Eight major causes of biodiversity are as follows:
1. Habitat Loss and Fragmentation 2. Over-exploitation for Commercialization 3. Invasive Species 4. Pollution 5. Global Climate Change 6. Population Growth and Over-consumption 7. Illegal Wildlife Trade 8. Species extinction.
1. Habitat Loss and Fragmentation:
A habitat is the place where a plant or animal naturally lives. Habitat loss is identified as main threat to 85% of all species described as threatened or endangered. Factors responsible for this are deforestation, fire and over-use and urbanization.
2. Over-exploitation for Commercialization:
Over-exploitation of resources has coasted more environmental degradation than earning. For example; shrimp farming in India, Thailand, Ecuador and Indonesia results in Wetland destruction, pollution of coastal waters and degradation of coastal fisheries. Scientific studies have concluded that cost of environmental degradation resulting from shrimp farming was costing more than the earning through shrimp exports.
3. Invasive Species:
Invasive species are ‘alien’ or ‘exotic’ species which are introduced accidentally or intentionally by human. These species become established in their new environment and spread unchecked, threatening the local biodiversity. These invasive alien species have been identified as the second greatest threat to biodiversity after habitat loss.
Pollution is a major threat to biodiversity, and one of the most difficult problems to overcome; Pollutants do not recognize international boundaries. For example, agricultural run-off, which contains a variety of fertilizers and pesticides, may seep into ground water and rivers before ending up in the ocean. Atmospheric pollutants drift with prevailing air currents and are deposited far from their original source.
5. Global Climate Change:
Many climatologists believe that the greenhouse effect is likely to raise world temperatures by about 2°C by 2030, meaning that sea levels will rise by around 30-50 cm by this time. Global warming, coupled with human population growth and accelerating rates of resource use will bring further losses in biological diversity. Vast areas of the world will be inundated causing loss of human life as well as ecosystems.
6. Population Growth and Over-consumption:
From a population of one billion at the beginning of the 19th century, our species now numbers more than six billion people. Such rapid population growth has meant a rapid growth in the exploitation of natural resources— water, foods and minerals. Although there is evidence that our population growth rate is beginning to slow down, it is clear that the exploitation of natural resources is currently not sustainable. Added to this is the fact that 25 per cent of the population consumes about 75 per cent of the world’s natural resources. This problem of over-consumption is one part of the broader issue of unsustainable use.
7. Illegal Wildlife Trade:
The international trade in wild plants and animals is enormous. Live animals are taken for the pet trade, or their parts exported for medicines or food. Plants are also taken from the wild for their horticultural or medicinal value.
8. Species extinction:
Extinction is a natural process. The geological record indicates that many hundreds of thousands of plant and animal species have disappeared over the eras as they have failed to adapt to changing conditions. Recent findings however indicate that the current rate of species extinction is at least a hundred to a thousand times higher than the natural rate.