The missing link in biodiversity conservation

Andrew Beattie*, Paul R. Ehrlich

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalLetterpeer-review

    6 Citations (Scopus)


    The Editorial by J. Marton-Lefèvre titled “Biodiversity is our life” (5 March, p. 1179) does not address the missing link in appeals for biodiversity conservation. Conservationists have two messages for the public: (i) Biodiversity loss is tragic because of the impending extinctions of charismatic species of mammals, birds, amphibians, and plants; and (ii) biodiversity is important because it contributes to ecosystem services. Conspicuously missing from these seemingly disparate concepts is the connection between them: the many millions of species within the numerous phyla of microbes and invertebrates, which represent perhaps 95% of total species and genetic biodiversity. These species are less likely to gain public sympathy than a frog or hawk, yet they are the ones (in addition to plants) that drive agriculture, forestry, and fisheries—the very ecosystem services we strive to protect—by mediating soil chemistry and generating marine food chains. Crucially, these species also support the more charismatic ones. We can connect the dots for the public with a new message, one we would like to label “production biodiversity”: By protecting microbes and invertebrates, we also protect the primary industries upon which we all depend.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)307-308
    Number of pages2
    Issue number5976
    Publication statusPublished - 16 Apr 2010


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