Chapter
2. What is biodiversity good for?

2. What is biodiversity good for?

So what if species go extinct, genetic variation decreases and diverse ecosystems are turned into fields and heavily managed forests? Why do we need to save forty different species of dung beetle and dozens of different kinds of habitats?

In the video we learned about the variety of tasks that different species perform, and why it is not enough to have one species for each task.

The clip comes with subtitles in English. Just click play, select the gear icon on the lower right and select subtitles in English.

Read more about the importance of biodiversity

Read more in scientific articles from the last couple of decades that examine the consequences biodiversity loss has for humans.

  1. Article from the year 2000 giving an overview of global biodiversity loss due to human activity.
    Original articleArticle on ResearchGate
    Chapin III, F., Zavaleta, E., Eviner, V. et al. 2000: Consequences of changing biodiversity. Nature 405, 234–242. DOI:10.1038/35012241

  2. Article from 2012 reviewing the state of research on the relationship between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning and ecosystem services.
    Original articleArticle on ResearchGate
    Cardinale, B., Duffy, J., Gonzalez, A. et al. 2012: Biodiversity loss and its impact on humanity. Nature 486, 59–67 DOI:10.1038/nature11148

  3. Article from 2019, where scientists construct mathematical models to determine where in the world people get the most benefit from ecosystem services
    Original articleArticle on ResearchGateYoutube summary
    Chaplin-Kramer, R. ym. 2019: Global modeling of nature’s contributions to people. Science Vol. 366, Issue 6462, pp. 255-258, DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw3372

  4. Information on the most important ecosystem services in Finland
    biodiversity.fi

Find out

When we protect ecosystems, we have to make choices based on values. Protecting one service can be so expensive that it takes away from our ability to protect some other service. How, then, do we place a value on each service? How can we calculate their economic value, and should we include non-economic values in our decision making? How can we compare different kinds of values?

Which ecosystem services are most important?

Read about Finnish ecosystem services here.

Ecosystem services for breakfast

Conduct your own decomposition experiment over the summer holidays

How does biodiversity affect decomposition? Try it out yourself by burying tea bags in different environments. Leave the teabags in the ground for three months, then dig them up, dry them and weigh them. Can you see differences between environments?

Bury the teabags in environments that are as different from each other as possible.

The spots should not be too shady, because the ground temperature affects decomposition a lot. Find spots e.g. on the edge of a forest, on the edge of a field, a park, the schoolyard and next to a city street.

At each spot you choose:

Teatime4science is a project, where school children around the world all do the same experiment. You can also take part in this world-wide project and be a part of real research! They have more detailed instructions on their website.