Exploring Biological Diversity

Photo collage of multiple insect and plant species

What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity is simply a measure of the variety of species in a given area or ecosystem.

Higher levels of biodiversity are better than lower levels. Why? Because more diversity makes an ecosystem more resilient to change, and because an ecosystem relies on all the species within it to function at its best level. Every species has a role, and removing a species can cause a ripple reaction through an ecosystem.

Threats to biodiversity

The biggest threat to biodiversity right now is the actions of humans.

Edward O. Wilson, famed American biologist and naturalist, breaks down the threats to biodiversity into 5 categories, with the helpful acronym of HIPPO.

H- Habitat Destruction

I- Invasive Species

P- Pollution

P- Population, as in human over-population

O- Over harvesting

Learn more at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiversity#Threats

Photo of deforestation
Photo of a pile of zebra mussels.

Mussels at Ivie

A case study in invasive species in San Angelo.

On July 13, 2020, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) upgraded O.H. Ivie Lake to a status of fully infested with invasive zebra mussels. That's just over 1 year after 4 individual adult mussels were first found in one of the lake's storage tanks.

LIke many invasive species, zebra mussels do not have a predator in areas where they are introduced. This means that they can grow their populations unchecked, and cause quite a bit of damage in a short amount of time. It also means they compete with native species for food sources, which can do damage to recreational activities like bass fishing, something for which O.H. Ivie is known.

TWPD states that zebra mussels cause other several problems, including littering lake's shores with sharp shells, damaging boats, and clogging water intake pipes.

Boaters can do their part to help prevent further spread of zebra mussels by ensuring they follow procedures to properly drain water from their boats before leaving the lake.

For more information, please visit tpwd.texas.gov/decon.