In comparison with the rest mass of all life on Earth for humanity have nothing at all. But despite this “insignificance”, the mark left by humankind on this planet, truly devastating for the rest. One of the main goals of biology as a science is the understanding of the mechanisms of functioning of the biosphere in General, in all its complex interrelationships, both internal and external. It is important to have reasonable quantitative estimates of the mass of living organisms — as a whole, and for individual taxa. But as the authors of an article published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, contemporary data on this.
In the framework of a comprehensive study aimed at a quantitative estimate of the mass of all living organisms present on our planet, us and Israeli researchers found that the share of humanity has a mere 0.01 percent of the total biomass. But despite our physical insignificance in comparison with all the diversity of life that surrounds us, history clearly shows who really dominates the planet.
“I hope our work will give a clear understanding of the dominant role played by the man for all life on Earth,” says Ron Sweet, a biologist from the Israeli Weizmann Institute.
“She’s certainly striking and quite disproportionate to our place on the planet.”
Ron Sweet and his colleagues took nearly three years for the search and analysis an extensive literature (a list of links in a short article reaches fifty points). To exclude the influence of different water content in different organisms, the evaluation they conducted on the amount of carbon that is associated in one or another realm of the living. According to this indicator, the total mass of the entire biosphere of the Earth was about 550 GT (GT, billion tons).
Despite his enormous size, viruses represent only a tiny fraction of this mass to 0.2 GT. The undisputed leaders were plants with their mass of 450 GT (80% of total biomass), most of the weight falls on land plants: land plants and animal organisms generally responsible for 470 GT fixed carbon. Second place goes to the bacteria. They account for about 70 GT (15 percent). Followed by mushrooms – 12 GT, archaea – 7 GT and protozoa – 4 GT.
Surprisingly, the animals gaining a total of only 2 GT mass of carbon, half of it falls on the insect. The proportion of humanity — 0,06 GT is comparable to the mass of the entire group of termites, but almost 10 times more total mass of all wild mammals on the planet, which is about 0.007 GT.
But the mass of creatures, obliged by its multiplicity of man, much greater than the mass of mankind: so, animals — cattle, pigs and others — outweigh all wild mammals; mass home — more than 20 times. Same story with the birds. A lot of plants we too much influenced over the last 10 thousand years, people have cut it in half.
All these figures, of course, interesting, but the scientists ‘ task was to estimate the mass of living beings, and to find the main source of protein on Earth. Yet they found him not; having difficulty with the estimation of the mass and composition of soil microorganisms. Ron is Cute with his colleagues hope to answer your question before the end of this year.