Biodiversity in the Tropics




Tropics (Taxonomy Subject),Biodiversity (Database Topic),Cornell University (College/University),Ithaca College,STEM,Science education,Next Generation Science Standards,Rayor,ecosystem services,cloud forest,NGSS,diversity,Wildlife (Broadcast Content),Conservation Biology (Literary Genre),Deforestation (Film Subject),Ecuador (Country),Evolutionary Biology (Field Of Study),adaptation,Biodiversity (Literature Subject)

hi my name is Martina and I study entomology at Cornell University I'm here today to talk to you about tropical biodiversity so what is biodiversity biodiversity is just this huge term that we use to describe all life on Earth basically we mean all of our species all of our ecosystems and all of our genetic information they are 1.7 million described species on planet Earth and they're close to 8 million more undiscovered when I say ecosystems I mean the communities of these species that I was talking about where they live and how they interact with one another when I say genetic information I mean all the variation in genes between species and within species so genetic variation within humanity we're talking differences of hair color eye color everything biodiversity is an important and interesting topic on its own so why are we talking about tropical biodiversity well as it turns out most of Earth's biodiversity is in the tropics so eighty to ninety percent of Earth's species live in tropical areas so most of this life is concentrated in tropical rainforests and tropical rainforests only cover 14% of the Earth's surface that's an area of the world smaller than the USA the country I'm from Ecuador is actually smaller than the state of Colorado but has more than twice the number of plant and animal species than the US and Canada combined the red and yellows on this map show vertebrate diversity across the world as you can see the tropics are hotbeds of biological diversity so when I say tropics what do I mean the tropics are a band that go through the center of the earth between the Tropic of Capricorn and the pick of cancer when I say tropics most people imagine hot muggy rainforests now it's true rainforests are important ecosystems in the tropics but it's not everything coral reefs Highland savannas and tropical cloud forests are also really important in cloud forests a single tree can have up to two thousand different species of fungi plants and animals on it biodiversity in the tropics is important for the livelihoods and future of all people on earth some of the things I'm going to talk about that the tropical ecosystems give us are ecosystem services important crops and Technology and medicine ecosystem services are products or services that nature provides that have real value for us humans for example trees in the Amazon rainforests have been called the lungs of our world because they actually trap a lot of the harmful co2 gases that are causing global warming just by their natural process of photosynthesis important pollinators like honeybees provide a lot of the crops that we eat all over the world and a lot of these come from the tropics things like cacao which we use to produce chocolate vanilla citruses like oranges clementines worldwide the value of pollination is placed at 217 billion dollars just as exciting are the potentials for using natural models for design and innovation of technology in the temperate zone this annoying bird was actually the original model for velcro more recently Architects in harada Zimbabwe have designed the air-conditioning system of a building using termite mounds as a model so as it turns out you can look at the air ventilation systems and termite mounds to design air conditioning for buildings the results have saved the architects millions in air conditioning expenses insects plants fungi and bacteria from the tropics have provided us with many of the medicines that we use today one example that is actually from the temperate zone is aspirin aspirin is a drug we use every day and originally it was derived from the bark of the willow tree before we had aspirin Native Americans drink a tea made out of willow bark to alleviate pain an example from South America is the quinine tree so the quinine trees actually saved thousands of lives by combating malaria scientists have actually derived treatment for hiv/aids using a marine sponge from Panama so with so much life yet to be discovered in the tropics the potential to find new medicine and technology is practically limitless as you can see the tropical regions of our planet have given us so much and have so much more to give the problem is that these ecosystems are among the most threatened and fragile on our planet 80,000 acres of tropical rainforests the equivalent of 60,000 football fields are lost every day due to logging and other human activities and it's not just rainforests tropical coral reefs Highland savannas and cloud forests are all facing serious threats as these habitats get destroyed we're losing the unique and often unstudied organisms that inhabit them according to UN Convention on biodiversity we lose 50 species of plants and animals every day so one example of the degradation of tropical ecosystems are things like Mines and petroleum extraction they're actually extremely dangerous when carried out in places like Ecuador Colombia Venezuela and Peru so when you open a mine in a place like Ecuador in the cloud forest the impacts are devastating you can have contamination of the rivers with heavy metals like cadmium arsenic and lead but you can also have de certifications of whole areas when you lose tropical cloud forests you never can regain it it actually goes away forever local people are impacted in really negative ways but today companies from the US Canada and China are looking for deposits of copper and gold all over South America so biodiversity doesn't just impact me in Ecuador it impacts everyone all over the world when I was a kid what we would do is set up a nightlight it's something that you can do in your home as well all you have to do is put up a white sheet and am a bright light at it Maas and other insects will come to discover biodiversity in your backyard I'm making a nightlight like I did when I was a kid and see what shows up you