Threats to Biodiversity: An Overview

Human demands on the world’s resources have led to one-third to one-half of the terrestrial planet being substantially altered by human activity. Some ecosystems such as grasslands and freshwater systems are more affected than others, but pollution has modified even the poles and the atmosphere. The major direct threats to biodiversity are covered in this module, including habitat fragmentation, invasive species, pollution, overexploitation, and global climate change. The underlying causes of biodiversity loss, on the other hand, are often more complex and stem from many interrelated factors, the most important of which are overpopulation and overconsumption. In the accompanying exercise, students become aquainted with the IUCN Red List (a critical information resource on the status of wild species) and become familiar with and contrast what factors are most causing species declines locally versus globally.

View this module in other languages:
Amenazas Directas a la Biodiversidad: Una Introducción (Spanish)
Aperçus des Menaces Directes sur la Biodiversité (French)
Threats to Biodiversity (Ukrainian)

Featured in: Biodiversity Basics

See also:
Amphibian Declines
Assessing Threats in Conservation Planning and Management
Ecosystem Loss and Fragmentation

Theme: Understanding Biodiversity

Language: English

Region: Global

Keywords: extinction, data analysis, climate change, fragmentation, invasive, anthropocene, threats

Components: 6

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Synthesis: Threats to Biodiversity: An Overview

Author: E. Sterling, M.F. Laverty

   

Humans dominate the planet to an extent never before seen. Our rapidly expanding populations and economies place staggering demands on the worlds limited resources. Only by understanding the principal threats to biodiversity can we hope to meet the challenge of conserving biodiversity. This module outlines the major direct threats to biodiversity, including ecosystem loss and fragmentation, invasive species, pollution, overexploitation, and global climate change. Many of these direct threats are also coupled to underlying threats to biodiversity, the most important of which are overpopulation and overconsumption, which are covered in more detail in a separate NCEP module.


explore

Recommended Resource: Biodiversity: The ravages of guns, nets and bulldozers

Date created: August 10, 2016

Source: S. Maxwell, R. Fuller, T. Brooks, and J. Watson. 2016. Nature: 536, p. 143–145.

In an analysis of IUCN Red List data, this study published in Nature suggests that while climate change gets much buzz in the media, overexploitation and agriculture are in fact the greatest drivers of species loss for the almost 9,000 "threatened" and "near-threatened" species.


practice

Exercise: Threats to Biodiversity: Local versus Global Perspectives

Author: J.P. Gibbs

   

This exercise seeks to acquaint students with the IUCN Red List (a critical information resource on the status of wild species) and enable them to become familiar with and contrast what factors are most causing species declines locally versus globally.


teach

Presentation: Threats to Biodiversity: An Overview

Author: L. Murphy, M.F. Laverty

Teaching Notes: Threats to Biodiversity: An Overview

Author: L. Murphy, E. Sterling, M.F. Laverty

Solutions: Threats to Biodiversity: Local versus Global Perspectives

Author: J.P. Gibbs


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