Biodiversity – Threats


Any direct or indirect human activity that threatens the planet's biological diversity in the form of genes, populations, species, ecosystems, or other levels of biological organization is considered a threat to survival.

Keywords: conservation; biodiversity; species; extinction; global change

Figure 1.

Number of described species and estimates of species numbers, including expert opinions of taxonomic specialists and various extrapolations (Pimm et al., 1995)

Figure 2.

Typical species–area relationships. Larger areas (A) have more species than smaller ones (B, C), and areas that have long been isolated – such as islands – have proportionally fewer species (C) than do equal sized areas that are nested within continuous habitat (B) (Pimm and Brooks, 1999).

Figure 3.

The 25 hotspots (Myers et al., 2000).


Further Reading

Baillie J and Groombridge B (eds) (1996) IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals. Gland, Switzerland: International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Carson R (1962) Silent Spring. Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin.

Grenfell BT and Dobson AP (1995) Infectious Diseases of Wildlife. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Laurance WF and Bierregaard RO Jr (eds) (1998) Tropical Forest Remnants: Ecology, Management, and Conservation of Fragmented Communities. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Myers NA, Mittermeier RA, Mittermeier CG, da Fonseca GAB and Kent J (2000) Biodiversity hotspots for conservation priorities. Nature 403: 853–858.

Peters RL and Lovejoy TE (eds) (1992) Global Warming and Biological Diversity. Newhaven, CT: Yale University Press.

Pimm SL and Brooks TM (1999) The sixth extinction: How large, where and when? In: Raven PH and Williams T (eds) Nature and Human Society: The Quest for a Sustainable World, pp. 46–62. Committee for the Second Forum on Biodiversity, National Academy of Sciences and National Research Council. Washington DC: National Academic Press.

Pimm SL, Russell GJ, Gittleman JL and Brooks TM (1995) The future of biodiversity. Science 269: 347–350.

Soulé ME (ed.) (1987) Viable Populations for Conservation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Walter KS and Gillett HJ (1998) 1997 IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants. Gland, Switzerland: International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Williamson M (1996) Biological Invasions. London: Chapman & Hall.

Wilson EO (1993) The Diversity of Life. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press.

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How to Cite close
Sechrest, Weston W, and Brooks, Thomas M(Oct 2002) Biodiversity – Threats. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1038/npg.els.0003257]