At some point last week a small fly bit my leg, perhaps a biting midge in the family Ceratopogonidae*. In doing so, the fly infected the wound with bacteria, possibly a Staphylococcus species. That’s turned into a large, painful cellulitis (pictured) that is causing fever, body aches, dizziness, sweating, sleep problems, exhaustion, and general unwellness**. Although I love biodiversity, sometimes it causes all kinds of health problems for humans. Bad biodiversity.
A visit to my GP yesterday afternoon resulted in her prescribing me a course of antibiotics, specifically clarithromycin. Although this is a synthetic antibiotic it was developed as a variant of erythromycin which in turn is a natural antibiotic isolated from the bacterium Streptomyces erythraea. Good biodiversity.
There’s a temptation in environmentalism to see nature as all good, a Mother Earth that provides for us. Which it does, and one way of considering these benefits is as ecosystem services. However nature also inflicts a whole range of ecosystem disservices on the human population of this planet, backed up by some of its biodiversity. Nature is neither all good nor all bad, it just is.
My first year undergraduate classes start next week with the module Biodiversity: an Introduction. I hope to be well enough to teach it and at some point I’ll use this as an example the good and the bad in biodiversity.
*Ironically flies in this family are major pollinators of one of the main groups of plants I study in the genus Ceropegia – see this post from last year.
**And a pain in the arse to my wife – sorry Karin! It was she who persuaded me to go and see the GP after a few days of “no, no, it will get better on its own….”