Have you heard the term biodiversity but are unsure what it means? You are not alone! Surveys suggest that many people are unclear about biodiversity. Unlike climate change, biodiversity rarely makes the news, nor is it hotly discussed. Yet biodiversity is a big issue. Over the last 50 years the effects of human living has come into the consciousness of most people in the modern world and through scientific research and studies we now realise the importance of mother nature and now everything fits together. This is called biodiversity.
Biodiversity refers to the variety of life. It is seen in the number of species in an ecosystem or on the entire Earth. Biodiversity gets used as a measure of the health of biological systems, and to see if there is a danger that too many species become extinct. The United Nations designated 2011–2020 as the “United Nations Decade on Biodiversity. The term biological diversity was used first by wildlife scientist and conservationist Raymond F. Dasmann in 1968, where he advocated conservation. It was widely adopted only in the 1980s. The term biodiversity first appeared in a publication in 1988 when entomologist E. O. Wilson used it as a title. Since then, the term has often been used by biologists, environmentalists, political leaders, and citizens. A similar term in the United States is “natural heritage.” It predates the others and is more accepted by the wider audience interested in conservation. Broader than biodiversity, it includes geology and land forms.
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. There are three levels at which biological variety can been identified:
The idea can be used for tackling practical problems in conservation, for example:
loss of species
destruction of habitats
introduced and invasive species
effect of climate change
Why is Biodiversity important? Does it really matter if there aren’t so many species?
Biodiversity boosts ecosystem productivity where each species, no matter how small, all have an important role to play. For example, a larger number of plant species means a greater variety of crops; greater species diversity ensures natural sustainability for all life forms; and healthy ecosystems can better withstand and recover from a variety of disasters. And so, while we dominate this planet, we still need to preserve the diversity in wildlife.