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Biodiversity is the variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or on the entire Earth.

Biodiversity is often
used as a measure of the health of biological systems. The biodiversity found on Earth today consists of many millions of
distinct biological species. The year 2010 has been declared as the International ear of Biodiversity.
Biodiversity is not distributed evenly on Earth, but is consistently rich in the tropics and in specific locali!ed regions such
as the "ape #loristic $rovince% it is less rich in polar regions where fewer species are found.
&apid environmental modifications typically cause e'tinctions.
*f all species that have e'isted on Earth, ++.+ percent
are now e'tinct.
,ince life began on Earth, five ma-or mass e'tinctions have led to large and sudden drops in the
biodiversity of species. The $hanero!oic eon .the last /00 million years1 mar2ed a rapid growth in biodiversity in the
"ambrian e'plosion3a period during which nearly every phylum of multicellular organisms first appeared. The ne't 000
million years was distinguished by periodic, massive losses of biodiversity classified as mass e'tinction events. The most
recent, the "retaceous4Tertiary e'tinction event, occurred 5/ million years ago, and has attracted more attention than all
others because it 2illed the nonavian dinosaurs.
Today there is concern that the period since the emergence of humans is part of a mass reduction in biodiversity, the
7olocene e'tinction, caused primarily by the impact humans are having on the environment, particularly the destruction
of plant and animal habitats. In addition, human practices have caused a loss of genetic biodiversity. The relevance of
biodiversity to human health is becoming a ma-or international issue, as scientific evidence is gathered on the global
health implications of biodiversity loss.
The term was used first by wildlife scientist and conservationist &aymond #. 8asmann in a lay boo2

advocating nature conservation. The term was not widely adopted for more than a decade, when in the 1+90s it
and :biodiversity: came into common usage in science and environmental policy. ;se of the term by Thomas
<ove-oy in the #oreword to the boo2
credited with launching the field of conservation biology introduced the
term along with :conservation biology: to the scientific community. ;ntil then the term :natural diversity: was
used in conservation science circles, including by The ,cience 8ivision of The =ature "onservancy in an
important 1+>/ study, :The $reservation of =atural 8iversity.: By the early 1+90s T="?s ,cience program and
its head &obert E. @en2ins, <ove-oy, and other leading conservation scientists at the time in America advocated
the use of :biological diversity: to embrace the ob-ect of biological conservation.
The term?s contracted form biodiversity may have been coined by B.C. &osen in 1+9/ while planning the
National Forum on Biological Diversity organi!ed by the =ational &esearch "ouncil .=&"1 which was to be
held in 1+95, and first appeared in a publication in 1+99 when entomologist E. *. Bilson used it as the title of
the proceedings
of that forum.
,ince this period both terms and the concept have achieved widespread use among biologists,
environmentalists, political leaders, and concerned citi!ens worldwide. The term is sometimes used to eDuate to
a concern for the natural environment and nature conservation. This use has coincided with the e'pansion of
concern over e'tinction observed in the last decades of the 20th century.
A similar concept in use in the ;nited ,tates, besides natural diversity, is the term :natural heritage.: It preEdates
both terms though it is a less scientific term and more easily comprehended in some ways by the wider audience
interested in conservation. #urthermore it may be misleading if used to refer only to biodiversity, as natural
heritage also includes geology and landforms .geodiversity1. The term :=atural 7eritage: was used when
@immy "arter set up the Ceorgia 7eritage Trust while he was governor of Ceorgia% "arter?s trust dealt with both
natural and cultural heritage. It would appear that "arter pic2ed the term up from <yndon @ohnson, who used it
in a 1+55 Fessage to "ongress. :=atural 7eritage: was pic2ed up by the ,cience 8ivision of the ;, =ature
"onservancy when, under @en2ins, it launched in 1+>0 the networ2 of ,tate =atural 7eritage $rograms. This
networ2 too2 on a life of its own in the 1++0s when it became an independent nonEprofit organi!ation named
=ature,erve. Bhen =ature,erve was e'tended outside the ;,A, the term :"onservation 8ata "enter: was
suggested by Cuillermo Fann is now also used by several programs, for e'ample those that operate as part of
=ature,erve "anada.
:Biological diversity: or :biodiversity: can have many interpretations and it is most commonly used to replace the more
clearly defined and long established terms, species diversity and species richness. Biologists most often define
biodiversity as the :totality of genes, species, and ecosystems of a region:. An advantage of this definition is that it seems
to describe most circumstances and present a unified view of the traditional three levels at which biological variety has
been identifiedG
species diversity
ecosystem diversity
genetic diversity
But $rofessor Anthony "ampbell at "ardiff ;niversity, ;H and the 8arwin "entre, $embro2eshire, has defined a fourth,
and critical oneG Folecular 8iversity .see "ampbell, AH @ Applied Ecology 2006,00,1+6E206% ,ave those moleculesG
molecular biodiversity and life1.
This multilevel conception is consistent with the early use of :biological diversity: in Bashington, 8.". and international
conservation organi!ations in the late 1+50s through 1+>0?s, by &aymond #. 8asmann who apparently coined the term and
Thomas E. <ove-oy who later introduced it to the wider conservation and science communities. An e'plicit definition
consistent with this interpretation was first given in a paper by Bruce A. Bilco' commissioned by the International ;nion
for the "onservation of =ature and =atural &esources .I;"=1 for the 1+92 Borld =ational $ar2s "onference in Bali
The definition Bilco' gave is :Biological diversity is the variety of life all levels of biological systems .i.e.,
molecular, organismic, population, species and ecosystem1...: ,ubseDuently, the 1++2 ;nited =ations Earth ,ummit in &io
de @aneiro defined :biological diversity: as :the variability among living organisms from all sources, including, ?inter alia?,
terrestrial, marine, and other aDuatic ecosystems, and the ecological comple'es of which they are partG this includes
diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems:. This is, in fact, the closest thing to a single legally accepted
definition of biodiversity, since it is the definition adopted by the ;nited =ations "onvention on Biological 8iversity.
The current te'tboo2 definition of :biodiversity: is :variation of life at all levels of biological organi!ation:.
#or geneticists, biodiversity is the diversity of genes and organisms. They study processes such as mutations, gene
e'changes, and genome dynamics that occur at the 8=A level and generate evolution. "onsistent with this, along with the
above definition the Bilco' paper stated :genes are the ultimate source of biological organi!ation at all levels of
biological systems...:
Linking Types of Biodiversity
A comple' relationship e'ists among the different types of diversity. Identifying one type of diversity in a group
of organisms does not necessarily indicate its relationship with other types of diversities. Although all types of
diversity are broadly lin2ed and a numerical study investigating the lin2 between tetrapod ta'onomic and
ecological diversity of tetrapods .terrestrial vertebrates1 shows a very close correlation between the two.
A variety of ob-ective measures have been created in order to empirically measure biodiversity. Each measure of
biodiversity relates to a particular use of the data. #or practical conservationists, measurements should include a
Duantification of values that are commonly shared among locally affected organisms, including humans. #or
others, a more economically defensible definition should allow the ensuring of continued possibilities for both
adaptation and future use by humans, assuring environmental sustainability. Biodiversity when studied, is
studied at three levels of diversity. Ecosystem diversity is one meaning a range of ecosystems within a larger
landscape. ,pecies diversity is another meaning varieties of species throughout the world or community. And
last of all genetic diversity referring to the number of genetic characters in an organism or community.
A conifer forest in the Swiss Alps (National Park).
,election bias amongst researchers may contribute to biased empirical research for modern estimates of
biodiversity. In 1>59 &ev. Cilbert Bhite succinctly observed of his ,elborne, 7ampshire :all nature is so full,
that that district produces the most variety which is the most e'amined.:
=evertheless, biodiversity is not distributed evenly on Earth. It is consistently richer in the tropics and in other
locali!ed regions such as the "ape #loristic $rovince. As one approaches polar regions one generally finds
fewer species. #lora and fauna diversity depends on climate, altitude, soils and the presence of other species. In
the year 2005 large numbers of the Earth?s species were formally classified as rare or endangered or threatened
species% moreover, many scientists have estimated that there are millions more species actually endangered
which have not yet been formally recogni!ed. About 00 percent of the 00,1>> species assessed using the I;"=
&ed <ist criteria, are now listed as threatened species with e'tinction E a total of 15,11+ species.
Even though biodiversity declines from the eDuator to the poles in terrestrial ecoregions, whether this is so in
aDuatic ecosystems is still a hypothesis to be tested, especially in marine ecosystems where causes of this
phenomenon are unclear.
In addition, particularly in marine ecosystems, there are several well stated cases
where diversity in higher latitudes actually increases. Therefore, the lac2 of information on biodiversity of
Tropics and $olar &egions prevents scientific conclusions on the distribution of the worldIs aDuatic biodiversity.
A biodiversity hotspot is a region with a high level of endemic species. These biodiversity hotspots were first
identified in 1+99 by 8r. =orman Fyers in two articles in the scientific -ournal The Environmentalist.

8ense human habitation tends to occur near hotspots. Fost hotspots are located in the tropics and most of them
are forests.
Bra!il?s Atlantic #orest is considered a hotspot of biodiversity and contains roughly 20,000 plant species, 16/0
vertebrates, and millions of insects, about half of which occur nowhere else in the world. The island of
Fadagascar including the uniDue Fadagascar dry deciduous forests and lowland rainforests possess a very high
ratio of species endemism and biodiversity, since the island separated from mainland Africa 5/ million years
ago, most of the species and ecosystems have evolved independently producing uniDue species different from
those in other parts of Africa.
Fany regions of high biodiversity .as well as high endemism1 arise from very speciali!ed habitats which
reDuire unusual adaptation mechanisms, for e'ample alpine environments in high mountains, or the peat bogs of
=orthern Europe.
[edit] Evolution
Main article: Evolution
Apparent marine fossil diversity durin the Phanero!oic Eon
Biodiversity found on Earth today is the result of 6./ billion years of evolution. The origin of life has not been
definitely established by science, however some evidence suggests that life may already have been wellE
established a few hundred million years after the formation of the Earth. ;ntil appro'imately 500 million years
ago, all life consisted of archaea, bacteria, proto!oans and similar singleEcelled organisms.
The history of biodiversity during the $hanero!oic .the last /00 million years1, starts with rapid growth during
the "ambrian e'plosion3a period during which nearly every phylum of multicellular organisms first appeared.
*ver the ne't 000 million years or so, global diversity showed little overall trend, but was mar2ed by periodic,
massive losses of diversity classified as mass e'tinction events.
The apparent biodiversity shown in the fossil record suggests that the last few million years include the period
of greatest biodiversity in the Earth?s history. 7owever, not all scientists support this view, since there is
considerable uncertainty as to how strongly the fossil record is biased by the greater availability and
preservation of recent geologic sections. ,ome .e.g. Alroy et al. 20011 argue that, corrected for sampling
artifacts, modern biodiversity is not much different from biodiversity 600 million years ago.
Estimates of the
present global macroscopic species diversity vary from 2 million to 100 million species, with a best estimate of
somewhere near 16410 million, the vast ma-ority of them arthropods.
The e'istence of a global carrying capacity has been debated, that is to say that there is a limit to the number of
species that can live on this planet. Bhile records of life in the sea shows a logistic pattern of growth, life on
land .insects, plants and tetrapods1shows an e'ponential rise in diversity. As one author states, :Tetrapods have
not yet invaded 50 per cent of potentially habitable modes, and it could be that without human influence the
ecological and ta'onomic diversity of tetrapods would continue to increase in an e'ponential fashion until most
or all of the available ecospace is filled.:
*n the other hand, it has been demonstrated that changes in biodiversity through the $hanero!oic correlate
much better with hyperbolic model .widely used in demography and macrosociology1 than with e'ponential and
logistic models .traditionally used in population biology and e'tensively applied to fossil biodiversity as well1.
The latter models imply that changes in diversity are guided by a firstEorder positive feedbac2 .more ancestors,
more descendants1 andJor a negative feedbac2 arising from resource limitation. 7yperbolic model implies a
secondEorder positive feedbac2. The hyperbolic pattern of the world population growth arises from a secondE
order positive feedbac2 between the population si!e and the rate of technological growth.
The hyperbolic
character of biodiversity growth can be similarly accounted for by a feedbac2 between the diversity and
community structure comple'ity. It is suggested that the similarity between the curves of biodiversity and
human population probably comes from the fact that both are derived from the interference of the hyperbolic
trend with cyclical and stochastic dynamics.
Fost biologists agree however that the period since the emergence of humans is part of a new mass e'tinction,
the 7olocene e'tinction event, caused primarily by the impact humans are having on the environment.
It has
been argued that the present rate of e'tinction is sufficient to eliminate most species on the planet Earth within
100 years.
=ew species are regularly discovered .on average between /410,000 new species each year, most of them
insects1 and many, though discovered, are not yet classified .estimates are that nearly +0K of all arthropods are
not yet classified1.
Fost of the terrestrial diversity is found in tropical forests.
[edit] Human benefits
Summer "eld in #elium ($amois). %he &lue 'owers are (entaurea cyanus and the red are
Papaver rhoeas.
Biodiversity also supports a number of natural ecosystem processes and services.
,ome ecosystem services
that benefit society are air Duality,
climate .both global "*2 seDuestration and local1, water purification,
pollination, and prevention of erosion.
,ince the stone age, species loss has been accelerated above the geological rate by human activity. The rate of
species e'tinction is difficult to estimate, but it has been estimated that species are now being lost at a rate
appro'imately 100 times as fast as is typical in the geological record, or perhaps as high as 10 000 times as fast.
To feed such a large population, more land is being transformed from wilderness with wildlife into
agricultural, mining, lumbering, and urban areas for humans.
=onEmaterial benefits that are obtained from ecosystems include spiritual and aesthetic values, 2nowledge
systems and the value of education.
[edit] Agriculture
See also: Aricultural &iodiversity
Ama!on )ainforest in #ra!il.
The economic value of the reservoir of genetic traits present in wild varieties and traditionally grown landraces
is e'tremely important in improving crop performance
(citation needed)
. Important crops, such as the potato and
coffee, are often derived from only a few genetic strains
(citation needed)
. Improvements in crop plants over the last
2/0 years have been largely due to harnessing the genetic diversity present in wild and domestic crop plants
(citation needed)
. Interbreeding crops strains with different beneficial traits has resulted in more than doubling crop
production in the last /0 years as a result of the Creen &evolution
(citation needed)
"rop diversity is also necessary to help the system recover when the dominant crop type is attac2ed by a
%he *rish potato &liht of +,-./ which was a ma0or factor in the deaths of a million people
and miration of another million/ was the result of plantin only two potato varieties/ &oth
of which were vulnera&le.
1hen rice rassy stunt virus struck rice "elds from *ndonesia to *ndia in the +234s/ .536
varieties were tested for resistance.
:ne was found to &e resistant/ an *ndian variety/
known to science only since +2...
%his variety formed a hy&rid with other varieties and
is now widely rown.
(o;ee rust attacked co;ee plantations in Sri <anka/ #ra!il/ and (entral America in +234. A
resistant variety was found in Ethiopia.
Althouh the diseases are themselves a form of
Fonoculture, the lac2 of biodiversity, was a contributing factor to several agricultural disasters in history, the
European wine industry collapse in the late 1900s, and the ;, ,outhern "orn <eaf Blight epidemic of 1+>0.

7igher biodiversity also controls the spread of certain diseases as pathogens will need to adapt to infect
different species
(citation needed)
Biodiversity provides food for humans
(citation needed)
. Although about 90 percent of our food supply comes from
-ust 20 2inds of plants
(citation needed)
, humans use at least 00,000 species of plants and animals a day
(citation needed)
Fany people around the world depend on these species for their food, shelter, and clothing
(citation needed)
. There is
untapped potential for increasing the range of food products suitable for human consumption, provided that the
high present e'tinction rate can be stopped.
[edit] Human health
%he diverse forest canopy on #arro (olorado *sland/ Panama/ yielded this display of di;erent fruit
The relevance of biodiversity to human health is becoming a ma-or international political issue, as scientific
evidence builds on the global health implications of biodiversity loss.
This issue is closely lin2ed with
the issue of climate change,
as many of the anticipated health ris2s 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.1. ,ome of the health issues influenced by
biodiversity include dietary health and nutrition security, infectious diseases, medical science and medicinal
resources, social and psychological health,
. Biodiversity is also 2nown to have an important role in reducing
disaster ris2, and in postEdisaster relief and recovery efforts.
*ne of the 2ey health issues associated with biodiversity is that of drug discovery and the availability of
medicinal resources.
A significant proportion of drugs are derived, directly or indirectly, from biological
sources% "hivian and Bernstein report that at least /0K of the pharmaceutical compounds on the mar2et in the
;, are derived from natural compounds found in plants, animals, and microorganisms, while about 90K of the
world population depends on medicines from nature .used in either modern or traditional medical practice1 for
primary healthcare.
Foreover, only a tiny proportion of the total diversity of wild species has been
investigated for potential sources of new drugs. Through the field of bionics, considerable technological
advancement has occurred which would not have without a rich biodiversity. It has been argued, based on
evidence from mar2et analysis and biodiversity science, that the decline in output from the pharmaceutical
sector since the midE1+90s can be attributed to a move away from natural product e'ploration
.:bioprospecting:1 in favour of &L8 programmes based on genomics and synthetic chemistry, neither of which
have yielded the e'pected product outputs% meanwhile, there is evidence that natural product chemistry can
provide the basis for innovation which can yield significant economic and health benefits.
ecosystems are of particular interest in this regard,
however unregulated and inappropriate bioprospecting can
be considered a form of overEe'ploitation which has the potential to degrade ecosystems and increase
biodiversity loss, as well as impacting on the rights of the communities and states from which the resources are
[edit] Business and Industry
Ariculture production/ pictured is a tractor and a chaser &in.
A wide range of industrial materials are derived directly from biological resources. These include building
materials, fibers, dyes, resirubber and oil. There is enormous potential for further research into sustainably
utili!ing materials from a wider diversity of organisms. In addition, biodiversity and the ecosystem goods and
services it provides are considered to be fundamental to healthy economic systems. The degree to which
biodiversity supports business varies between regions and between economic sectors, however the importance
of biodiversity to issues of resource security .water Duantity and Duality, timber, paper and fibre, food and
medicinal resources etc.1 are increasingly recogni!ed as universal.
As a result, the loss of biodiversity is
increasingly recogni!ed as a significant ris2 factor in business development and a threat to long term economic
sustainability. A number of case studies recently compiled by the Borld &esources Institute demonstrate some
of these ris2s as identified by specific industries.
[edit] Other ecological services
See also: Ecoloical e;ects of &iodiversity
Eale (reek/ :reon hikin
Biodiversity provides many ecosystem services that are often not readily visible. It plays a part in regulating the
chemistry of our atmosphere and water supply. Biodiversity is directly involved in water purification, recycling
nutrients and providing fertile soils. E'periments with controlled environments have shown that humans cannot
easily build ecosystems to support human needs% for e'ample insect pollination cannot be mimic2ed by humanE
made construction, and that activity alone represents tens of billions of dollars in ecosystem services per year to
The stability of ecosystems is also related to biodiversity, with higher biodiversity producing greater stability
over time, reducing the chance that ecosystem services will be disrupted as a result of disturbances such as
e'treme weather events or human e'ploitation.
Polar &ears on the sea ice of the Arctic :cean/ near the North Pole.
[edit] Leisure, cultural and aesthetic value
Fany people derive value from biodiversity through leisure activities such as hi2ing, birdwatching or natural
history study. Biodiversity has inspired musicians, painters, sculptors, writers and other artists. Fany culture
groups view themselves as an integral part of the natural world and show respect for other living organisms.
$opular activities such as gardening, caring for aDuariums and collecting butterflies are all strongly dependent
on biodiversity. The number of species involved in such pursuits is in the tens of thousands, though the great
ma-ority do not enter mainstream commercialism.
The relationships between the original natural areas of these often ?e'otic? animals and plants and commercial
collectors, suppliers, breeders, propagators and those who promote their understanding and en-oyment are
comple' and poorly understood. It seems clear, however, that the general public responds well to e'posure to
rare and unusual organisms3they recogni!e their inherent value at some level. A family outing to the botanical
garden or !oo is as much an aesthetic or cultural e'perience as it is an educational one.
$hilosophically it could be argued that biodiversity has intrinsic aesthetic and spiritual value to man2ind in and
of itself. This idea can be used as a counterweight to the notion that tropical forests and other ecological realms
are only worthy of conservation because they may contain medicines or useful products.
[edit] Number of species
Main article: Species
=ndiscovered and discovered species
According to the Clobal Ta'onomy Initiative
and the European 8istributed Institute of Ta'onomy, the total
number of species for some phyla may be much higher as what we 2now currentlyG
+4>64 million insects?
(of some 4/2 we know today
8>+4 million &acteria?
+.8 million funi?
(of some 4/- million we know today
@+ million mites
8ue to the fact that we 2now but a portion of the organisms in the biosphere, we do not have a complete
understanding of the wor2ings of our environment. To ma2e matters worse, according to professor @ames
Fallet, we are wiping out these species at an unprecedented rate.
This means that even before a species has
had the chance of being discovered, studied and classified, it may already be e'tinct.
[edit] Treats
Loss of old growth forest in the United States !"#$, !%&$, !'#$, and !''# ma(s)
From William B. Greeley's, The Relation of Geography to Timber Supply, Economic Geography,
1!", #ol. 1, p. 1$11. Source of %To&ay% map' compile& by George (ra)an from roa&less area
map in The Big *utsi&e' + (escripti#e ,n#entory of the Big Wil&erness +reas of the -nite& States,
by (a#e Foreman an& .o/ie Wol0e 1.armony Boo0s, 1!2. %hese maps represent only virin
forest lost. Some rerowth has occurred &ut not to the ae/ si!e or eAtent of +.54 due to
population increases and food cultivation.
8uring the last century, decreases in biodiversity have been increasingly observed. ,tudies
(by whom?)
show that
60K of all natural species will be e'tinct by 20/0.
*f these, about one eighth of the 2nown plant species are
threatened with e'tinction.
,ome estimates put the loss at up to 100,000 species per year .based on ,peciesE
area theory1 and sub-ect to discussion.
This figure indicates unsustainable ecological practices, because only a
small number of species come into being each year. Almost all scientists ac2nowledge
that the rate of species
loss is greater now than at any time in human history, with e'tinctions occurring at rates hundreds of times
higher than bac2ground e'tinction rates.
The factors that threaten biodiversity have been variously categori!ed. @ared 8iamond describes an :Evil
Muartet: of habitat destruction, over2ill, introduced species, and secondary e'tensions. Edward *. Bilson
prefers the acronym H!""#, standing for Habitat destruction, !nvasive species, "ollution, 7uman *ver
"opulation, and #verharvesting.
The most authoritative classification in use today is that of I;"=Is
"lassification of 8irect Threats
adopted by most ma-or international conservation organi!ations such as the
;, =ature "onservancy, the Borld Bildlife #und, "onservation International, and Birdlife International.
[edit] *estruction of ha+itat
Beforestation and increased roadC&uildin in the Ama!on )ainforest are a sini"cant concern
&ecause of increased human encroachment upon wild areas/ increased resource eAtraction and
further threats to &iodiversity.
Main article: $a&itat destruction
Fost of the species e'tinctions from 1000 A8 to 2000 A8 are due to human activities, in particular destruction
of plant and animal habitats. &aised rates of e'tinction are being driven by human consumption of organic
resources, especially related to tropical forest destruction.
Bhile most of the species that are becoming e'tinct
are not food species, their biomass is converted into human food when their habitat is transformed into pasture,
cropland, and orchards
. It is estimated that more than a third of the Earth?s biomass
is tied up in only the
few species that represent humans, livestoc2 and crops. Because an ecosystem decreases in stability as its
species are made e'tinct, these studies warn that the global ecosystem is destined for collapse if it is further
reduced in comple'ity. #actors contributing to loss of biodiversity areG overpopulation, deforestation, pollution
.air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination1 and global warming or climate change, driven by human
activity. These factors, while all stemming from overpopulation, produce a cumulative impact upon biodiversity.
There are systematic relationships between the area of a habitat and the number of species it can support, with
greater sensitivity to reduction in habitat area for species of larger body si!e and for those living at lower
latitudes or in forests or oceans.
,ome characteri!e loss of biodiversity not as ecosystem degradation but by
conversion to trivial standardi!ed ecosystems .e.g., monoculture following deforestation1. In some countries
lac2 of property rights or access regulation to biotic resources necessarily leads to biodiversity loss .degradation
costs having to be supported by the community1.
A ,eptember 10, 200> study conducted by the =ational ,cience #oundation found that biodiversity and genetic
diversity are dependent upon each other3that diversity within a species is necessary to maintain diversity
among species, and vice versa. According to the lead researcher in the study, 8r. &ichard <an2au, :If any one
type is removed from the system, the cycle can brea2 down, and the community becomes dominated by a single
At present, the most threathened ecosystems are those found in fresh water. The mar2ing of fresh water
ecosystems as the ecosystems most under threat was done by the Fillennium Ecosystem Assessment 200/, and
was confirmed again by the pro-ect :$res%ater &nimal Diversity &ssessment:, organised by the biodiversity
platform, and the #rench Institut de recherche pour le dNveloppement .F=7=$1.
[edit] ,-otic s(ecies
Male 3ophura nycthemera (Silver Pheasant)/ a native of East Asia that has &een introduced into
parts of Europe for ornamental reasons.
Main article: *ntroduced species
The rich diversity of uniDue species across many parts of the world e'ist only because they are separated by
barriers, particularly large rivers, seas, oceans, mountains and deserts from other species of other land masses,
particularly the highly fecund, ultraEcompetitive, generalist :superEspecies:. These are barriers that couldn?t
have been easily crossed by natural processes, e'cept through continental drift. 7owever, humans have invented
transportation with the ability to bring into contact species that they?ve never met in their evolutionary history%
also, this is done on a time scale of days, unli2e the centuries that historically have accompanied ma-or animal
migrations. As these species that never met before come in contact with each other, the rate at which species are
e'tincting is increasing still. ,ee below for an e'ample.
The widespread introduction of e'otic species by humans is a potent threat to biodiversity. Bhen e'otic species
are introduced to ecosystems and establish selfEsustaining populations, the endemic species in that ecosystem
that have not evolved to cope with the e'otic species may not survive. The e'otic organisms may be either
predators, parasites, or simply aggressive species that deprive indigenous species of nutrients, water and light.
These invasive species often have features, due to their evolutionary bac2ground and new environment, that
ma2e them highly competitive% able to become wellEestablished and spread Duic2ly, reducing the effective
habitat of endemic species.
E'otic species are introduced by human, either unwillingly or intentionally. E'amples on unwilling introduction
are fore e'ample ladybugs, ... These were bred to help in combating pests in agriculture .for greenhouses1.
*ther e'amples of unwilling introduction are species that are un2nowingly brought in by vessel or automotive.
These include certain bacteria, spiders, seeds of certain plants. E'amples of intentional introduction are the
planting of e'otic plants in gardens. It is clear that with simple measures the preventing of the spread of e'otic
plants, yet as of present, trying to reduce the inflow of e'otic species has remained low on the political agenda.
Also, the intentional planting of species that are mar2ed as :indiginous:, yet are from a nonEindigenous strain
can be considered e'otic and create problems in the ecosystem. #or e'ample in Belgium, $runus spinosa .an
indigenous species1 that originates from Eastern Europe has been introduced. This has created problems, as this
tree species comes into leave much sooner than their Best European counterparts, bringing the Thecla betulae
butterfly .which feed on the leaves1 into trouble.
As a conseDuence of the above, if humans continue to combine species from different ecoregions, there is the
potential that the world?s ecosystems will end up dominated by relatively a few, aggressive, cosmopolitan
At present, several countries have already imported so many e'otic species, that the own indigenous faunaJflora
is greatly outnumbered. #or e'ample, in Belgium, only /K of the indigenous trees remain.
In 2000, an international team of scientists estimated that 10 percent of species would become e'tinct by 20/0
because of global warming.
OBe need to limit climate change or we wind up with a lot of species in trouble,
possibly e'tinct,P said 8r. <ee 7annah, a coEauthor of the paper and chief climate change biologist at the "enter
for Applied Biodiversity ,cience at "onservation International.
[edit] .enetic (ollution
Main article: Denetic pollution
$urebred naturally evolved region specific wild species can be threatened with e'tinction
through the process
of genetic pollution i.e. uncontrolled hybridi!ation, introgression and genetic swamping which leads to
homogeni!ation or replacement of local genotypes as a result of either a numerical andJor fitness advantage of
introduced plant or animal.
=onnative species can bring about a form of e'tinction of native plants and
animals by hybridi!ation and introgression either through purposeful introduction by humans or through habitat
modification, bringing previously isolated species into contact. These phenomena can be especially detrimental
for rare species coming into contact with more abundant ones. The abundant species can interbreed with the
rarer, swamping the entire gene pool and creating hybrids, thus driving the entire native stoc2 to complete
e'tinction. Attention has to be focused on the e'tent of this under appreciated problem that is not always
apparent from morphological .outward appearance1 observations alone. ,ome degree of gene flow may be a
normal, evolutionarily constructive, process, and all constellations of genes and genotypes cannot be preserved.
7owever, hybridi!ation with or without introgression may, nevertheless, threaten a rare species? e'istence.
[edit] Hy+ridi/ation, genetic erosion and food security
%he Eecoro wheat (riht) cultivar is sensitive to salinity/ plants resultin from a hy&rid cross with
cultivar 1-2+4 (left) show reater tolerance to hih salinity
See also: Food Security and Denetic erosion
In agriculture and animal husbandry, the green revolution populari!ed the use of conventional hybridi!ation to
increase yield by creating :highEyielding varieties:. *ften the handful of hybridi!ed breeds originated in
developed countries and were further hybridi!ed with local varieties in the rest of the developing world to create
high yield strains resistant to local climate and diseases. <ocal governments and industry have been pushing
hybridi!ation which has resulted in several of the indigenous breeds becoming e'tinct or threatened. 8isuse
because of unprofitability and uncontrolled intentional and unintentional crossEpollination and crossbreeding
.genetic pollution1, formerly huge gene pools of various wild and indigenous breeds have collapsed causing
widespread genetic erosion and genetic pollution. This has resulted in loss of genetic diversity and biodiversity
as a whole.
A genetically modified organism .CF*1 is an organism whose genetic material has been altered using the
genetic engineering techniDues generally 2nown as recombinant 8=A technology. Cenetically Fodified .CF1
crops today have become a common source for genetic pollution, not only of wild varieties but also of other
domesticated varieties derived from relatively natural hybridi!ation.
Cenetic erosion coupled with genetic pollution may be destroying uniDue genotypes, thereby creating a hidden
crisis which could result in a severe threat to our food security. 8iverse genetic material could cease to e'ist
which would impact our ability to further hybridi!e food crops and livestoc2 against more resistant diseases and
climatic changes.
[edit] 0limate 0hange
Main article: E;ect of (limate (hane on Plant #iodiversity
The recent phenomenon of global warming is also considered to be a ma-or threat to global biodiversity.
#or e'ample coral reefs Ewhich are biodiversity hotspotsE will be lost in 20 to 00 years if global warming
continues at the current trend.
[edit] 'onserving biodiversity
Main article: (onservation &ioloy
%he retreat of Aletsch Dlacier in the Swiss Alps (situation in +232/ +22+ and 5445)/ due to lo&al
"onservation biology matured in the midE 20th century as ecologists, naturalists, and other scientists began to
collectively research and address issues pertaining to global declines in biodiversity.
The conservation
ethic differs from the preservationist ethic, historically lead by @ohn Fuir, who advocate for protected areas
devoid of human e'ploitation or interference for profit.
The conservation ethic advocates for wise
stewardship and management of natural resource production for the purpose of protecting and sustaining
biodiversity in species, ecosystems, the evolutionary process, and human culture and society.

"onservation biologists are concerned with the trends in biodiversity being reported in this era, which has been
labeled by science as the 7olocene e'tinction period, also 2nown as the si'th mass e'tinction.
&ates of
decline in biodiversity in this si'th mass e'tinction match or e'ceed rates of loss in the five previous mass
e'tinction events recorded in the fossil record.
<oss of biodiversity results in the loss of natural
capital that supplies ecosystem goods and services. The economic value of 1> ecosystem services for the entire
biosphere .calculated in 1++>1 has an estimated average value of ;,Q 66 trillion .10
1 per yearR
A schematic imae illustratin the relationship &etween &iodiversity/ ecosystem services/ human
wellC&ein/ and poverty.
%he illustration shows where conservation action/ strateies and plans
can in'uence the drivers of the current &iodiversity crisis at local/ reional/ to lo&al scales.
In response to the e'tinction crisis, the research of conservation biologists is being organi!ed into strategic plans
that include principles, guidelines, and tools for the purpose of protecting biodiversity.
biology is a crisis orientated discipline and it is multiEdisciplinary, including ecological, social, education, and
other scientific disciplines outside of biology. "onservation biologists wor2 in both the field and office, in
government, universities, nonEprofit organi!ations and in industry.
The conservation of biological diversity
is a global priority in strategic conservation plans that are designed to engage public policy and concerns
affecting local, regional and global scales of communities, ecosystems, and cultures.
"onserving biodiversity
and action plans identify ways of sustaining human wellEbeing and global economics, including natural capital,
mar2et capital, and ecosystem services.
[edit] 1eans
*ne of the strategies involves placing a monetary value on biodiversity through biodiversity ban2ing, of which
one e'ample is the Australian =ative Segetation Fanagement #ramewor2. *ther approaches are the creation of
gene ban2s, as well as the creation of gene ban2s that have the intention of growing the indigenous species for
reintroduction to the ecosystem .e.g. via tree nurseries, ...1
The eradication of e'otic species is also an
important method to preserve the local biodiversity. E'otic species that have become a pest can be identified
using ta'onomy .e.g. with 8AI,, barcode of life
, ...1 and can then be eradicated.
This method however
can only be used against a large group of a certain e'otic organism due to the econimic cost. *ther measures
contributing to the preservation of biodiversity includeG the reduction of pesticide use andJor a switching to
organic pesticides, ... These measures however, are of less importance than the preserving of rural lands,
reintroduction of indigenous species and the removal of e'otic species. #inally, if the continued preservation of
native organisms in an area can be guaranteed, efforts can be made in trying to reintroduce eliminated native
species bac2 into the environment. This can be done by first determining which species were indigenous to the
area, and then reintroducing them. This determination can be done using databases as the EncyclopediaTofTlife,
Clobal Biodiversity Information #acility, ... E'termination is usually done with either .ecological1 pesticides, or
natural predators.
[edit] Strategies
As noted above .8istribution1, biodiversity is not as rich everywhere on the planet. &egions such as the tropics
and subtropics are considerably much richer in biodiversity than regions in temperate climates. In addition, in
temperate climates, a lot of countries are located which are already vastly urbanised, and reDuire Ein additionE
great amounts of space for the growing of crops. As rehabilitating the biodiversity within these countries would
again reDuire the clearing and redeveloping of spaces, it has been proposed of some that efforts are best instead
directed unto the tropics. Arguments include economics, it would be far less costly and more efficient to
preserve the biodiversity in the tropics, especially as many countries in these areas are only now beginning to
7owever, only directing the efforts into these areas would not be enough, as many species still need to migrate
at certain times of the year, reDuiring a connection to other regionsJcountries. In the more urbanised countries in
temperate climates, this would mean that wildlife corridors need to be made. 7owever, ma2ing wildlife
corridors would still be considerably cheaper and easier than clearingJpreserving entirely new areas.
There are arguments that conservation alone is insufficient, and we need to go beyond conserving e'isting areas
to restoring degraded systems.
(udicial status
A reat deal of work is occurrin to preserve the natural characteristics of $opetoun Falls/
Australia while continuin to allow visitor access.
Biodiversity is beginning to be evaluated and its evolution analysed .through observations, inventories,
conservation...1 as well as being ta2en into account in political and -udicial decisionsG
%he relationship &etween law and ecosystems is very ancient and has conseGuences for
&iodiversity. *t is related to property rihts/ &oth private and pu&lic. *t can de"ne protection
for threatened ecosystems/ &ut also some rihts and duties (for eAample/ "shin rihts/
huntin rihts).
<aw reardin species is a more recent issue. *t de"nes species that must &e protected
&ecause they may &e threatened &y eAtinction. %he =.S. Endanered Species Act is an
eAample of an attempt to address the Hlaw and speciesH issue.
<aws reardin ene pools are only a&out a century old
7citation nee&e&9
. 1hile the enetic
approach is not new (domestication/ plant traditional selection methods)/ proress made
in the enetic "eld in the past 54 years have led to a tihtenin of laws in this "eld. 1ith
the new technoloies of enetic analysis and enetic enineerin/ people are oin
throuh ene patentin/ processes patentin/ and a totally new concept of enetic
A very hot de&ate today seeks to de"ne whether the resource is the ene/
the oranism itself/ or its BNA.
The 1+>2 ;=E,"* Borld 7eritage convention established that biological resources, such as plants, were the
common heritage of man2ind. These rules probably inspired the creation of great public ban2s of genetic
resources, located outside the sourceEcountries.
=ew global agreements .e.g."onvention on Biological 8iversity1, now give sovereign national rigts over
biological resources .not property1. The idea of static conservation of biodiversity is disappearing and being
replaced by the idea of dynamic conservation, through the notion of resource and innovation.
The new agreements commit countries to conserve biodiversity, develop resources for sustainability and
sare te benefits resulting from their use. ;nder new rules, it is e'pected that bioprospecting or collection of
natural products has to be allowed by the biodiversityErich country, in e'change for a share of the benefits.
,overeignty principles can rely upon what is better 2nown as Access and Benefit ,haring Agreements .ABAs1.
The "onvention on Biodiversity spirit implies a prior informed consent between the source country and the
collector, to establish which resource will be used and for what, and to settle on a fair agreement on benefit
sharing. Bioprospecting can become a type of biopiracy when those principles are not respected.
;niform approval for use of biodiversity as a legal standard has not been achieved, however. At least one legal
commentator has argued that biodiversity should not be used as a legal standard, arguing that the multiple layers
of scientific uncertainty inherent in the concept of biodiversity will cause administrative waste and increase
litigation without promoting preservation goals. ,ee #red Bosselman, A 8o!en Biodiversity $u!!les, 12 =..;.
Environmental <aw @ournal 650 .20001
&nalytical limits
2a-onomic and si/e +ias
<ess than 1K of all species that have been described have been studied beyond simply noting their e'istence.
Biodiversity researcher ,ean =ee points out that the vast ma-ority of Earth?s biodiversity is microbial, and that
contemporary biodiversity physics is :firmly fi'ated on the visible world: .=ee uses :visible: as a synonym for
#or e'ample, microbial life is very much more metabolically and environmentally diverse
than multicellular life .see e'tremophile1. =ee has statedG :*n the tree of life, based on analyses of smallE
subunit ribosomal &=A, visible life consists of barely noticeable twigs.
The si!e bias is not restricted to consideration of microbes. Entomologist =igel ,tor2 states that :to a first
appro'imation, all multicellular species on Earth are insects:.
Even in insects, however, the e'tinction rate is
high and indicative of the general trend of the si'th greatest e'tinction period that human society is faced with.
Foreover, there are species coEe'tinctions, such as plants and beetles, where the e'tinction or decline in
one is reciprocated in the other.
+. #iodiversity is the variety of life: the di;erent plants/ animals and microCoranisms/ their
enes and the ecosystems of which they are a part.
5. I#iodiversityJ is often de"ned as the variety of all forms of life/ from enes to species/
throuh to the &road scale of ecosystems (for a list of variants on this simple de"nition see
Daston +22.). H