6 Causes of Biodiversity Loss (threats to biodiversity)

This article gives a list of the causes of biodiversity loss, if we have a shot at stopping biodiversity, we need to know its origin, its causes, and also its effects 

Biodiversity represents the world of all biological resources available to us each species no matter how big or small has an important role to play in the ecosystem. Various plants and animal species depend on each other for what each offers.

The Earth’s natural assets are made up of plants, animals, land, water, the atmosphere, and humans! Together we all form part of the planet’s ecosystems, which means if there is a biodiversity loss, our health and livelihoods are at risk too.

Let’s look at the definition of Biodiversity before we list the 6 causes of biodiversity loss-

What is Biodiversity?

Before we begin the discussion of the major topic for this article, which is the causes of biodiversity loss, we need to run a brief introduction with the terminology and its meaning.

Biodiversity is also known as biological diversity and is a scientific term describing the variability of life on Earth (wild and cultivated). It is about the numbers of different species, genetic variation between and within species, and the extent and variety of natural habitats and ecosystems. Biodiversity is very important to humans and the survival of our planet.

Biological diversity comprises three levels:

  • Species diversity:  the variety of different species;
  • Genetic diversity: the variety of genes contained in plants, animals, fungi, and micro-organisms; and
  • Ecosystem diversity: all the different habitats that exist. We are losing this diversity and abundance at an increasing and alarming. Biodiversity loss, also called loss of biodiversity, is a decrease in biodiversity within a species, an ecosystem, a given geographic area, or Earth as a whole.

Here are some of the most significant biodiversity hotspots in the world.

What is Biodiversity Loss?

Biodiversity loss includes the worldwide extinction of different species, as well as the local reduction or loss of species in a certain habitat, resulting in a loss of biological diversity.

The latter phenomenon can be temporary or permanent, depending on whether the environmental degradation that leads to the loss is reversible through ecological restoration/ecological resilience or effectively permanent (e.g. through land loss).

Now that we have explained briefly what biodiversity is all about, we will look at the causes of biodiversity loss next.

Causes of Biodiversity Loss – threats to biodiversity

Biodiversity loss can be attributed to the influence of human beings who have greatly altered the environment and modified the territory exploiting the biodiversity depletion is a natural phenomenon but the present levels of biodiversity depletion are many times higher than the natural rate. Recently the level of loss in biodiversity has started causing global concerns

Here are the six (6) major threats to biodiversity:

  • Overexploitation
  • Habitat loss
  • Human overpopulation
  • Climate change
  • Wildlife trading
  • Pollution

1. Overexploitation

Overexploitation (overhunting and overfishing) which is one of the major causes of biodiversity loss, is the process of harvesting too many aquatic or terrestrial animals, which depletes the stocks of some species while driving others to extinction.

The exploitation of natural resources to the point of diminishing returns has significantly given rise to biodiversity loss activities such as overhunting, overfishing, mining, and excessive logging have greatly reduced bill levels.

2. Habitat loss

Habitat loss is also among the major causes of biodiversity loss, it refers to the thinning, fragmenting, or outright destruction of an ecosystem’s plant, soil, hydrologic, and nutrient resources.

When a habitat is degraded or destroyed as a result of natural or human activities such as earthquakes land use before a station or agriculture by varsity is lost as the ecological system supporting biological is taken away even if only a small portion of an ecosystem is destroyed the entire system balance becomes vulnerable.

3. Human Overpopulation

Overpopulation has been highlighted as one of the major causes of biodiversity loss and has considerably contributed to the mass extinction of species, the number of threatened species persists to multiply worldwide whereas some have completely gone extinct.

4. Climate change

When climate change occurs temperature can increase dramatically when the temperature rises many different changes can on earth can result in more frequent and severe heat waves. For example, the heating of the Earth’s surface affects biodiversity because it endangers all the species that adapted to the cold due to the latitude (the Polar species) or the altitude (mountain species).

5. Wildlife Trading

Animal poaching, wildlife, and exotic pet trading have cost the lives of millions of animals from thousands of species across the world, causing nearly 30,000 species to become extinct every single year.

Rare and vulnerable animal species are frequently targeted, caught, and killed for food, as trophies, status symbols – for instance, elephant ivories and rhino horns, tourist ornaments, as well as allegedly medicinal purposes – many bears and tigers are killed for parts believed to be medicinal cures and even aphrodisiacs. This is among the top causes of biodiversity loss.

6. Pollution

The various forms of pollution, soil pollution, air pollution, land pollution, and agricultural pollution simply destroy Animal and plant habitats due to the toxic substances and chemicals released into the biological system Contributing to their eventual death.

Pollution is the addition of unneeded or harmful nutrients or substances to an ecosystem. In a polluted area, the quality of food, water, or other habitat resources declines, sometimes to the point where some species must move away or perish if the pressure is too great.

Out of these causes of biodiversity loss, the one that causes the most damage to biodiversity is pollution. Since it connects to the other major causes of biodiversity loss.

Effects of Biodiversity Loss

The following are some of the effects of biodiversity loss.

  • Food systems and food security
  • Health
  • Climate change mitigation
  • Climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction
  • Gender equality
  • Private sector development

1. Food systems and food security

Reduced availability of wild foods, reduced productivity of agricultural systems, and reduced nutritional security.

The report points to decreasing plant diversity in farmers’ fields, rising numbers of livestock breeds at risk of extinction, and increases in the proportion of overfished fish stocks. the increasing loss of biodiversity for food and agriculture puts food security and nutrition at risk.

2. Health

Human health is directly linked to food production and since biodiversity affects food availability, it also affects health, because humans can’t survive without an adequate food supply attempts to increase food productivity often to compensate for the loss of biodiversity can also damage health outcomes.

Poor land management and over-use can, for example, reduce soil biodiversity, making the soil less able to suppress disease-causing organisms or purify water.

This will lead millions of people to face a future where food supplies are more vulnerable to pests and disease, and where fresh water is an irregular productive supply.

Nutrition impacts exposure to chemicals to compensate for reduced agriculture productivity reduced access to traditional medicines, reduced options for future drug development, increased disease burden, and reduced protection against pollution.

3. Climate change mitigation

Reduced carbon storage and sequestration. Humankind is rapidly realizing the vital importance of natural ecosystems for carbon sequestration and storage.

However, biodiversity loss is impairing natural ecosystems’ capacity to provide such mitigation benefits. For example, large tree species, which are rich in carbon, tend to produce large fruits that can only be processed and dispersed by large-bodied birds and mammals.

Losing these species can lead tropical forests to become dominated by fast-growing, small-seeded plants that store less carbon. Indeed, diverse intact forests tend to hold more carbon than less diverse logged forests.

They are also more able to resist, recover and/or adapt to changing conditions and disturbances now and into the future and hence are more able to sequester carbon over the long term.

4. Climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction

As well as helping people cope with extreme weather events, biodiversity plays a key role in other aspects of adaptation to climate change, and its loss undermines adaptive capacity.

For example, diverse, old-growth woodlands are more effective at reducing surface temperatures and are more essential for mitigating climatic extremes than tree plantations.

Genetic diversity within agriculture makes small-scale farmers’ livelihoods more resilient to climate change problems such as drought, salinity, or new diseases.

The narrow genetic base of modern agriculture is already causing genetic. Reduced adaptive capacity and resilience, exacerbation of natural disasters, and increased vulnerability.

5. Gender equality

Biodiversity loss affects men, women, elderly people, and youth in different ways, depending on their livelihoods and their different roles in society. Increased time and labor burden different types of losses with knock-on effects on-time availability of other activities

6. Private sector development

At a global level, biodiversity loss is ranked as the 26th risk of highest concern for doing business both in terms of likelihood of the risk occurring and severity of impact.

Moreover, many of the risks that are ranked more highly are linked to biodiversity loss, including food crises, water crises, failure of climate change mitigation and adaptation, and natural disasters. High risk to doing business in terms of likelihood and severity of impact, particularly in the Least Developed Countries

Loss of Biodiversity Examples

Here are some practical examples where the causes of biodiversity loss have affected some animals making them go extinct.

  • Baiji White Dolphin
  • Tasmanian Tiger
  • Dodo

1. Baiji White Dolphin

Also known as the Chinese river dolphin, it was usually found in the Yangtze River in China, their numbers declined drastically from the 1950s onwards as a result of overfishing, transportation, and hydroelectricity as China industrialized. It was accounted to be seen last in 2002, it is widely assumed that it is extinct as a result of the adverse conditions and industrialization.

2. Tasmanian Tiger

This animal, also known as the thylacine is a native to the Australian mainland and the islands of Tasmania and New Guinea, it is believed to have been hunted into extinction because a bounty was placed on it, with the last captured one dying in the 1930s.

3. Dodo

An extinct flightless bird that is existed around the regions of Mauritius, its closest relative is also extinct – the rodrigues solitare . Fossil remains suggest that the dodo was 1 foot tall and weighed 10.6-17.5 kg. Sailors and invasive species hunted the bird. The last known sighting of the dodo was in 1662.

If you want to learn more about biodiversity hotspots in the world, we have a complete article on it

The Causes of Biodiversity Loss – FAQs

Why is biodiversity loss a concern?

There is growing concern about the health consequences of biodiversity loss. Biodiversity changes affect ecosystem functioning and significant disruptions of ecosystems can result in life-sustaining ecosystem goods and services.

Biodiversity loss also means that we are losing, before discovery, many of nature’s chemicals and genes, of the kind that has already provided humankind with enormous health benefits.

Why is biodiversity important?

Biodiversity is essential for human health and well-being, economic prosperity, food safety and security, and other areas critical to all humans and all human societies.

Biodiversity is important because it breeds interdependence between life forms, from plants to animals and fungi or algae. Having a wide array of species makes other living organisms take advantage of the provided resources.

For example, trees provide shade and habitat for some living organisms, birds, animals, and other plants and also help purify the oxygen in the air for the human species.

Humans have always depended on biodiversity for survival in terms of necessities – food, shelter, clothing & health.

  • food – animals that are hunted for food and also plants that are cultivated
  • shelter – timber and other forest products like cotton and wool
  • medicines– agricultural herbs used in medicinal treatments.

The loss of species and specific populations can cause a disbalance and disrupt some ecological services and benefits that individual species contribute.

For example – Recent declines in honeybee populations may result in a loss of pollination services for fruit crops and flowers

  • It increases ecosystem productivity
  • Protects freshwater resources
  • Promotes soil formation
  • Contributes to climate stability
  • Provides pharmaceuticals from plants

you can read more here.

After reading this article, the causes of biodiversity loss will no longer be a mystery to you. Hope you loved this.


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