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Conservation of Biodiversity
Chapter 18
Modern Conservation Legacies
• 1872 Yellowstone National Park: 1st National
Park designated by Ulysses Grant.
• 1901-09 Roosevelt: 230 million acres into
federal protection.
• 2009: Obama designated 200,000 sq miles of
Alaska coastline critical habitat for polar bears.
• 2006: Bush set aside 215 million acres of
marine habitat as protected.
Why Protect Biodiversity??
• Food
• Medicine
• Building Materials
• Carbon sinks
• Pollination of crops
Intrinsic values
Current Overall Biodiversity: High!!
Mass Extinction
Extinction: when the last member of a species dies.
• In the past 500 million yrs there have been 5
mass extinctions, we are currently in the 6th.
• Experiencing 50,000 species extinctions per year
(.5 % of the world’s species).
• Happening over a short period of time, first to
occur since humans have been on Earth, human
cause : (
6th Mass Extinction
Global Declines in the Genetic
• Populations with low genetic diversity are not
suited to environmental change.
Inbreeding depression: relatives breed with each
other and offspring cannot survive and reproduce.
• Recessive alleles.
• High genetic diversity ensures that a wider
range of genotypes are present and more likely
to survive an environment change.
• Cheetah: population botttleneck 10,000 years
ago, reduced genetic diversity.
• Panther (mountain lion, cougar): once ranged
over much of North America. Habitat
destruction and posed threat to humans
decreased the population.
Which groups are most threatened?
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) uses these categories for species
status. Extinct (EX) - No individuals remaining. Extinct in the Wild (EW) - Known only to
survive in captivity, or as a naturalized population outside its historic range. Critically
Endangered (CR) - Extremely high risk of extinction in the wild. Endangered (EN) - High risk
of extinction in the wild. Vulnerable (VU) - High risk of endangerment in the wild. Near
Threatened (NT) - Likely to become endangered in the near future. Least Concern (LC) Lowest risk. Does not qualify for a more at risk category. Widespread and abundant taxa are
included in this category.
Global Declines in the Genetic
Diversity of Crops and Livestock
• Genetic diversity among crops and livestock has
significantly decreased.
Endangered: at serious risk of extinction.
• Out of 200 breeds of domesticated animals 80%
of these are either declining or facing
Many animal breeds have gone extinct due
to selective breeding.
• Plants have decreased genetic diversity as well.
• Less biodiversity leaves plants open to the risk
of going extinct if the biotic or abiotic
environment changes.
• Seed banks! Svalbard Global Seed Vault.
Global Declines in Species Diversity
Extinct: Existed before but no longer do.
Threatened: high risk of extinction in the future.
Near-Threatened: very likely to become
threatened in the future.
Least Concern: species are widespread and
• Of the estimated 10 million species only
about 50,000 have be assessed.
• 21% of birds, 32% of mammals, and 49% of
amphibians are currently classified as
threatened or near-threatened with
• 1/3 of all reptiles, fish and invertebrates are
threatened with extinction.
• 1/4 of plant species are threatened.
What is driving extinctions?
Habitat loss
Invasive species
Climate change
Declining Biodiversity Causes
Habitat Loss
• Greatest cause of loss of species.
• Most species live within specific biotic and
abiotic ranges.
• Smaller areas to live present problems.
Example: Brown Headed Cow Bird
• Causes edge effects
• Patches = too small to support large
• Barriers to dispersal between patches
Frag-mentation of Wisconsin Land
Invasive Species
Native Species: live in their historical range.
Exotic/Invasive Species: species that live outside
of their historical range.
Examples: Zebra Mussel, Silver Carp, Kudzu Vine,
Deliberately Introduced Species
Purple loosestrife
European starling
African honeybee
(“Killer bee”)
Marine toad
(Giant toad)
Water hyacinth
Japanese beetle
Salt cedar
European wild boar
(Feral pig)
Fig. 11-11a, p. 234
An Invasive Vine (Kudzu)
Zebra Mussel
Accidentally Introduced Species
Sea lamprey
(attached to lake trout)
Formosan termite
fire ant
Zebra mussel
Brown tree
Asian long-horned
Eurasian ruffe
Common pigeon
(Rock dove)
Asian tiger mosquito Gypsy moth larvae
Fig. 11-11b, p. 234
Exotic Species recorded in the countries of
Iceland, Sweden, Finland, Norway, and
Water pollution.
Air pollution.
Pesticides, heavy metals, acids, oil spills.
Endocrine disruptors, lead, NOx, SO2,.
Nutrients cause algal blooms and dead zones.
Thermal pollution, noise pollution.
• World population currently at 7.3 Billion
Climate Change
• Patterns of temperature and precipitation are
• Some species may be able to migrate while
others will not.
Global Warming may become
the leading cause of species
loss in the future.
• Individuals are removed faster than they can
be replenished.
Examples: Do Do Bird, Mammoths, North and
South American camel.
More recent: American Bison (75 million down to
1000), Passenger pigeon
Overhunting Remains a Major Threat
-Sport hunting
-Predator/pest eradication (WOLVES ARE IN TROUBLE!)
Fig. 11-19, p. 241
• Fishing methods kill
many non-target species
• 34% fish at risk
• Biggest problems =
–Europe (86% risk)
–Asia (69% at risk)
Harvesting Corals
• Coral collection destabilizes reefs and
decreases habitat
Effects of Whaling
Harvesting Tropical Fish
• Cyanide for fish-colllecting
• Only 1 out of every 5 fish collected makes
it to the store alive.
Plant and Animal Trade
Lacey Act 1900: Forbids the interstate shipping of
all illegally harvested plants and animals.
Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) 1973:
Controls the International trade of threatened
plants and animals.
Red List: list of threatened species.
Marine Mammal Protection Act 1972: prohibits the
killing of all marine mammals in the US and
prohibits the import or export of any body parts.
Endangered Species Act 1973: Implements CITES.
• The US Fish and Wildlife Service determines
which species are endangered and regulates.
• Purchases land that is critical to species survival.
• Maintains endangered lists.
• Some have been taken off: Bald Eagle, Bison,
Gray Whale
Convention on Biological Diversity
• Created in 1992, international effort.
• Has not met its goals
Trends 2002-2010
• Species still going extinct.
• ¼ plants species still threatened with extinction.
• Natural habitats becomes smaller.
• Genetic diversity of crops still declining.
• Widespread loss of ecosystem function.
• Ecological footprint of humans has increased.
• Causes of biodiversity loss have increased or
remained the same.
Protecting Entire Ecosystems
• Biodiversity hotspots.
• Amount of protected land has increased!
• Island biogeography: large areas closer to
“mainlands” are more biologically diverse.
• Used to determine what type of areas to
Metapopulations: collection of smaller
populations connected by corridors.
Single large or several small (SLOSS) is the
• Several small increases the amount of “edge
Edge Habitat: where 2 different types of
communities come together.
Biosphere Reserves
• Biosphere Reserves are protected areas
that have zones with varying human
• Currently 564 biosphere reserves
worldwide with 47 in the US
• Big Bend National Park in Texas.