You are on page 1of 19

Introduction to Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variation of life forms within a

given ecosystem, biome, or for the entire Earth.

Biodiversity is often used to measure the health

of biological systems.

The biodiversity found on Earth today consisted

of many millions of distinct biological species,
arisen from of nearly 3.5 billion years of evolution

Age of earth 4 billion yrs (muslim

(muslim Philosophers 15
billion yrs)


Based on fossil records

Phanerozoic; 550 ma to present
Jurassic 200200-140ma; meteorite hit cause mass extinction

Geologic time

Fish as first
diversity started in
late Cambrian
then flourish
during Devonian,
known as age of

Earth in 200 mil

yrs was believed
a single mass of
Present day was
due to continental
drift of tectonic

What is biodiversity ?

Define as diversity of life on earth,

including plants, animals, their genetic materials and the

or define in term of genes, species and ecosystem and the

interaction amongst them.

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and

Natural Resources (IUCN
(IUCN)) in 1982 gave the definition:
"Biological diversity is the variety of life all
levels of biological systems (i.e., molecular, organisms,
population, species and ecosystem)..."
In 1992 United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro

"biological diversity" as "the variability among living

organisms from all sources, including, 'inter alia', terrestrial,
marine, and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological
complexes of which they are part: includes diversity within
species, between species and of ecosystems"


diversity classified into:

genetic diversity,
species diversity,
ecosystem diversity and
habitat diversity

Genetic diversity:

Refer to variation of gene (DNA & RNA) and

genotypes between and within species of plants,
animals and microorganisms,
Includes genetic variation between individuals in a
single population, (eg
(eg.. Thumb print)
genetic variations between different populations of
the same species (eg
(eg.. Fish in Malaysia vs Thailand)

Genetic variation have the ability to adapt or

resist changes in environment, climate and
agricultural methods or present of new pests and

Genetic differences can be measured using

sophisticated techniques (eg
(eg.. mDNA,

Species diversity:

Refer to the variety of species in a given region or area.

Can be determined by;

counting the number of different species present, or
by determining the taxonomic diversity.

Taxonomic diversity is more precisely and normally used

in consideration interrelationship of species

Species diversity can be measured by counting the

number of different taxa present.
Eg., a pond with 3 snails and 2 fish vs a pond with 5
snails. Which pond is more diverse?

High species diversity indicates a good health of an

ecosystem, but is not always, if there are many invading

Ecosystem diversity:

Refers to biotic (communities of plants and

animals), together with abiotic (physical
characteristics of their environment; e.g. soil,
climate, temp, etc)

They are interlink together as called ecological

system, or 'ecosystem

Measurement is more difficult, because there are

rarely clear boundaries between different
ecosystems and their grade always differed (eg
estuary, shore, mud flat, etc)

However, if consistent criteria are chosen to

define the limits of an ecosystem, then the
diversity can be measured.

Habitat diversity:

Refers to:
Warms and cold areas, temperate, tropical,
subtropica, savanna
Increasing latitude (N(N-S) and altitude

Land diversity is greater in higher rainfall

and lesser in drier areas
E.g. Tropical moist forests (higher level of
insects, microfauna)
microfauna) compared to temperate
areas or drier areas

Forest area
Estimated 7% of world surface,
contain 90% of all species

How many species are there?

global species diversity vary enormously,

especially in the rain forest areas
E.g. nineteen trees sampled in Panama were found to
contain 1,200 different beetle species

Global species estimates range from 5 to 30

million species

Only 1.71.7-2 million species have been named.

estimated approximately:

287,655 are plants

1,250,000 are animals

In the deep sea floor has been estimated to be

around 1 million unun-described new species.

Numbers of Species


Measurement of Biodiversity

For biologists measurement is normally associated with the

variety of genes

For ecologists,
ecologists, the measurement normally refers to taxonomic
richness, i.e. number of species

three common metrics used to measure speciesspecies-level

Species richness - is the number of different species in a
given area:
Simpson index (D);

ranges from 0 to 1; Zero representing infinite diversity and

1: no diversity

ShannonShannon-Wiener index (H

ranges from 1.5 (low species richness and evenness) to 3.5

(high species evenness and richness)


is more diverse than pondpond-2

Even though they have similar
number of individual


There are three other indices which are used by ecologists:

Alpha diversity - refers to species diversity within a
particular area, community or ecosystem,

They are measured by counting the number of taxa within

the ecosystem (usually species)

Beta diversity - is species diversity between


Measured by comparing the number of taxa that are unique

to each of the ecosystems.

Gamma diversity refers to overall diversity for

different ecosystems within a region.

Distribution of biodiversity

Biodiversity is not distributed evenly on Earth

Flora and fauna diversity depends on:

Soils, and
presence of other species,

usually richer spp in the tropics VS polar regions (generally fewer spp)
Eg. temperate areas having single species fishery, but tropical areas
having multimulti-species fishery

Earths species were formally classified as:
Common or rare or endangered or threatened species;

estimated that more a millions species are actually endangered

About 40% (16,119 species) of the 40,177 species are listed as

threatened species (IUCN Red List criteria)

Biodiversity benefited by Human:

Agriculture (e.g. Pollination, biological pest control)

Human health (e.g. Herbs)

Business and Industry (e.g. Renewable natural

resourcesresources- eg.
eg. fishery resources, timbers)

Other ecological services (e.g. air quality, prevention

erosion, water catchment)

Leisure/cultural (e.g. ecoeco-tourism; bird watching,

boating, historical study, sport fishing)

Aesthetic value (medicines or useful products)

Food sources

Losses of Biodiversity

Naturally (tsunami, hurricanes, earthquake)
Direct results of human activities (overexploitation, pollution)
Climate change or environmental shift (global warming)

Predictions of extinction of biodiversity

Estimated: of all species on earth are likely to be extinct
within 30 years.
of species to be extinct within 100 years,

many variables involved in extinction:

Increasing of human population, resulted increasing competition
with wildlife for space and resources

Eg deforestation, reclamation shore area for living (Pengerang


conclusion - human populations should be reduced,

reduced, so
that biodiversity will not suffer further major losses.


Some species are more vulnerable to

extinction than others..

These include: 1. Species at the top of food chains;

such as large carnivorescarnivores- competition in term of prey and
eg. Tigers

2. Endemic local species (species found only in one

geographical area);

very vulnerable to local habitat disturbance.

Eg. Sturgeon, orang utan

3. Species with chronically small populations;

If populations become too small, interbreeding can
become serious problems.
Eg. Orang utan,
utan, , aborigin,
aborigin, turtles, whales, dugong


at the top of food chains


4. Migratory speciesspecies- Species which need suitable

habitats to feed, reproduce and rest
Eg. Tuna (thermocline
(thermocline;; spawning, nurserynursery-feeding), salmon,

5. Species with a complex life cyclescycles- species is

vulnerable if there is disruption of any single element in
the cycle
eg. salmon, eels, giant freshwater prawn, turtles.

6. Specialist species - very narrow requirements on a

single specific food source,
e.g. a particular plant species, Rafflesia

7. Selection - Loss of an individual species can have

effects on the remaining species in an ecosystem.
Some species can be removed without apparent effect,
removal of others keystone spp may have enormous effects
on the remaining species,
Eg. Destruction of seagrass meadow effected to the population
of Dugong and other animal like shrimps, seahorse

Threats to animal biodiversity

Factors that threaten biodiversity (eg.

eg. fish);
Destruction of habitat (deforestation of mangrove, reclamation
coastal area); lost of nursery ground
OverOver-exploited (over harvesting); reduce amount of fish,
reduce size
Introduction of Exotic (foreign) species (eg
(eg.. Arapaima,
garpike); reduce/lost of native spp
Invasive species (highly competitive; e.g. hard skull catfish),
Pollution (eg
(eg.. solid waste, chemicals, pesticide, etc),
Human over population; more space required, habitat lost
Climate Change (eg
(eg.. global warming, hurricane, sea rise)
Continental drift (underwater volcanic eruption)eruption)-tsunami
Overcapacity, eg.
eg. Greater number of fishermen and fishing
Illegal fishing gears (bomb, electric), ghost fishing
Fishing on gravid fish
genetic pollution (gen contamination, GMO)
Hybridization (low quality hybridhybrid-inbreeding)


Why is biodiversity important?

direct used from plants, animals and ecosystems
eg. fishes are eaten but very small percentages are

Medical drugsdrugs derived from natural sources.

80% of people in less developed countries rely on
traditional medicines,
e.g. Malaysia produce food supplementary from herbs

ForestsForests important role in watershed and stabilisation of soils.

They protect variety of organisms, maintain the climate,
flora and fauna products,

Why is biodiversity important?

Mangroves in coastal zone

buffer zone for stabilisation and nursery area
for fishery species.

Coral reefs
rich marine fauna and flora support fisheries;
breeding and nursery ground for marine
faunas and floras

Natural ecosystem
useful for tourism (Ecotourism) and
conservation and management.

Maintaining the climate


Why Conserve Biodiversity?

Individual species and ecosystems have

evolved over millions of years into a complex
we need to preserve biodiversity in order to
maintain our own life support systems.
Eg. linked issues:issues:- worldworld-wide deforestation
and global climate change are now in great
ecological concern

Ecological reasons
Economic reasons
Ethical reasons
Aesthetic reasons


Why Conserve Biodiversity?

Ecological reasons

Forest play a critical role in regulating climate

destruction of forest by burning, results great
increases of carbon in the atmosphere.

carbon dioxide is the main greenhouse gases

implicated in the current global situation;
happens for two reasons:
great reduction in the amount of carbon
dioxide will effects photosynthesis for
plants (primary producers)
burning releases huge quantities of
carbon dioxide will effects respiration, acid
rain, etc.

.Ecological reasons

Average global temperatures have been steadily

increasing trend (0.2oC per year)
If current trends continue, the earth could be on average 1oC
warmer by 2025 and 3oC warmer by 2100.
Effects to decreases of snow and ice cover,
Further effects to global sea levels

Rise 100 - 200 mm over the last century.

These changes have drastic effects:

could drown many of major cities, including wild and farm
extreme weather conditions resulting in drought, flooding and
hurricaneshurricanes- devastated to animals
changes in the distribution of diseasedisease-bearing organisms (eg
aves influenza, H1N1)


Why Conserve Biodiversity?

. Ecological reasons

results changes in
the amount and distribution of
erosion and loss of soil and often to
These effects are directly to economic
and human populations.

Changes in Temperature, Sea Level and Northern

Hemisphere Snow Cover Relative to 1961
19611990 Averages
Increase in global average
temperature, 100-year linear
trend (1906 2005):
0.74oC [0.56 to 0.92]
Rate of global average sea
level rise;
1961 2003: 1.8 mm per
year [1.3 to 2.3]
1993 2003: 3.1 mm per
year [2.4 to 3.8]

NH Snow Cover:
Over 8383-yr
(1920(1920-2003), decreasing
~2 million sqr.
sqr. km

Source: IPCC, 2007


Why Conserve Biodiversity?

Economic reasons

Environmental disasters (floods, forest

fires and hurricanes) indirectly or directly
caused by human activities,

have direct economic consequences for

the regions:
Eg. Erosion and desertification,
desertification, often as a
result of deforestation, reduce the ability of
people to grow crops and animals to feed
themselves. This leads to economic
dependence on other nations.
Eg. overexploitation of resources (e.g.
hardwood timber, exploitation marine living
resources) will lead to poor maintaining the
industry involved, affected to economic losses.

Economic reasons

Habitat losses;
LargeLarge-scale habitat and biodiversity losses may extinct
the species at economic potential

Source of medicines and useful chemicals

overexploited wild species may disappear forever.

Genetic materials;
cultivated crop plants and animals provide reservoir of
genetic material for the production of new varieties of
crops and animals.
If lost; crop plants and animals become more vulnerable
to extinction.


Why Conserve Biodiversity?

Ethical Reasons

we have the right to decide which species should

survive and which should die out?

we have the right to cause a mass extinction?

biodiversity losses are as a result of natural

competition between humans and all other
species for limited space and resources. Eg.
Coastal reclamation

If we want the luxury of ethics, we need to

reduce our populations.

Why Conserve Biodiversity?

Aesthetic Reasons

We agreed that areas of vegetation is more

attractive than burnt, scarred landscapes, or
acres of concrete and buildings

We would prefer to see butterflies dancing

above coloured flowers, rather than an
industrial complex belching smoke?

Nowadays people from large urban areas

have great pleasure visiting the countryside
for relax

Therefore the National governments must

juggle the conflicting requirements for
building more houses, industry and higher
standards of living with demands for
countryside for recreational purposes



Coral Reef Biodiversity