Natural Window at the J.H. Barrow Station
Photo: David R. Anderson
Biodiversity refers to the variety of life from the level of the gene to the ecosystem. The rapid recent loss of biodiversity on earth is now recognized as one of the major problems of the 21st Century, not only because of the economic value of the organisms lost and the ecosystem services that are no longer provided, but also due to the inherent value of each species on its own. These losses are accelerating in many cases because we are not aware of the negative impact of human activities on species and ecosystems until it is too late.
Seining Fishes Fairport Harbor - Lake Erie
Biology of Fishes Class May 2005
Photo: Dennis J. Taylor
Bio monitoring in the strictest definition is the direct measurement of people's exposure to toxic substances in the environment. Investigators evaluate levels of the substances or their metabolites in human tissues. In a broader sense, bio monitoring is the examination of the impact of humans on individual organisms and ecosystems by assessing the health and well-being of individual species and ecosystems through time.
Bio monitoring therefore takes many forms from simple studies of plants in pots to complex investigations of human dominated landscapes. In bio monitoring we can assess the health of entire communities based on the presence and absence of key indicator species that are not tolerant to wide variation in environmental parameters often induced by human activity.
Classes and Initiatives
On the following pages are Classes and Initiatives that incorporate studies on biodiversity and bio monitoring. The classes are offered through Hiram College and the Shoals Marine Laboratory operated by Cornell University and the University of New Hampshire. The initiatives are either part of these classes or separate studies designed to increase our understanding of organisms and their environments or the impact of humans on systems and organisms.