It is Friday, December 30, 2020, and I am in my Pittsford, New York, backyard. It is 9:45 AM on a partly cloudy day with a temperature of 72 degrees and partly sunny skies. My backyard is typical of a suburban lot; it consists of a small grassy space enclosed by fencing and a medium-sized garden bed filled with various plants and flowers. There are many different kinds of grass, flowers, bushes, and trees, some of which are native and others that are not. Two enormous oak trees and a high hedge of evergreen plants frame the garden plot. A few wildflowers and grasses have taken root in the space between the garden and the oaks. The ground combines soil and gravel and is mostly dry, with a few damp spots near the garden. My backyard is a terrific spot to study the neighborhood ecosystem and discover more about the local biodiversity.
I sat down on the ground and glanced around, noticing different species. I immediately observed a bright yellow flower, which I recognized as a dandelion, as the first species. The flower’s long, thin leaves had a powerful, sweet scent. It stood about 6 inches tall and was topped with a solitary yellow blossom. Then I noticed a little black spider climbing a nearby leaf. It was a common house spider, as I recognized it. It featured a striking black-and-white pattern on its body and was about the size of a dime. It was incredibly swift despite having long, spindly legs.
A tiny, green insect was also circling the blossom, which I could see. I recognized it as a honey bee after giving it a closer look. Its furry, striped body was black, yellow, and roughly the size of a penny. It was gathering pollen while buzzing around the blossom on pale yellow wings. A little brown bird was also hopping around the neighboring grass, which I also saw. It took me a while to realize that it was a sparrow. It stood about 4 inches tall, and its brown body was speckled with white and black. It had tiny black eyes and a beak that was bright yellow.
A little gray squirrel was the last species I saw, and it was darting across the grass. Its fur coat was gray with white and black stripes and it stood about 8 inches tall. It had a small, black nose and a bushy tail. It was collecting nuts and keeping them inside its cheeks.
In my region, diverse species coexist in the environment and form a food chain. For instance, birds like robins, sparrows, and cardinals eat fruit, insects, and worms. More giant creatures like opossums and raccoons prey on these birds. Larger predators at the top of the food chain, such as coyotes and foxes, eat the smaller animals.
The food chain shapes the diversity of animals in my area. For instance, the existence of birds and other small animals draws larger predators, which in turn promotes the existence of prey species. Due to the availability of their respective food sources, such as plants and insects, the presence of these animals also encourages other species to stay in the area.
Additionally, keystone species are crucial to the environment and biodiversity of my region. Keystone species are those at the top of the food chain and maintain the balance of other species populations. Examples of these species are the coyote, fox, and raccoon. My region’s food web and biodiversity would be very different without these keystone species.
In the area I witnessed, habitat degradation is the main danger to biodiversity. Habitats have been destroyed due to landscape changes brought on by population increase and development (Zhang et al., 2020). The ecology has changed due to habitat degradation, which has also reduced the biodiversity in the area. For example, I observed a decline in birds and other species nearby. The food chain has been upset by this decline in biodiversity, which has also reduced the local plant and animal population.
By protecting existing ecosystems and restoring natural habitats, biodiversity in the region can be boosted or restored. Green spaces can be created, wetlands can be restored, and native plants that are good for animals can be planted as part of this restoration. Additionally, individuals can contribute by consuming less energy and minimizing resource use.
Human life benefits from ecology and biodiversity in numerous ways. We have access to a range of food sources thanks to biodiversity, which also maintains the ecological balance and enhances air and water quality (Jose, 2019). Because plants take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere, biodiversity can also aid in the fight against climate change. The variety of plants and animals makes the environment more aesthetically pleasing and gives us more options for pleasure.
Nevertheless, the presence of humans can also harm the environment. Overdevelopment and resource overuse can result in habitat degradation and a decline in biodiversity. Additionally, environmental deterioration brought on by pollution from factories, vehicles, and other sources is possible.
Jose, S. (2019). Environmental impacts and benefits of agroforestry. In Oxford research encyclopedia of environmental science. https://doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199389414.013.195
Zhang, Y., Chen, R., & Wang, Y. (2020). The tendency of land reclamation in coastal areas of Shanghai from 1998 to 2015. Land Use Policy, 91, 104370. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landusepol.2019.104370