Biodiversity and Tropical Rainforests
Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth, in all its forms and all its interactions. We do not know how many species of plants and animals live in the rainforest, however, we do know it is the most biodiverse ecosystem in the world. For example, rainforests contain 170,000 of the world’s 250,000 known plant species. In the Indonesian rainforest, there are over 30,000 species of plants and 1,600 species of birds.
Why is biodiversity so high in the tropical rainforest?
There are a number of reasons for biodiversity in the tropical rainforest including:
- the hot and wet climate provides ideal conditions for many species of plants and animals to thrive.
- nutrients are rapidly recycled speeding up plant growth, providing producers with food, which in turn are consumed by primary consumers.
- large areas of rainforest are untouched by humans, allowing nature to thrive.
What are the threats to biodiversity in the tropical rainforest?
There are several threats to biodiversity in the tropical rainforest. With the exception of lightning strikes, human activity is the main threat to biodiversity. Human threats range from deforestation to the impact of climate change.
What problems are associated with the decline of biodiversity in the tropical rainforest?
There are a number of issues associated with the decline of biodiversity in the tropical rainforest including:
- plant and animal species may become extinct before they are even discovered.
- over 25% of all medicines originate from the rainforest and over 2000 have anti-cancer properties. Given that only 1% of plants in the rainforest have been tested for their medicinal qualities the decline in biodiversity will have limit future medical research and development.
- the decline in biodiversity will have a negative impact on indigenous people as they will struggle to survive.
- the loss of keystone species (those that have multiple connections with other species), will have a detrimental impact on food webs.