What are the biological problems these days

Causes of the threat to animal and plant species

Free-living animal and plant species are threatened in Germany primarily by the following causes:

  • The destruction, fragmentation and loss of land in natural habitats. If a habitat is reduced or changed through human activities, for example through deforestation, development or modification, or intensification of agricultural use, it loses its species population in whole or in part.
  • Overuse, for example through overgrazing, overfishing and uncontrolled (illegal) hunting or gathering, degrades ecosystems, which is associated with a loss of species.
  • Pollution: The pollution associated with human economies is a burden on ecosystems. Chemical residues from production and use in agriculture and forestry can be found in natural and human ecosystems. Effects on natural communities are difficult to assess. The entry of nitrogen and phosphorus through human activities into the ecosystem plays a special role in the decline of species, as this gives certain nutrient-loving plants ecological advantages over others. For example, many of the extinct or endangered plant species in Germany are dependent on locations that are poor in nutrients.
  • Climate change: Changes in species areas as a result of climatic changes are in principle a natural process. One of the threats to man-made climate change is the extreme pace of change (viewed in natural periods), which overwhelms the adaptability of many species. In addition, there are fatal interactions between climate changes and habitat destruction by humans. Possible retreat areas are not available due to human use or cannot be reached due to biotope fragmentation. In addition, the network of designated protected areas may no longer match the changed areas of the species.
  • The displacement of native species by invasive species: Invasive species compete with naturally occurring species for habitat and resources. This can displace other species or entire species communities. Loss of species through introduced species also has an impact on naturally occurring fauna and flora in Germany. Examples of animals are the crayfish (Orconectes limosus) and the muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus) and, among the plants, the giant hogweed (Heracleum mantegazzianum) or the Sakhalin knotweed (Reynoutria / Fallopia sachalinensis).

Biodiversity may well increase locally and regionally at the moment. This is not in contrast to the extinction of species on a global scale and does not mean that the global extinction of species has come to a standstill. Numerous autochthonous wild populations in Germany on water and on land have shrunk to small and very small population sizes and are therefore subject to an increased risk of extinction.