Navigating the site:
Edward O. Wilson, The Diversity of Life, (1992)
"Climb into the tangle of fallen vegetation, tear away pieces of
rotting bark, roll over logs, and you will see these creatures teeming
everywhere. As the pioneer vegetation grows denser, the deepening shade
and the higher humidity again favor old forest species, and their saplings
sprout and grow. Within a hundred years the gap specialists will be phased
out by competition for light, and the tall storied forest will close completely
EOW, p. 11
"Human demographic success
has brought the world to this crisis of biodiversity....Our species appropriates
between 20 and 40 percent of the solar energy captured in organic material
by land plants. There is no way we can draw upon the resources of the
planet to such a degree without drastically reducing the state of most
EOW, p. 272
"If it is granted that biodiversity is at high risk,
what is to be done? The solution will require cooperation among professions
long separated by academic and practical tradition."
"So we should try to expand reserves from 4.3 percent
to 10 percent of the land surface, to include many of the undisturbed
habitats as possible with priority given to the world's hot spots."
"Because scientists have yet to put names on most kinds of organisms, and because they entertain only a vague idea of how ecosystems work, it is reckless to suppose that biodiversity can be diminished indefinitely without threatening humanity itself. Field studies show that as biodiversity is reduced, so is the services provided by ecosystems.... These services are important to human welfare."
"Only in the last moment of human history has the
delusion arisen that people can flourish apart from the rest of the living
Origins of diversity are complex:
"The most wonderful mystery of life may well be the means by which it created so much diversity from so little physical matter. The biosphere, all organisms combined, makes up only about one part in ten billion of the earth's mass. Yet life has divided into millions of species, the fundamental units, each playing a unique role in relation to the whole."
Great extinctions created the world we inhabit:
Ordovician -- first worldwide ecosystem collapse, cessation of reef building!
-- another worldwide collapse -- end of reef building, 90% extinction.
-- 54% of the families perished; 77-96% of all marine organisms
-- 1/3 of all families perished; dinosaurs, trilobites, & ammonites
Pleistocene -- large animals died out: saber toothed tigers, mammoths, & sloths
"This is the assembly of life that took a billion years to evolve. It has eaten the storms -- folded them into its genes and created the world that created us. It holds the world steady."
EOW: Edward O. Wilson, The Diversity of Life, [New York: W. W. Norton, 1992].