ON JUNE 30, 2009, THE BRI PROGRAM OFFICE WILL BE CLOSING DOWN TEMPORARILY. THE ACTING DIRECTOR OF BRI AND THE BRI EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE ARE WORKING TO REINSTATE STAFF AND WE HOPE TO BEGIN PROGRAM ACTIVITIES AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. WE DO NOT ANTICIPATE ANY CHANGES TO THE UPCOMING FALL 2009 BRI BIOLOGY AND CONSERVATION LECTURE SERIES OR TO THE 2010 NORTHEAST NATURAL HISTORY CONFERENCE, SO PLEASE PLAN ACCORDINGLY.
Why Is Biodiversity Important?
Beyond anthropogenic or human-centered reasons, such as potential medicinal discoveries in tropical rainforests or sources of food, there are intrinsic reasons why biodiversity is important. All organisms play some role in an ecosystem. Some are producers, including plants and certain bacteria that can synthesize foodstuffs from gaseous and other non-living sources. Others are herbivores (deer and songbirds), carnivores (foxes and vultures) and decomposers (most fungi and bacteria). All of these are a part of a cycle of energy that is captured from the physical environment, and degraded from one level of organisms to another before being returned to the non-living world. In this process of energy exchange, certain elements can cycle. For example, plants capture carbon dioxide and use it to convert the sun's energy into chemical energy through photosynthesis. Animals, including humans, consume the products of photosynthesis in the form of sugars and starches and use its chemical energy to grow. Our wastes return to the ground, where decomposers can capture more energy, and their wastes are used by plants to start the cycle again. If one of the major links in this “food chain” is eliminated, the cycle may be permanently disrupted.