All is not lost, at least when it comes to plant species richness, the number of different plants, in an ecosystem. Erle Ellis and his colleagues suggest in their recent paper, All is Not Loss: Plant Biodiversity in the Anthropocene, published in PLoSone, that rather than human interventions decreasing species richness they’ve increased it.
“The evidence is quite strong,” says Ellis, “that we are increasing plant species richness overall in most regional landscapes.” Ellis says increased species richness is due largely to human-facilitated introduction of exotic species.
But what does that mean for biodiversity? Ellis says that, “if you want to live on a planet full of undisturbed native ecosystems, that planet is long gone.” But he adds, “if you want to engage in conserving biodiversity and building a better, more sustainable human nature, the prospects are good, and getting better as we learn more about how to better manage biodiversity in novel ecosystems.”
For more information see:
- the Web site for the project which summarizes the major results and offers online maps and data
- Erle Ellis’ blog post about the paper
- Erle Ellis’ piece for the New York Times blog, Dot Earth