The diversity of life, and the need to maintain it, is instinctive to our concept of a healthy planet. Biodiversity of an ecosystem is therefore both the diversity of species and the richness of these species. Long-term stability of an ecosystem depends on ensuring that the proportions of population numbers reflect the species' respective roles within the ecosystem, determined primarily by their trophic level.
Officially, Biodiversity is defined as the "totality of genes, species, and ecosystems of a region". The types of diversity involved are:
Biodiversity and endangered species are two issues which are often bundled together, especially in NGO public awareness campaigns. However, saving a specific habitat for a single species is not necessarily the same as preserving a region's biodiversity.
CITES, the WWF, and other environmental organisations are concerned with the rapid depletion of biodiversity, and use certain endangered species, like the whale and panda, to promote pubic awareness of the problem. However, combating biodiversity does not mean targeting single species, but entails preserving a healthy genetic diversity of all species, populations, and communities, within a healthy, sustainable habitat.
This applies at all scales, whether a local area, a biome, or the planet as a whole.
Since the planet is spherical, the solar energy available for photosynthesis is not equitably distributed, creating zones with greater primary production (vegetation) than others. In addition to the latitude, factors such as location along coasts, precipitation, and altitude play significant roles in determining how rich an area is in terms of biodiversity.
Some conservation movements choose to focus on biodiversity 'hotspots', in order to obtain the greatest possible benefit. Choosing what to try to save is inevitably going to be controversial, in particular since the public, who fund these NGOs, are more likely to respond when the project is about a species with 'marketable' emotional response value.
Ironic as it may sound, the purpose of life is extinction. A somewhat disturbing fact is that nearly all species that have ever lived on the Earth are now extinct. There is a theory that the telomeres, protective 'caps' on chromosomes, do not get passed on perfectly with each generation, leading to an eventual breakdown in a species' genetic robustness. This is particularly prevalent in more complex organisms. Considering that every other hominin species (and there have been more than 20 that we know of) has passed by way of extinction, the human species can expect to have a use-by date stamped somewhere in its genes.
Scientists are finding new species all the time, but estimates put the total of species as between 10 to 14 million. Only 10% of these (1.2 million) have been named. Life is truly diverse and rich.... and short-lived.
There have been a number of periods in Earth's history in which life diversity has taken a dive. Particularly intensive and rapid periods of biodiversity depletion are termed 'Mass Extinction Events'.
Content © Renewable.Media. All rights reserved. Created : June 23, 2015 Last updated :February 12, 2016
The most recent article is:
View this item in the topic:
and many more articles in the subject:
Science resources on ScienceLibrary.info. Games, puzzles, enigmas, internet resources, science fiction and fact, the weird and the wonderful things about the natural world. Have fun while learning Science with ScienceLibrary.info.
1879 - 1955
Albert Einstein is considered by many to be the greatest scientist of the 20th century, and his contributions to science equal in importance and scope to those of Isaac Newton.
"Now, I am afraid my usefulness has ended."
"Maestro Galileo, don't be like that. I promise you you will go down in history."
"That's what my teacher told me. If you don't study harder, he said, you will go down in history."
Website © renewable-media.com | Designed by: Andrew Bone