Present paper seeks to provide the comprehensive analysis of ecosystems and biodiversity structure and value for the humanity. The thesis is defended that the balance of ecosystems and maintaining biodiversity are central prerequisites for avoiding the future crisis of biosphere of the Earth. The industrial activities of people negatively affect the mentioned balance and result in deterioration of ecological conditions, which are central for the preservation of life. Ecosystems The nature of ecosystems is inherently structural, systematic and functional.
Ecosystem unites natural units of plants, micro-organisms and animals, affected by a given set of physical factors of environment. Every biological element of ecosystem shares the common habitat and is the member of certain food webs, creating interdependence within the system. Therefore, it is evident that ecological system has its own structure. At the systematic level it is characterized by the interdependence of the elements, which creates balance and stability, but when the homeostasis is broken, it results in the ruination of the balance and disintegration with catastrophic consequences for life.
Moreover, the structure of ecosystem is characterized by the interconnection of physical and biological factors of environment. Arthur Tansley defined the later in the following way: “The whole system… including not only the organism-complex, but also the whole complex of physical factors forming what we call the environment” (Tansley, 1935). The intersection between biological and physical elements of the structure is functional, because it is based on each element, performing its role in the overall balance of the ecosystem.
The ecological systems are classified in accordance with physical conditions, biological diversity, habitat, climatic conditions etc (Ranganathan & Irwin, 2007).. However, it should be noted that the structure of ecosystems is often alien to classification, because the diversity existing in ecosystems is too much to be embedded into certain normative rationale of an analyst. The value of ecosystems for the life on our planet is tremendous, because they represent developed biological and physical complexes, which are in permanent relations with humanity.
It provides people with ‘goods and services’, necessary for its daily biological and economic activities and creates preconditions for biological stability. In this way, preservation of ecosystems’ stability is central to maintaining ecological balance and avoiding such negative consequences of human industrial activities as global warming, etc. The dynamics of ecosystems is characterized by certain response to new elements. New elements of biological, physical or chemical nature may be disruptive of its functioning, and result into breaking the balance.
If the impact factor is very strong and ruining, the ability of biological organisms to adapt is disrupted, food chains are broken and natural selection mechanisms becomes distorted, which results in negative consequences for reproduction of physical and biological factors. The ‘stress’ levels of ecosystems may differ significantly, however, there exists certain ‘non-return’ point, when the whole ecological stability of the system may be destructed (Ranganathan & Irwin, 2007). The mentioned factors constitute the value of ecosystems, which should be preserved to maintain the biological balance on our planet.
Biodiversity in the structure of ecosystems Biodiversity is regarded as the central element in the stability of ecological system, because it guarantees its adaptivity to changing biological and physical conditions, as well as the consequences of human activities. Biodiversity refers to the variation of the life within a certain ecosystem, which constitutes the level of its adaptivity and health (Convention on Biological Diversity, 1992). The structure of biological diversity usually includes genetic, species and ecosystems diversity.
The first structural level of biological diversity constitutes the basis for the other, because biological diversity is generally programmed at the level of genetic diversity. In its turn, it is reflected in species diversity. The latter are central to the constitution of stable ecosystems. Biodiversity structure is usually analyzed at different levels, including alpha diversity (local diversity), beta diversity (diversity between ecosystems), and overall gamma diversity. The value of biodiversity is hidden in its immediate importance for human development, as its supports wide number of natural process and services in ecosystems.
Biodiversity positively affects such ecosystem’s services as climate (CO2 sequestration), air quality, water purification, levels of disease, prevention of erosion etc. Moreover, it creates natural affect of stability in ecosystems (Reid, 45). Apart from this, one should specifically refer to non-material advantages of biodiversity such as conveying aesthetic and spiritual values, furnishing knowledge, education, leisure and value systems. In this way, biodiversity should be interpreted as a crucial factor of ecocentric education.
The value of biodiversity is also evident in various productive human activities, especially in agriculture. For instance, crop diversity in important, because it prevents negative economic consequences, if a certain industrial crop is affected by disease, which was the case with Irish potato blight, rice virus and coffee rust. Monoculture was the cause of sever agricultural disasters, resulting in famines and millions of deaths (Reid, 41). Moreover, higher biodiversity results in affecting controls for the spread of infection and deceases among various groups of plants.
Biodiversity is central in providing food for humans. Humans use more than 40000 species of animals and plants and depend on certain species in terms of shelter, clothing and food. Biodiversity also creates potential for expanding the number of used products to diversify among those species, which are at the risk of extinction etc. Biodiversity loss has negative implications for the human health in general. The later is closely tied with the problem of climate change, which can negatively affect human health in terms of immunity levels and epidemics’ scope.
Moreover, some of the health issues affected by diversity refer to dietary health and the nutrition security, medicinal resources, medical science, spiritual well-being etc. Biodiversity is also considered to be a crucial factor in containing disaster risks and bringing post-disaster relief for population. Biodiversity creates preconditions for the progress in medical science and pharmacology, as it provides resources for the creation of new effective medication, based on natural possibilities of the planet.
The lack of biodiversity negatively diverts the efforts in pharmacology in the direction of chemical substance, synthetic experimentation and gene technology, however, the sources for relief may still be found in nature. Biodiversity is also crucial in the development of business and industry, since many industrial materials are immediately derived from biological components. Biodiversity supports business and robustness of economic systems through providing natural resources such as oil, gas, paper, crops, animals, water etc.
In this respect, the loss of biodiversity constitutes a significant challenge to the prospects of business development and is one of the reasons of the contemporary food crisis. Furthermore, biodiversity provides services, which are not immediately visible. The latter includes regulating atmosphere and the water supply. Water purification, fertilization of soils and recycling nutrients is impacted by the activities of biological elements including animals, plants and microorganisms.
It should also be stressed that the value of biodiversity also rests in its provision of leisure, aesthetic and cultural values. All major successes of people in art, music and other spheres of culture are indebted to the richness of nature and the spiritual stimulus it provides. Apart from this biodiversity creates preconditions for the development of tourism and other leisure activities. Conclusion To sum it up, biodiversity and ecosystems represent interconnected elements of Earth’s bio- and eco-sphere. Their structure is based on the interconnection, interdependence and balance.
If the latter is destructed, it may result in negative consequence for the human development, ecology and life prospects. The value of ecosystems and biodiversity is reinforcing, because biodiversity play a crucial role in the balance of ecosystems and vice versa. Moreover, as the present analysis showed, biodiversity is a crucial factor in developing industries, agriculture, tourism and cultural sphere of human life. The latter proves that its role is central to the preservation of economic and ecological stability. Human activities are closely connected with the balance in ecosystems and biodiversity.
On the one hand, the development of economy and human needs is based on utilizing resources of ecosystems, but on the other, the intense rush for profits and developments often results in deterioration of ecological stability, which is experienced in contemporary problem of climate change. In these conditions, the balance should found between realizing economic tasks and preserving biodiversity and ecosystems’ unity.
Works Cited Convention on Biological Diversity Site. ‘Convention on Biological Diversity’. 1992. Accessed on 14 May, 2009 at: <http://www.
cbd. int/convention/about. shtml> Reid, Walter V. ‘Reversing the loss of biodiversity: An overview of international measures’ ARIDLANDS, No. 37, Spring/Summer, 1995. Accessed on 14 May, 2009 at <http://ag. arizona. edu/OALS/ALN/aln37/reid. html> Ranganathan, J & Irwin, F. ‘Restoring Nature’s Capital: An Action Agenda to Sustain Ecosystem Services’, 2007, May 7. Accessed on May 14, 2009 at: <http://www. wri. org/publication/restoring-natures-capital> Tansley, A. G. ‘The use and abuse of vegetational terms and concepts’. Ecology 16, 284-307, 1935.
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