How to protect your community’s environment from invasive species
In an era when it is increasingly difficult to predict the effects of climate change on ecosystems, researchers are studying how communities might adapt to the changing environment.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says that in a century or so, the global biodiversity loss will be equivalent to a drop in global carbon dioxide emissions, and could even result in an unprecedented loss of biodiversity.
In a study published in the journal Nature, researchers from the University of Florida, the University at Buffalo, and the University College London found that if communities are to have a chance of surviving climate change, they need to be prepared for a future with increased biodiversity.
The study examined 1,200 communities in 22 countries across the globe.
The communities had been living in an ecologically sensitive environment since before the arrival of humans, but over time they were hit with a number of invasive species.
The researchers found that people were more likely to become sick when they moved to a new area with more diverse ecosystems, and they were less likely to maintain relationships with their families.
The researchers then studied how changes in biodiversity and habitat composition impacted community health and how that impacted community cohesion.
They found that communities in areas with more diversity had higher rates of illness and lower levels of community cohesion, and those in areas without diverse landscapes had higher levels of illness.
“If you are an ecosystem, you are like a boat,” said lead author John Kaczynski.
“If you lose a boat, it sinks.
If you lose your community, it doesn’t.
So, we wanted to understand how changes to the ecosystem can affect people.”
The study also found that biodiversity is linked to community cohesion and health, and that diversity could play a role in how healthy communities are.
“The relationship between diversity and community health is quite strong,” said co-author Dr. Laura D’Agostino, an assistant professor in the department of environmental science and sustainability.
“There’s no question that communities that have higher levels and diversity of life have better health and less disease.”
“Our study highlights the importance of understanding the ecological significance of diverse environments,” said Kacinsky.
“Understanding how different ecosystems can work together in harmony can have important impacts on the resilience of ecosystems and can help protect them from future loss of ecosystem services.”
The paper’s authors also hope that it can lead to better planning for the conservation of biodiversity and to better understanding of the relationship between health and health.