Here is a term paper on ‘Biodiversity’. Find paragraphs, long and short term papers on ‘Biodiversity’ especially written for school and college students.
Term Paper on Biodiversity
Term Paper Contents:
- Term Paper on the Introduction to Biodiversity
- Term Paper on the Levels of Biodiversity
- Term Paper on the Commercial Values of Biodiversity
- Term Paper on the Loss of Biodiversity
- Term Paper on the Conservation of Biodiversity
Term Paper # 1. Introduction to Biodiversity:
The term biological diversity, commonly shortened to ‘biodiversity’, is used to describe the number, variety and variability of living organisms.
Thus, it may be described in term of genes, species and ecosystems, corresponding to three fundamental levels of biological organisation:
Genetic diversity is the total genetic information contained in the genes of individuals of plants, animals and micro-organisms. Each species is the repository of an immense amount of genetic information.
Species diversity implies the variability of population with respect to the reproductive distinctiveness of each of the individuals. It is a taxonomic unit of the biological world.
Ecosystem diversity relates to the variety of habitats, biotic communities and ecological processes in the biosphere as well as the diversity within ecosystems.
The global biodiversity wealth is vast and only a small fraction is known as yet. With respect to global wealth, Indian bio resources are also considered to be fairly rich, many of which appears to be endemic. But, as yet, there is lack of proper assessment of microbes and invertebrates in diverse ecosystems.
In general, the Indian subcontinent is floristically richer than its fauna. Many cultivated species also originated from this region. Among the various ecosystems, Western Ghats and Eastern and North-eastern Himalayas appear to be very important habitats for high floristic diversity, i.e., “hot spot” region.
Term Paper # 2. Levels of Biodiversity
A brief account of three levels of biodiversity is presented as follows:
i. Genetic Diversity:
Genetic diversity refers to the variation between individuals of the same species. This includes genetic variation between individuals in a single population, as well as variations between different populations of the same species. Genetic differences can now be measured using increasingly sophisticated techniques.
These differences are the raw material of evolution. Genetic diversity is the variety present at the level of genes. Genes are made of DNA which determines expression of a trait in an individual. This level of diversity can differ by alleles (different variants of the same gene, such as yellow and white flower colour), by entire genes or by several genes.
Genetic diversity can be measured at many different levels such as population, species and community. The genetic diversity is important at each of these levels.
(i) Genetic Diversity and Adaptation:
The amount of diversity at the genetic level is important because it represents the raw material for evolution and adaptation. More genetic diversity in a species or population means a greater ability for some of the individuals in it to adapt to changes in the environment.
Less diversity leads to uniformity resulting in poor adaptation. For example, modern varieties of wheat and rice are high yielding and highly uniform. We can harvest a good crop from such varieties, but can be a problem when a disease or parasite attacks the field, as every plant in the field will be susceptible having the identical genetic constitution. Thus monocultures are unable to deal well with changing conditions.
(ii) Genetic Diversity and Environment:
Within species, genetic diversity often increases with environmental variability, which can be expected. If the environment often changes, different genes will have an advantage at different times or places.
In this situation genetic diversity remains high because many genes are in the population at any given time. If the environment didn’t change, then the small number of genes that had an advantage in that unchanging environment would spread at the cost of the others, causing a drop in genetic diversity.
(iii) Genetic Diversity and Communities:
In communities, it can increase with the diversity of species. How much it increases depends not only on the number of species, but also on how closely related the species are. Species that are closely related (e.g. two species of wheat) have similar genetic structures and makeup and therefore do not contribute much additional genetic diversity. These closely related species will contribute to genetic diversity in the community less than more remotely-related species (e.g. wheat and barley) would.
An increase in species diversity can also affect the genetic diversity. If there are many species, the genetic diversity at that level will be larger than when there are fewer species. On the other hand, genetic diversity within each species can decrease.
The main points related to genetic diversity are listed below:
(i) It represents variation between individuals of the same species.
(ii) It represents the variation at gene level.
(iii) It can be measured at population, species and community levels.
(iv) Sophisticated techniques are required for its measurement.
(v) It represents the raw material for evolution and adaptation.
(vi) It is effected by the environment and competition with other species.
ii. Species Diversity:
Species diversity refers to the variety of species in a given region or area. This can either be determined by counting the number of different species present, or by determining taxonomic diversity. Taxonomic diversity is more precise and considers the relationship of species to each other.
For example, an area containing three species of wheat and two species of barley, is more diverse than an area containing five species of wheat, even though they both contain the same number of species. High species biodiversity is not always necessarily a good thing. For example, a habitat may have high species biodiversity because many common and widespread species are invading it at the expense of species restricted to that habitat.
The species level crop biodiversity is the easiest to work on both from practical and theoretical point of view. Species are relatively easy to identify by eye in the field, whereas genetic diversity requires laboratories, time and resources to identify.
Species are well known and are distinct units of diversity. Each species can be considered to have a particular “role” in the ecosystem, so the addition or loss of single species may have consequences for the system as a whole.
The main points related to species diversity are listed below:
(i) It represents variety of species in a given region or area.
(ii) Its identification is easy by naked eye in the field.
(iii) It can be determined simple by counting the number of different species.
(iv) Species are distinct units of diversity.
iii. Ecosystem Diversity:
Ecosystem diversity refers to communities of plants and animals, together with the physical characteristics of their environment (e.g. geology, soil and climate). Ecosystem diversity is more difficult to measure because there are rarely clear cut boundaries between different ecosystems and they grade into one another. However, if consistent criteria are chosen to define the limits of an ecosystem, then their number and distribution can also be measured.
Ecosystem-level diversity deals with species distributions and community patterns, the role and function of key species, and combines species functions and interactions. This is the least-understood level of the three types of biodiversity due to the complexity of the interactions.
One of the difficulties in examining communities is that the transitions between them are usually not very sharp. A lake may have a very sharp boundary between it and the deciduous forest it is in, but the deciduous forest will shift much more gradually to grasslands or to a coniferous forest. This lack of sharp boundaries is known as “open communities” (as opposed to “closed communities,” which would have sudden transitions) and makes studying ecosystems difficult.
The main points related to ecosystem biodiversity are given below:
(i) It represents communities of plants and animals together with physical structures of their environment.
(ii) The measurement of ecosystem diversity is more difficult than genetic diversity and species diversity.
(iii) The assessment of ecosystem diversity needs many complex measurements to be taken over a long period of time.
(iv) It is a time consuming task and completion of such work requires adequate staff and financial support.
Term Paper # 3. Commercial Values of Biodiversity:
Estimating the ‘market value’ or ‘global sales’ of biotechnology products is extremely difficult. To determine exactly which products have a strong biotechnology component would entail a company-by-company and product-by-product assessment.
Not only would these figures be too fragmented and detailed to gather and analyse, but national statistics, figures from trade associations and reports by market analysts do not. as a rule, even estimate them, and may use different definitions when they do.
A much truer value of biotechnologies would be gathered by calculating the value of the biotechnology products to their customers—the ‘problem owners’. There is a multiplier effect between the price of the product sold by a biotechnology company and its economic value in industrial processes.
Thus an enzyme sold to a food company may make an important contribution to that company’s production, effectively earning it many hundreds of thousands of dollars. This ‘multiplier’ is hard to gauge, and varies for each application of biotechnology. Based on data from the European Association for Bio industries, the OECD has estimated a multiplier of 6 to 9.
Finally, available statistics for products or market sectors do not reveal what proportion is attributable to biotechnology. For example, global trade in forest products is worth US$ 140 billion a year, and in cotton US$ 30 billion a year. There are no data on the proportion of these products produced using biotechnology, which are negligible today, but likely to grow significantly in the coming decades.
Term Paper # 4. Loss of Biodiversity:
Speciation and extinction are natural processes. Traditionally, from the Darwinian perspective, extinction is the fate of species which lose in the struggle for survival. But habitat loss due to human intervention for various reasons is the prime concern for species extinction.
In fact, there is no precise extinction of the numbers of species which are being lost over the decades. The reasons are very simple—in fact there was no estimate of actual species member in each category earlier and vast majority of the species are not monitored. Only the larger plants and animals were mostly monitored for over past couple of decades.
Most of these estimates are based on estimate of loss of habitat. The procedure estimates potential losses of species based on extrapolation of rates of habitat destruction and calculation of associated extinctions using species area curves.
It seems likely that major episodes of species extinction have occurred throughout the past 250 million years at average intervals of approximately 26 million years. However, according to Wilson (1988), the current reduction of diversity seems likely to approach that of the great natural catastrophes at the end of the Paleozoic and Mesozoic eras, the most extreme in the last 65 million years.
The major causes of extinction of species are:
1. Habitat destruction;
2. Hunting of wildlife;
3. Introduction of new species;
4. International trade of biotic resources;
5. Pollution of various habitats;
6. Catastrophic processes; and
7. Several other accidental causative.
It is very interesting to note the fact that the growth of human population is paralleled by the increase in the extinction rate of birds and animals (Fig. 6.2). There were some assessments made to assess the relative importance of various extinction factors on the disappearance of mammals and birds (Fig. 6.3). On the whole, habitat destruction followed by hunting appears to be the major threat of extinction.
Considering the relative importance of the threat of species extinction, IUCN categorized six major classes of threated species (Table 6.4) as incorporated in their “Red Data Book”. This categorisation involves both flora and fauna as exists in their wild habitats.
The priority of conservation of various species thus made on the basis of their relative threat potentialities. The approximate number of species extinct so far globally is given in Table 6.5. This number is changed day by day.
To restrict species extinction rate the threatened plants/animals categories were made. The number of threatened species (as listed in Table 6.6), is fairly high. In general, vascular plants, large animals, birds and reptiles were more threatened than other species.
Term Paper # 5. Conservation of Biodiversity:
Man has been constantly exploiting environment for his livelihood, pleasure, economic development and to satisfy many other needs.
He cultivates land to fulfill his demand for food and other raw materials. He constructs dams and bridges on river and lakes to generate electricity and for irrigation. He digs out various mineral resources to be used in industry as raw materials or to use them directly. He also exploits forest resources for construction of his dwelling, furniture and many other goods and also to meet his demand for fuel. He also kills birds and some animals to satisfy various needs.
The population of the world has been increasing at a very high rate. In order to meet various demands of the increasing population more resources need to be exploited. Therefore, a balance is to be maintained between the fulfilling of demands and exploitation of environment.
Otherwise, there will be considerable changes in climate, increase of soil erosion, flood, increase of silts on the beds of the rivers and lakes as a result of excessive exploitation of forest by indiscriminate falling of trees.
Similarly, along with the increase of population in the cities, number of motor vehicles has also increased and the atmosphere has become polluted by the smokes emitted by them. The water and air become polluted by the industries developed near the lakes, rivers and coasts. Excessive burning of oil and natural gas leads to the increase of carbon dioxide in air which is injurious to health.
The atmosphere over the industrially developed countries like Japan, USA and Germany becomes more polluted and these countries have taken very strict steps to clean up environment. The polluted air and water not only harm the plants and other animals but also create many other human problems.
Many animals and plants species disappeared from certain areas as a result of air and water pollution. Environment pollution leads to the spread of diseases. The use of pesticides and insecticides has led to concentration of DDT and other harmful chemicals in plants and animals products. Many countries have taken legislative steps to prevent environment pollution.
Man should learn to co-exist with the environment in such a way that he is able to make the best use of the environment. If man has to survive on the earth, he has to live in harmony with nature. The art of living with nature is the best possible way towards conservation of environment.