Vulnerability of ecosystem niches

Experimental visualization of narrower problems
Other Names:
Erosion of ecosystem diversity
Decreasing ecological diversity
Decreasing diversity of biological habitats
Destruction of biological niches
Degradation or destruction of large natural environments, as well as environments partially modified or cultivated by man (including forests, rangelands, wetlands and aquatic ecosystems), designated wilderness areas, and culturally important landscapes (whether natural, modified, cultivated or built environments). This diversity of environments provides habitats for a variety of species and supports a range of activities of value to man (including timber, agriculture, livestock, and fish production).
The natural environment contains a number of terrain-discrete habitats. They include forests, mountains, plains, marsh or wetlands, desert, tundra, reefs, islands and many more, some of which are subdivisions of the above. Each habitat has any or all of the following: humans and human artefacts, animals, insects, plants, minerals, specific climate and other characteristics. There are food chains and other elements of ecosystems characteristic to each habitat. When one of the ecosystems is under attack as a result of natural or man-made disaster it is extremely difficult to calculate the ripple effects throughout nature. When two or more ecosystems are being degraded the probabilities of synergistic destructiveness multiply.
Ecosystems in many regions are threatened , despite their biological richness and their promise of material benefits. This has been documented with examples from ecosystems including forests (temperate, tropical, mangrove), coral reefs, savannas, arid zones and grasslands.
The scale of oil spills and other pollution in the oceans threatens the entire sea environment. Ocean vegetation dies, ocean life dies and human hunger arises. Pollution of the atmosphere makes people and animals ill, affects crops, and alters weather patterns in persistent ways so that humans may not go out of doors in some places. However, oil slicks affect the atmosphere too, and a clouded sun and polluted atmosphere affect ocean temperature, sea level, and organic ocean life. As yet humanity has not been able to build a model of the global ecosystem interrelationships because they are not sufficiently understood. Pollution and degradation continue by sectors in the ecosystem niches, until some at least will fail. There may be a domino effect causing the human habitat to ultimately perish.
Problem Type:
C: Cross-sectoral problems
Date of last update
27.08.2002 – 00:00 CEST