MODULE FIVE: Human Population and Biodiversity
- Biodiversity Loss
“Extinction event” is a phrase used by scientists to describe an abrupt and widespread decrease in biodiversity. Typically the process is described in terms of catastrophic natural events, such as a cosmic object striking earth or a super volcanic eruption. Scientists generally discuss five “major extinction events”, all of which took place between 65 and 450 million years ago (estimates according to fossil record). However, many scientists have begun to view human impacts to species diversity over the last 150 years in terms of the “sixth mass extinction”.
Watch the video at the link below as part of your lecture notes; it is 9 minutes long.
- Population Growth
“Exponential growth” in discussions of population refers to the doubling of a certain number of individuals in a species for a given period of time. If this process continues for long enough, a species may exceed its carrying capacity, or maximum number of species that can be supported by available resources. Although even a crude estimate of the carrying capacity of our species is exceedingly difficult, given our ingenuity and track record with overcoming biological constraints, emerging environmental issues suggests that we may have surpassed our limits – or will do so in the near future.
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