International Biodiversity Day

Bagno Wizna

Biodiversity (biodiversity) is essential for maintaining ecological balance. It includes genetic, species and ecosystem diversity. It’s not just the number of different species, but also the diversity of genes within species, as well as the diversity of ecosystems and landscapes. Biodiversity encompasses life at all levels of its functioning. On biodiversity day, we are looking at aquatic ecosystems, as it is water that covers more than 70 percent. Earth’s surface, and is also home to an infinite number of animal and plant species.

Coral reefs – a treasure trove of marine life

The marine and ocean environments are extremely rich in biodiversity, providing habitat for about 50 percent of the of all species on Earth. Coral reefs, known as tropical rainforests of the sea, occupy only 0.1 percent. of the ocean’s surface, but are home to about 25 percent. All marine species. This vast biodiversity is crucial to the ecological balance of the oceans, providing shelter, food and breeding sites for many species of fish, crustaceans and mollusks. For us, coral reefs protect coastlines from erosion, provide food and attract tourists, which brings economic benefits to local communities.

Great Barrier Reef
pic. Tunatura/Adobe Stock

Marine biodiversity is under serious threat from overfishing, pollution and climate change. Examples of endangered species include:

  1. The ambidextrous turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata): this tropical species, mainly inhabiting coral reefs, has lost 80 percent of its population over the past century due to hunting for meat and shells;
  2. Vaquita (Phocoena sinus): the most endangered marine mammal (species of porpoise) found in the Gulf of California, with the population reduced to about 10 individuals due to bycatch;
  3. Hammerhead shark (Sphyrna mokarran): endangered due to overfishing and habitat loss;
  4. Munich seal (Monachus schauinslandi): A rare species found in Hawaii, threatened by habitat loss and bycatch.
  5. Green turtle (Chelonia mydas): endangered due to habitat loss, bycatch and poaching.
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pic. borsattomarcos/Envato Elements

Biodiversity of river and lake ecosystems

Rivers and lakes are key freshwater ecosystems, providing a home to more than 40 percent of the world’s water. known fish species and many other life forms. Although they occupy only 1 percent. Earth’s surface, these ecosystems support 10 percent. of all animals and a third of vertebrates. These are dynamic ecosystems, but they are highly threatened by human activities, including overuse, habitat degradation, invasion by alien species, climate change, construction of bulkheads on watercourses, and discharge of pollutants.

In many parts of the world, the biodiversity of rivers and lakes is not only an indicator of ecological health, but also the foundation for the functioning of local communities that depend on these ecosystems for food, water and recreation.

The richness of aquatic ecosystems in Poland

The biodiversity of Poland’s aquatic ecosystems is extremely rich, encompassing both freshwater ecosystems and those associated with the Baltic Sea. Poland, with its numerous lakes, rivers and access to the sea, plays a key role in preserving biodiversity in Europe.

The naturalness and unique features, especially of aquatic and peatland ecosystems in Poland, promote the development of rich biodiversity. Poland is one of the few countries in Europe that can boast such diverse species richness. Based on scientific publications, more than 1,600 have been identified in Polish waters. cyanobacterial species. Algae are represented by about 10,000. taxa, while bryophytes and ferns associated with hydrogenic ecosystems include fewer than 300 species.

dirtiest lakes
pic. Artturi/Adobe Stock

The unicellular protozoa in Polish waters include 750 species, while the tissue protozoa are represented by nearly 4,000. species. Among invertebrates, insects are the most numerous group with more than 1,600. species, followed by protozoa, rotifers, arachnids and crustaceans.

Poland’s aquatic and marsh ecosystems are particularly rich in birds, with about 150 species, the largest group of vertebrates in these environments. The least numerous group are reptiles represented by only 2 species. Fish also exhibit significant species diversity with about 70 species of freshwater fish.

Life in the Baltic

Life in the Baltic is much poorer than in high seas such as the North Sea. The number of species of organisms, especially benthic organisms, decreases as one moves from the Kattegat to the Gulf of Finland and the Gulf of Bothnia, which is related to the lower salinity of the Baltic waters.

The Baltic Sea, with salinity ranging from 1 to 30 PSU, is a habitat for both freshwater and marine organisms. Most abundant are marine species with high tolerance to salinity changes, such as cod, herring and shrimp. Saltwater species, such as the great double and some gudgeons, are less abundant. Freshwater species such as perch and roach dominate in coastal waters and sweetened bays.

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pic. KrzysztofWinnik/Depositphotos

The low salinity of the Baltic Sea limits life for many marine species, including echinoderms and cephalopods, which are sensitive to changes in salinity. Only those marine plants and animals that are highly adaptable have adapted here. Some marine species in the Baltic have adapted to living in deeper, saltier layers of water, avoiding the salted surface. It is worth noting that the low salinity of the Baltic Sea also causes some animals to reach smaller sizes than their counterparts in the North Sea, for example.

Biodiversity Day – why is it important?

Biodiversity Day highlights the importance of protecting ecosystems, which are the foundation of life on Earth. It raises awareness about threats such as climate change and pollution that negatively affect biodiversity. It promotes activities for the sustainable management of natural resources, which is essential for health and well-being. It also enables coordination of international conservation efforts, supporting global initiatives and policies. In addition, it is an opportunity for public education about the value of biological diversity and the benefits it brings to the economy and to ourselves.

Photo. main: vinsky2002/Pixabay

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