# Unit 3: Conservation

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Conservation biology is the management of Earth's ecosystems with the aim of protecting species, their communities, and ecosystems from escalated extinction rates and the destruction and degradation of their habitats. This field focuses on both evaluating past, current, and future trends and creating conservation action plans to reverse trends leading to extinction and destroyed habitats. More specifically, procedures have been put in place to protect threatened species, design habitat preserves, creating breeding programs, and reconciling conservation concerns with practical human needs.

As conservation biology needs to pull from so many fields, it is an interdisciplinary subject drawing on physical, life, and social sciences, as well as natural resource management procedures. The field seeks to integrate social science policy with theories from the fields of ecology, demography, taxonomy, and genetics. The principles underlying each of these disciplines have direct implications for the management of species and ecosystems, captive breeding and reintroduction, genetic analyses, and habitat restoration. Social science disciplines not only help with putting policies in place to legally protect species and habitats but also help fund conservation actions. Conservation action plans help direct research, monitoring, and education programs that engage concerns at both local and global scales.

The goal of this unit is to overview the essential conservation biology topics as we head into an uncertain future.

Rachel Schleiger (CC-BY-NC)

• 9: The Value of Biodiversity
Biodiversity is the variety of life on Earth. There are three main levels of biodiversity: ecosystem, species, and genetic diversity.
• 10: Threats to Biodiversity
In the history of life on Earth, five dramatic reductions in species richness (mass extinctions) have occurred. The sixth mass extinction is occurring now and is driven by human activity. Biodiversity loss can be measured by categorizing species based on extinction risk according to the Red List, but it can also be assessed at the ecosystem scale. The greatest threats to biodiversity are habitat loss, overexploitation, pollution, the spread of invasive species, and climate change.
• 11: Protecting Biodiveristy
Conservation biology involves applying ecological knowledge to protect biodiversity. Policies, non-profit organizations, approaches focused on a single species, protected areas, and individual behaviors all contribute to conservation efforts.

Thumbnail image - "Environmental protection" is in the Public Domain

This page titled Unit 3: Conservation is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Melissa Ha and Rachel Schleiger (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative) .