Why it's important
As has been the common theme throughout the Nature section, biodiversity is important. Natural systems provide a lot of benefits for us every year, yet we don't recognize them and continue to cause damage to these natural systems. It's not that we are saying that we can't establish our own place in the natural world and create our own spaces and way of living, but we are currently causing way more than our fair share of damage. We owe it to the rest of the natural world to not cause excessive damage. And if that doesn't sway you, we rely on the natural world and the animals within it in ways that you may not realize.
Do you ever want to have to explain to a child what tigers were?
Animals are responsible for a variety of direct and indirect services to us. Directly, we rely on animals for pest control, some health care purposes, food, and for some ecotourism. We also rely on animals for their roles in ecosystems, helping to manage each other and plants and other living things. Eliminating any one animal would cause ripple effects that would affect many other plants and animals we may rely on or that are pests to us. We rely on bats, birds, and insects for pollination of crops and distribution of plant seeds. And everything that we rely on plants for would be impossible without the complex web of animals that affect the ecosystem a particular plant lives in.
Tigers are one of those animals that we have all grown up familiar with, but now there are only about 2,000 left in the wild.Credit: Wikimedia Commons
To give some specific examples, we rely on wolves, owls, and honey bees. Wolves are useful for things such as deer population control and for helping to regrow trees that clean the air and prevent soil erosion by keeping down populations of herbivores that eat young trees
. Owls are used by farms all over the world to keep down populations of rodent pests as opposed to using pesticides
. This is opposed to dropping toxic chemicals over fields from an airplane, reducing emissions, toxicity, and costs. Honey bees are used for pollinating about 80% of our food crops
and create products, including wax and honey, that we use on a regular basis. However, bees have been disappearing at alarming rates all over the world and we have no idea why yet.
We need to do more to try to protect important species all over the world. Besides, if the "we owe it to them" and economic arguments don't sway you, do you ever want to have to explain to a child what tigers were?
ScienceBlog.com - Yellowstone Wolf Reintroduction
Article talking about the benefits to the overall ecosystem of wolf reintroduction in Yellowstone National Park.Click now to view
BBC News - Owls as Pesticide
Article on farms in Israel using Owls and Kestrals instead of pesticides for rodent control.Click now to view
Associated Content - Bees
Article on the disappearance of honey bees all over the world.Click now to view
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