Biodiversity: What It Is, Why It’s Important, Examples, & More

In this guide, we discuss some of the important aspects of biodiversity.

We provide a definition of what it is, along with outlining why biodiversity might be important, and give examples of environments that might be more biodiverse than others.

 

What Is Biodiversity? (A Definition)

Biodiversity might be described or defined as the variety of life or living things on Earth, or in a specific habitat or environment.

It includes the living things such as animals, plants, and microorganisms.

Within biodiversity as a whole, there’s also specific types of diversity that can be measured, such as species diversity, genetic diversity (which measures the range of genetic material & information), and also ecosystem diversity.

On a local scale, regional diversity measures how diverse a specific region or area of the world is.

 

Why Is Biodiversity Important? Why Should We Conserve It?

Biodiversity might be considered important because of the flow-on effect it has on the environment and society

Biodiverse environments are also important to humans for social and economic reasons

 

Flow On Effect Of Biodiversity

The flow on effect might look something like this:

– Biodiversity supports and contributes to healthy ecosystems, and ecosystems that can perform their functions effectively

 

– Ecosystems provide a number of services to the environment and wildlife

Examples might include providing a habitat (on land, in freshwater and in the ocean), cleaning water, and contributing to healthy and fertile soils (which soil based organisms live in)

 

– Humans rely on healthy ecosystems that can carry out different functions and services

For example, biodiverse environments might be better for pollination, climate regulation, diseases regulation, erosion regulation, and water purification

Humans extract fresh water from the environment, use the soil (especially productive soil for agriculture), fish from healthy sea life populations (especially fish populations), and extract various raw materials from it

 

Other Specific Reasons Biodiversity Might Be Important

– Environmental Reasons

Biodiverse environments might contribute to healthier environments and ecosystems for plant life, animals and microorganisms

 

– Economic Reasons

Biodiverse environments such as tropical rainforests, reefs, savannas and wetlands might contribute a significant amount to the economy

As a few examples …

The raw materials and ingredients of many products we use are extracted from rainforests, along with other resources. Rainforests are also used for tourism

The raw materials and ingredients of some products we use are extracted from coral reefs, along with other resources. Coral reefs are also used for tourism and recreational activities like snorkelling and diving

Healthier marine environments, and biodiverse oceans can contribute to healthier and sustainable fishing populations, which is better for the fishing industry

Wetlands can be used as productive agricultural land

Savannas contribute economically through revenue generated through the wildlife industry (and wildlife tourism), agriculture and the timber industry

 

– Social Reasons

The economic benefits of biodiverse environments leads to better employment and income opportunities

There’s also those whose social values align with environmentalism and conserving biodiversity

 

– Cultural Reasons

Some local cultures place significant importance on biodiverse environments

 

– Specific Resources That May Come From Biodiverse Ecosystems & Environments

Food (such as seafood)

Fibres

Fuel

Biochemicals

Drugs and medicines that are derived from rainforests (in addition to the ecological services that rainforests provide)

Materials that comes from trees and regular forest plantations

Limestone and construction materials that are derived from some coral reefs

Freshwater

 

Specific Services That Biodiverse Environments Might Provide

qld.gov.au provides a list of services that biodiverse environments might provide, such as provisioning services, cultural services, supporting services, regulating services, and biodiscovery

 

Types Of Biodiversity

Three of the main types of biodiversity might be:

– Terrestrial Biodiversity

Biodiversity on the land

 

– Freshwater Biodiversity 

Biodiversity in freshwater sources such as rivers and lakes

 

– Marine Biodiversity

Biodiversity in the seas, oceans, and on coastlines

 

Examples Of Biodiversity

Some of the most biodiverse places on Earth might be:

Tropical rainforests

Coral reefs

 

Other places on Earth with more biodiversity than other areas might be:

– Wetlands (the listed wikipedia.org resource discusses the importance and biodiversity of the world’s wetlands in more detail)

– Savannas

 

pugetsound.edu makes a point about how some environments and ecosystems might be diverse in one way, but not as much in another.

For example, they mention that:

Savannas are quite low in tree species diversity because of stringent ecological requirements but fairly high in diversity of herbaceous plants …

Animal diversity is fairly high, although much lower overall than tropical forested areas …

 

Biodiversity Loss

We put together a separate guide where we outline what biodiversity loss is, and discuss some of the important aspects of it.

 

 

Sources

1. Various ‘Better Meets Reality’ guides

2. https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/plants-animals/biodiversity/about

3. https://news.mongabay.com/2016/08/savannas-and-grasslands-are-more-biodiverse-than-you-might-think-and-were-not-doing-enough-to-conserve-them/

4. https://www2.pugetsound.edu/academics/academic-resources/slater-museum/biodiversity-resources/world-biomes/characteristics-of-bioclimatic/savanna/

5. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resource_depletion

6. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Biodiversity

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