Journal of Life Science and Biomedicine  
J Life Sci Biomed, 9 (3): 68-73, 2019  
License: CC BY 4.0  
ISSN 2251-9939  
Review on biodiversity, ecosystem services  
and genetically modified organisms  
Mastewal BIRHAN1, Haileyesus DEJENE2 and Ambaye KENUBIH1  
1College of Veterinary Medicine and Animal science, Department Veterinary Paraclinical Studies, University of Gondar, Ethiopia  
2College of Veterinary Medicine and Animal science, Department Veterinary Epidemiology and Public health, University of Gondar, Ethiopia  
Corresponding author’s Email:; ORCID: 0000-0002-0984-5582  
Review Article  
PII: S225199391900011-9  
Introduction. Understanding the relationship between ecosystem and diversity requires  
knowledge of how species interact with each other and how each is affected by the  
environment. It is useful to distinguish between the instantaneous effects of species  
Rec. 25 December 2018  
Rev. 22 April  
Pub. 10 May  
richness on ecosystems and those which become deceptive on a longer time scale, described  
here as filter and founder effects. Biological diversity appears to enhance the resilience of  
desirable ecosystem states, which is required to secure the production of essential  
ecosystem services.  
Aim. The diversity of responses to environmental change among species contributing to the  
same ecosystem function, which we call response diversity, is critical to resilience. Response  
diversity is particularly important for ecosystem renewal and reorganization following  
change. Here we criticism the various roles that biodiversity, ecosystem services and  
genetically modified organisms play in terrestrial ecosystems with special emphasis on  
their contribution to productivity and diversity. Therefore, the aim of this review is  
summarizing of different articles and writing of the effects of one to the others, and the  
relation between biodiversity, ecosystem services and genetically modified organisms.  
Ecosystem services,  
Genetically modified  
The growing demand for food poses major challenges to humankind [1]. Genetically modified (GM) crops are  
subject to regulatory approval before entering the market [2]. Genetically modified (GM) crops have been  
commercially grown for 10 years [3]. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA) documented the dominant  
impacts of agriculture on terrestrial land and freshwater use, and the critical importance of agricultural  
landscapes in providing products for human sustenance, supporting wild species biodiversity and maintaining  
ecosystem services [4].  
Epidemiological studies recommend that living close to the natural environment is associated with long-  
term health benefits including reduced death rates, reduced cardiovascular disease, and reduced psychiatric  
problems. The significance of biological diversity in maintaining such systems cannot be overemphasized [5].  
Diversity of crops above ground as well as diversity of soil life below ground provided protection against the  
vagaries of weather, market swings, as well as outbreaks of diseases or insect pests [6].  
In recent decades, the concept of ecosystem services (ES) has gained widespread attention as one fruitful  
approach for integrating into decision-making ecosystem-related values often heretofore dismissed as  
externalities [7]. Ecosystem services are functions provided by nature that improve and sustain human  
wellbeing [8]. In agro-ecosystems, biodiversity performs a variety of ecological services beyond the production  
of food, including recycling of nutrients, regulation of microclimate and local hydrological processes,  
suppression of undesirable organisms and detoxification of noxious chemicals [9]. Many ecosystem services are  
delivered by organisms that depend on habitats that are segregated spatially or temporally from the location  
where services are provided [8].  
The majority of farmers in the developing world tend small plots in marginal environments, using  
indigenous agricultural methods. These diversified agro-ecosystems have emerged over centuries of biological  
evolution, and represent the experiences of farmers interacting with their environment without access to  
external inputs, capital, or scientific knowledge [10].  
To cite this paper: Birhan M, Dejene H and Kenubih A 2019. Review on: biodiversity, ecosystem services and genetically modified organisms. J. Life Sci. Biomed.  
Large-scale exploitation of wild animals and plants through fishing, hunting and logging often depends on  
augmentation through releases of translocated raised individuals. Such releases are performed worldwide in  
vast numbers [11]. For example, in the rice endosperm, the edible part of the rice grain, the micronutrients iron,  
folate, pro-vitamin A, and vitamin E are present only at minimal levels while in the rice leaf they are present in  
quantities which would be adequate if rice leaves were apt for human consumption. Unfortunately, large parts  
of the world’s population survive on less than two dollars a day and hence can neither diversify their diets nor  
buy supplements [12].  
The prime aim and justification of conservation research is to benefit biological diversity, whether through  
identifying patterns and mechanisms, quantifying changes, recognizing problems, or testing solutions. Many of  
the successes in conservation can be attributed to the successful translation of conservation science to  
conservation practice [13].  
Individual organisms within a community may represent different species or different genetic variants  
within species. The birth, death and movement of individuals determine the dynamics of populations and  
communities, and therefore both genetic diversity within populations and species diversity within the  
community. Species diversity and genetic diversity have traditionally received independent treatment by  
community ecologists and population geneticists, respectively, despite repeated recognition in the literature  
over the past 30 years of potential connections between these two most fundamental levels of biodiversity [14].  
Despite a worldwide biodiversity crisis and negative impacts of biodiversity loss on humanity,  
conservation is not as prominent in political agendas as some believe it should be. This is largely because most  
conservation strategies fail to incorporate the flow of benefits from ecosystems to people (ecosystem services).  
Yet, for conservation to gain greater prominence in political agendas, these schemes must demonstrate how  
conservation efforts can also meet human needs [15]. Therefore, in this review, I attempted to summarize the  
current condition, available evidence, and present information about biodiversity, ecosystem services and  
genetically modified organisms and their impacts on the existing environments.  
GMOs can be defined as organisms in which the genetic material (DNA) has been altered in a way that does not  
occur naturally by mating or natural recombination, i.e. by being genetically modified (GM) or by recombinant  
DNA technology. The addition of foreign genes has often been used in plants to produce novel proteins that  
confer pest and disease tolerance and, more recently, to improve the chemical profile of the processed product,  
e.g. vegetable oils. In the European Union (EU) and other regions, the use of this technology, the consequent  
release of GMOs in the environment and the marketing of GMO-derived food products are strictly regulated  
Types of GMO testing  
GM products contain an additional trait encoded by an introduced gene(s), which generally produce an  
additional protein(s) that confers the trait of interest. Raw material (e.g. grains) and processed products (e.g.  
foods) derived from GM crops might thus be identified by testing for the presence of introduced DNA, or by  
detecting expressed novel proteins encoded by the genetic material. Both qualitative (i.e. those that give a  
yes/no answer) and quantitative methods are available. Laboratories carrying out these assays must be  
proficient in performing them [17].  
Testing for (detection of) GMOs  
Testing for (detection of) GMOs may serve several purposes. Qualitative testing may be used to  
discriminate between authorized and unauthorized material or use of material, to identify safe or potentially  
unsafe material, or for certification of purity of identity preserved material. Quantitative testing may be used to  
control for compliance with legal (e.g. for labeling) or contractually agreed thresholds (e.g. with respect to  
botanical impurity). Testing may also play a role in the safety assessment and risk management of GMOs by  
providing a means of tracing and if necessary retracting the GMO material, by providing data from  
characterization of the GMO itself [18].  
The test report therefore must provide information not only about the test result but also about the  
uncertainties and limitations associated with the test result. This information must be presented in a form that  
is perceived and interpreted correctly by the stakeholder. The responsibilities of the analysts include: 1)  
To cite this paper: Birhan M, Dejene H and Kenubih A 2019. Review on: biodiversity, ecosystem services and genetically modified organisms. J. Life Sci. Biomed.  
appropriate choice of testing method, including method validation status; 2) identification of potential sources  
of error in reporting and translation of results; and 3) communication with the stakeholders a priori, explaining  
what the analyst can provide, and a posteriori, explaining what the results mean including relevant limitations.  
Most testing is not performed by the same people who sample the material that is subject to testing, and  
sampling is not covered in the present paper. Because the sampling error may be much larger than the  
analytical measurement uncertainty or error, the interested reader is referred to for more information on  
sampling [19].  
Human impacts on the environment are intensifying, raising vexing questions of how best to allocate the  
limited resources available for biodiversity conservation. Which creatures and places most deserve attention?  
Which should we ignore, potentially accepting their extinction? The answer to this dilemma depends on one's  
objectives. To motivate action, conservationists often mix diverse ethical and practical objectives, hoping they  
will reinforce each other. But attention given to one goal may instead diminish the prospects for achieving  
others [20].  
Ecosystem Services  
Relationships between ecosystem services and human well-being are poorly understood [21]. Most  
research related to ecosystem services focuses on direct drivers, such as land use change or invasive species.  
Yet, effective management requires more attention to indirect drivers such as demographic, economic,  
sociopolitical, and cultural factors. Lack of knowledge of trends in human reliance on ecosystem services also  
posed serious constraint in the MA analysis. Lack of appreciation of humans dependence on natural ecosystems  
represents but one of a complex of interacting factors responsible for today's array of anthropogenic  
disruptions of the biosphere. Yet, it clearly represents a major hindrance to the formulation and  
implementation of policy designed to safeguard earth's life-support systems [22].  
Moreover, lack of understanding of the relations between ecosystem services and human well-being traces  
ultimately to a failure of the scientific community to generate, synthesize, and effectively convey the necessary  
information to the public. In fact, the benefits provided by natural ecosystems are both widely recognized and  
poorly understood. Consequently, it is vital to understand the relationships between ecosystem services and  
human well-being as well as their changes following economic development, including: (i) the correlations  
between human well-being yielded from ecosystem services and economic growth; (ii) the dynamics of the  
dependence of humans on different types of ecosystem services; and (iii) the effects of ecosystems and  
biodiversity on human well-being yielded from ecosystem services [23].  
An assessment of the capacity of ecosystem services to benefit a given community requires identification  
and quantification of human-related benefits, costs, and the availability of alternatives to meet needs [15].  
Ecosystem Diversity  
Ecosystems are complex, adaptive systems characterized by historical dependency, non-linear dynamics,  
and multiple basins of attraction. We are part of ecosystems and alter their dynamics through activities that  
change the atmosphere and climate, land surface, and waters. In the future, we are likely to face different, more  
variable environments, and there will be greater uncertainty about how ecosystems will respond to the  
inevitable increases in levels of use. At the same time, our activities have already reduced the capacity of  
ecosystems to cope with disturbance and change. Here we highlight the often neglected but essential role of  
diversity within functional groups in the adaptive capacity of ecosystems [24].  
Ecosystem resilience may be an essential factor underlying the sustained production of natural resources  
and ecosystem services in complex systems faced with uncertainty and surprise. Ecosystem resilience is  
defined as the amount of disturbance a system can absorb and still remain within the same state or domain of  
attraction [25]. Resilience also encompasses the ability of an ecosystem subject to disturbance and change to  
reorganize and renew itself. The definition includes the degree to which the system is capable of self-  
organization (versus a lack of organization, or organization forced by external factors), and how much it  
expresses a capacity for learning and adaptation [26].  
To cite this paper: Birhan M, Dejene H and Kenubih A 2019. Review on: biodiversity, ecosystem services and genetically modified organisms. J. Life Sci. Biomed.  
Genetic diversity  
Genetic diversity, defined here as any measure that quantifies the magnitude of genetic variability within  
a population, is a fundamental source of biodiversity. For more than 80 years, the study of genetic diversity has  
principally been the domain of evolutionary biologists [27].  
The pioneering work of the modern evolutionary synthesis provided the theoretical and empirical  
foundation for the study of genetic diversity, including the derivation of new standard quantitative metrics of  
genetic diversity such as heritability and genetic variance. Since the modern synthesis, interest in genetic  
diversity has focused on its origin and maintenance, its role in the evolution of sexual reproduction and how the  
level and types of genetic variance affect the rate of evolutionary change within populations [28].  
Species-individual diversity  
Species diversity and genetic diversity can be defined, measured or manipulated in a number of different  
ways. Species diversity is most often measured as species richness, the number of species in a given locality. In  
studies that experimentally manipulate species diversity (review, it is also most often species richness that is  
varied among treatments. Several indices of species diversity incorporate information about the relative  
abundances of species in a locality, with higher diversity indicated by a more even distribution of abundance  
among species higher ‘evenness’ [14].  
Functional diversity  
Use of the term ‘functional diversity’ has grown exponentially over the last decade and in 2003-2005 it  
give the idea in the title, abstract or keywords of 238 articles. These include studies of marine, freshwater and  
terrestrial ecosystems, and span a wide range of taxa from bacteria to bats. Functional diversity generally  
involves understanding communities and ecosystems based on what organisms do, rather than on their  
evolutionary history. This is a very general definition for functional diversity and an enormous amount of  
ecological research is relevant. For example, if ‘what organisms do’ is interpreted as the organisms’ phenotype  
(i.e. a phenotypic trait) then functional diversity equates with phenotypic diversity and the majority of  
ecological research has touched on this subject [29].  
In the area of biodiversity, ecosystem services, genetically modified organisms, sampling will mainly be an issue  
with respect to testing of raw materials and ingredients where most problems of inhomogeneity will exist. At  
the same time as there will be few problems of ecosystems diversity to the importing genetically modified  
organisms with processed foods i.e. retail foods, there will be enormous difficulties in developing validated  
methods of analysis robust enough to cover the full range of food types. To sustain biological and ecosystems  
richness in the country, it should be build and form regulatory body to be more practical to carry out sampling  
at the factory rather than at retail level. To date, there have been no attempts to study the problems of  
homogeneity of consignments of non-GMO and clearly this work will need to be undertaken to develop  
sampling plans. For this purpose the experience of ecosystems services and biodiversity diversity is equivalent  
areas to be valuable in developing country. Based on the above information the following recommendations  
should be forwarded:  
Current natural resource management seldom takes the ecosystem functions performed by organisms  
that move between systems into consideration.  
There is a need for generic protection goals that are independent of the agricultural technology used;  
what constitutes environmental harm should not be defined by the technology causing the harm.  
Sustainable development requires the reconciliation of demands for biodiversity conservation and  
increased agricultural production.  
The adoption of herbicide-resistant crops has reduced crop rotation and favored weed management  
that is solely based on the use of herbicides.  
To cite this paper: Birhan M, Dejene H and Kenubih A 2019. Review on: biodiversity, ecosystem services and genetically modified organisms. J. Life Sci. Biomed.  
Authors' contributions  
MB, AK and HD conceived the review, coordinated the overall activity and drafted the manuscript.  
Availability of data and materials  
Data will be made available up on request of the primary author  
First of all, the authors would like to express their sincere gratitude to the review participants for their  
willingness to take part in the synthesis. The authors’ heartfelt thanks will also go to University of Gondar, Vice  
President of Research and Community Service, Collage of Veterinary Medicine and Animal Science for the  
financially supporting the systematic review.  
Consent to publish  
Not applicable.  
Competing interests  
The authors declare that they have no competing interests.  
This review is not funded by any organization.  
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To cite this paper: Birhan M, Dejene H and Kenubih A 2019. Review on: biodiversity, ecosystem services and genetically modified organisms. J. Life Sci. Biomed.