Citizen science and global biodiversity
Citizen science and global biodiversity

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Citizen science and global biodiversity

5.3 Human drivers

A potent driver of biodiversity, although a recent one, is humankind. That said, however, humans have had an impact on the environment throughout history – for example, as hunters and farmers. The leading naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough summarises the impact these roles have had in the following video.

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[ANIMAL AND BIRD SOUNDS]
Sir David Attenborough: We live in extraordinary times. We're surrounded by more species of animals and plants than has probably ever existed at any one time in the history of the Earth. For nearly 50 years, I've been lucky enough to spend my time travelling around the Earth documenting those animals and those plants. But it's now increasingly apparent that one species-- our own-- has developed the unique ability of so altering its surroundings that it can destroy whole species, indeed, whole environments.
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Video 2 David Attenborough introduction on human impact
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This impact has recently been exacerbated indirectly via human’s increasing influence on global nutrient cycling and climate change. Moreover, activities like pollution, deforestation and over-exploitation have had a far-reaching impact on all types of ecosystems (see Figures 15–18). These human drivers can change biodiversity by influencing species composition or, at the other extreme, making some species go extinct (i.e. disappear) from a region. For example, consider the European bison, (Bison bonasus), which was hunted to extinction in Europe, or species-rich meadows that have seen a decline in their biodiversity due to over-fertilisation, which has the consequence of destabilising plant-species composition. Overall, the loss of species has accelerated drastically over the last 10,000 years, since the development of human culture and society.

4 images, Deforestation of habitats for crop production, Increased greenhouse-gas emission from intensive livestock farming,Commercial agriculture and excessive use of pesticides, Nutrient enrichment of water bodies from aquaculture (bottom right).
Figures 15–18 Human induced biodiversity drivers. Figure 15 Deforestation of habitats for crop production (top left). Figure 16 Increased greenhouse-gas emission from intensive livestock farming (top right). Figure 17 Commercial agriculture and excessive use of pesticides (bottom left). Figure 18 Nutrient enrichment of water bodies from aquaculture (bottom right).
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