Biodiversity Shifts

BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY (biodiversity), which is being lost at a rate unprecedented in human history, underpins many natural systems on which humans depend for health and wellbeing. Depletion of natural resources, pollution, invasive species, climate change, ocean acidification, and habitat degradation are just some of the factors driving biodiversity loss on a global scale. Changes in biodiversity affect ecosystem structure and function, often posing threats to key ecosystem services. Biodiversity also impacts exposure to vector-borne disease in ways that are inadequately understood.

Learning Objectives
L1: To understand the differences between ‘biodiversity loss’ and ‘changing abundance, composition and distribution of species’.
L2: To review the changing abundance, composition, and distribution of species in the traditional environment and traditionally health realms, and relate the two spheres.
L3: To assess competing priorities that affect the abundance, composition, and distribution of species, with consideration of who is most affected by different priorities and how.
L4: To examine the competing interests affecting policy change with consideration of the scale of implementation.
Teaching Resources
Applied Environmental Law and Health Syllabus
This course for law students expands the vision, analytic skills, and experiences of students interested in environmental law as well as students interested in environmental health. The readings, classroom activities, and projects expose students to a variety of current, real-world challenges which integrate (or could be more effective if they did integrate) environmental law and health. The University of Illinois, Fall 2017.
→ Syllabus

Ecosystem Approaches to Health Teaching Manual
A teaching manual with sample modules and associated activities for teaching about health and environmental change produced by COPEH-Canada.
→ Español 
→ Français 
→ English 
→ Read more

Ocean Habitat and Community Ecology
(L2, L3) After this unit, students will be able to identify the functional roles that organisms play in ocean ecosystems. Students explore and discuss the direct and indirect impacts that ocean acidification can have on species, food web dynamics, ecosystem function, and commercial resources.
→ Teaching tool

Biodiversity and Health
(L1, L3, L4) This brief report explores the link between biodiversity and human health in medicinal contributions, food security, infectious diseases, green spaces and urban biodiversity, uncertainties and complexities, and policy implications.
→ Teaching tool

Why Care? The Urgency of Saving Endangered Species and Medicinal Benefits of Endangered Species
(L2, L3) This document explores how protecting endangered species has economic benefits when considering the importance of biodiversity to the pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries. Examples are given for some important treatments of cancers and disorders that originated from compounds found in animal and plant species.
→ Teaching tool

Troubled Waters: Fewer Fish, Increasing Malnutrition
(L3, L4) This video explores how, in recent years, a combination of climate change, massive depletion of fish stocks by commercial fishing fleets, and exploitative trade policies are together creating nutritional crises in many poor nations. Dr. Golden explains the impact of these conditions on the health of millions of people.
→ Watch the video

Why Is Biodiversity So Important?
(L2) This TedTalk explores how Earth’s diverse, thriving ecosystems are vulnerable to collapse, providing the Amazon rainforest as an example of an ecosystem with great biodiversity and great resiliency to environmental changes in contrast to ecosystems like the coral reef, where thousands of marine species depend on the coral (a keystone species) for survival.
→ Watch the video


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