Biodiversity and ecosystems

Biodiversity and ecosystems, encompassing the vast variety of life on Earth and the natural systems they inhabit, are fundamental to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Their importance is acknowledged explicitly in several SDGs due to their critical role in maintaining environmental balance and supporting human life and well-being.

SDG 14 (Life Below Water) and SDG 15 (Life on Land) are directly focused on the conservation and sustainable use of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, respectively. These goals recognize the intrinsic value of biodiversity and the vital services ecosystems provide, such as habitat for wildlife, carbon sequestration, and soil formation. The preservation and restoration of ecosystems like forests, wetlands, and coral reefs are essential for maintaining biodiversity, which in turn supports ecological resilience and the sustenance of human life.

The role of biodiversity and ecosystems in achieving SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) is significant. The variety of life forms, including plants, animals, and microorganisms, underpins agricultural productivity. Pollinators, soil organisms, and genetic diversity of crops are all crucial for food production and agricultural resilience. Ecosystems support agriculture not just in terms of crop yield but also in sustaining the natural resources like soil and water, upon which agriculture depends.

Similarly, SDG 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation) is closely tied to the health of ecosystems. Natural habitats such as forests and wetlands play a key role in filtering and purifying water, maintaining the water cycle, and regulating water flow. This natural filtration process is vital for providing clean drinking water and supporting sanitation systems.

Biodiversity and ecosystems are also crucial for SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-being). Natural environments regulate diseases by supporting a balance among species that, in turn, can control pest and disease outbreaks. Additionally, a vast number of medical discoveries, including medicines and treatments, have their origins in biological resources, underscoring the potential of biodiversity in contributing to human health and well-being.

Moreover, biodiversity and ecosystems play a significant role in addressing climate change, linking to SDG 13 (Climate Action). Ecosystems such as forests and oceans are major carbon sinks, absorbing and storing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Protecting and restoring these ecosystems are vital strategies for climate change mitigation. Additionally, healthy ecosystems provide crucial services for climate change adaptation, such as protecting against extreme weather events and helping communities adjust to changing environmental conditions.

However, achieving these goals requires addressing threats to biodiversity and ecosystems, such as habitat destruction, pollution, overfishing, and invasive species. It also involves balancing the needs of human development with environmental conservation, ensuring sustainable use of natural resources.

Biodiversity and ecosystems are integral to achieving multiple SDGs. Their conservation and sustainable use not only benefit the environment but are essential for food security, water purity, human health, and combating climate change. The protection and restoration of biodiversity and ecosystems are therefore crucial steps towards sustainable development and ensuring the well-being of current and future generations.

Endophytic fungi were able to protect their host plants against pathogens and promote plant growth. No previous studies have been conducted on the growth promotion of sunchoke by endophytic fungi. This research was the first to characterize plant growth promoting properties of endophytic fungi including, Macrophomina phaseolina BUP2/3 and Diaporthe phaseolorum BUP3/1 isolated from sunchoke and Daldinia eschscholtzii 2NTYL11, Trichoderma koningii ST-KKU1, Trichoderma erinaceum ST-KKU2, Macrophomina phaseolina SS1L10 and Macrophomina phaseolina SS1R10 from medicinal plants.
The plant root system influences plant growth and development due to its phenotypic, physiological, metabolomic, and microbiomic traits. Broadly speaking, it is characterized by primary (stem-attached large), secondary (primary-attached medium), and fine (secondary-attached hair-like) roots. The role of root branching order and categories (fine, medium, and large) in influencing microbial communities in the rhizosphere and root environments is not clear.
Elsevier, One Earth, Volume 3, 18 December 2020
Earth's ecosystems, upon which all life depends, are in a severe state of degradation. The upcoming UN Decade of Ecosystem Restoration aims to “prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean.” These Voices articulate why and what action is urgently needed.
Rewilding should be central to the massive restoration efforts needed to overcome the global biodiversity crisis and enhancing the biosphere's capacity to mitigate climate change. Key elements include large areas for nature, restoration of functional megafaunas and other natural biodiversity-promoting factors, synergy with major societal dynamics, and careful socio-ecological implementation.
Restoring forest cover is a prominent option for climate mitigation. Effective deployment requires knowing where opportunities are and how they vary in carbon capture, costs, co-benefits, and feasibility. Here, we combined spatial, economic, and feasibility analyses to examine 10 different opportunity classes for restoration of forest cover across the contiguous United States. These include non-stocked forests, shrublands, protected areas, post-burn landscapes, pasture lands, croplands with challenging soils, urban areas, floodplains, streamsides, and biodiversity corridors.
Agricultural pesticides represent a significant class of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) to which non-target organisms around the world are constantly exposed. Laboratory studies have found strong evidence showing the endocrine-disruptive potential of these pesticides at environmentally relevant exposure levels. Since the field of endocrine disruption continues to grow in richness and complexity, this review aims to provide an update on the effects of two agricultural pesticides that act as EDCs: atrazine and endosulfan.

Restoration thinking provides a new paradigm for charting a bold future that prevents further loss of biodiversity and habitat destruction, avoids catastrophic climate change, and promotes the well-being and safety of all people. Ten paths guide actions to restore and care for Earth and all its living creatures.

Agroecosystems make up a significant portion of terrestrial ecosystems and receive a disproportionally high amount of terrestrial nitrogen inputs from fertilizer, leading to nitrogen loss and associated environmental problems. Integrated crop livestock systems, such as pasture-integrated crop rotations, may be more environmentally sustainable however the long-term effects of this management practice on soil microorganisms and nitrogen transformations are not well understood.

This article supports SDG 15 by demonstrating overall rangelands greening has a complex impacts on biodiversity under high environmental heterogeneity and societal dynamics.

30th November 2020

World Soil Day (WSD) is held annually on 5 December as a means to focus attention on the importance of healthy soil and to advocate for the sustainable management of soil resources for a food-secure future. In support of this year's theme - 'Keep soil alive, protect soil biodiversity' - Elsevier presents a curated, open access collection of over 60 journal articles to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy soil ecosystems.