Although humans have been modifying the land on Earth for thousands of years, industrialization and population growth over the past 300 years, particularly the last 70, have significantly increased our use of the land and disturbed habitats all over the planet.
As they are cut down for human consumption and cleared to make room for industrial development, such as agriculture, homes, highways, and pipelines, the world’s forests, marshes, grasslands, lakes, and other habitats, continue to disappear. This has resulted in some major effects of habitat loss.
The variety of life on this planet is currently under threat most severely from habitat destruction. 85% of all species included on the IUCN’s Red List (species that are formally classified) have it as “Threatened” and “Endangered”.
A key factor in the transformation of natural habitat into agricultural land is rising food production. Important natural habitats will continue to be destroyed in the absence of a solid plan to establish land and marine protected areas.
Table of Contents
Major Effects of Habitat Loss
Reduced biodiversity, or the variety and richness of various kinds of animals and plants in a given setting, is the main consequence of habitat loss.
An animal’s population rapidly declines as it draws closer to extinction when it loses the habitat or natural home that it requires to survive. Between 14,000 and 35,000 species are thought to be in danger of going extinct, and habitat degradation is one of the key reasons why.
- Species Extinction
- Difficulty in Adaptation
- Altered Ecosystem
- Change in Soil Quality
- Habitat Degradation
- Underwater System Disruption
- Global Warming and Climate Change
- Pollination and Seed Dispersal
- Climate Regulation
- Pest and Disease Control
- Indirect Effects
1. Species Extinction
For many species, habitat loss is the primary factor contributing to their extinction. Animals are highly intelligent beings, yet they cannot defend themselves and take care of their young when they are not in their normal habitats.
The land must be level when we clear it to make room for houses and structures so that construction may start and the structure will be stable. This is typically the reason why bulldozers pass through woodlands to remove trees and level the ground.
Animals cannot quickly adjust to such significant changes, which could result in the extinction of some species because of how quickly this process occurs.
2. Difficulty in Adaptation
Animals save food and water in reserve in case of bad weather or when their preferred food source is out of season. Natural shelters are quite comparable to human homes in inclement weather, providing shelter from storms, torrential rain, or soaring temperatures.
When wildlife is relocated, it completely alters their way of existence. A lot of creatures use their homes as a refuge from predators. Additionally, in the wild, there are numerous ways to take care of young animals.
They must learn to hunt and gather their food, and they must be safeguarded from predators who may attack them while they are defenseless.
3. Altered Ecosystem
Nature uses ecosystems to maintain a balance between various species and the environment. In the wild, everything is interrelated and governed by instinct. The smallest grass blades to the largest trees all have a function.
Animals depend on the environment and on one another to survive. They frequently become lost and bewildered when we upset this balance, putting them in danger. Death and the incapacity to create progeny that continues the species are the eventual outcomes of this.
4. Change in Soil Quality
The state of the ground must also be taken into account. The soil’s composition and quality are immediately altered, depriving many plants of the nutrients and room they require to flourish, which prevents many plants from growing.
Many plants cannot push themselves to grow since the earth is so compacted due to human activity, and if the seeds are not dispersed elsewhere, the plant species may disappear entirely from the area.
5. Habitat Degradation
As a result of the extensive use of land for industrial farming, runoff is another problem that adds to pollution and habitat deterioration. A lot of fertilizers, insecticides, and other items with toxic compounds are frequently needed for farming.
These compounds were once used to safeguard and encourage the growth of crops. The poisonous substances eventually seep into the earth and flow into bodies of water like lakes, rivers, and oceans, destroying both the water and wildlife.
6. Underwater System Disruption
The fact that we siphon water and alter its flow to suit human demands for drinking water and irrigation for crops also disturbs underwater systems. As a result of the imbalance, some regions become especially dry, which is harmful to the underwater habitats and species.
7. Global Warming and Climate Change
We harm ourselves when we damage natural habitats because it causes climate change and global warming. As more trees are felled, more carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, which accelerates the Earth’s warming.
Numerous species are being wiped out by this temperature change, particularly in areas where the changes are significant. As a result, as time goes on, temperatures are getting warmer and there are more greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.
8. Pollination and Seed Dispersal
Pollination is necessary for plant reproduction in both agricultural and wild environments. Bees and other insects are essential to the pollination of fruits and vegetables, which are important parts of the human diet.
Crop yields decrease when the variety of these pollinators is reduced due to habitat degradation. For instance, in Costa Rica, stingless bees that only build their nests in forests boost the production of coffee farms that are close to forest patches by 20%.
Many plants also rely on animals, especially those that consume fruit, to disperse their seeds. The plant species that depend on these types of animals may suffer greatly if their habitat is destroyed.
9. Climate Regulation
The principal way that biodiversity influences climate is by controlling the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide. The ability of trees to absorb carbon dioxide is diminished by the destruction of forest habitats.
The rate of carbon turnover within a plant is influenced by its growth rate and woodiness. Since carbon sequestration is limited at the borders of forest fragmentation, landscape patterns are particularly crucial. Additionally, marine environments are very important for carbon sequestration.
10. Pest and Disease Control
Pests frequently target particular plant species. There are more of a certain variety of plant in the ecosystem when habitats are destroyed and plant diversity is decreased. Pests might spread more easily as a result.
Diversity in plants creates habitats for a wider range of insects, other animals, and pests’ natural enemies. In locations where just one type of crop is grown, fungus-related plant diseases are more severe.
11. Indirect Effects
The production of human food, clothes, and shelter depends on the biodiversity of ecosystems in numerous indirect ways. Farmers are protected from crop failures by a wide variety of crops.
By increasing ecosystems’ susceptibility to invasive species and reducing species variety, habitat destruction, and reduction can indirectly harm human health and welfare.
What happened when the bass was introduced into Gatun Lake, Panama, serves as an example of the impact of invasive species. The prevalence of malaria increased and the number of mosquito larvae predators decreased as a result of the presence of bass.
Understanding species’ life cycles and interactions as well as the food, water, nutrients, space, and shelter required to support species populations is crucial for successful habitat restoration.
Land that connects open spaces and ecosystems, known as wildlife corridors, can be set aside when habitats cannot be restored to their previous size or condition. This allows animals to survive in and around areas where humans live.
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- Examples of Ex-situ and In-situ Conservation of Biodiversity
- Biodiversity Hotspots in the World
- 10 Entry-Level Jobs with Environmental Science Degree
A passion-driven environmentalist by heart. Lead content writer at EnvironmentGo.
I strive to educate the public about the environment and its problems.
It has always been about nature, we ought to protect not destroy.