Category Archives: Biodiversity

Alien Australian possums could be helpful, not harmful to recovering ecosystems in New Zealand — Evolution Story Time

Can alien species be helpful to some ecosystems? Apparently so!

Horror stories of an alien species taking over and annihilating diversity in a native ecosystem have become pervasive in ecological news. This happens as our world continues to become more and more interconnected: species are moved around by humans- be it intentional or not. There are the rabbit, cane toad and camel population sizes exploding in Australia. There […]

via Alien Australian possums could be helpful, not harmful to recovering ecosystems in New Zealand — Evolution Story Time

Live and let live, or live and let die?

We’ve seen what happens when species is lost from an ecosystem. Actually, we are continuing to see this happening in pretty much every ecosystem on the planet. Loss of biodiversity is not an issue that is alien to us (certainly not alien to the readers of this blog). I’ve gone into this in greater detail in Earth’s Paradox: Greater complexity, more stability, which you can take a look at.

But what happens when we add extra species into an ecosystem? Does that even happen? It happens more often than you think. As a consequence of our “messing around” with nature, we inadvertently introduce a lot of new species into the ecosystem. They are called alien species. These species can get invasive and destroy the biodiversity of the area; then they become invasive species. But what if they aren’t “invasive”? Will they have a significant affect on the ecosystem?

Let’s find out…

Continue reading Live and let live, or live and let die?

Explaining coral bleaching: Draining the colors of the oceans

Coral bleaching has been heavily discussed in every climate-change blog, environmental journals and among the academia for the last few months. In fact, reports that the Great Barrier Reef is dead went viral on social media and caused mass uproar. People began posting updates lamenting the terrible things we have done to nature (which is a good thing. People need to be shocked into reality) and how “diving into the reefs” will never be ticked off of their bucket list.

However, these reports were false. The coral reefs of the Great Barrier Reef, and other parts of the world are not dead. But, they are dying. 

Coral bleaching has been occurring with increasing frequency as a world phenomena for the last 20 years. The first mass bleaching was in 1998 (which destroyed 60% of the reefs in the Arabian Sea) and the second one was in 2008.

Today, another, much bigger coral bleaching event is underway. This one is longer and therefore, much more dangerous than the previous bleaching events. What makes it worrying is that the corals of the world have not yet fully recovered from the 2008 bleaching event; the one that lasted for 2-3 years around the world. We are looking at a 40% permanent loss of coral reefs all over the world because of the current bleaching event.

40% of the coral destruction is being caused by these human activities, as opposed to only 10% caused by climate change.

What is coral bleaching? Why does this happen? What are its implications? Lets answer these questions in this post. Continue reading Explaining coral bleaching: Draining the colors of the oceans

Remembering the Asiatic Cheetah: Remembrance Day

For the last few years, 30th November has been celebrated by a select few communities all over the world as Remembrance Day. On this day, species that have become extinct are remembered and talked about. Along with this, awareness is spread among the younger population about the dangers that animals and plants face in the wild today. Taking on this unique and admirable tradition, I’d like to remember the Asiatic Cheetah. It is not yet extinct in the world; however, it is certainly extinct in India (a minor tweak to the tradition).

Continue reading Remembering the Asiatic Cheetah: Remembrance Day

Ugly Fish, Uglier Problem: Asian Carp in the Great Lakes of Canada — Another example of Invasive species

Ian T.D. Thomson On October 3, the Great Lake Fishery Commission and Fisheries and Oceans Canada hosted a forum in Toronto on Asian carp, the invasive species that could threaten the ecosystem in the Great Lakes. While Asian carp may not sound like a pressing Canadian public policy issue, the presence of the invasive carp […]

via Ugly Fish, Uglier Problem: Asian Carp in the Great Lakes of Canada — The Public Policy & Governance Review

Ecological succession: Who starts it? (Pioneer species)

This is the third post in a series of posts where I seek to explain one of the most important concepts of Ecology-Ecological succession. I have previously discussed the process and the resulting ecological changes, as well as the end result(s) of the succession process. Now, let’s take a look at how it all starts… Continue reading Ecological succession: Who starts it? (Pioneer species)

Ecological succession: What controls the climax community?

Climax community: the final community in the process of ecological succession. This stage of ecological succession has been the object of much scrutiny and attention from ecologists, merely because it is rare and so many different possibilities can theoretically arise, depending on the path of succession.

However, all our studies are shown that every climax community has a certain specific set of characteristics- Continue reading Ecological succession: What controls the climax community?