Citizen science and global biodiversity
Citizen science and global biodiversity

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

Free course

Citizen science and global biodiversity

5 Biodiversity drivers

By now you should be able to identify patterns of biodiversity at varying local, regional and global scales, and you might be tempted to think about what actually determines or drives biodiversity. Broadly, these causative factors, or drivers, can be categorised as climatic, geologic or anthropogenic (i.e. of human origin). These will be discussed shortly, but first you can examine an example of drivers from the Teign Valley in the southwest of the UK.

Download this video clip.Video player: Video 1 An example of environmental drivers and diversity, using the Teign Valley, South West UK.
Skip transcript: Video 1 An example of environmental drivers and diversity, using the Teign Valley, South West UK.

Transcript: Video 1 An example of environmental drivers and diversity, using the Teign Valley, South West UK.

NARRATOR
One of the charms of the [? team ?] catchment is that it encompasses a wide-range of natural and semi-natural habitats, tumbling rivers wind their way through wooded valleys. And as the land rises, small lush pastures criss-crossed by wildflower festooned hedge banks give way to bracken-clad upper slopes, while the hilltops may be covered with purple heather moorland or heaths bright with golden gorse.
It's clear to even the most casual observer that animal and plant species are not distributed evenly in space. Some species are widely scattered, while others are only rarely encountered. Furthermore, individuals of a species tend to form clusters that are more or less isolated from one another. So the question arises, what factors determine the spatial distribution and abundance of species?
End transcript: Video 1 An example of environmental drivers and diversity, using the Teign Valley, South West UK.
Video 1 An example of environmental drivers and diversity, using the Teign Valley, South West UK.
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).

As you saw in the video, just as the patterns of biodiversity are scale-dependent, so too are the drivers. Spatially speaking, if you are looking at biodiversity on the local scale, the drivers might be differences in soil fertility in a patch of land, while at the landscape level you might consider altitude. At the regional and continental scales, varying levels of solar radiation available in different latitudes might drive biodiversity.

The same scale aspect also applies when considering time, where the impacts of, for example, human interventions such as eutrophication (excessive fertilisation), become apparent in a relatively short time frame of just a few weeks, while evolutionary processes require millions of years to be realised.

CSGB_1

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371