Do humans really need other species?

Do humans really need other species?

There is little doubt that without other species, people cannot thrive.

Being an ecologist, a scientist who researches the relationships between plants, microbes, fungi, and animals, including people, I am aware of at least three causes for why we require other living things.

Humans need other species to produce food

People wouldn’t have anything to eat without other species, to start.

Every organism, including humans, needs food to provide them with energy, the building blocks for their bodies, and the means to reproduce. Only a few microbes and plants are able to create the fundamental molecules that make up that food using energy from sunshine, water, and carbon dioxide. Photosynthesis is the name of this process.

Humans wouldn’t have food to eat without these organisms. A plant or other photosynthetic organism, an animal that grazes on them, or an animal that feeds on animals that graze make up the majority of the food we consume.

Even though most processed foods don’t appear to be made by animals, plants, fungus, or microorganisms, they almost always are. Although some vitamins and other food elements are produced, they make up a relatively minor portion of the average person’s diet.

Chemists have discovered ways to use various sources of energy to make molecules that could be used for food. Molecules produced this way are called “synthetic.” However, these processes are so difficult and expensive that it is currently impossible to feed people with these synthetic foods.

Production of synthetic food using genetically modified bacteria or cultured cell lines is growing in importance. In the future, the human diet may become a little less dependent on consuming plants and animals. Still, living organisms will remain a core component of these foods.

To produce healthy soil and breathable air, numerous diverse organisms—large, small, and microscopic—are required. trash must be broken down and recycled. to stop erosion and purify water. the transformation of other chemicals into sources of food that other organisms require to grow and thrive, and the breakdown of hazardous compounds into safe forms.

Almost 1,200 species of our food plants depend on pollinators to create the fruit or seed that people and other animals eat. Animals transport pollen from one plant to another during pollination, the process that enables plants to reproduce. The primary pollinators are bees, but several other insects, birds, bats, and other creatures help spread pollen among plants.

Many sizes of animals, from small ants to giant elephants, transfer seeds and disperse plants to create ecosystems that are productive and healthy. Many animals convert dead organisms into compounds that can be used to increase food production, from small microorganisms to enormous vultures and sharks.

Each mouthful of a typical meal contains ingredients from an astounding variety of species.

Human bodies need other species to stay healthy

A complex and extremely diversified ecology of microbial species that reside on the skin and in the respiratory, digestive, and reproductive systems are essential to many bodily processes. The “microbiome” refers to this collection of bacteria, fungus, and other microorganisms.

Each person has a distinct personal microbiome that functions to produce vitamins, digest and extract nutrients from food, and guard against infection.

For instance, the gut microbiota is crucial for transforming indigestible or harmful compounds into forms that can be expelled as well as for breaking down food into useful energy and minerals.

Over the course of a person’s lifetime, their microbiome changes depending on what they consume, what is around them, where they live, and how healthy they are. In actuality, bacterial cells make up more of human bodies than do human cells.

The 300 to 500 bacterial species that make up the core of a healthy gut ecology are significantly impacted by diet and medication.

Moreover, the microbiota is crucial for preventing illness. Microbial communities dominated by a small number of species are linked to a number of diseases. Some doctors use healthy patients’ feces to develop a beneficial microbiome in the goal of curing the condition.

Humans are happier around other species

Finally, studies suggest that being around different plant and animal species makes individuals happier and healthier. For their mental and physical well-being, they must encounter the sights, sounds, scents, feels, and tastes of other organisms. This motivation is known as “biophilia,” which is the love of living things.

For instance, hearing and watching birds can make you feel good. Recent research from Canada and Germany indicated that people are happier in neighborhoods with more bird species present. This might be as a result of actually seeing the birds or because the environment is healthy, as suggested by the presence of birds.

In a different Canadian study, researchers used covert speakers placed along hiking routes to play birdsong. Participants claimed that when they heard a variety of bird species rather than few or none, they felt more refreshed and satisfied with the trek.

Currently, cities are where more than half of the world’s population resides as opposed to rural areas. To add more green areas and green infrastructure to cities, urban planners and landscape architects are looking into many options.

According to research, people are more active, less stressed, healthier, and happier in cities with a variety of wildlife, lots of open green space, and greenery along the streets and on the buildings. People can encounter and interact with other species under these circumstances, as well as gain from the numerous things that plants, animals, and bacteria do to maintain a healthy and pleasant environment.

Scientists now understand that thousands of species are required to sustain human life. Nonetheless, our knowledge of the crucial functions that many species play in ecosystems, particularly urban ones, is still in its infancy. We still have a lot to learn about why and how other species are important to the survival of humans. And if people are to successfully travel for long periods in space or establish space colonies, we will have to understand what species we need to take along with us to survive and prosper.

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