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Nature, landscapes and biodiversity

What is biodiversity loss?

Question and Answer | 07-12-2017

Initially the loss of biodiversity could be defined as the extinction of species. Curiously the species richness of a particular ecosystem may hardly change or may even increase because new - often
wide spread - species replace the original ones. It is therefore important not only to look at species, but also at the abundance (the number of individuals) of species.

Species extinction is just a last step in a long degradation process. In essence, biodiversity loss is characterized by the decrease in abundance and distribution of many original species and the increase in a few other –human favored- species as a result of human interventions. As a result ecosystems are becoming more and more alike. This process is called the homogenization process.

Much research focused on the reasons of the increased loss of biodiversity in the 20th century. Identified anthropogenic drivers influencing the loss of biodiversity are land conversion, exploitation, fragmentation, water extraction, pollution, eutrophication and climate change. Although climate is a slow changing factor, studies on the impacts of climate change concluded that climate change is already affecting species distributions all over the world and will impact nature to a considerable amount in the 21st century.

 

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