Ecology Studies – Conservation Biology and Biodiversity

Course Level 3: Advanced

Estimated Study Time: 10-15 hours

The course begins by introducing you to biodiversity and how it exists at multiple levels of organization and is measured in different ways. These measurements include numbers of species, genetic diversity, chemical diversity, and ecosystem diversity. The five mass extinctions of prehistory are explained along with the most recent extinctions recorded in written history and how they are the basis for one method of estimating contemporary extinction rates. Next, you will learn how humans use many compounds as medicines that were first discovered or derived from living organisms.

In this course you will also learn how the loss of biodiversity threatens ecosystem services that support human agriculture such as: pollination, nutrient cycling, pest control, and soil development and maintenance. You will also learn about the core threats to biodiversity including human population growth and unsustainable resource use, and how habitat loss occurs through deforestation, damming of rivers, and other human activities. Finally, you are introduced to the methods of biodiversity conservation, such as the optimal design of preserves and the limitations imposed by political and economic forces. You will also gain an understanding of how legislation within individual countries protects species and how agreements on global warming have had limited success.

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