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Discussions Discussion Health & Environment
Tom Gary, Jan. 11, 2012

Healthy Biodiversity: Taking Care of the Environment and Our Health

Biodiversity is an important element in the natural world: it maintains ecosystem function by preserving species dominance and protects species health by ensuring genetic diversity. Biodiversity also acts as a buffer to many diseases—a genetically diverse population is much more likely to withstand outbreaks, while weak genetic diversity within wildlife can lead to an increase of epidemics and poor public health.1 Other services biodiversity provides include the filtering of toxic substances from the air, water, and soil, the breaking down of wastes, the recycling of nutrients, and the production of medicines that are derived from plants, animals, and microbes.2 Although many have expressed concern about the continuing loss of biodiversity, little attention has been given to its effects on human health.


A very well written piece by Samah Rizvi, a first-year graduate student at the University of Chicago.

Related video: how human health depend on biodiversity

Tom Gary

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Discussions Discussion Ecology I: The Earth System
Trish Brenan, Nov. 17, 2011

Here’s an interesting short-lecture on coevolution: how species influence each other’s evolution, how they evolve together, mimic each other, or exploit the characteristics of each other.

Trish Brenan

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Discussions Discussion Welcome to Einztein
Marco Masoni, Oct. 27, 2011

A big welcome to the Einztein community of learners for new arrivals.

I’m not a biologist but a recent article in National Geographic caught my eye. Let me sum it up for you.

A recent study by Aquascience (http://www.aquascience.co.uk/) finds that the life of the British Mayfly has been cut short by 50% due to warming temperatures. As it was, mayflies only lived about two years, mostly as aquatic larvae, and got to enjoy their adulthood as winged creatures for only a few hours. Now, their lifespans have been reduced to one year! What does this mean, other than reminding us that life is short? The younger the mayfly dies, the less eggs it hatches during its life, so the potential for disruption to the food chain is enormous, since the mayfly is an important food staple for fish and birds.

This makes me wonder what other changes we will discover as environmental changes accelerate.

Marco Masoni
Comments (4)
  • Marco Masoni Marco Masoni Oct. 27, 2011
    Fascinating. Thanks for the explanation. Good thing we have a biologist around.
  • srini n srini n Feb. 14, 2012
    Jason, thanks for that education. What I gather from your lucid note is that not only we are all connected but the connections are delicate and quite complex where any excess anywhere in the chain can throw the entire system out of balance. And a series of corrections are needed before we have that balance restored. Or is that at all possible?

    In my mother tongue, Tamil, (a South Indian language) there is an ancient saying: 'anything in excess is poison - even elixir'.
  • Jason Hodin Jason Hodin Feb. 14, 2012
    absolutely, and that is a wonderful saying.

    as for the “corrections” needed, the main one is simple to say but complicated to do: stop burning carbon.
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