Natural Habitat Loss and Its Influence on Biodiversity


The loss of natural habitats is the main threat to 85% of all species listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List—a comprehensive information source on the extinction risk of animals, fungi, and plants.

The natural habitat is the natural environment in which an organism lives, including forests, rangeland, deserts, and water; providing it with nutritional resources, water, and shelter to live, grow, and breed. Each organism has its own suitable habitat that has certain characteristics. For example, jaguars typically live in wide areas to hunt its prey over miles, but carpenter ants only need a few centimeters to build their colonies and practice all their activities. Food is a necessity for living organisms; however, each species needs a certain suitable amount of it, so its absence, as well as its decline or excess beyond certain limits, makes the habitat unsuitable and a disruption would happen in its food chain. The enrichment of phosphorous, for example, in freshwater can cause wide growth of algae, affecting the amounts of oxygen and fishes accordingly.

The issue of natural habitat loss has become a significant environmental issue, as it is occurring at an accelerating pace in recent times, and leads to the extinction of some living species. It is also a promoter of climate change, as the loss of plants that absorb carbon dioxide, leads to a rise in temperature. 

Natural habitat loss can be in the form of habitat destruction, such as logging, deforestation, or river erosion; habitat fragmentation, such as damming rivers and building roads in forests, which hinders living and migratory organisms from finding places for food; or habitat degradation due to pollution and invasive species.

Forests cover 30% of the world's land area and absorb 2.6 billion tons of carbon dioxide. Since 1990, we have lost about 420 million hectares of forests. As trees become extinct, the species that inhabit them become extinct too; this affects the biodiversity of plants and animals.

Biodiversity is linked to human health, which depends mainly on the products of the ecosystems. Pure water, food, and energy sources are the basics of human life. Any imbalance in biodiversity affects human life and livelihood, as well as microorganisms that may affect drug and medical discoveries.

Given the close interrelationship among natural habitats, biodiversity, and human health, agencies and governments have to prioritize the issue of natural habitat loss to conserve biodiversity.


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