Why biodiversity has so many enemies


  • Andrew James Beattie Macquarie University




biodiversity, enemies, microbes, invertebrates, conservation


An estimated ninety percent of all species are either invertebrate or microbial but most conservation science and policy ignores them. This is disastrous for humanity as this biodiversity contains the majority of the genetic, chemical, metabolic and population diversity on Earth that is of enormous - and irreplaceable - economic importance. Microbes and invertebrates are at the core of all the primary industries and are the resource for a wide range of secondary industries. The low profile of these organisms has been attributed to the absence of technologies to handle them. This no longer applies. By including these organisms in mainstream conservation science and policy, several profound benefits accrue: 1) Informing the many biodiversity-based industries about the very species upon which they depend. 2) Showing these industries the extent of their actual and potential resource base. 3) Inform both industry and society on the ‘nuts and bolts’ of ecosystem services, the species involved, and their functions. 4) As industries recognise their reliance on biodiversity, the responsibility for biodiversity conservation is spread to sectors not normally associated with it. 5) It follows that it is in the self-interest of the biodiversity-based industries to protect their resources and to identify biodiversity conservation as core business. 6) Once this is achieved the conservation issues or crises among invertebrates and microbes, especially those crucial to ecosystem services or industry, can be identified. As long as biodiversity is erroneously presented as consisting of a few vertebrate and higher plant groups of concern chiefly to “conservationists”, we continue to make unnecessary enemies of the individuals, lobby groups, political parties and industries who, because of that presentation, continue to be blind to its multiple and pervasive economic benefits.