<< Chapter < Page Chapter >> Page >
By the end of this section, you will be able to:
  • Identify chemical diversity benefits to humans
  • Identify biodiversity components that support human agriculture
  • Describe ecosystem services

It may not be clear why biologists are concerned about biodiversity loss. When biodiversity loss is thought of as the extinction of the passenger pigeon, the dodo bird, and even the woolly mammoth, the loss may appear to be an emotional one. But is the loss practically important for the welfare of the human species? From the perspective of evolution and ecology, the loss of a particular individual species is unimportant (however, the loss of a keystone species can lead to ecological disaster). Extinction is a normal part of macroevolution. But the accelerated extinction rate means the loss of tens of thousands of species within our lifetimes, and it is likely to have dramatic effects on human welfare through the collapse of ecosystems and in added costs to maintain food production, clean air and water, and human health.

Agriculture began after early hunter-gatherer societies first settled in one place and heavily modified their immediate environment. This cultural transition has made it difficult for humans to recognize their dependence on undomesticated living things on the planet. Biologists recognize the human species is embedded in ecosystems and is dependent on them, just as every other species on the planet is dependent. Technology smoothes out the extremes of existence, but ultimately the human species cannot exist without its ecosystem.

Human health

Contemporary societies that live close to the land often have a broad knowledge of the medicinal uses of plants growing in their area. Most plants produce secondary plant compounds , which are toxins used to protect the plant from insects and other animals that eat them, but some of which also work as medication. For centuries in Europe, older knowledge about the medical uses of plants was compiled in herbals—books that identified plants and their uses. Humans are not the only species to use plants for medicinal reasons: the great apes, orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos, and gorillas have all been observed self-medicating with plants.

Modern pharmaceutical science also recognizes the importance of these plant compounds. Examples of significant medicines derived from plant compounds include aspirin, codeine, digoxin, atropine, and vincristine ( [link] ). Many medicines were once derived from plant extracts but are now synthesized. It is estimated that, at one time, 25 percent of modern drugs contained at least one plant extract. That number has probably decreased to about 10 percent as natural plant ingredients are replaced by synthetic versions. Antibiotics, which are responsible for extraordinary improvements in health and lifespans in developed countries, are compounds largely derived from fungi and bacteria.

 Photo shows white and pink periwinkle flowers. Each flower has five triangular petals, with the narrow end of the petal meeting at the flower’s center. Pairs of waxy oval leaves grow perpendicular to one another on a separate stem.
Catharanthus roseus , the Madagascar periwinkle, has various medicinal properties. Among other uses, it is a source of vincristine, a drug used in the treatment of lymphomas. (credit: Forest and Kim Starr)

Questions & Answers

A closed circulatory system is a closed-loop system, in which blood is not free in a cavity. Blood is separate from the bodily interstitial fluid and contained within blood vessels. In this type of system, blood circulates unidirectionally from the heart around the systemic circulatory route, and th
Peter Reply
food
Ramatulai
what is meiosis
Ram Reply
meiosis is a reduction Division in which four hapliod off springs are produced
Nandanee
what is electrochemical gradient?
Joneth Reply
what is mitosis?
Aliness Reply
(cytology) the division of cell nucleus in which the genome is copied and separated into two identical halves.it is normally follow by cell division
Adekunle
it Is the division of the mother cell into two daughter cells,genetically identical to each other and to their parent cell
Joneth
it is a study of living organisms
Prudence Reply
What are other types of cell
ATAMA Reply
plant and animal cell
Jessy
prokaryotic and eukaryotic cell
Joneth
meaning inside and outside cells
Joneth
external feature of earthworm
Ajas Reply
what is the reason behind that before F2 generation is no segregation?
asmamaw Reply
what is mitosis and meiosis
Rabiu Reply
hypothesis theory law
Tamba Reply
what is hypothesis theory law
Tamba
Briefly describe the process of mitosis and meiosis.
Lilian Reply
what is chromosome
Deborah Reply
Chromosome is the thread-like structure containing DNA and found in the nucleus of a cell. DNA contains gene which has genetic information.
Lilian
if a cell is killed by strain why then is it use
uchenna Reply
what is an atom
Finda Reply
an atom is the must smallest element in the world.
Young
please help me friends. I wont a good example of lab report based on carbohydrate,lipid,reducing and non reducing sugar.
Ng
that can't be split by any chemical means
uchenna
No an atom is the smallest particles of an element which can take part in a chemical reaction
Solayemi
An atom is the smallest indivisible particle of an element which can take part in a chemical reaction.
Samuel
sure atoms can't be splited
Solayemi
atom can't be split
john
what is molecule
john
Molecules consists of one or more tiny particles called atom
Rofiah
atoms joined together by covalent bonds
Bad
an atom is a particle that cannot be divided further by a chemical reaction
Bad
how do earthworms excrete
Ndlovu
what is genotype
Precious Reply

Get the best Biology course in your pocket!





Source:  OpenStax, Biology. OpenStax CNX. Feb 29, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11448/1.10
Google Play and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Notification Switch

Would you like to follow the 'Biology' conversation and receive update notifications?

Ask