Conservation of Biodiversity

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Conservation

  • The extinction of species or loss of genetic diversity within a species causes a reduction in global biodiversity.
  • Conservation involves the protection and management of endangered species.
  • Zoos and seedbanks help to conserve endangered species and genetic diversity.

 

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Seedbanks

  • Are a store of lots of seeds from lots of different species of plant
  • Help to conserve biodiversity by storing the seeds of endangered plants, and conserve genetic diversity (for some species, they store a range of seeds from plants with different alleles)

If plants becme extinct in the wild, stored seeds can be used to grow new plants.

The work of seed banks involve:

  • creating cool, dry conditions needed for storage (meaning seeds can be stored for a long time)
  • testing seeds for viability (the ability to grow into a plant) seeds are planted, grown and new seeds are harvested to put back into storage
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Advantages of Seedbanks

  • It's cheaper to store seeds than to store fully grown plants
  • Larger numbers of seeds can be stored than grown plants as they need les space
  • Less labour is required to look after seeds than plants
  • Seeds can be stored anywhere, as long as it's cool and dry - plants would need the conditions from their origional habitat
  • Seeds are less likely to be damaged by disease, natural disaster or vandalism than plants
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Disadvantages of Seedbanks

  • Testing the seeds for viability can be expensive and time consuming
  • It would be too expensive to store all types of seed and regularly test them all for viability
  • It may be difficult to collect seeds from some plants as they may grow in remote locations
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Zoos

  • Captive breeding programmes involve breeding animals in controlled environments
  • Species that are endangered or already extinct in the wild can be bred together in zoos to help increase their numbers
  • There can be problems with captive breeding programmes:
    • animals can have problems breeding outside of thier natural habitat, which can be hard to recreate in a zoo
    • many people think it's cruel to keep animals in captivity, even if it's done to prevent them becoming extinct
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Reintroduction

  • The reintroduction of plants grown in seedbanks and animals bred in zoos can increase their numbers in the wild, helping to conserve their numbers or bring them back from the brink of extinction
  • This could also help organisms that rely on these plants or animals for food, or as part of their habitat
  • Reintrodution also contributes to restoring habitats that have been lost

However, it can cause problems:

  • Reintroduced organisms could bring new diseases to habitats, harming other organisms that live there
  • Reintroduced animals may not behave as they would if they had been raised in the wild
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Contribution to Scientific Research

Seedbanks:

  • Scientists can study how plant species can be successfully grown from seeds (useful for reintroducing them into the wild).
  • Seedbanks can be used to grow endangered plants for use in medical research, asnew crops or for new materials (so we don't have to remove endangered plants from the wild).
  • Only studying plants from seeds in a seedbank limits data to smal, inbred populations (information gained may not be representative of wild plants).

Zoos:

  • Research in zoos increases knowledge about the behaviour, physiology and nutritional needs of animals (contributing to conservation efforts in the wild).
  • Zoos can carry out research that's not possible for some species in the wild (nutritional and reproductive studies)
  • Animals in captivity may act differently to those in the wild.
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Education

  • Educating people about endangered species and reduced biodiversity helps to raise public awareness and interest in conservation
  • Zoos let people get close to animals, increasing their enthusiasm for conservation work
  • Seedbanks contribute to eductaion by provide training
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