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CR12047 2B
SEMESTER 2, 2015



Biodiversity is the variety of life. It can be studied on many levels. At the highest level,
you can look at all the different species on the entire Earth. On a much smaller scale, you
can study biodiversity within a pond ecosystem or a neighborhood park. Identifying and
understanding the relationships between all the lives on Earth are some of the greatest
challenges in science.
The number and variety of plants, animals and other organisms that exist is known as
biodiversity. It is an essential component of nature and it ensures the survival of human
species by providing food, fuel, shelter, medicines and other resources to mankind. The
richness of biodiversity depends on the climatic conditions and area of the region. All
species of plants taken together are known as flora and about 70,000 species of plants are
known till date. All species of animals taken together are known as fauna which includes
birds, mammals, fish, reptiles, insects, crustaceans, molluscs, etc.
Most people recognize biodiversity by species. A species is a group of living organisms
that can interbreed. Examples of species include, blue whales, white-tailed deer, white
pine trees, sunflowers and microscopic bacteria that you cannot even see with your eye.
Biodiversity includes the full range of species that live in an area.
Yet another aspect of biodiversity is the variety of ecosystems such as those that occur in
deserts, forests, wetlands, mountains, lakes, rivers, and agricultural landscapes. In each
ecosystem, living creatures, including humans, form a community, interacting with one
another and with the air, water, and soil around them.
It is the combination of life forms and their interactions with each other and with the rest of
the environment that has made Earth a uniquely habitable place for humans. Biodiversity
provides a large number of goods and services that sustain our lives.1

Species diversity is only one part of biodiversity. To properly catalogue all the life on Earth,
we also have to recognize the genetic diversity that exists within species as well as the
diversity of entire habitats and ecosystems.

Genetic Biodiversity.
Is the variation in genes that exists within a species. A helpful way to understand genetic
diversity is to think about dogs. All dogs are part of the same species, but their genes can
dictate whether they are Chihuahua or a Great Dane.
There can be a lot of variation in genes just think about all the colors, sizes, and shapes
that make up the genetic diversity of dogs. For example, in a particularly cold winter, many
individuals of a species may die from lack of insulation, but if the population as a whole
1 About biodiversity. Definition. Checked on Monday, November 9th, 2015 of

has genetic diversity for a trait such as fat storage, then at least some members of the
population will survive and the species will not become extinct. The next year, more
offspring will have the valuable trait and the species will evolve to tolerate the cooler
At the opposite extreme, characteristics of genetically healthy populations are a high
population size that includes many individuals that are unrelated to each other. Often, the
existence of disjunct populations, those separated by some geographic barrier that only
occasionally lets migrants through, ensures that there are always unrelated individuals.

Ecological Biodiversity.
Is the diversity of ecosystems, natural communities and habitats. In essence, its the
variety of ways that species interact with each other and their environment. The forests of
Maine differ from the forests of Colorado by the types of species found in both
ecosystems, as well as the temperature and rainfall. These two seemingly similar
ecosystems have a lot of differences that make them both special. A mountain range is as
an example of ecological diversity that illustrates the evolution and patterns of biodiversity.

Taxonomic Diversity.
The next level of biodiversity, taxonomic diversity, refers to the variety of individuals at a
given hierarchical level in the scientific naming system. This could be the number of
different species, genera, families, or kingdoms. For example, a cornfield may have
hundreds of birds living in it, but they may represent only three species that are all in one
family, meaning that there is low taxonomic diversity. A similar-sized area in a nearby forest
may also have hundreds of birds living in it, but these birds may be from twenty different
species that belong to eight families and three orders, representing a higher level of
diversity. Around the world, crops and livestock typically consist of only one species.
These monocultures support a low level of biodiversity. 2


Biodiversity and Agriculture.
It includes all forms of life directly relevant to agriculture: rare seed varieties and animal breeds
(farm biodiversity), but also many other organisms such as soil fauna, weeds, pests, predators,
and all of the native plants and animals (wild biodiversity) existing on and flowing through the
farm. However, most attention in this field is given to crop varieties and to crop wild relatives.
For example the short straw wheat and rice varieties of the Green Revolution. In contrast,
farmers varieties (also known as landraces) are the product of (breeding and) selection carried
out by farmers. Together, these varieties represent high levels of genetic diversity and are
therefore the focus of most crop genetic resources conservation efforts.

2 Biodiversity. Biodiversity is more than species. Checked on Monday,

November 9th, 2015 of http://www.palaentologyonline.com/

Biodiversity and Human Health.

Biodiversity's relevance to human health is becoming an international political issue, as
scientific evidence builds on the global health implications of biodiversity loss. This issue is
closely linked with the issue of climate change, as many of the anticipated health risks of
climate change are associated with changes in biodiversity (e.g. changes in populations and
distribution of disease vectors, scarcity of fresh water, impacts on agricultural biodiversity and
food resources etc.) This is because the species most likely to disappear are those that buffer
against infectious disease transmission, while surviving species tend to be the ones that
increase disease transmission, such as that of West Nile Virus, Lyme disease and Hantavirus,

Biodiversity, Business and Industry

Many industrial materials derive directly from biological sources. These include building
materials, fibers, dyes, rubber and oil. Biodiversity is also important to the security of resources
such as water, timber, paper, fiber, and food. As a result, biodiversity loss is a significant risk
factor in business development and a threat to long term economic sustainability.

Biodiversity and ecological services.

Biodiversity supports many ecosystem services:
"There is now unequivocal evidence that biodiversity loss reduces the efficiency by which
ecological communities capture biologically essential resources, produce biomass,
decompose and recycle biologically essential nutrients... There is mounting evidence that
biodiversity increases the stability of ecosystem functions through time... Diverse
communities are more productive because they contain key species that have a large
influence on productivity, and differences in functional traits among organisms increase
total resource capture... The impacts of diversity loss on ecological processes might be
sufficiently large to rival the impacts of many other global drivers of environmental
change... Maintaining multiple ecosystem processes at multiple places and times requires
higher levels of biodiversity than does a single process at a single place and time."
Biodiversity is extremely important to people and the health of ecosystems. A few of the
reasons are:
Biodiversity allows us to live healthy and happy lives. It provides us with an array
of foods and materials and it contributes to the economy. Without a diversity of
pollinators, plants, and soils, our supermarkets would have a lot less produce.
Most medical discoveries to cure diseases and lengthen life spans were made
because of research into plant and animal biology and genetics. Every time a
species goes extinct or genetic diversity is lost, we will never know whether
research would have given us a new vaccine or drug.
Biodiversity is an important part of ecological services that make life livable on
Earth. They include everything from cleaning water and absorbing chemicals,
which wetlands do, to providing oxygen for us to breatheone of the many things
that plants do for people.
Biodiversity allows for ecosystems to adjust to disturbances like extreme fires and
floods. If a reptile species goes extinct, a forest with 20 other reptiles is likely to
adapt better than another forest with only one reptile.
Genetic diversity prevents diseases and helps species adjust to changes in their

Simply for the wonder of it all. There are few things as beautiful and inspiring as the
diversity of life that exists on Earth. 3

Extinction is a natural part of life on Earth. Over the history of the planet most of the
species that ever existed, evolved and then gradually went extinct. Species go extinct
because of natural shifts in the environment that take place over long periods of time, such
as ice ages.
Today, species are going extinct at an accelerated and dangerous rate, because of nonnatural environmental changes caused by human activities. Some of the activities have
direct effects on species and ecosystems, such as:

Habitat loss/ degradation

Over exploitation (such as overfishing)

Spread of Non-native Species/ Diseases4


United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (1992) and Cartagena Protocol

on Biosafety;

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES);

Ramsar Convention (Wetlands);

Bonn Convention on Migratory Species;

World Heritage Convention (indirectly by protecting biodiversity habitats)

Regional Conventions such as the Apia Convention

Bilateral agreements such as the Japan-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement

3 Wildlife.org. Wildlife conservation. Biodiversity. Checked on Monday,

November 9th, 2015 of http://nwf.org/Wildlife/WildlifeConservation/Biodiversity.aspx
4 Global Change
y/biodiversity.html, Novmbre 8th, 2015