All Things Sustainable

ecology, economy, community

biodiversity

TO FISH OR NOT TO FISH?

Why worry about biodiversity?  It is just a word that we use to describe the complex web of life that supports us on this planet, it creates a resilient system that interacts with the material fabric of the world in a strange mix of cooperation and competition, creation and destruction and as a by-product provides us with the air we breathe, fresh clean water and food.

The real value of biodiversity was underlined in June 2012 in a paper published in “Nature”, the lead author was Bradley Cardinale, an ecologist at the University of Michigan, who was supported by a team of 17 other leading ecologists in a meta-analysis that examined over 1000 studies published in the last 20 years.

The eighteen ecologists managed to reach consensus on some main points, one of which was identifying that diverse ecosystems include a few “super species” that provide at least 50% of the ecosystem services but that these species are also dependent on the many more niche species that form a kind of support team.

Some super species (maybe like the Northern cod fishery that once produced massive quantities of fish in the northern hemisphere) will collapse and not recover because their support base of less important species has also been depleted. This might also explain why sometimes establishing quotas will not replenish the stock and also why the “no take zones” much maligned by recreational fishermen often do seem to be effective.

“Why preserving biodiversity is really really important” an article by Michael Lemonick published in the online journals Reneweconomy.com.au and Climatecentral.org drew my attention to this subject.

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