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Biodiversity - Protecting the natural world

PROTECTING THE NATURAL WORLD

BIODIVERSITY

Biodiversity is the variety and differences of living organisms in an area including marine, terrestrial and other aquatic ecosystems, according to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

It provides the world with a wealth of knowledge and food, whilst also helping to eradicate poverty.

The richer the biodiversity the quicker the earth can recover from disasters and feed a growing population.

Biodiversity - Conservation International Hotspots

The map shows 34 biodiversity hotspots which cover 2.3 per cent of the Earth's land surface, yet more than 50 per cent of the world’s plant species and 42 per cent of all terrestrial vertebrate species are endemic to these areas (Conservation International). These are the areas which are suffering biodiversity loss and where attention is needed.

 

WHAT IS BIODIVERSITY?

Genetic Diversity is the number of different genetic characteristics in the genetic makeup of a species. It is genetic diversity that allows for differences within and between species and is important as it maintains biodiversity and vice-versa.

    If there are:

  • 100,000,000 different species on earth
  • and the rate of extinction is 0.01% a year
  • at least 10,000 species go extinct every year
  • Copyright: WWF

The problem is that if there is no genetic diversity then species will die out. For example, it is genetic diversity that allows certain species to live in certain areas, or to be resistant to certain things. When natural disasters happen, or changes in climatic conditions occur, it is genetic diversity that allows some species to be resilient and therefore able to survive and adapt to changing conditions.

Similarly, genetic diversity within a population also increases the survival chance of a species, as it prevents it from becoming prone to certain diseases or from dying off due to common defects. Also, by selecting certain genetics, it allows for selective breeding which can both improve a species’ survival and resistance to disease and weather conditions.

Species Diversity is based on the number of different species in an area (species richness) and the evenness of a species’ abundance (species evenness). High species diversity will usually create an increase in biodiversity and also strengthen ecosystems. Keystone species are also important to species diversity. They are the species which are very important in maintaining biodiversity and controlling ecosystems. Top predators, pollinators and decomposers are examples of these.

Ecosystem Diversity refers to the variations between biological communities and the importance of ecosystems’ in maintaining biodiversity. An ecosystem can be defined as a “biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment” and can exist on a number of scales.

Ecosystems are therefore important as they are the interactions of many different species with their environment, all interdependent on one another to survive. Ecosystems also facilitate the movement of energy, filtrate the air and act as climate stabilisers

Importance Why is biodiversity important to us and why should we care? This section looks at many of the ways humans rely on biodiversity and how it is important to the survival of the planet.
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Threats Ecosystems across the world are under threat from the actions of humans and the effects of global warming. This section looks at the actions which are a major threat to the diversity of ecosystems.
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Solutions/Best Practice So what can be done to protect biodiversity? Saving the biodiversity of the planet requires actions on all levels from governments to small households. This sections looks at a few of the options of how people can make a difference.
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Measuring Biodiversity This section looks at how biodiversity can be measured. The idea of measuring diversity is complex and various methods have been used to try and understand how and why biodiversity is changing.

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ARTICLES

Keep a close eye on the most recent technical articles about biodiversity use, scarcity and solutions.

Promoting Backyard Biodiversity Through Fish Ponds In its most basic form, your property is a wildlife preserve that performs a very important function: maintaining life’s natural balance, writes Marijn van Haaren, All Pond Solutions.

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