5 ways that humans impact ecosystems

Excluding the beaver, no other animal on the planet alters its environment as much as humans. As a result, the impact of the actions of humans is widespread even if the effects are not overtly noticeable. Some ways that we affect our ecosystems include:

  • Habitat Fragmentation: This occurs when an organism’s favored environment is disrupted and made discontinuous. This, in turn, separates the population which can result in decreased genetic variability and overall population numbers if the male:female sex ratio is disproportionate.
  • Land-Use Changes: This is the changing of the Earth by humans to harvest resources and re-purpose the area.
  • Habitat Destruction: The removal of resources and changes to the land causing it no longer capable of sustaining the ecological communities that naturally occur in a given space. This often results in the loss of biodiversity and sometimes species extinction.
  • The Introduction of Non-Native species: Occurs due to travel [individual or economically motivated]. These species often have no natural predators in a new system, so they are more easily able to integrate themselves into a biological community.  This often results in the displacement of native species.
  • Pollution: The manipulation of resources, burning of fossil fuels, waste production, nutrient over-enrichment and the introduction of harmful chemicals results in changes in the environment making it inhospitable to the natural inhabitants.

Ellis, E. (2013). Land-use and land-cover change. Retrieved from http://www.eoearth.org/view/article/154143