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 to female sex ratio is disproportionate.
  • Land-use changes: the changing of the earth by humans to harvest resources and re-purpose spaces in ways that suit our consumption needs
  • 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.
  • Introducing 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, the burning of fossil fuels, waste production, nutrient over-enrichment, and the introduction of harmful chemicals are just a few examples of human activities that result in negative changes to the environment.

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