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Published on October 23, 2007

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Magnitude and Overview of Global Biodiversity Loss:  Magnitude and Overview of Global Biodiversity Loss By Jeffrey A. McNeely Chief Scientist IUCN – The World Conservation Union jam@iucn.org Presented to Biodiversity and Agriculture Symposium Punta Cana, Dominican Republic 31 May 2006 Ancient extinctions:  Ancient extinctions Ordovician: 450 million years ago. Some animal groups lose half their species. Devonian: 374 million years ago. Up to 70% of all species disappear. Permian: 251 million years ago. 95% of all marine life and 70% of land animals become extinct. Triassic: 201 million years ago. Up to a quarter of all life dies. Cretaceous: 65 million years ago. 85% of all species are wiped out, including the dinosaurs. Slide3:  These ancient These ancient extinctions were caused by natural phenomena For the next 60 million years, diverse forms of life populated our planet:  For the next 60 million years, diverse forms of life populated our planet Slide5:  Our early ancestors were part of the African savanna ecosystem. But once our ancestors learned how to use fire and make tools, their relationship with ecosystems fundamentally changed. :  But once our ancestors learned how to use fire and make tools, their relationship with ecosystems fundamentally changed. And so did our ancestors, spreading across Europe and Asia. For millions of years, the Americas were left to wildlife and were not part of humanity’s story. :  For millions of years, the Americas were left to wildlife and were not part of humanity’s story. Slide8:  The first humans came to the Americas 12-30,000 years ago Once they arrived, things started to change:  Once they arrived, things started to change Slide10:  Glyptodon Mammut Megatherium Mylodon Fire and technology helped early human immigrants to the Americas drive some 43 genera of mammals to extinction. Megafauna extinctions have been correlated with the arrival of humans on new continents or large islands (Martin, 1984):  Megafauna extinctions have been correlated with the arrival of humans on new continents or large islands (Martin, 1984) But the hunting and gathering people who arrived in the Americas also adapted, drawing on biodiversity to survive, even prosper, in the ecosystems where they lived.:  But the hunting and gathering people who arrived in the Americas also adapted, drawing on biodiversity to survive, even prosper, in the ecosystems where they lived. Agriculture developed independently in several parts of the Western Hemisphere, giving people greater control over nature. They domesticated many plant species, but few animals.:  Agriculture developed independently in several parts of the Western Hemisphere, giving people greater control over nature. They domesticated many plant species, but few animals. Slide14:  Mammutus Hippidium Onohippidium Potential domesticated animals? Equus With beasts of burden, the Aztec, Inca, and Maya civilizations might have been very different.:  With beasts of burden, the Aztec, Inca, and Maya civilizations might have been very different. Biodiversity loss meant that New World civilizations had fewer options than those of the Old World:  Biodiversity loss meant that New World civilizations had fewer options than those of the Old World - According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, we have lost more biodiversity in the last 50 years than ever before in recorded human history.:  According to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, we have lost more biodiversity in the last 50 years than ever before in recorded human history. Are we in the midst of the sixth great extinction? If so, what are the implications for humanity? What can be done to reverse the rate of biodiversity loss? Why Biodiversity is Important for People By Jeffrey A. McNeely Chief Scientist IUCN jam@hq.iucn.org :  Why Biodiversity is Important for People By Jeffrey A. McNeely Chief Scientist IUCN jam@hq.iucn.org What is biodiversity ? Genetic diversity gives our crops the characteristics we seek. Losing this diversity constrains our options.:  Genetic diversity gives our crops the characteristics we seek. Losing this diversity constrains our options. HYV wheat ancestry Slide21:  Some examples of the loss of genetic diversity in the USA Varieties of vegetables grown Slide22:  Wild relatives of domestic animals are valuable genetic resources Slide23:  Species extinctions per thousand species per millennium Slide25:  Extinction in recent times The world’s list of documented extinctions continues to rise The 2006 Red List includes 784 species listed as Extinct and 63 Extinct in the Wild 30 documented extinctions in the last 20 years Recent extinction rates are 100 to 1,000 times natural (background) extinction rates Source: IUCN/SSC Slide26:  KNOWN CAUSES OF EXTINCTION SINCE 1600 Hunting 23% Other 2% Species Introductions 39% Habitat Destruction 36% Which species are in trouble? Amphibians are the most threatened vertebrates:  Which species are in trouble? Amphibians are the most threatened vertebrates Birds Mammals Amphibians Source: IUCN/SSC Slide28:  Where is the risk of extinction greatest? Areas of threatened species richness Source: IUCN/SSC Slide29:  SOILS One of last great frontiers in biological research: we simply do not know the status of soil species Slide30:  Draft Tree of Life Science: 13 June 2003 Taxa in Soil Bacteria No human eye has ever blinked at them through a microscope, and most human minds have never spent a moment reflecting on them. Yet the sobering fact is: they don’t need us, but we need them (Wilson 1987). Photos: Norton, Ochoa Slide31:  Temperate Grasslands & Woodlands Temperate Broadleaf Forest Tropical Dry Forest Tropical Grasslands Tropical Coniferous Forest Mediterranean Forests Tropical Moist Forest 0 50 100 Percent of habitat (biome) remaining Ecosystem Loss to 1990 Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment WHY BIODIVERSITY IS BEING LOST:  WHY BIODIVERSITY IS BEING LOST 1. Converting natural habitats into domestic habitats Slide33:  Source: NASA The way we were Slide34:  The way we are The process of land conversion continues to accelerate, sometimes encroaching on legally protected areas.:  The process of land conversion continues to accelerate, sometimes encroaching on legally protected areas. Slide36:  “As you can see, some have adapted to their reduction of territory quite well.” WHY BIODIVERSITY IS BEING LOST:  WHY BIODIVERSITY IS BEING LOST 2. Changes in climate Slide38:  Source: US Global Change Research Programme Ocean Circulation Conveyor Belt Slide40:  Source: Natural Resources Canada WHY BIODIVERSITY IS BEING LOST:  WHY BIODIVERSITY IS BEING LOST 3. Impacts of invasive alien species International shipping has increased by a factor of 10 over the past several decades.:  International shipping has increased by a factor of 10 over the past several decades. HOW IAS AFFECT HUMAN INTERESTS:  HOW IAS AFFECT HUMAN INTERESTS Lower water tables (tamarisks, eucalyptus, pines) Clog water intake pipes (zebra mussels) Reduce pollination of crops (Verroa mites) Slide44:  HOW IAS AFFECT HUMAN INTERESTS Cause human diseases (West Nile Virus) Threaten human safety (fire ants, Africanized bees) Block navigation, deplete oxygen (water hyacinth) “We’re pretty sure it’s the West Nile Virus” Annual costs associated with IAS:  Annual costs associated with IAS South Africa US$ 7 billion UK US$ 12 billion Australia US$ 13 billion Brazil US$ 50 billion India US$ 116 billion (Source: Pimentel, et al., 2001) WHY BIODIVERSITY IS BEING LOST:  WHY BIODIVERSITY IS BEING LOST 4. Excessive harvesting of valuable species Collapse of the Canadian cod fishery Slide47:  Biomass of Table Fish (tons per km2) Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment; Christensen et al. 2003 1900 2000 WHY BIODIVERSITY IS BEING LOST:  WHY BIODIVERSITY IS BEING LOST 5. Impacts of pollutants “Think of it not as pollution, but as the fragrance of prosperity” Unprecedented change: Biogeochemical Cycles:  Unprecedented change: Biogeochemical Cycles Since 1960: Flows of biologically available nitrogen in terrestrial ecosystems doubled Flows of phosphorus tripled > 50% of all the synthetic nitrogen fertilizer ever used has been used since 1985 Humans now produce as much biologically available N as all natural pathways. Human input may grow a further 65% by 2050 Slide50:  Source: International Nitrogen Initiative Slide51:  Source: USEPA Major Eutrophication-induced Hypoxic Zones of the World Percentage of years (1985-1997) with summer hypoxia Slide52:  Trends in Drivers Source: Millennium Ecosystem Assessment What are the implications of biodiversity loss for people?:  What are the implications of biodiversity loss for people? Ecosystem Services: the benefits people obtain from ecosystems :  Ecosystem Services: the benefits people obtain from ecosystems Regulating Benefits obtained from regulation of ecosystem processes • climate regulation • disease regulation • flood regulation Provisioning Goods produced or provided by ecosystems • food • fresh water • fuel wood • genetic resources Cultural Non-material benefits from ecosystems • spiritual • recreational • aesthetic • inspirational • educational Supporting Services necessary for production of other ecosystem services • Soil formation • Nutrient cycling • Primary production MA Framework:  MA Framework Direct Drivers of Change Changes in land use Species introduction or removal Technology adaptation and use External inputs (e.g., irrigation) Resource consumption Climate change Natural physical and biological drivers (e.g., volcanoes) Indirect Drivers of Change Demographic Economic (globalization, trade, market and policy framework) Sociopolitical (governance and institutional framework) Science and Technology Cultural and Religious Human Well-being and Poverty Reduction Basic material for a good life Health Good Social Relations Security Freedom of choice and action Biodiversity loss means the loss of genetic diversity provided by wild relatives of domestic plants and animals:  Biodiversity loss means the loss of genetic diversity provided by wild relatives of domestic plants and animals The capacity to adapt to changing climates will be compromised:  The capacity to adapt to changing climates will be compromised Important agricultural lands may be more exposed to storm damage:  Important agricultural lands may be more exposed to storm damage Slide60:  Potential new food crops may be lost forever Source: FAO Pollinators may no longer be as effective:  Pollinators may no longer be as effective In Costa Rica, forest-based pollinators increased coffee yields by 20% What can be done to reverse the rate of biodiversity loss?:  What can be done to reverse the rate of biodiversity loss? Responses: Key Barriers * Insufficient knowledge:  Responses: Key Barriers * Insufficient knowledge 1. Provide information I won’t eat anything that’s genetically modified… It could be unhealthy… Slide64:  GBIF Species/Specimen Governments PP10 Promoting Information sharing Governments Joint Pledge Protected areas and methodology Big NGOs IABIN Species Governments & NGO PALNET Sharing evidence based information Parks Managers Conservation Commons Integrating data, information, knowledge, expertise and technology from all sectors of society to advance durable conservation SIS-Redlist Endangered Species Academia, NGO, Governments CHM Sharing Processes Governments ConserveOnline Conservation Conservationists, Public Ecolex Law Environmental Attorneys www.conservationcommons.org 2. Invest in development of appropriate technologies:  2. Invest in development of appropriate technologies Indirect drivers of change * Technological change :  Indirect drivers of change * Technological change 3. Help local people capture biodiversity benefits:  3. Help local people capture biodiversity benefits We are consuming more food:  We are consuming more food Resource Per capita increase (1950-1990) Grain 40% Beef and mutton 26% Fish 100% Slide69:  Costa Rica payment for ecosystem services Slide70:  4. Promote actions at the landscape level Response 3: Encouraging private sector involvement in biodiversity conservation:  Response 3: Encouraging private sector involvement in biodiversity conservation 5. Involve the private sector in biodiversity action 6. Include biodiversity issues in agriculture, fishing and forestry:  6. Include biodiversity issues in agriculture, fishing and forestry 7. Design governance that supports ecosystem services:  7. Design governance that supports ecosystem services Slide74:  Decentralization needs: a supporting national framework sound information about trade-offs and synergies appropriate tenure arrangements 8. Promote international cooperation through conventions and other means:  8. Promote international cooperation through conventions and other means Convention on the Law of the Sea The 2010 Biodiversity Target: To achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss as a means of alleviating poverty. :  The 2010 Biodiversity Target: To achieve by 2010 a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss as a means of alleviating poverty. Indicators: Trends in extent of selected biomes, ecosystems, and habitats Trends in abundance and distribution of selected species Coverage of protected areas Water quality in aquatic ecosystems Official development assistance provided in support of the Convention on Biological Diversity Slide77:  The remarkable growth of protected areas demonstrates their value. Slide78:  Sinharaja Biosphere Reserve, Sri Lanka: Mango Breadfruit Nutmeg Cinnamon Clove Pepper Durian Slide79:  Wild cardamom Pepper Yams Pest-resistant rice Beans Slide80:  Xishuangbanna Nature Reserve, China Rice Citrus Ginseng Tea Slide81:  Besh-Aral Nature Reserve, Kyrgyztan Walnut Pistacio Almond Pear Plum Slide82:  Sierra de Manantlan Biosphere Reserve, Mexico Last habitat of Teosinte, wild relative of maize 9. Continue active public goods research linking biodiversity with agriculture:  9. Continue active public goods research linking biodiversity with agriculture 10. Support education about biodiversity and ecosystem services:  10. Support education about biodiversity and ecosystem services Responding to the loss of biodiversity will cost money. :  Responding to the loss of biodiversity will cost money. Not responding is likely to cost even more.

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