Biodiversity - Biodiversity websites

Biodiversity - Biodiversity websites

Biodiversity websites

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A list of sites that speak of living organisms defined as "different" including terrestrial, marine, aquatic ecosystems that live on the earth at all levels of organization, from genes to the most complex forms. Basically all those living beings that today are called "biodiversity".

It is fundamental for the life of our planet that we all have the awareness of what surrounds us and of all the initiatives that are implemented at world, national and local level to preserve or destroy it. Even more so if we consider that the extinction rate of the various species is rising to dangerous levels compared to those that would have been expected if the natural environments had been preserved with the consequent destabilization of all the ecological systems that still exist today.

We do not pretend to be exhaustive so your suggestions are more than welcome. Write to us [email protected]it

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Topic list where you can find related websites

  • Protection of nature and the environment
  • Global warming and climate change
  • Defense of animals and their rights
  • Biodiversity
  • Protection of the sea and oceans
  • Trade and transport of animal and plant species

Sacred natural sites and defense of biodiversity

Defending sacred natural sites and their cultural values ​​could help safeguard the world

John Healey, who teaches forestry sciences at Bangor University and ecology at Ioannina University, and Kalliopi Stara, a researcher at the University of Ioannina, underline on The Conversation that «Since the dawn of history, human societies have attributed the status of sacred to certain places. Areas such as ancestral cemeteries, temples and cemeteries have been protected by taboos and religious beliefs. Since many of these places have been carefully managed for many years, an interesting side effect has occurred: the sites often retain their natural conditions more than the surrounding areas used for agriculture or human settlement. As a result, they are often referred to as' sacred natural sites' (SNS) '.

While many natural areas are undergoing progressive degradation, conservationists and researchers around the world are increasingly interested in the role of SNS in biodiversity conservation. Healey and Stara note that “Most of the world's belief systems, including Christianity, give places a sacred status. In Mediterranean Europe, for example, the areas of churches - linked to their ancient trees - have become important SNS ". The two scientists give the example of the municipalities of Zagori and Konitsa. in the northwestern Greek mountainous region of Epirus, where almost every village has one or more sacred groves, places that have been protected by religious tradition for hundreds of years: village, or clusters of mature trees surrounding churches, monuments, or other religious artwork. In these places, activities such as logging or grazing livestock have been prohibited or strictly regulated (and disobeying these prohibitions has sometimes led to excommunication).

Healey and Stara recently studied these Greek SNS as part of the Sacred groves of Epirus (Sage) project and explain: 'Our team wanted to find out, using a rigorous research approach, whether SNS were more biodiverse than other forest areas and , if so, what lessons could conservation experts learn from this? ' The result was the first international and multidisciplinary survey which recently completed the first systematic survey in the world on the greater biodiversity of protected areas such as SNS and on the protection of different types of plants and animals. The results were disclosed in the lo study, "Quantifying the conservation value of Sacred Natural Sites" recently published in Biological Conservation by the team led by Healey and Stara and which also includes Lucia Muggia, of the Life Sciences Department of the University of Trieste.

The researchers highlight: "We selected eight SNS in Epirus that covered a wide range of environmental conditions. Each was tightly coupled with a nearby non-sacred "control" forest that had been managed conventionally, sometimes through natural regeneration. We then conducted a detailed inventory of eight different groups of organisms at each site. They ranged from fungi and lichens to herbaceous and woody plants to nematodes, insects, bats and passerine birds ». This is how the international team discovered that "SNS actually have a small but persistent advantage in terms of biodiversity." Most importantly, there are more distinct living communities in sacred groves than in control sites, a phenomenon known as beta diversity.

The group with the markedly higher biodiversity in the SNS than in the control sites were fungi that often grow on dead wood or old trees, which are usually felled in conventionally managed forests. Among European endangered passerine bird species, researchers found twice as many species in SNS as in control sites.

Healey and Stara note: “Because these sacred sites are often quite small, it is often said that their conservation benefits are marginal. But we found that the influence of size is relatively weak: even small SNS can play a significant role in the conservation of biodiversity ".

The problem is that now the sacred sites of Epirus are in danger: "The rules linking faith and conservation that once protected the SNS have become difficult to enforce, due to the change in population and land use. - write Healey and Stara on The Conversation - The value of the forests that protect against landslides and floods is no longer recognized. The value of the SNS is not only about the land which is sacred itself, these places can act as a nucleus around which biodiversity can expand. In Epirus, forests regenerated around many of the sites we have studied over the past 70 years - despite humans cultivating the land. It should be noted that this can increase risks such as fires as the dense Mediterranean young forest is very flammable. '

The researchers conclude: 'Evidently well-preserved SNS are of great environmental importance around the world. So the next step is to link these sites within conventional conservation schemes. But it is crucial that such strategies are closely aligned with the cultural status of the SNS. Local communities are often highly motivated to maintain their sacred sites and associated belief systems, but they lack the resources to do so. A fully collaborative approach between conservation professionals and local communities could offer a solution that preserves both biodiversity and local cultural values ​​”.

Biodiversity is told on the web

Biodiversity arrives on the internet: a site launched by the Ministry of the Environment answers all questions about the immense Italian biodiversity heritage

There biodiversity, now, it is told on the web. The Ministry of the Environment has launched the richest aggregator of databases in Europe on the conservation of biodiversity online: it is the portal, which answers all the questions on the immense Italian biodiversity heritage, years of natural evolution, explains what biodiversity is and what its functions are, how it is preserved in our country, in the European Union and in the rest of the world.

But not only. The website on the biodiversity launched by the Ministry of the Environment, it also provides information on what citizens can do, at school or in their free time, while traveling or in the office, to help protect this extraordinary wealth. There are two main sections of the site, 'Experience the natural areas' and 'Discover biodiversity'. 'Live the natural areas focuses on the 24 national parks, the 27 marine protected areas and the 3 national protected areas in Italy with the weather updated every 6 hours (there is a weather station in each park). 'Discover biodiversity', in addition to providing all the information on biodiversity in Italy, presents the state of implementation of the regulatory instruments and initiatives that have as their purpose the conservation of natural resources at national and international level.



With the term biodiversity it indicates the variety of all living organisms: plants, animals and microorganisms, the genetic information they contain and the ecosystems they form and of which they are part. There biodiversity it is generally explored on three levels: the genetic diversity, the diversity of species and the diversity of ecosystems. These three levels together create the complexity of life on Earth.

Genetic diversity.
There genetic diversity it is the variety of genes within a species. Each species is made up of individuals that have their own particular genetic makeup. This means that a species can have various populations, each with different genetic compositions. To preserve genetic diversity, the different populations of a species must be preserved.
Genes are the basic units of all life on Earth. They are responsible for both the similarities and the differences between organisms.
Not all groups of animals have the same degree of genetic diversity. Kangaroos, for example, come from recent evolutionary lines and are genetically very similar. Carnivorous marsupials come from older lineages and are genetically much more heterogeneous.

Diversity of species.
Biodiversity is there variety of species within a habitat or a region. Some habitats, such as rainforests and coral reefs, have many species. Others, such as salt flats or a polluted stream, are far fewer.

Diversity of ecosystems.
There diversity of ecosystems it is the variety of ecosystems in a given place. An ecosystem is a community of organisms that live in a physical environment interacting with each other. A ecosystem it can cover a large area, such as a whole forest, or a small area, such as a pond. It can be as large as the Reef or as small as the back of a spider crab's shell, which provides a home for plants and other animals, such as sponges, algae and worms.

Conservation of biodiversity.
The best way to conserve biodiversity is to save habitats and ecosystems rather than trying to save a single species. Many projects, including high-profile ones, focus on the conservation of a single species threatened by extinction. No organism, however, exists in isolation. If a species is endangered, the habitat in which it lives is probably also threatened.

Biodiversity, a concept to be developed

Everyone knows that biodiversity is a positive value of natural communities. But why is this concept little applied in aquarists?

What biodiversity is and why it is important

Just turn on the TV or open a newspaper to find references to biodiversity. There is talk of natural heritage referring to diversity and loss of biodiversity due to human influences, from global warming to ocean acidification. However, it is not clear to everyone what this concept really represents and why it has become so important in recent years.

We refer to biodiversity with the aim of measuring the diversity of forms and functions that characterize natural communities and ecosystems. The number of species associated with a certain environment, for example, represents “alpha” diversity, which is the fundamental measure of biodiversity. We can count the number of genes present in a given environment to define genetic biodiversity. Or we can count the number of trophic groups that characterize a given environment to define a "functional" diversity. In recent decades, it has become increasingly clear to scientists that high diversity is an absolute heritage since, overall, biodiversity can be defined as the diversity of life forms on earth. Therefore, even the value of ecosystems, in the field of natural resource management, can be determined on the basis of their biodiversity. A coral reef, for example, contains hundreds of species per square meter and is considered a very valuable ecosystem. A polluted canal contains only a few species and is regarded as an environment of low economic value. Likewise, a tropical forest contains a great variety of species and is considered an environment of high value, to be protected, while an English lawn contains only a few species and can be sacrificed, if necessary, because of low economic value. There are even associations that, through their websites, define the value of ecosystems on the basis of the measured diversity (for example the millennium ecosystem assessment: It therefore becomes clear that high biodiversity corresponds to beauty, stability, and in general a high value of ecosystems.

Biodiversity in the aquarium

The concept is applicable in the aquarium and will allow us to use modern environmental monitoring techniques to judge the results of our design. As with any natural environment, high biodiversity corresponds to a beautiful and valuable aquarium, while low biodiversity characterizes unattractive and low economic value aquariums. Let's take some examples to better understand the concept. Imagine a tropical marine aquarium containing a dozen species of madrepores, 5 corals and 3 sponges, 7 other species of invertebrates (including molluscs, decapods and cnidarians) and a dozen species of fish, which swim between two or three species of algae. As you can easily imagine this aquarium (alpha biodiversity easily calculated in 35, adding the number of species indicated above) is very striking and will undoubtedly be equipped with an impressive technical support, to ensure the constancy of biodiversity over time. Therefore it is also an aquarium of high economic value. Now let's imagine the same tank populated only by a few Amphiprion clarkii and an anemone, perhaps with a couple of sponges and an alga. It is a tank with a fairly low alpha biodiversity (adding the number of species we arrive at 5, which also has a very limited economic value. Now we will use the same tank to breed Guppies. Reticulated Poecilia along with a couple of individuals of Anubias barteri (or other resistant plant species, often found in this type of aquarium). In this case, alpha biodiversity is calculated very simply by adding a species of fish to one of plants and the result (2) indicates that the low biodiversity corresponds to a low value of the aquarium. Having therefore demonstrated that just as for a natural environment, biodiversity can well define the aspect and value of an aquarium, let's try to apply some concepts of ecology to increase the biodiversity and value of our aquarium.

The rules of biodiversity

Various authors in previous years have shown that some fundamental concepts allow us to predict the levels of biodiversity and the functioning of ecosystems (and, as demonstrated today, of aquariums!). For example, we know that high biodiversity increases the productivity of natural communities and improves the exploitation of resources. In other words, in an aquarium with many species it is easier to optimize the consumption of feed and fertilizers by producing an improvement in the conditions of the tank while in an aquarium with low diversity many compounds will tend to accumulate and it will be necessary to administer more food (therefore more changes of d water, more powerful filters) to achieve the same result. Let's keep this in mind when we try to improve the functioning of an aquarium, by defining a priori a large number of species hosted from the beginning.

Equally interesting are the “constant number of individuals” simulations. In fact, it has been shown that the number of individuals that an environment can host is strictly limited by the space available. Each time a new individual is introduced, another individual is doomed to die and, conversely, each time an individual dies, it leaves room for another animal or plant. The concept may seem trivial but it is not, considering that very precise relationships have been demonstrated between the number of individuals and the space available, valid for any natural environment. It is also important to note that when we speak of "individuals" we are referring to any animal or plant, whether of the same species or of different species. This concept therefore indicates very clearly that in an overpopulated aquarium we will have to expect a low biodiversity, because the dominant species, especially if able to reproduce in the aquarium, will tend to overwhelm all the others and will occupy all the available ecological niche space. On the contrary, in an aquarium that starts with high biodiversity we can expect a slow growth of communities with optimization of resources.

Even more interesting is a recently defined concept, which indicates how biodiversity is stimulated by the quantity of trophic resources. In practice, there is a relationship between biodiversity and the amount of food (or fertilizers, in the case of plants and algae). However, the relationship is not as obvious as we might expect. In fact we would be led to think: “more resources, more diversity”! In reality, things are exactly the opposite because it has been shown that in any natural environment, species are distributed in such a way as to produce greater biodiversity precisely where trophic resources are scarce. In oligotrophic environments, such as coral reefs, biodiversity is maximum, while in eutrophic environments, such as coastal lagoons, biodiversity is very low. For this reason we can foresee that in an aquarium in which a lot of feed is administered, the number of species present will progressively reduce until it produces a degraded environment. In the same way, by exceeding in the administration of fertilizers we will eventually obtain vegetation with few species, perhaps present in a large number of individuals. However, in the worst case scenario, we could also get one or two species of ... algae, to replace our plants. Therefore in the aquarium we should apply the minimum rule, reducing the trophic resources for all the species present in order to maximize the levels of biodiversity.


Obviously those shown are only basic examples but by working seriously on this concept in the aquarium we will be able, even using computer simulations, to better predict the functioning of our artificial systems and to manage the technical equipment in an optimal way to obtain environments of great aesthetic value and cheap. (Author: Valerio Zupo)

UNESCO: biodiversity at risk, threatens human survival (VIDEO)

50th anniversary of the Man and the Biosphere program: commitment to protect 30% of the land and the sea

The general director of the United Nations educational, scientific and cultural organization (Unesco), Audrey Azoulay opened theUNESCO Forum on Biodiversity Our Planet, Our Future: 50 Years of UNESCO's Man and the Biosphere program "On the road to Kunming", underlining that "As the living tissue of the earth, biodiversity is intimately linked to human health. We are part of that living fabric. A year after its appearance, the Covid-19 pandemic confirmed what we already knew: by threatening biodiversity, humanity threatens the conditions for its own survival. The pandemic has shown that human health depends on the health of living things. It is imperative to rethink our development models. The protection of biodiversity is at the forefront of UNESCO's ambition, together with the ocean sciences, to rebuild the relationship of the humanities with nature and living beings ".

The Unesco Forum took its cue from the belief that "Climate change and the erosion of biodiversity are interdependent challenges. Both contribute to the devastation of lives, ecosystems, habitats and our natural and cultural heritage. Their multifaceted impact takes the form of forest fires, mangrove destruction, and rising ocean temperatures leading to coral bleaching. These two phenomena are also responsible for drought, food shortages and forced migration, causing serious health consequences such as the Covid-19 crisis and aggravating poverty and inequality, which are obstacles to peace throughout the world ".

Unesco highlights that recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) on cryosphere and the Intergovernmental science-policy platform on biodiversity and ecosystem services (Ipbes) on the link between biodiversity and pandemics they are clear: “Global warming must be limited to 1.5 ° C if we are to avoid even more dramatic consequences of climate change. Above this threshold, human, economic and planetary costs could be catastrophic: extinction of species, islands submerged by the oceans, extremes of water, proliferation of toxic algae and the emergence of new viruses and bacteria due to the melting of the cryosphere. Based on our current trajectory, however, global warming is likely to hover around 4 ° C. Likewise, according to a worrying Ipbes report on the biodiversity crisis and the causes of pandemics, nothing will ever be the same. Human activities have already profoundly altered nature on much of the planet: this affects 75% of the terrestrial environment, 40% of the marine environment, 50% of rivers and 1 million species ".

And the cause could also be part of the cujra: "It is largely due to the extraordinary technologies developed by the industrial revolution to the present day, and to their unlimited use, that we have entered the Anthropocene - says UNESCO - This anthropic environmental emergency raises the question of the stakes and challenges of science in the 21st century, but also of our ethical principles, in particular with respect to responsibility for environmental crises: that of political decision-makers, economic leaders, the scientific community, opinion leaders, economists, citizen activists, philosophers, moralists, theologians, indigenous peoples and, above all, each of us as citizens of the world. Reconciliation with the living world requires an understanding of scientific issues and also individual and collective responsibility ”.

Concepts also taken up by Pope Francis who, in a message to the Unesco Forum, urged everyone to see climate change as "a much more moral than technical question".

Azoulay also officially kicked off the 50th anniversary of the Man and the Biosphere program (MAB) Unesco that aims to create territories where people can create new ways to improve the relationship between people and nature and stressed "Fifty years later, this vision is no longer a simple theory, since 275 million people now live in the 714 UNESCO biosphere reserves in 129 countries. Together with the 252 world heritage sites and geoparks, 6% of the world's land mass - equivalent to the surface of China - is protected ”.

In the "super year" for biodiversity, UNESCO will join its partners to set new goals for the next decade and Azulay has confirmed that "Our goal is to preserve 30% of the planet with protected areas. Taking care of the planet means preserving the climate, protecting biodiversity and fighting the decline in the health of the oceans: another UNESCO priority ". Not surprisingly, at the beginning of this year it was the director general of UNESCO who announced theUnited Nations Decade of Ocean Science. And Azulay herself at the Forum highlighted that "We now have ten years to better understand and preserve the ocean, to reforge the relationship between man and the sea and, during this process, take important steps towards protecting biodiversity and the environment" .

The purpose of the Ocean Science Decade is to "Catalyze transformative ocean science solutions for sustainable development, connecting people and our ocean." Building on the experience of different actors (scientists, media, sports and civil society), it will highlight innovative actions rooted in science, underlining the appropriation of knowledge by society as a whole and its use for a more resilient future, fair and sustainable ".

The second session of the Unesco Forum, "The Ocean: transforming knowledge for policy, economic and citizen action", was dedicated precisely to the sea because "Human health and well-being, including sustainable and equitable economic development, depend on health and ocean safety. The ocean provides food and sustenance for over 3 billion people. It is an essential ally in the fight against climate change and the erosion of biodiversity, and is a source of important cultural, aesthetic and recreational values ​​". This forum session highlighted "The central role of the ocean in the post-Covid world. In addition to ensuring a fair and sustainable recovery, we must act now if we are to deliver real climate action, preserve biodiversity and achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. The health of the oceans is essential to achieve these goals ».

And the UN special envoy for the oceans, Peter Thomson, summed it all up effectively: "We can't have a healthy planet without a healthy ocean."

Unesco is also strongly committed to improving educational programs dealing with the natural world and has called on its 193 member states to "better integrate sustainable development and nature into curricula." And to ensure that education provides future generations with the tools they need to save the planet, the UN agency is compiling a comprehensive picture of best practices in this area.

Referring to the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, the COP26 Unfccc in Glasgow and the COP!% Of the Convention on biological diversity in Kunming, Azulay recalled that «Many other important milestones await us and this Unesco Forum wants to be a springboard for these great events. We need a collective commitment, which brings together civil society and the private sector ».

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, supporter of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals, warned that "If our environment disappears, who we are, our identity and our way of life will disappear with it."

UN Messenger of Peace, Jane Goodall, concluded "It is necessary to develop a new relationship with the natural world and a new relationship with animals."

Video: Biodiversity Song - Demi Lovato Skyscraper