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Conservation & Restoration Ecology

Coral reef regeneration Project Coral reef regeneration project An artificial reef is a human–made underwater structure, typically built to promote marine life. Unusually warm oceanic waters bleached and killed corals across a large portion of the Maldivian reefs. This project is part of an effort to artificially cultivate corals and to nurture the ailing reefs back to health. Conservation and Restoration ecology applies ecological principles in an effort to return degraded ecosystems to conditions as similar as possible to their natural, predegraded state, which is the major theme of our topic.

Learning Objectives

After completing the topic, the student will be able to:

  • Define and describe the terms Conservation, Restoration and Biodiversity.
  • Illustrate the three levels of biodiversity.
  • Explore some of the ecosystem services that are commercially useful which is also known as “bio mimicry”.
  • Define and discuss the terms “Bioremediation” and “Biological augmentation”.
  • Explore the importance of natural resources for our day−to−day life.
  • Examine the cause, threat and prevention of air, water and soil pollution.
  • Identify the steps involved in managing the natural resources.
  • List various measures to conserve wild life.
Protecting species from extinction Protecting species from extinction Conservation biology is the scientific study of the nature and status of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction. For example, The Mauritius Pink Pigeon (Nesoenas mayeri) survives in the Black River Gorges of south–west Mauritius and on Ile aux Aigrettes, just off the eastern coast. It is an endangered species threatened by a continuing decline in the quality of suitable habitat. The present populations could not be maintained without conservation and management efforts. It is endemic to Mauritius. This pigeon was photographed on a feeding station managed by the Mauritian Wildlife Foundation.
Conservation and Restoration Ecology

Biology is the science of life. Our final chapter in Ecology and Biosphere focuses on two disciplines that seek to preserve life. Conservation biology and restoration ecology.

Conservation biology is the scientific study of the nature and status of Earth's biodiversity with the aim of protecting species, their habitats, and ecosystems from excessive rates of extinction. Conservation biology integrates ecology (including behavioral ecology), physiology, molecular biology, genetics, and evolutionary biology to conserve biological diversity at all levels. Efforts to sustain ecosystem processes and stem the loss of biodiversity also connect the life sciences with the social sciences, economics, and humanities. Conservation biology is a multidisciplinary science that assists conservation practitioners in addressing the loss of our biological resources.

Conservation biology has two central goals: to evaluate human impacts on biological diversity, and to develop practical approaches to prevent the extinction of species and maintain the integrity of ecosystems.

Restoration ecology is the scientific study of repairing disturbed ecosystems through human intervention. Restoration ecology applies ecological principles in an effort to return degraded ecosystems to conditions as similar as possible to their natural, predegraded state. Where conservation biology is often focused on preventing ongoing degradation, restoration ecology seeks to actively reverse such degradation.

Restoration of deforested trees Restoration of deforested trees Forest restoration may include simply protecting remnant vegetation (fire prevention, cattle exclusion etc.) or more active interventions to accelerate natural regeneration, as well as tree planting and/or sowing seeds of species.
Restoration

Throughout the biosphere, human activities are altering trophic structures, energy flow, chemical cycling, and natural disturbances – ecosystem processes on which we and other species depend. The amount of human–altered land surface is approaching 50%, and we use over half of all accessible surface fresh water. In the oceans, stocks of many fishes are being depleted by over harvesting, and some of the most productive and diverse aquatic areas, such as coral reefs and estuaries, are being severely stressed.

By some estimates, we are in the process of doing more damage to the biosphere and pushing more species toward extinction than the large asteroid that may have triggered the mass extinctions at the close of the Cretaceous period 65.5 million years ago. Globally, the rate of species loss may be as much as 1,000 times higher than any time in the past 100,000 years. The adjacent figure shows an ash tree (Fraxinus excelsior) seedling, growing in a protective plastic sleeve. It has been planted in woodland which has been deforested (Deforestation is the removal of a forest or stand of trees where the land is thereafter converted to a nonforest use ).

In this chapter, we will take a closer look at the biodiversity crisis and examine some of the conservation and restoration strategies that biologists are using in attempting to slow the rate of species loss.

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