AS Level Unit 1 - The Living Environment

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Wildlife Conservation

The Rationale for Wildlife Conservation

  • Knowledge and Understanding - By studying wildlife we can learn alot from how species       affect each other and biomimetics.
  • Aesthetics and Recreation - People like living in a world where it is full of animals and plants.
  • Morals - Many people beleive that animals have the right to live but people are most concerned when flagship species are the most vunerable.
  • Ethics - In affluent societies it isnt nessessery to exploit wildlife but in developing countries it may be essential for survival
  • Economic reasons for Conservation - Medical benefits that can be gained from wildlife such as  poppies being used for painkillers
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Wildlife Conservation #2

Gene Pool Problems;

Gene Pool - The total variety of different genes in all the memebers of a population

Domesticated species are often inbred having come from a very small selection of ancestors which means they dont have the wide variety of characterics that wild species do.

  • Means that these species wont be able to cope with environmental changes

Desirable characteristics in wild species

  • Cold resistant pinapples
  • Drought resistant maize
  • Disease resistant rice and potatoes

Vavilov Centre

  • An area in the world where crop plants were first domesticated and where wild varieties are still found
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Wildlife Conservation #3

The Earths Life Support Systems;

Maintenence of the Atmosphere

  • Organisms that photosynthise remove CO2 from the oxygen from the atmosphere and replace it with O2. If these levels had not been reduced the green house effect would of made earth to hot to sustain life

The Role of Plants in the Hydrological Cycle

  • Plants increase humidity by returning water to the atmosphere by evaportation & transpiration

Soil Formation and Conservation

  • Dead organic matter from plants and animals provide nutrients for future plant growth but can only be released by the actions of other organisms like detrivores.
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Wildlife Conservation #4

The Earths Life Support Systems

Species Interdependence

  • The survival of many species relies on the actions of other species.
  • Food Supplies - Species that eat other species for a food resource
  • Pollination - The flowers of many plants are pollinated by other species like insects, birds and bats.
  • Seed Dispersal - Wind dispersal doesnt always work because they need to travel far. Animal dispersal is more reliable because the seeds will pass through the animals intestines and then be delivered to a habitat in ***** matter which also acts as a fertilisers.
  • Habitats - One species may provide a habitat for others like birds nesting in trees.
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Wildlife Conservation #5

How Humans Threaten Wildlife

  • Unsustainable exploitation for human gain - Food, Fashion, Pets and Entertainment, Furniture and Ornaments, Traditional Medicenes
  • Eradication because they interfere with human activities - Disease risks caused by malaria mosquitoes

Some species cant survive the environmental changes caused by humans

  • Unintentional deaths caused by humans - Includes killing dolphins as by-catch.
  • Introduced Species -

A community of species will have adapted to their abiotic and biotic surroundings so by introducing a new species that could have a competitive advantage.

  • In the UK water voles are killed by American Mink that had escaped from farms
  • Introduced species may bring a disease that indigenous species are not immune to.
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Wildlife Conservation #6

How Humans Threaten Wildlife

Habitat Destruction

Major changes to a habitat can cause entire community of species to die out.

  • Deforestation either to create farmland or to exploit the timber
  • Flooding caused by reservoir construction
  • Mining
  • Urbanisation
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Wildlife Conservation #7

Conservation Methods

Legal Protection

  • CITES - an international agreement between governments that regulates the trade in endangered animals, plants or their products.
  • Banning damaging activities - Designation to protect areas that place restriction on the activities that can be carried out there.

Sustainable Management of Exploitation

International Whaling Commission (IWC)

  • Total protection for certain species
  • Designation of whale sanctions
  • Carrying out research
  • Setting limits on number of whales that can be taken
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Wildlife Conservation #8

Conservation Methods

Captive Breeding & Release

Problems with keeping species in captivity;

  • Expensive
  • Difficult to provide the exact habitat conditions
  • Some species cannot be kept in captivity because they are to large

Problems with captive breeding programs;

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Wildlife Conservation #9

Conservation Methods

Problems with seed banks;

  • The viability of the seeds decline with increasing periods of storage so the gene pool can be reduced
  • Hard to store larger seeds or fruits such as coconuts

Methods of increasing the success of captive breeding;

  • Cyropreservation - Egg, sperm and embryos can be frozen to be used in future breeding programs
  • Artificial Insemination - Means the animals dont have the risk of travel. Semen can be introduced into the uterus when she has released eggs
  • Embryo Transfer - The female is treated with a hormone which speeds up the gestation period and these eggs are then inserted into surrogate mothers
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Wildlife Conservation #10

Conservation Methods

Release of captive bred animals;

  • May not recognise food species or poisenous species
  • Poor hunters or not as good as escaping from the predators
  • No immunity to local disease
  • May not be accepted by the indigenous population
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Wildlife Conservation #11

Habitat Conservation

Protected Areas

  • Land Ownership - The owner of the land can manage it as they wish but if it is a designated area they will be restricted on what they can do

Habitat Management

Some habitats change over time in response to human influences. So to conserve an area it may have to be activiely managed. 

  • Abiotic Factors - Water, temperature, pH levels, light levels, mineral nutreint supplies
  • Biotic Factors - Food, predators, disease, competition, pollination, decompostion
  • Controling the habitat - What maintains the plagioclimax 
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Wildlife Conservation #12

Habitat Conservation

Providing suitable conditions for particular desired species

  • Bird and bat boxes
  • Stopping drainage to raise the water table in a wetland habitat
  • Planting nectar plants for butterflys

Habitat Creation

If there isnt a existing habitat to protect a certain species then the habitat can be created.

  • Roadside verges
  • Reservoirs
  • Urban Gardens
  • Flooded gravel pits
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Wildlife Conservation #13

Conservation in the UK

  • The protection of Wildlife
  • The protection of the landscape and the countryside.

Conservation in the UK is important because the population has more leisure time,becomes more mobile and urban development extends into the countryside

Ecotourism can bring a lot of money into the local economy

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Wildlife Conservation #14

Conservation in the UK

Natural England

  • Englands environment will be conserved and maintained
  • Enjoyment of the countryside
  • Sustainable use of the natural environment

Activities of Natural England

  • Ecological research
  • Providing advice
  • Designation of protected areas
  • Providing grants for conservation management
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Wildlife Conservation #15

Methods of Habitat Protection in the UK

Semi-Natural Habitats

  • Most important habitats in the UK are semi natural after being affected by long term human activities

Traditional land uses that have produced wildlife habitats

  • Farming - Field boundry maintenance creates a biological corridor for doormice
  • Huntinf and Fishing - Fishing has resulted in important wetland areas being protected from pollution because they are an popular recreational activity 
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Wildlife Conservation #16

Threatened habitats in the UK

Traditional woodland management

  • Coppicing - A tree is cut to ground level every 7 years so when they regrow they will have thin branches for products
  • Pollarding - Trees are cut down only a short amount to prevent being eaten by other animals

The importance of native woodland

  • Has a high biodiversity
  • Regulates water flow
  • Trees reduce soil erosion
  • Acts as a carbon sink
  • Can be used as a resource for contruction
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Wildlife Conservation #17

Tropical Rainforests

Importance of Tropical Rainforests

  • Rainforest resources - Timber for construction, fuel, palm oil, bushmeat
  • Biodiversity - The variety of life produces a stable ecosystem that is able to resist change. Ecotourism is an income instead of destroying the forest.
  • Economic value of unexploited resources - Gene pool of wild plants species may have useful characteristics
  • Carbon Sequestration - Removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and stores it.
  • Rainfall - The trees return a large amount of water back into the atmosphere by transpiration
  • Soil conservation - Rainforests are supported by very poor soil. Because there is a high decompostion rate the roots of the trees hold very shallow roots.
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Wildlife Conservation #18

Threats to Tropical Rainforests

  • Unsustainable exploitation of forest resources
  • Forest removal to allow alternative land uses
  • Indirect threats from other human activities

Timber for Contruction and Furniture

  • In many LEDC's wood is the only affordable material to use for contruction


  • Because of growing populations there is now a larger demand for food. This often requires the clearence of tropical rainforests.
  • Threatened by commercial agriculture
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