-growing plants, birds, reptiles, and insects. If succession occurs, the moorland would be turned into deciduous woodland with a different collection of species. However, the introduction of grazing animals at strategic points – for instance, when new shrubs and trees are beginning to grow – can prevent succession from occurring. Controlled fires can also be lit to clear new growth and allow key moorland plants to recolonise the area. Succession often involves drastic changes to an ecosystem that affect certain species’ survival rate. It is useful to harness your knowledge about natural selection and evolution when studying conservation methods. It provides you with an understanding of how populations react to environmental changes and what leads to their extinction. This knowledge can be used to help populations and species survive.
Why is conservation in biology important?
There are many reasons to conserve ecosystems. For instance: Conservation is seen by some as an ethical, religious, or cultural duty to preserve life on Earth. Our species relies on the productivity of many other species in order to live, and thus it is in our own personal and economic interest to maintain them and ensure their survival in the future.
What is the goal of conservation biology?
To protect the environment, its inhabitants and the resources it provides through careful management.
What does the theory of evolution contribute to conservation biology?
It provides us with an understanding of how populations react to changes in environments and what leads to their extinction. This knowledge can be used to help populations and species to survive.
What does a conservation biologist do?
Conservation biologists help restore and protect ecosystems and natural wildlife habitats, and to conserve endangered species of plants and animals. This involves working closely with landowners and the government. Through research and observation, conservation biologists help create plans for maintaining habitats. They monitor environmental indicators such as environmental conditions and population sizes.
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