Threats to Biodiversity: U.S. v. Philippines

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Threats to Biodiversity:

U.S. v. Philippines

BIO121 – Environmental Conservation

Colorado State University Global

According to Miller and Spoolman (2016) biodiversity is the “variety of different species”. This encompasses their individual genetics, the ecosystems they live in and the variety of functions that are a part of the lifecycle of the biosphere (Miller & Spoolman, 2016). When humans decide to take actions that will influence an ecosystem, those actions will also influence the biodiversity of the organisms living in that ecosystem. Most all human activity threatens biodiversity, whether it be direct or indirect, and these threats can be linked to the extinctions of many creatures. In this paper, the focus will be on the threats to biodiversity in the United States and in the Philippines.

The table below lists the ten major threats to species as defined by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The IUCN maintains a list of species who are ranked at different levels of danger, known as the Red List of Threatened Species. There are many reasons why a species or ecosystem will become threatened; The table below will address the different threats in the United States and the Philippines and rank which category has the most impact.

IUCN Threat Category United States Rank Philippines Rank
Habitat Loss/Degradation 1043 2 761 4
Invasive Alien Species 1284 1 491 6
Harvesting 918 4 1366 1
Accidental Mortality 275 8 595 5
Persecution 359 7 771 3
Pollution 989 3 1057 2
Natural Disasters 68 10 19 10
Changes in Species Dynamics 730 5 60 9
Intrinsic Factors 685 6 155 8
Human Disturbance 214 9 247 7
Total species 6565 5522

MAJOR THREATS

With the information from the table provided, it can be seen that the major threats to wild species in the United States are: Invasive species, habitat loss, pollution and harvesting. Comparatively, in the Philippines, the major threats are: Harvesting, pollution, persecution and habitat loss.

DIFFERENCES

Invasive species in the United States is nearly three times as impactful as it is in the Philippines. In the U.S. invasive species are primarily spread through human activities such as frequent travel, shipping industries, and even the intentional releasing of exoctic pets (The National Wildlife Federation, n.d.). Invasive species can be any kind of living organism that is not native to the ecosystem in which it is causing harm (Miller & Spoolman, 2016). One of the ways that an invasive species can cause harm is by mass reproduction, typically spurred further by the lack of a natural predator in the area. When an ecosystem lacks a predator to keep an invasive species population in check, the species will take over, draining the ecosystem of its valuable resources (NWF).

In the Philippines, they do have their own issues with invasive species, one of the most impactful is the suckermouth catfish from South America (Macaraig, 2011). These fish were brought over for aquariums, but careless handling of the fish allowed them to spread into the wild. Macaraig (2011), explains that the threat from this species alone is so great that “they could transform the landscape, wipe out native species and destroy the diversity of the ecosystem.” It is clear that, while the two countries have threats of similar greatness, the root cause is the human factor.

CONSERVATION IN THE U.S.

When it comes to conservation in the United States, there is a lot there is done, but a lot more that could be implemented. Going back to the Red List of Threatened Species list provided by the IUCN, there are several suggestions that could be implemented to help focus on species loss reduction in the top four threat categories. One suggestion would be better land and water management. Focusing on this area would mean better information regarding invasive species and combating them as well as restoring habitats and natural processes. A second suggestion would be better legislation, increased policies and regulations and better enforcement of compliance. Most habitat loss comes from agriculture and infrastructure. Passing policies that increase standards and codes when it comes to any project that wants to use a large portion of land could help reduce how quickly ecosystems are damaged.

CONSERVATION IN THE PHILIPPINES

The Philippines is a developing nation, and development in itself means negative impact on the ecosystem. When it comes to their invasive catfish problem, the government has already begun to implement a program that will better control species being brought into the country (Macaraig, 2011). Additional conservation actions that could be implemented could focus on the harvesting of the land. The Philippines is an island chain which means that there is not a whole lot of land to spare, so land protection conservation methods might be beneficial. The indigenous communities are experiencing mainstreaming technology which has resulted in gradual loss of conservation-friendly knowledge and practices (Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, n.d.). Another suggestion could be economic incentives. As a developing country, implementing incentives that promote conservation might instill better habits regarding conservation.

References

Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund. (n.d.). Philippines – Threats. Retrieved March 29, 2020, from https://www.cepf.net/our-work/biodiversity-hotspots/philippines/threats

Macaraig, M. (2011, March 9). Philippines to fight invading species. Retrieved March 29, 2020, from https://phys.org/news/2011-03-philippines-invading-species.html

Miller, G. T., & Spoolman, S. (2016). Environmental science (15th ed.). Pacific Grove, CA: Cengage Learning.

National Wildlife Federation (NWF). (n.d.). Invasive Species. Retrieved March 29, 2020, from https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Threats-to-Wildlife/Invasive-Species

Red List. (2019). Raw data on the red list. Retrieved from https://www.iucnredlist.org/assessment/process




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