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LEC 6.

THE MEASURE OF
BIODIVERSITY

PROF.DR.B.ANNADURAI
COLLEGE OF DRYLAND AGRICULTURE AND
NATURAL RESOURCE,
MEKELLE UNIVERSITY
Main Ideas
How to define biodiversity?
Ways to measure biodiversity
Biodiversity and the relationship to the
way ecosystems function
Taxonomic methods used in relation to
quantifying and studying biodiversity
Problems in general
Conclusion
Questions?
How do we define biodiversity?
The sum of all
biotic variation
from the level of
genes to
ecosystems.
The number,
variety, and
variability of living
organisms in a
quantified area.
Methods to Measure
Biodiversity

Species Richness
Species Evenness
Disparity
Species Rarity
Genetic Variability.
Measuring Biodiversity
Species Richness; the total number of given species in a
quantified area.
Species Evenness; the degree to which the number of
individual organisms are evenly divided between different
species of the community.

www.nature.com/cgi-taf
Measuring Biodiversity
Disparity; measures the phenotypic differences among
species resulting from the differences genes within a
population.
Species Rarity; the rarity of individual organisms within a
quantified area.

http://www.rit.edu/~rhrsbi/GalapagosPages/DarwinFinch.html
Biodiversity & Genetics
Genetic Variability: each population of a species
contributes to additional biodiversity due to variations
between genes.

http://magma.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/bestwildlife/wallpaper13.html
Biodiversity and the Relationship to
Ecosystem Functions
Diverse communities are typically
more stable and function more
efficiently.
Loss of a umbrella species leads to a
unoccupied niche, in turn potentially
affecting ecosystem processes.
Extinction events are commonly
followed by high rates of
diversification. Ex) Species turnover
Productivity
Increase of productivity in an area corresponds
with an increase in biodiversity.
Ex) tropical rain forest compared to semi-desert
or tundra

http://www.rainforest.org/projects/balamna/balamna.html
Biodiversity & Exotic Species;
Ecosystems with high measures of
biodiversity are more resistant to
invader species.
Ex) Cheatgrass & Tamarisk

http://tncweeds.ucdavis.edu/ http://tncweeds.ucdavis.edu/photos
Keystone & Umbrella Species
Species whose presence or resource
requirements affect ecosystem
functions.
Health of an umbrella species is a
way to monitor the health of an
ecosystem.
Ex) Northern Spotted Owl &
Grizzly Bears
Taxonomy
New Discoveries
Grouping together
Splitting apart
Phylogenies; showing past
relationships between organisms
using evolutionary lineages.
Increasing Species Worldwide
Phylogenic Species Concept
Computer databases
Increased human exploration
Technology; electron microscope
and evidence using mDNA.
Species Richness

www.nature.com/cgi-taf
Taxonomic methods used in
relation to quantifying
biodiversity
Phylogenic Species Concept
Biological Species Concept
Evolutionary Species Concept
Phylogenic Species Concept
taxa are separate species if they can
be diagnosed as distinct either by
phenotypic or genotypic information.
Leads to an increase in the number
of species.
Does not allow for natural variations
within populations to be listed as
separate species.
Biological Species Concept
Groups of organisms that can
interbreed freely under natural
conditions.
Most commonly used of the three
Evolutionary Species Concept
Groups organisms together using an
ancestral/descendant relationship
that is traceable in the fossil record
Focuses on studying the
morphological features of closely
related organisms.
Problems in General
Measuring biodiversity is ultimately a
complex process involving many facets.
Various applications of species concepts
either divide and/or group organisms
together.
Biodiversity cant be reduced to a single
number.
Studying biodiversity using all ecosystem
processes at all scales.
In attempting to preserve biodiversity we
often are speciesists ;favoring the cute
and popular species.
Conclusions
Generally, areas of higher productivity
correlate with increases in biodiversity.
Biodiversity is also measured using the
genetic variability of different populations
of a single species.
Biodiversity cant be reduced to a single
number, thus creating complications when
comparing biodiversity in different
ecosystems.
The importance of biodiversity is accepted
by some and disregarded by many others.
QUESTIONS
How do different taxonomic methods
create potential problems in measuring
biodiversity?
How do difficulties in measuring
biodiversity create complications for policy
makers and administrative regulations?
Can we study all processes at all scales?

Why should anyone care aboutbiodiversity

?
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