Does contemporary evolution along the gradients of global change alter ecosystem function?

Monday, November 27, 2017

Ecosystem functions are changed by industrial evolution and human involvement in the first place. They encompass all the biological, geochemical, and physical processes that take place in the ecosystem. Ecosystem functions range from regulating gas-formation within the atmosphere to providing comfortable living conditions to species and precious raw materials to humans. No wonder, ecosystems do not need a human intervention to function perfectly. But eventually, everything that we do prevents natural unities from supporting species and their habitat.

Climate change is a very global effect of human activity. The critical amount of greenhouse gasses filling the atmosphere made climate unpredictable and ecosystems – defenseless. Rising sea level moves amphibians and other species further into the continent. Tsunamis and storms destroy what once has been a coastal ecosystem. Animals are vulnerable to extreme weather conditions, just like humans. Floods and fires push animals that remain alive out of their habitat.

Decades ago, the regulatory function of ecosystems allowed them to keep the amount of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere on a decent level. Green plants could take in some CO2 and release some oxygen instead. Besides, the extensive green mass of trees protected ecosystems from overheating. Today the amount of green plants has shrunk so much that fresh water sources dry out and species become extinct.

With all the respect to ecosystems they can provide, humans keep extracting non-renewable natural resources. But it would be very logical to suggest that such resources would one day deplete. It means that we are not smarter than nature. Once it can provide little for its wold species, it can hardly save humans from the crisis.