One of the biggest threats to biodiversity is habitat destruction or encroachment.  Our constant development means that we must destroy  natural ecosystems in the name of progress.   Sometimes our  development does not destroy an ecosystem but simply decreases its size.   This in itself can be destructive.   Many animals have a certain range that they must maintain in order to live.  If they do not have access to this area, their lives are significantly altered.  Closer quarters causes more  competition between species,  and this may lead to the  eventual extinction of one or more species.   See Development for alternate methods of building.

Coastal areas are developed as vacation areas or as simply areas of sprawl for large cities.  When this occurs, the oceans  are affected,  along with all  the life in them.   See Terrestrial Ecosystems  for more details on problems affecting these transition zones.

Blast fishing is practiced in many areas.   This is the process whereby dynamite is placed into an area in order to catch a large quantity of fish.  Coral reefs especially are devastated by this activity.  It is most prominent in undeveloped countries where this practice has existed for years.


Dumping of garbage at sea.  Plastic in our garbage causes enormous problems.  It kills or injures many marine animals and birds either through accidental entanglement or ingestion of the material in the mistaken belief that the plastic is food (sometimes bags are misidentified as jellyfish).  See Pollution.


The greenhouse  effect will be accelerated  as rain forests are decimated.   The forests move  large quantities of water from the soil to the air through evapotranspiration.  As the earth warms in greenhouse predictions, the rate of this process will increase.   Therefore,  cloud production will increase and aid in reducing the surface temperature.   While this is a positive effect,  the more trees  which are cut,  the more nature’s  capacity to maintain this temperature is lost.  The greenhouse effect will increase dramatically as the forests dwindle (Thorne-Miller and Catena 10).  See the page on Greenhouse Effect for more details.


Changing natural resources:  Rerouting rivers and damming them sometimes interferes with natural reproduction cycles of fish

Overharvesting of specific species (see details in Marine Fish Management)

Pesticide use and runoff  (see Integrated Pest Management)

Depleting nutrients in the soil due to poor farming techniques  (see Land Management for more details)

Overpopulation and the need for land for food and habitat  (see Overpopulation for more details)

There is now the threat of mining the seabed for minerals as we run low on these resources on land.  There is also talk of burying toxic waste at sea.  Due to the dispersal quality of water, the toxins would spread for miles.

Why Should I Care?

Back to Diversity Loss

Whose Responsibility Is It?

What Can Be Done?