In our last trip to Ecuador we had an inspiring time in Cuyabeno National Reserve, an area part of the broad Amazon basin at the border with Colombia. Here we visited the jungle, by boat and on foot. What is most impressive by these tours were the incredible variety and diversity of species. We learnt how ants and some trees cooperate in order to protect each other by other species. We also learnt about a fungus whose spores penetrates in the body of ants and other insects, take control of their nervous system and then force the animal to commit suicide when it reaches certain areas whose conditions (e.g. humidity, lights) are deemed ideal for the fungus to grow and reproduce. You can see an example in the last shot of the short video below. After visiting Amazon and the Galapagos, I started asking myself why this incredible bio-diversity? Why here in Ecuador and not in more temperate areas in example? The help from Wikipedia, WWF and Google, combined with a bit of cross checks, gave me an interesting answer.
Short video about Ecuador's animals - The last shot is about this killer fungus that forces ants to commit suicide
Ecuador is defined by ecologist as one of World's mega diversity hotspots. This small nation is one of the most species-rich countries in the World. One reason, is that it lies on the Equator which generally has more solar energy and (generally) higher air moisture than other regions of the Earth. More sun and water means more plants, more biomass, more trophic levels and hence more bio-diversity.
Another explanation is that tropical areas like Ecuador, experience less seasonal variations. Species can concentrate on food supply and reproduction all year around without the hassle of e.g. stockpile food for the Winter, hibernate, migrate or synchronise sexual behaviours. In other words, less hassle to deal with seasons, gives more time for sex, which causes more competition and hence more bio-diversity.
But apparently that's not all, Ecuador's biodiversity is also boosted by the many habitats that it hosts within its borders. Obviously, the cold high Andes support very different animals than the low, humid rainforests. However, it is in the transition zones between these extremes, where much species overlapping occurs.
Why bio-diversity is so important for us and for our planet? Well, the richer the variety of life, the greater the opportunity we have for medical discoveries, human and economic development and the ability that the Nature has to respond and adapt to climate changes. Bio-diversity provides vast genetic pools which help in preserving the existence of life on Earth.