How Does Water Pollution Affect Biodiversity?

Water pollution affects biodiversity around the world in many different ways. One way water pollution affects biodiversity is that it causes species extinction. There have been many cases where a certain species has become extinct due to humans polluting the environment. Other forms of water pollution affect biodiversity in a less direct manner. When we talk about how water pollution affects biodiversity, we are talking about the impacts that different types of pollution have on our ecosystems. While some types of pollution might not directly kill any kind of wildlife, they may still cause them to change their behavior or even change the ecosystem altogether. This happens because species either migrate away from polluted waters or move to different areas of the same body of water.

In this article, we are going to discuss the effects of water pollution on biodiversity.

Effects of Sulfur and Nitrogen Pollutants On Biodiversity?

Common pollutants that end up in rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water include phosphorus and nitrogen. These contaminants generally come from manure and chemical fertilizers that are sprayed on fields to promote crop growth. Any nitrogen and phosphorus that the crop plants are unable to absorb is either washed away into different waterways or finds its way into groundwater.

Common pollutants that end up in rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water include phosphorus and nitrogen. These contaminants generally come from manure and chemical fertilizers that are sprayed on fields to promote crop growth. Any nitrogen and phosphorus that the crop plants are unable to absorb is either washed away into different waterways or finds its way into groundwater.

The majority of this contamination is caused by the livestock industry; in Europe, the raising of cattle is to blame for 73% of the water pollution caused by these sources. The nutrients cause plants in the water to grow far more quickly than they do on land. As a result, the excessive development of aquatic plants starts to have negative impacts, a process known as “eutrophication.” In Asia, eutrophic lakes today make about 54% of all lakes.

The current environment is not favorable for thriving biodiversity. The new plants raise oxygen levels during the day, but at night, aquatic microbes gorge on plant matter and sharply reduce oxygen levels. This is bad news for fish and other creatures like shrimp that rely on dissolved oxygen to breathe since many of them end up dying off in areas that are known as “dead zones.”

Effects of Pesticides on the Biodiversity

Similar to the fertilizers, pesticides can also enter the waterways if improperly applied.

90 percent of water and fish samples from US waters were found to contain one or more pesticides, according to studies conducted in the mid-1990s. Chlorpyrifos is a typical urban stream contamination that is hazardous to fish in the US. While other pesticides like trifluralin and glyphosate, which are frequently found in ordinary garden weedkillers, may not directly kill fish, they can reduce their chances of surviving, which can have an influence on the population as a whole. 

For non-flowing waterbodies like ponds and lakes, where the chemicals aren’t washed away and where wildlife can’t rapidly repopulate areas, the effects of pesticides on biodiversity typically tend to be severe.

Effect of Heavy Metals on Biodiversity

Water contaminated by heavy metals can come from a variety of sources, including mining, automobiles, and cement manufacturing. Mercury, arsenic, and cadmium are examples of heavy metals. Once in the environment, these metals do not break down quickly.

It has been discovered that certain metals affect the behavior and survival rates of several fish species.

Effect of Oil on Biodiversity

Although oil enters the water from a variety of sources, huge “oil spill” events have the greatest effects on wildlife. This typically occurs when a ship carrying oil across the ocean spills a significant portion of the cargo, devastating the ecosystem.

Although birds and larger animals exhibit the most obvious effects of such an occurrence, experts believe the deleterious effects on life in the deeper oceans are what have a greater influence on biodiversity.

Several factors that oil spills can affect the marine life are: physical obstruction of the gills and air passages, resulting in asphyxia; internal damage from the toxic effects of oil, including damage to key organs, lower development rates; and higher mortality of larvae are all effects of oil poisoning that prevent animals from locating food or spotting predators.

Effect of Acidic Water on Animals and Plants

If the pH level of a body of water drops below five, that means the water becomes acidic. Acidic water kills marine organisms, especially shellfish and coral reef species. Fish cannot eat plankton because it contains little to no protein. Shellfish cannot produce shells and coral reefs cannot build their skeletons. Marine algae dies off and corals lose all of their color and structure.

Final Thoughts

The term “biodiversity” emphasizes the value of the variety of life forms on Earth and the significance of each interaction.

Human activity has contributed to pollution in a variety of ways that can be found almost anywhere in the world. We can debate whether certain contaminants have a complete influence on biodiversity as a whole; for instance, certain species may rebound once pollutants are eliminated. But relying solely on that tactic is dangerous. The truth is that even a single species or small group of microbes can have an impact on an ecosystem and throw everything out of equilibrium.

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