Why Does Biodiversity Matter?

 Bengal tiger | Ranthambore National Park, Rajasthan, India. Photo by Sumeet Gulati

Biodiversity and nature are fundamental to human learning, cultural value, inspiration and psychological well-being.

Biodiversity has been in crisis for decades due to environmental degradation that causes declines of populations, losses of species, and collapse of ecosystem structure and function. The solutions proposed and implemented to date — such as protected areas and endangered species laws — while important, have largely failed to address the massive scale of the problem. 

Biodiversity loss is now occurring at unprecedented rates — with an average of 25% of species threatened with extinction1. These declines signal a fundamental fraying of the fabric of life on Earth, and the real potential for a ‘Silent Spring’ as changes ramify through ecosystems. 

Humanity depends on biodiversity for survival. Examples include forests and oceans that soak up carbon, provide oxygen and regulate our climate; beneficial microbes and pollinators that enable crop yield. In addition to such tangible economic and health benefits, biodiversity and nature are fundamental to human learning, cultural value, inspiration and psychological well-being1-3

Despite these facts, the relevance of biodiversity to human survival and well-being is often underappreciated, and even denied, by decision-makers and the general public. Instead, human use of planetary resources is altering biodiversity through habitat conversion, habitat alteration, pollution, over-harvest and climate change.

The IBioS Collaboratory aims to study and support the transformative social and ecological changes needed to arrest biodiversity and ecosystem function loss, and restore ecosystem capacity to adapt to global change.


1. IPBES. Global assessment report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. S. Díaz, J.

Settele, E. Brondízio and H. T. Ngo. IPBES Secretariat, Bonn, Germany (2019).

2. Garibaldi, L. A. et al. Wild pollinators enhance fruit set of crops regardless of honey bee abundance. Science. 339, 1608–11 (2013).

3. Golden, C. D. et al. Fall in Fish Catch Threatens Human Health. Nature 534, 317–320 (2016).