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Biodiversity is the biological variety and variability of
life on Earth
life on Earth
. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the
genetic
genetic
,
species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individu ...

species
, and
ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the syst ...

ecosystem
level. Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near the
equator The Equator is a circle of latitude, about in circumference, that divides Earth into the Northern Hemisphere, Northern and Southern Hemisphere, Southern hemispheres. It is an imaginary line located at 0 degrees latitude, halfway between the N ...

equator
, which is the result of the warm
climate Climate is the long-term pattern of weather Weather is the state of the atmosphere An atmosphere (from the greek words ἀτμός ''(atmos)'', meaning 'vapour', and σφαῖρα ''(sphaira)'', meaning 'ball' or 'sphere') is a la ...

climate
and high
primary productivity In ecology, primary production is the synthesis of organic compounds from atmospheric or aqueous carbon dioxide. It principally occurs through the process of photosynthesis, which uses light as its source of energy, but it also occurs through ...
. Biodiversity is not distributed evenly on
Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% is Water distribution on Earth, covered wi ...

Earth
, and is richer in the tropics. These tropical forest ecosystems cover less than ten percent of earth's surface, and contain about ninety percent of the world's species. Marine biodiversity is usually higher along coasts in the Western
Pacific The Pacific Ocean is the largest and deepest of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. ...

Pacific
, where
sea surface temperature Sea surface temperature (SST), or ocean surface temperature, is the water temperature close to the ocean's surface. The exact meaning of ''surface'' varies according to the measurement method used, but it is between and below the sea surfac ...
is highest, and in the mid-latitudinal band in all oceans. There are
latitudinal gradients in species diversity Species richness, or biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of variation at the Genetics, genetic, species, and ecosystem level. Terrestrial bio ...
. Biodiversity generally tends to cluster in hotspots, and has been increasing through time, but will be likely to slow in the future as a primary result of deforestation. Rapid
environmental changeEnvironmental change is a change or disturbance of the environment most often caused by human influences and natural ecological processes. Environmental changes include various factors, such as natural disaster A natural disaster is a major ...
s typically cause
mass extinction An extinction event (also known as a mass extinction or biotic crisis) is a widespread and rapid decrease in the biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is ...
s. More than 99.9 percent of all species that ever lived on Earth, amounting to over five billion species, are estimated to be
extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biol ...

extinct
. Estimates on the number of Earth's current
species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individu ...

species
range from 10 million to 14 million, of which about 1.2 million have been documented and over 86 percent have not yet been described. More recently, in May 2016, scientists reported that 1 trillion species are estimated to be on Earth currently with only one-thousandth of one percent described. The total amount of related
DNA Deoxyribonucleic acid (; DNA) is a molecule File:Pentacene on Ni(111) STM.jpg, A scanning tunneling microscopy image of pentacene molecules, which consist of linear chains of five carbon rings. A molecule is an electrically neutral gro ...

DNA
base pair A base pair (bp) is a fundamental unit of double-stranded nucleic acids Nucleic acids are biopolymer Biopolymers are natural polymers produced by the cells of Organism, living organisms. Biopolymers consist of monomeric units that are Covalent_ ...
s on Earth is estimated at 5.0 x 1037 and weighs 50 billion
tonne The tonne ( or ; symbol: t) is a metric unit of mass equal to 1,000 kilogram The kilogram (also kilogramme) is the base unit of mass Mass is the physical quantity, quantity of ''matter'' in a physical body. It is also a meas ...
s. In comparison, the total
mass Mass is the quantity Quantity is a property that can exist as a multitude or magnitude, which illustrate discontinuity and continuity. Quantities can be compared in terms of "more", "less", or "equal", or by assigning a numerical value ...
of the
biosphere The biosphere (from βίος ''bíos'' "life" and σφαῖρα ''sphaira'' "sphere"), also known as the ecosphere (from Greek οἶκος ''oîkos'' "environment" and σφαῖρα), is the worldwide sum of all s. It can also be termed the zo ...
has been estimated to be as much as four trillion tons of
carbon Carbon (from la, carbo "coal") is a with the C and 6. It is lic and —making four s available to form s. It belongs to group 14 of the periodic table. Carbon makes up only about 0.025 percent of Earth's crust. Three occur naturally, ...

carbon
). In July 2016, scientists reported identifying a set of 355
gene In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mecha ...

gene
s from the
Last Universal Common Ancestor The last universal common ancestor or last universal cellular ancestor (LUCA), also called the last universal ancestor (LUA), is the most recent population of organisms from which all organisms now living on Earth have a common descent Common ...
(LUCA) of all
organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological me ...

organism
s living on Earth. The
age of the Earth The age of Earth is estimated to be 4.54 ± 0.05 1,000,000,000, billion years This age may represent the age of the Earth's accretion (astrophysics), accretion, or core formation, or of the material from which the Earth formed. This dating is b ...
is about 4.54 billion years. The earliest undisputed evidence of dates at least from 3.5 billion years ago, during the
Eoarchean The Eoarchean (; also spelled Eoarchaean) is the first era An era is a span of time defined for the purposes of chronology or historiography, as in the regnal eras in the history of a given monarchy, a calendar era used for a given calendar, o ...
Era after a geological crust started to solidify following the earlier molten
Hadean The Hadean ( ) is a geologic eon of Earth history preceding the Archean. It began with the formation of the Earth about 4.6 billion years ago and ended, as defined by the International Commission on Stratigraphy The International Commissio ...

Hadean
Eon. There are
microbial mat The cyanobacterial algal mat, salty lake on the White Sea">algal_mat.html" ;"title="cyanobacterial algal mat">cyanobacterial algal mat, salty lake on the White Sea seaside A microbial mat is a multi-layered sheet of microorganisms, mainly bacteria ...
fossils A fossil (from Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the a ...

fossils
found in 3.48 billion-year-old
sandstone Sandstone is a clastic sedimentary rock of a clast (sand grain), derived from a basalt Basalt (, ) is a fine-grained extrusive igneous rock formed from the rapid cooling of low-viscosity lava rich in magnesium and iron ('' mafic ' ...

sandstone
discovered in
Western Australia Western Australia (abbreviated as WA) is a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' (newspape ...

Western Australia
. Other early physical evidence of a
biogenic substance A biogenic substance is a product made by or of life forms. While the term originally was specific to metabolite compounds that had toxic effects on other organisms, it has developed to encompass any constituents, secretions, and metabolites of pl ...
is
graphite Graphite (), archaically referred to as plumbago, is a Crystallinity, crystalline form of the element carbon with its atoms arranged in a Hexagonal crystal system, hexagonal structure. It occurs naturally in this form and is the most stable for ...

graphite
in 3.7 billion-year-old meta-sedimentary rocks discovered in Western Greenland. More recently, in 2015, "remains of biotic life" were found in 4.1 billion-year-old rocks in Western Australia. According to one of the researchers, "If life arose relatively quickly on Earth .. then it could be common in the
universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological description of the development ...

universe
." Since life began on Earth, five major
mass extinctions An extinction event (also known as a mass extinction or biotic crisis) is a widespread and rapid decrease in the biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is ...
and several minor events have led to large and sudden drops in biodiversity. The
Phanerozoic The Phanerozoic Eon is the current in the , and the one during which abundant and has existed. It covers million years to the present, and it began with the Period when animals first developed hard shells preserved in the fossil record. The ...
eon (the last 540 million years) marked a rapid growth in biodiversity via the Cambrian explosion—a period during which the majority of
multicellular A multicellular organism is an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). Organisms are classified by taxonomy (biolo ...
phyla first appeared. The next 400 million years included repeated, massive
biodiversity loss Biodiversity loss includes the extinction Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells ...
es classified as
mass extinction An extinction event (also known as a mass extinction or biotic crisis) is a widespread and rapid decrease in the biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is ...
events. In the
Carboniferous The Carboniferous ( ) is a geologic period The geologic time scale (GTS) is a system of chronological dating that classifies Geology, geological strata (stratigraphy) in time. It is used by geologists, paleontology, paleontologists, and other ...
,
rainforest collapse Ecological collapse refers to a situation where an ecosystem suffers a drastic, possibly permanent, reduction in carrying capacity for all organisms, often resulting in mass extinction. Usually, an ecological collapse is precipitated by a disastrou ...
led to a great loss of
plant Plants are predominantly photosynthetic Photosynthesis is a process used by plants and other organisms to Energy transformation, convert light energy into chemical energy that, through cellular respiration, can later be released to fuel ...

plant
and
animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular A multicellular organism is an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells ...

animal
life. The
Permian–Triassic extinction event The Permian–Triassic extinction event, also known as the P–Tr extinction, the P–T extinction, the End-Permian Extinction, and colloquially as the Great Dying, formed the boundary between the Permian The Permian ( ) is a geologic period ...
, 251 million years ago, was the worst; vertebrate recovery took 30 million years. The most recent, the
Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event The Cretaceous–Paleogene (K–Pg) extinction event (also known as the Cretaceous–Tertiary extinction) was a sudden of three-quarters of the and on , approximately 66 million years ago. With the exception of some species such as ...
, occurred 65 million years ago and has often attracted more attention than others because it resulted in the extinction of the
dinosaur Dinosaurs are a diverse group of reptiles of the clade Dinosauria. They first appeared during the Triassic Geological period, period, between 243 and 233.23 annum, million years ago, although the exact origin and timing of the evolution ...

dinosaur
s. The period since the emergence of
humans Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species ...
has displayed an ongoing biodiversity reduction and an accompanying loss of
genetic diversity Genetic diversity is the total number of genetic characteristics in the genetic makeup of a species, it ranges widely from the number of species to differences within species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classificati ...
. Named the
Holocene extinction The Holocene extinction, otherwise referred to as the sixth mass extinction or Anthropocene extinction, is an ongoing extinction event of species during the present Holocene epoch (geology), epoch (with the more recent time sometimes called Anthr ...
, the reduction is caused primarily by human impacts, particularly
habitat Ibex in an alpine habitat In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. ...
destruction. Conversely, biodiversity positively impacts
human health Health, according to the World Health Organization The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous organizations working with the United Nations and eac ...

human health
in a number of ways, although a few negative effects are studied. The
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
designated 2011–2020 as the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity. and 2021–2030 as the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, According to a 2019 ''
Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services The ''Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services'' is a report by the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and international security, se ...
'' by
IPBES The Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is an intergovernmental organization established to improve the interface between science and policy on issues of biodiversity Biodiversity is the bi ...
25% of plant and animal species are threatened with extinction as the result of human activity. An October 2020 IPBES report found the same human actions which drive
biodiversity loss Biodiversity loss includes the extinction Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells ...
have also resulted in an increase in
pandemics A pandemic (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 mil ...
. In 2020, the fifth edition of the UN's Global Biodiversity Outlook report, which served as a “final report card” for the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, a series of 20 objectives set out in 2010, at the beginning of the UN's Decade on Biodiversity, most of which were supposed to be reached by the end of the year 2020, stated that none of the targets – which concern the safeguarding of ecosystems, and the promotion of sustainability – have been fully met.


History of terminology

*1916 – The term ''biological diversity'' was used first by J. Arthur Harris in "The Variable Desert," Scientific American: "The bare statement that the region contains a flora rich in genera and species and of diverse geographic origin or affinity is entirely inadequate as a description of its real biological diversity." *1974 – The term ''natural diversity'' was introduced by John Terborgh ("The Preservation of Natural Diversity: The Problem of Extinction Prone Species," BioScience 24 (12): 715–722. *1980 –
Thomas Lovejoy Thomas E. Lovejoy, "the Godfather of Biodiversity", is President of the Amazon Biodiversity Center, a Senior Fellow at the United Nations Foundation and university professor in the Environmental Science and Policy department at George Mason Univer ...
introduced the term ''biological diversity'' to the scientific community in a book. It rapidly became commonly used. *1985 – According to Edward O. Wilson, the contracted form ''biodiversity'' was coined by W. G. Rosen: "The National Forum on BioDiversity ... was conceived by Walter G.Rosen ... Dr. Rosen represented the NRC/NAS throughout the planning stages of the project. Furthermore, he introduced the term ''biodiversity''". *1985 - The term "biodiversity" appears in the article, "A New Plan to Conserve the Earth's Biota" by Laura Tangley. *1988 - The term biodiversity first appeared in a publication.online edition
*The present - the term has achieved widespread use.


Definitions


Prior term

"Biodiversity" is most commonly used to replace the more clearly defined and long established terms,
species diversity Species diversity is the number of different species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the ...
and
species richness File:Global Amphibian Richness Grids, 2015 Release, All Amphibians (28794889801).jpg, 300px, Global amphibian richness (2015) Species richness is the number of different species represented in an community (ecology), ecological community, landscape ...
.


Alternate terms

Biologists most often define biodiversity as the "totality of
gene In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mecha ...

gene
s,
species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individu ...

species
and
ecosystems An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the syste ...
of a region". An advantage of this definition is that it seems to describe most circumstances and presents a unified view of the traditional types of biological variety previously identified: * taxonomic diversity (usually measured at the species diversity level) *
ecological diversity Ecosystem diversity deals with the variations in ecosystem An ecosystem is a community (ecology), community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interacting as a system. These Biotic compone ...
(often viewed from the perspective of
ecosystem diversity Ecosystem diversity deals with the variations in ecosystem An ecosystem is a community (ecology), community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interacting as a system. These Biotic componen ...
) * morphological diversity (which stems from
genetic diversity Genetic diversity is the total number of genetic characteristics in the genetic makeup of a species, it ranges widely from the number of species to differences within species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classificati ...
and molecular diversity) * functional diversity (which is a measure of the number of functionally disparate species within a population (e.g. different feeding mechanism, different motility, predator vs prey, etc.)) This multilevel construct is consistent with Datman and Lovejoy.


Wilcox 1982

An explicit definition consistent with this interpretation was first given in a paper by Bruce A. Wilcox commissioned by the
International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources International is an adjective (also used as a noun) meaning "between nations". International may also refer to: Music Albums * International (Kevin Michael album), ''International'' (Kevin Michael album), 2011 * International (New Order album), '' ...
(IUCN) for the 1982 World National Parks Conference. Wilcox's definition was "Biological diversity is the variety of life forms...at all levels of biological systems (i.e., molecular, organismic, population, species and ecosystem)...". Wilcox, Bruce A. 1984. In situ conservation of genetic resources: determinants of minimum area requirements. ''In National Parks, Conservation and Development, Proceedings of the World Congress on National Parks, J.A. McNeely and K.R. Miller'', Smithsonian Institution Press, pp. 18–30.


Genetic: Wilcox 1984

Biodiversity can be defined genetically as the diversity of alleles, genes and
organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological me ...

organism
s. They study processes such as
mutation In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mechan ...
and
gene transfer Horizontal gene transfer (HGT) or lateral gene transfer (LGT) is the movement of genetic material between unicellular and/or multicellular organisms other than by the ("vertical") transmission of DNA from parent to offspring ( reproduction). ...
that drive evolution.


United Nations 1992

The 1992
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization aiming to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be a centre for harm ...

United Nations
Earth Summit The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), also known as the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, the Rio Summit, the Rio Conference, and the Earth Summit (Portuguese: ECO92), was a major United Nations The United Na ...
defined "biological diversity" as "the variability among living organisms from all sources, including, ''inter alia'',
terrestrial Terrestrial refers to things related to land Land is the solid surface of the Earth that is not permanently covered by water. The vast majority of human activity throughout history has occurred in land areas that support agriculture A ...
,
marine Marine is an adjective meaning of or pertaining to the sea or ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
and other
aquatic ecosystems An aquatic ecosystem is an ecosystem An ecosystem is a community (ecology), community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interacting as a system. These Biotic component, biotic and abiotic ...
and the ecological complexes of which they are part: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems". This definition is used in the United Nations
Convention on Biological Diversity The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is a multilateral treatyMultilateral may refer to: * Multilateralism * Multilateration * Flea flicker (American football) {{disambig .... The conven ...
.


Gaston and Spicer 2004

Gaston & Spicer's definition in their book "Biodiversity: an introduction" is "variation of life at all levels of biological organization".


Food and Agriculture Organization 2020


What is forest biological biodiversity?

Forest biological diversity is a broad term that refers to all life forms found within forested areas and the ecological roles they perform. As such, forest biological diversity encompasses not just trees, but the multitude of plants, animals and microorganisms that inhabit forest areas and their associated genetic diversity. Forest biological diversity can be considered at different levels, including ecosystem, landscape, species, population and genetic. Complex interactions can occur within and between these levels. In biologically diverse forests, this complexity allows organisms to adapt to continually changing environmental conditions and to maintain ecosystem functions. In the annex to Decision II/9 (CBD, n.d.a), the Conference of the Parties to the CBD recognized that: “Forest biological diversity results from evolutionary processes over thousands and even millions of years which, in themselves, are driven by ecological forces such as climate, fire, competition and disturbance. Furthermore, the diversity of forest ecosystems (in both physical and biological features) results in high levels of adaptation, a feature of forest ecosystems which is an integral component of their biological diversity. Within specific forest ecosystems, the maintenance of ecological processes is dependent upon the maintenance of their biological diversity.”


Distribution

Biodiversity is not evenly distributed, rather it varies greatly across the globe as well as within regions. Among other factors, the diversity of all living things ( biota) depends on
temperature Temperature ( ) is a physical quantity that expresses hot and cold. It is the manifestation of thermal energy Thermal radiation in visible light can be seen on this hot metalwork. Thermal energy refers to several distinct physical concept ...

temperature
,
precipitation In meteorology Meteorology is a branch of the (which include and ), with a major focus on . The study of meteorology dates back , though significant progress in meteorology did not begin until the 18th century. The 19th century saw mod ...

precipitation
,
altitude Altitude or height (also sometimes known as depth) is a distance measurement, usually in the vertical or "up" direction, between a reference and a point or object. The exact definition and reference datum varies according to the context (e.g. ...

altitude
,
soil Soil is a mixture In chemistry Chemistry is the science, scientific study of the properties and behavior of matter. It is a natural science that covers the Chemical element, elements that make up matter to the chemical compound, comp ...

soil
s,
geography Geography (from Ancient Greek, Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and Solar System, planets. The first person t ...

geography
and the presence of other species. The study of the spatial distribution of
organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological me ...

organism
s, species and
ecosystem An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the syst ...

ecosystem
s, is the science of
biogeography Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species and ecosystems in geography, geographic space and through evolutionary history of life, geological time. Organisms and biological communities often vary in a regular fashion along geograp ...

biogeography
. Diversity consistently measures higher in the
tropics The tropics are the region of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% ...

tropics
and in other localized regions such as the
Cape Floristic Region The Cape Floristic Region is a floristic region located near the southern tip of South Africa South Africa, officially the Republic of South Africa (RSA), is the southernmost country in Africa. With over Demographics of South Africa, 59 ...
and lower in polar regions generally.
Rain forests Rainforests are forest A forest is an area of land dominated by trees. Hundreds of definitions of forest are used throughout the world, incorporating factors such as tree density, tree height, land use, legal standing and ecological func ...
that have had wet climates for a long time, such as Yasuní National Park in
Ecuador Ecuador ( ; ; Quechua Quechua may refer to: *Quechua people, several indigenous ethnic groups in South America, especially in Peru *Quechuan languages, a Native South American language family spoken primarily in the Andes, derived from a ...

Ecuador
, have particularly high biodiversity. Terrestrial biodiversity is thought to be up to 25 times greater than ocean biodiversity. Forests harbour most of Earth's terrestrial biodiversity. The conservation of the world's biodiversity is thus utterly dependent on the way in which we interact with and use the world's forests. A new method used in 2011, put the total number of species on Earth at 8.7 million, of which 2.1 million were estimated to live in the ocean. However, this estimate seems to under-represent the diversity of microorganisms. Forests provide habitats for 80 percent of amphibian species, 75 percent of bird species and 68 percent of mammal species. About 60 percent of all vascular plants are found in tropical forests. Mangroves provide breeding grounds and nurseries for numerous species of fish and shellfish and help trap sediments that might otherwise adversely affect seagrass beds and coral reefs, which are habitats for many more marine species. The biodiversity of forests varies considerably according to factors such as forest type, geography, climate and soils – in addition to human use. Most forest habitats in temperate regions support relatively few animal and plant species and species that tend to have large geographical distributions, while the montane forests of Africa, South America and Southeast Asia and lowland forests of Australia, coastal Brazil, the Caribbean islands, Central America and insular Southeast Asia have many species with small geographical distributions. Areas with dense human populations and intense agricultural land use, such as Europe, parts of Bangladesh, China, India and North America, are less intact in terms of their biodiversity. Northern Africa, southern Australia, coastal Brazil, Madagascar and South Africa, are also identified as areas with striking losses in biodiversity intactness.


Latitudinal gradients

Generally, there is an increase in biodiversity from the
poles The Poles,, ; singular masculine: ''Polak'', singular feminine: ''Polka'' or Polish people, are a nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the loc ...
to the
tropics The tropics are the region of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% ...

tropics
. Thus localities at lower
latitudes In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use the w ...
have more species than localities at higher
latitude In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', literally "earth description") is a field of science devoted to the study of the lands, features, inhabitants, and phenomena of the Earth and planets. The first person to use the ...

latitude
s. This is often referred to as the latitudinal gradient in species diversity. Several ecological factors may contribute to the gradient, but the ultimate factor behind many of them is the greater mean temperature at the equator compared to that of the poles. Even though terrestrial biodiversity declines from the equator to the poles, some studies claim that this characteristic is unverified in
aquatic ecosystems An aquatic ecosystem is an ecosystem An ecosystem is a community (ecology), community of living organisms in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment, interacting as a system. These Biotic component, biotic and abiotic ...
, especially in
marine ecosystems Marine ecosystems are the largest of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continent A continent is one of several ...
. The latitudinal distribution of parasites does not appear to follow this rule. In 2016, an alternative hypothesis ("the
fractal In mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers (arithmetic and number theory), formulas and related structures (algebra), shapes and spaces in which they are contained (geometry), and quantities a ...

fractal
biodiversity") was proposed to explain the biodiversity latitudinal gradient. In this study, the
species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individu ...

species
pool size and the fractal nature of ecosystems were combined to clarify some general patterns of this gradient. This hypothesis considers
temperature Temperature ( ) is a physical quantity that expresses hot and cold. It is the manifestation of thermal energy Thermal radiation in visible light can be seen on this hot metalwork. Thermal energy refers to several distinct physical concept ...

temperature
,
moisture 150px, Dew on a spider web Moisture is the presence of a liquid, especially water, often in trace amounts. Small amounts of water may be found, for example, in the air (humidity Humidity is the concentration of water vapor present in the air ...
, and net primary production (NPP) as the main variables of an ecosystem niche and as the axis of the ecological
hypervolume A four-dimensional space (4D) is a mathematical extension of the concept of three-dimensional or 3D space. Three-dimensional space Three-dimensional space (also: 3-space or, rarely, tri-dimensional space) is a geometric setting in which thre ...
. In this way, it is possible to build fractal hyper volumes, whose
fractal dimension In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number theory), mathematical structure, structure (algebra), space (geometry), and calculus, change (mathematical analysis, analysis). It ...

fractal dimension
rises to three moving towards the
equator The Equator is a circle of latitude, about in circumference, that divides Earth into the Northern Hemisphere, Northern and Southern Hemisphere, Southern hemispheres. It is an imaginary line located at 0 degrees latitude, halfway between the N ...

equator
.


Biodiversity Hotspot

A
biodiversity hotspot A biodiversity hotspot is a ecoregion, biogeographic region with significant levels of biodiversity that is threatened by human habitation. Norman Myers wrote about the concept in two articles in “The Environmentalist” (1988), and 1990 revised ...
is a region with a high level of
endemic Endemism is the state of a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest gro ...
species that have experienced great
habitat loss Habitat destruction (also termed habitat loss and habitat reduction) is the process by which a natural habitat Ibex in an alpine habitat In ecology, the term habitat summarises the array of resources, physical and biotic factors that are pr ...
. The term hotspot was introduced in 1988 by
Norman Myers Norman Myers (24 August 1934 – 20 October 2019) was a British environmentalist specialising in biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is a measure of vari ...
. While hotspots are spread all over the world, the majority are forest areas and most are located in the
tropics The tropics are the region of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% ...

tropics
.
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) and with over 211 mill ...

Brazil
's
Atlantic Forest The Atlantic Forest ( pt, Mata Atlântica) is a South America South America is a continent entirely in the Western Hemisphere and mostly in the Southern Hemisphere, with a relatively small portion in the Northern Hemisphere. It can ...

Atlantic Forest
is considered one such hotspot, containing roughly 20,000 plant species, 1,350 vertebrates and millions of insects, about half of which occur nowhere else. The island of
Madagascar Madagascar (; mg, Madagasikara), officially the Republic of Madagascar ( mg, Repoblikan'i Madagasikara, links=no, ; french: République de Madagascar), and previously known as the Malagasy Republic The Malagasy Republic ( mg, Repoblika Mal ...

Madagascar
and
India India, officially the Republic of India (Hindi Hindi (Devanagari: , हिंदी, ISO 15919, ISO: ), or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi (Devanagari: , ISO 15919, ISO: ), is an Indo-Aryan language spoken chiefly in Hindi Belt, ...

India
are also particularly notable.
Colombia Colombia ( , ; ), officially the Republic of Colombia, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identified by conv ...

Colombia
is characterized by high biodiversity, with the highest rate of species by area unit worldwide and it has the largest number of endemics (species that are not found naturally anywhere else) of any country. About 10% of the species of the Earth can be found in Colombia, including over 1,900 species of bird, more than in Europe and North America combined, Colombia has 10% of the world's mammals species, 14% of the amphibian species and 18% of the bird species of the world.
Madagascar dry deciduous forests The Madagascar dry deciduous forests represent a tropical and subtropical dry broadleaf forests, tropical dry forest ecoregion situated in the western and northern part of Madagascar. The area has high numbers of Endemism, endemic plant and animal ...
and lowland rainforests possess a high ratio of
endemism Endemism is the state of a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest gro ...
. Since the island separated from mainland
Africa Africa is the world's second-largest and second-most populous continent A continent is any of several large landmass A landmass, or land mass, is a large region In geography Geography (from Greek: , ''geographia'', ...

Africa
66 million years ago, many species and ecosystems have evolved independently.
Indonesia Indonesia ( ), officially the Republic of Indonesia ( id, Republik Indonesia, links=yes ), is a country in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is t ...

Indonesia
's 17,000 islands cover and contain 10% of the world's
flowering plant Flowering plants include multiple members of the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greec ...

flowering plant
s, 12% of mammals and 17% of
reptile Reptiles, as most commonly defined, are the animals in the class Class or The Class may refer to: Common uses not otherwise categorized * Class (biology), a taxonomic rank * Class (knowledge representation), a collection of individuals or ...

reptile
s,
amphibian Amphibians are ectothermic, tetrapod vertebrates of the Class (biology), class Amphibia. All living amphibians belong to the group Lissamphibia. They inhabit a wide variety of habitats, with most species living within terrestrial animal, ter ...
s and
bird Birds are a group of warm-blooded vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular eukaryotic organisms that form the Kingdom (biology), biological kingdom Animalia. With ...

bird
s—along with nearly 240 million people. Many regions of high biodiversity and/or endemism arise from specialized
habitat In ecology Ecology (from el, οἶκος, "house" and el, -λογία, label=none, "study of") is the study of the relationships between living organisms, including humans, and their physical environment. Ecology considers at the ...

habitat
s which require unusual adaptations, for example,
alpine Alpine may refer to: Places * Alps, a European mountain range * Alpine states, associated with the mountain range, or relating to any lofty mountain areas * Mountainous or alpine; the mountains. Australia * Alpine, New South Wales, a Northern Vill ...
environments in high
mountain A mountain is an elevated portion of the Earth's crust, generally with steep sides that show significant exposed bedrock. A mountain differs from a plateau in having a limited summit area, and is larger than a hill, typically rising at least ...

mountain
s, or
Northern Europe Northern Europe is the northern region of Europe. Narrower definitions may describe Northern Europe as being roughly north of the southern coast of the Baltic Sea, which is about 54th parallel north, 54°N, or may be based on other geographic ...
an peat
bog A bog or bogland is a wetland A wetland is a distinct ecosystem that is flooded by water, either permanently (for years or decades) or seasonally (for weeks or months). Flooding results in oxygen-free (Anoxic waters, anoxic) processes ...

bog
s. Accurately measuring differences in biodiversity can be difficult.
Selection bias Selection bias is the bias introduced by the selection of individuals, groups or data for analysis in such a way that proper randomization is not achieved, thereby ensuring that the sample obtained is not representative of the population intended to ...
amongst researchers may contribute to biased empirical research for modern estimates of biodiversity. In 1768, Rev.
Gilbert White Gilbert White Royal Society, FRS (18 July 1720 – 26 June 1793) was a "parson-naturalist", a pioneering England, English natural history, naturalist, ecologist and Ornithology, ornithologist. He is best known for his ''Natural History and Antiq ...

Gilbert White
succinctly observed of his Selborne, Hampshire ''"all nature is so full, that that district produces the most variety which is the most examined."''


Evolution


Chronology

Biodiversity is the result of 3.5 billion years of
evolution Evolution is change in the heritable Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of Phenotypic trait, traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction, ...

evolution
. The
origin of life In evolutionary biology Evolutionary biology is the subfield of biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molec ...
has not been established by science, however, some evidence suggests that life may already have been well-established only a few hundred million years after the
formation of the Earth Earth is the third planet A planet is an astronomical body orbiting a star or Stellar evolution#Stellar remnants, stellar remnant that is massive enough to be Hydrostatic equilibrium, rounded by its own gravity, is not massive enough to c ...
. Until approximately 2.5 billion years ago, all life consisted of
microorganism A microorganism, or microbe,, ''mikros'', "small") and ''organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes ...
s –
archaea Archaea ( ; singular archaeon ) constitute a domain Domain may refer to: Mathematics *Domain of a function, the set of input values for which the (total) function is defined **Domain of definition of a partial function **Natural domain of a pa ...

archaea
,
bacteria Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are ubiquitous, mostly free-living organisms often consisting of one Cell (biology), biological cell. They constitute a large domain (biology), domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typ ...

bacteria
, and single-celled
protozoan Protozoa (singular protozoon or protozoan, plural protozoa or protozoans) is an informal term for a group of single-celled eukaryote Eukaryotes () are organisms whose Cell (biology), cells have a cell nucleus, nucleus enclosed within a nuc ...
s and
protist A protist () is any eukaryotic Eukaryotes () are organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). Organisms are c ...
s. The history of biodiversity during the
Phanerozoic The Phanerozoic Eon is the current in the , and the one during which abundant and has existed. It covers million years to the present, and it began with the Period when animals first developed hard shells preserved in the fossil record. The ...
(the last 540 million years), starts with rapid growth during the Cambrian explosion—a period during which nearly every
phylum In biology, a phylum (; plural The plural (sometimes list of glossing abbreviations, abbreviated ), in many languages, is one of the values of the grammatical number, grammatical category of number. The plural of a noun typically denotes a q ...
of
multicellular organism A multicellular organism is an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an individual entity. All organisms are composed of cells (cell theory). Organisms are classified by taxonomy (biol ...
s first appeared. Over the next 400 million years or so,
invertebrate Invertebrates are animals that neither possess nor develop a vertebral column (commonly known as a ''backbone'' or ''spine''), derived from the notochord. This includes all animals apart from the chordata, chordate subphylum vertebrate, Vertebra ...
diversity showed little overall trend and
vertebrate Vertebrates () comprise all species of animal Animals (also called Metazoa) are multicellular A multicellular organism is an organism In biology, an organism () is any organic, life, living system that functions as an indiv ...
diversity shows an overall exponential trend. This dramatic rise in diversity was marked by periodic, massive losses of diversity classified as
mass extinction An extinction event (also known as a mass extinction or biotic crisis) is a widespread and rapid decrease in the biodiversity Biodiversity is the biological variety and Genetic variability, variability of life, life on Earth. Biodiversity is ...
events. A significant loss occurred when rainforests collapsed in the carboniferous. The worst was the Permian-Triassic extinction event, 251 million years ago. Vertebrates took 30 million years to recover from this event. The
fossil record A fossil (from Classical Latin: , literally 'obtained by digging') is any preserved remains, impression, or trace of any once-living thing from a past geological age. Examples include bones, Seashell, shells, exoskeletons, stone imprints of a ...
suggests that the last few million years featured the greatest biodiversity in
history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approxima ...
. However, not all scientists support this view, since there is uncertainty as to how strongly the fossil record is biased by the greater availability and preservation of recent
geologic Geology (from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following peri ...

geologic
sections. Some scientists believe that corrected for sampling artifacts, modern biodiversity may not be much different from biodiversity 300 million years ago, whereas others consider the fossil record reasonably reflective of the diversification of life. Estimates of the present global macroscopic species diversity vary from 2 million to 100 million, with a best estimate of somewhere near 9 million, the vast majority
arthropod An arthropod (, (gen. ποδός)) is an invertebrate animal having an exoskeleton, a Segmentation (biology), segmented body, and paired jointed appendages. Arthropods form the phylum Euarthropoda,Reference showing that Euarthropoda is a phylum: ...
s. Diversity appears to increase continually in the absence of natural selection.


Diversification

The existence of a ''global carrying capacity'', limiting the amount of life that can live at once, is debated, as is the question of whether such a limit would also cap the number of species. While records of life in the sea show a logistic pattern of growth, life on land (insects, plants and tetrapods) shows an
exponential Exponential may refer to any of several mathematical topics related to exponentiation Exponentiation is a mathematical operation, written as , involving two numbers, the '' base'' and the ''exponent'' or ''power'' , and pronounced as " raise ...

exponential
rise in diversity. As one author states, "Tetrapods have not yet invaded 64 percent of potentially habitable modes and it could be that without human influence the ecological and
taxonomic Taxonomy (general) is the practice and science of classification of things or concepts, including the principles that underlie such classification. The term may also refer to a specific classification scheme. Originally used only about biological ...
diversity of tetrapods would continue to increase exponentially until most or all of the available eco-space is filled." It also appears that the diversity continues to increase over time, especially after mass extinctions. On the other hand, changes through the
Phanerozoic The Phanerozoic Eon is the current in the , and the one during which abundant and has existed. It covers million years to the present, and it began with the Period when animals first developed hard shells preserved in the fossil record. The ...
correlate much better with the
hyperbolic Hyperbolic is an adjective describing something that resembles or pertains to a hyperbola (a curve), to hyperbole (an overstatement or exaggeration), or to hyperbolic geometry. The following phenomena are described as ''hyperbolic'' because they ...
model (widely used in
population biology The term population biology has been used with different meanings. In 1971 Edward O. Wilson ''et al''. used the term in the sense of applying mathematical models to population genetics, community ecology In ecology, a community is a group o ...
,
demography Demography (from prefix ''demo-'' from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the period ...

demography
and
macrosociology Macrosociology is a large-scale approach to sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among in ...
, as well as
fossil A fossil (from Classical Latin Classical Latin is the form of Latin language Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, inc ...

fossil
biodiversity) than with exponential and logistic models. The latter models imply that changes in diversity are guided by a first-order
positive feedback Positive feedback (exacerbating feedback, self-reinforcing feedback) is a process that occurs in a feedback loop Feedback occurs when outputs of a system are routed back as inputs as part of a chain Image:Kettenvergleich.jpg, Roller c ...
(more ancestors, more descendants) and/or a
negative feedback AB is negative. Negative feedback (or balancing feedback) occurs when some function (Mathematics), function of the output of a system, process, or mechanism is fed back in a manner that tends to reduce the fluctuations in the output, whether cau ...
arising from resource limitation. Hyperbolic model implies a second-order positive feedback. Differences in the strength of the second-order feedback due to different intensities of interspecific competition might explain the faster rediversification of
ammonoids Ammonoids are a group of extinct Extinction is the termination of a kind of organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the Li ...
in comparison to
bivalves Bivalvia (), in previous centuries referred to as the Lamellibranchiata and Pelecypoda, is a class (biology), class of marine and freshwater Mollusca, molluscs that have laterally compressed bodies enclosed by a shell consisting of two hinged p ...
after the end-Permian extinction. The hyperbolic pattern of the world population growth arises from a second-order positive feedback between the population size and the rate of technological growth. The hyperbolic character of biodiversity growth can be similarly accounted for by a feedback between diversity and community structure complexity. The similarity between the curves of biodiversity and human population probably comes from the fact that both are derived from the interference of the hyperbolic trend with cyclical and stochastic dynamics. Most biologists agree however that the period since human emergence is part of a new mass extinction, named the Holocene extinction event, caused primarily by the impact humans are having on the environment. It has been argued that the present rate of extinction is sufficient to eliminate most species on the planet Earth within 100 years. New species are regularly discovered (on average between 5–10,000 new species each year, most of them insects) and many, though discovered, are not yet classified (estimates are that nearly 90% of all
arthropod An arthropod (, (gen. ποδός)) is an invertebrate animal having an exoskeleton, a Segmentation (biology), segmented body, and paired jointed appendages. Arthropods form the phylum Euarthropoda,Reference showing that Euarthropoda is a phylum: ...
s are not yet classified). Most of the terrestrial diversity is found in tropical forests and in general, the land has more species than the ocean; some 8.7 million species may exist on Earth, of which some 2.1 million live in the ocean.


Ecosystem services


The balance of evidence

"Ecosystem services are the suite of benefits that ecosystems provide to humanity." The natural species, or biota, are the caretakers of all ecosystems. It is as if the natural world is an enormous bank account of capital assets capable of paying life sustaining dividends indefinitely, but only if the capital is maintained. These services come in three flavors: # Provisioning services which involve the production of renewable resources (e.g.: food, wood, fresh water) # Regulating services which are those that lessen environmental change (e.g.: climate regulation, pest/disease control) # Cultural services represent human value and enjoyment (e.g.: landscape aesthetics, cultural heritage, outdoor recreation and spiritual significance) There have been many claims about biodiversity's effect on these ecosystem services, especially provisioning and regulating services. After an exhaustive survey through peer-reviewed literature to evaluate 36 different claims about biodiversity's effect on ecosystem services, 14 of those claims have been validated, 6 demonstrate mixed support or are unsupported, 3 are incorrect and 13 lack enough evidence to draw definitive conclusions.


Services enhanced


=Provisioning services

= Greater species diversity * of plants increases fodder yield (synthesis of 271 experimental studies). * of plants (i.e. diversity within a single species) increases overall crop yield (synthesis of 575 experimental studies). Although another review of 100 experimental studies reports mixed evidence. * of trees increases overall wood production (Synthesis of 53 experimental studies). However, there is not enough data to draw a conclusion about the effect of tree trait diversity on wood production.


=Regulating services

= Greater species diversity * of fish increases the stability of fisheries yield (Synthesis of 8 observational studies) * of natural pest enemies decreases herbivorous pest populations (Data from two separate reviews; Synthesis of 266 experimental and observational studies; Synthesis of 18 observational studies. Although another review of 38 experimental studies found mixed support for this claim, suggesting that in cases where mutual intraguild predation occurs, a single predatory species is often more effective * of plants decreases disease prevalence on plants (Synthesis of 107 experimental studies) * of plants increases resistance to plant invasion (Data from two separate reviews; Synthesis of 105 experimental studies; Synthesis of 15 experimental studies) * of plants increases carbon sequestration, but note that this finding only relates to actual uptake of carbon dioxide and not long-term storage, see below; Synthesis of 479 experimental studies) * plants increases soil nutrient remineralization (Synthesis of 103 experimental studies) * of plants increases soil organic matter (Synthesis of 85 experimental studies)


Services with mixed evidence


=Provisioning services

= * None to date


=Regulating services

= * Greater species diversity of plants may or may not decrease herbivorous pest populations. Data from two separate reviews suggest that greater diversity decreases pest populations (Synthesis of 40 observational studies; Synthesis of 100 experimental studies). One review found mixed evidence (Synthesis of 287 experimental studies), while another found contrary evidence (Synthesis of 100 experimental studies) * Greater species diversity of animals may or may not decrease disease prevalence on those animals (Synthesis of 45 experimental and observational studies), although a 2013 study offers more support showing that biodiversity may in fact enhance disease resistance within animal communities, at least in amphibian frog ponds. Many more studies must be published in support of diversity to sway the balance of evidence will be such that we can draw a general rule on this service. * Greater species and trait diversity of plants may or may not increase long term carbon storage (Synthesis of 33 observational studies) * Greater pollinator diversity may or may not increase pollination (Synthesis of 7 observational studies), but a publication from March 2013 suggests that increased native pollinator diversity enhances pollen deposition (although not necessarily fruit set as the authors would have you believe, for details explore their lengthy supplementary material).


Services hindered


=Provisioning services

= * Greater species diversity of plants reduces primary production (Synthesis of 7 experimental studies)


=Regulating services

= * greater genetic and species diversity of a number of organisms reduces freshwater purification (Synthesis of 8 experimental studies, although an attempt by the authors to investigate the effect of detritivore diversity on freshwater purification was unsuccessful due to a lack of available evidence (only 1 observational study was found


=Provisioning services

= * Effect of species diversity of plants on biofuel yield (In a survey of the literature, the investigators only found 3 studies) * Effect of species diversity of fish on fishery yield (In a survey of the literature, the investigators only found 4 experimental studies and 1 observational study)


=Regulating services

= * Effect of species diversity on the stability of biofuel yield (In a survey of the literature, the investigators did not find any studies) * Effect of species diversity of plants on the stability of fodder yield (In a survey of the literature, the investigators only found 2 studies) * Effect of species diversity of plants on the stability of crop yield (In a survey of the literature, the investigators only found 1 study) * Effect of
genetic diversity Genetic diversity is the total number of genetic characteristics in the genetic makeup of a species, it ranges widely from the number of species to differences within species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classificati ...
of plants on the stability of crop yield (In a survey of the literature, the investigators only found 2 studies) * Effect of diversity on the stability of wood production (In a survey of the literature, the investigators could not find any studies) * Effect of species diversity of multiple taxa on erosion control (In a survey of the literature, the investigators could not find any studies – they did, however, find studies on the effect of species diversity and root biomass) * Effect of diversity on flood regulation (In a survey of the literature, the investigators could not find any studies) * Effect of species and trait diversity of plants on soil moisture (In a survey of the literature, the investigators only found 2 studies) Other sources have reported somewhat conflicting results and in 1997 Robert Costanza and his colleagues reported the estimated global value of ecosystem services (not captured in traditional markets) at an average of $33 trillion annually. Since the Stone Age, species loss has accelerated above the average basal rate, driven by human activity. Estimates of species losses are at a rate 100–10,000 times as fast as is typical in the fossil record. Biodiversity also affords many non-material benefits including spiritual and aesthetic values, knowledge systems and education.


Agriculture

Agricultural diversity can be divided into two categories: genetic diversity, intraspecific diversity, which includes the genetic variation within a single species, like the potato (''Solanum tuberosum'') that is composed of many different forms and types (e.g. in the U.S. they might compare russet potatoes with new potatoes or purple potatoes, all different, but all part of the same species, ''S. tuberosum''). The other category of agricultural diversity is called species diversity, interspecific diversity and refers to the number and types of different species. Thinking about this diversity we might note that many small vegetable farmers grow many different crops like potatoes and also carrots, peppers, lettuce, etc. Agricultural diversity can also be divided by whether it is 'planned' diversity or 'associated' diversity. This is a functional classification that we impose and not an intrinsic feature of life or diversity. Planned diversity includes the crops which a farmer has encouraged, planted or raised (e.g. crops, covers, symbionts, and livestock, among others), which can be contrasted with the associated diversity that arrives among the crops, uninvited (e.g. herbivores, weed species and pathogens, among others). Associated biodiversity can be damaging or beneficial. The beneficial associated biodiversity include for instance wild pollinators such as wild bees and syrphid flies that pollinate crops and natural enemies and antagonists to pests and pathogens. Beneficial associated biodiversity occurs abundantly in crop fields and provide multiple ecosystem services such as pest control, nutrient cycling and pollination that support crop production. The control of damaging associated biodiversity is one of the great agricultural challenges that farmers face. On monoculture farms, the approach is generally to suppress damaging associated diversity using a suite of biologically destructive pesticides, mechanized tools and genetically modified organism, transgenic engineering techniques, then to crop rotation, rotate crops. Although some polyculture farmers use the same techniques, they also employ integrated pest management strategies as well as more labor-intensive strategies, but generally less dependent on capital, biotechnology, and energy. Interspecific crop diversity is, in part, responsible for offering variety in what we eat. Intraspecific diversity, the variety of alleles within a single species, also offers us a choice in our diets. If a crop fails in a monoculture, we rely on agricultural diversity to replant the land with something new. If a wheat crop is destroyed by a pest we may plant a hardier variety of wheat the next year, relying on intraspecific diversity. We may forgo wheat production in that area and plant a different species altogether, relying on interspecific diversity. Even an agricultural society that primarily grows monocultures relies on biodiversity at some point. * The Great Famine (Ireland), Irish potato blight of 1846 was a major factor in the deaths of one million people and the emigration of about two million. It was the result of planting only two potato varieties, both vulnerable to the blight, ''Phytophthora infestans'', which arrived in 1845 * When rice grassy stunt virus struck rice fields from Indonesia to India in the 1970s, 6,273 varieties were tested for resistance. Only one was resistant, an Indian variety and known to science only since 1966. This variety formed a hybrid with other varieties and is now widely grown. * Coffee rust attacked coffee plantations in Sri Lanka,
Brazil Brazil ( pt, Brasil; ), officially the Federative Republic of Brazil (Portuguese: ), is the largest country in both South America and Latin America. At 8.5 million square kilometers (3.2 million square miles) and with over 211 mill ...

Brazil
and Central America in 1970. A resistant variety was found in Ethiopia. The diseases are themselves a form of biodiversity. Monoculture was a contributing factor to several agricultural disasters, including the European wine industry collapse in the late 19th century and the US southern corn leaf blight epidemic of 1970. Although about 80 percent of humans' food supply comes from just 20 kinds of plants, humans use at least 40,000 species. Many people depend on these species for food, shelter and clothing. Earth's surviving biodiversity provides resources for increasing the range of food and other products suitable for human use, although the present extinction rate shrinks that potential.


Human health

Biodiversity's relevance to human health is becoming an international political issue, as scientific evidence builds on the global health implications of biodiversity loss. This issue is closely linked with the issue of climate change, as many of the anticipated health risks of climate change are associated with changes in biodiversity (e.g. changes in populations and distribution of disease vectors, scarcity of fresh water, impacts on agricultural biodiversity and food resources etc.). This is because the species most likely to disappear are those that buffer against infectious disease transmission, while surviving species tend to be the ones that increase disease transmission, such as that of West Nile Virus, Lyme disease and Hantavirus, according to a study done co-authored by Felicia Keesing, an ecologist at Bard College and Drew Harvell, associate director for Environment of the Atkinson Center for a Sustainable Future (ACSF) at Cornell University. The growing demand and lack of drinkable water on the planet presents an additional challenge to the future of human health. Partly, the problem lies in the success of water suppliers to increase supplies and failure of groups promoting the preservation of water resources. While the distribution of clean water increases, in some parts of the world it remains unequal. According to the World Health Organisation (2018), only 71% of the global population used a safely managed drinking-water service. Some of the health issues influenced by biodiversity include dietary health and nutrition security, infectious disease, medical science and medicinal resources, social and psychological health. Biodiversity is also known to have an important role in reducing disaster risk and in post-disaster relief and recovery efforts. According to the United Nations Environment Programme a pathogen, like a virus, have more chances to meet resistance in a diverse population. Therefore, in a population genetically similar it expands more easily. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic had less chances to occur in a world with higher biodiversity. Biodiversity provides critical support for drug discovery and the availability of medicinal resources. A significant proportion of drugs are derived, directly or indirectly, from biological sources: at least 50% of the pharmaceutical compounds on the US market are derived from plants, animals and
microorganism A microorganism, or microbe,, ''mikros'', "small") and ''organism In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes ...
s, while about 80% of the world population depends on medicines from nature (used in either modern or traditional medical practice) for primary healthcare. Only a tiny fraction of wild species has been investigated for medical potential. Biodiversity has been critical to advances throughout the field of bionics. Evidence from market analysis and biodiversity science indicates that the decline in output from the pharmaceutical sector since the mid-1980s can be attributed to a move away from natural product exploration ("bioprospecting") in favour of genomics and synthetic chemistry, indeed claims about the value of undiscovered pharmaceuticals may not provide enough incentive for companies in free markets to search for them because of the high cost of development; meanwhile, natural products have a long history of supporting significant economic and health innovation. Marine ecosystems are particularly important, although inappropriate bioprospecting can increase biodiversity loss, as well as violating the laws of the communities and states from which the resources are taken.


Business and industry

Many industrial materials derive directly from biological sources. These include building materials, fibers, dyes, rubber, and oil. Biodiversity is also important to the security of resources such as water, timber, paper, fiber, and food. As a result, biodiversity loss is a significant risk factor in business development and a threat to long-term economic sustainability.


Leisure, cultural and aesthetic value

Biodiversity enriches leisure activities such as hiking, birdwatching or natural history study. Biodiversity inspires musicians, painters, Sculpture, sculptors, writers and other artists. Many cultures view themselves as an integral part of the natural world which requires them to respect other living organisms. Popular activities such as gardening, fishkeeping and specimen collecting strongly depend on biodiversity. The number of species involved in such pursuits is in the tens of thousands, though the majority do not enter commerce. The relationships between the original natural areas of these often exotic animals and plants and commercial collectors, suppliers, breeders, propagators and those who promote their understanding and enjoyment are complex and poorly understood. The general public responds well to exposure to rare and unusual organisms, reflecting their inherent value. Philosophically it could be argued that biodiversity has intrinsic aesthetic and spiritual value to Human, mankind ''in and of itself''. This idea can be used as a counterweight to the notion that tropical forests and other ecological realms are only worthy of conservation because of the services they provide.


Ecological services

Biodiversity supports many ecosystem services:
"There is now unequivocal evidence that biodiversity loss reduces the efficiency by which ecological communities capture biologically essential resources, produce biomass, decompose and recycle biologically essential nutrients... There is mounting evidence that biodiversity increases the stability of ecosystem functions through time... Diverse communities are more productive because they contain key species that have a large influence on productivity and differences in functional traits among organisms increase total resource capture... The impacts of diversity loss on ecological processes might be sufficiently large to rival the impacts of many other global drivers of environmental change... Maintaining multiple ecosystem processes at multiple places and times requires higher levels of biodiversity than does a single process at a single place and time."
It plays a part in regulating the chemistry of our atmosphere and water supply. Biodiversity is directly involved in water purification, recycling nutrients and providing fertile soils. Experiments with controlled environments have shown that humans cannot easily build ecosystems to support human needs; for example entomophily, insect pollination cannot be mimicked, though there have been attempts to create artificial pollinators using unmanned aerial vehicles. The economic activity of pollination alone represented between $2.1–14.6 billion in 2003.


Number of species

According to Mora and colleagues, the total number of terrestrial species is estimated to be around 8.7 million while the number of oceanic species is much lower, estimated at 2.2 million. The authors note that these estimates are strongest for eukaryotic organisms and likely represent the lower bound of prokaryote diversity. Other estimates include: * 220,000 vascular plants, estimated using the species-area relation method * 0.7-1 million marine species * 10–30 million insects; (of some 0.9 million we know today) * 5–10 million
bacteria Bacteria (; common noun bacteria, singular bacterium) are ubiquitous, mostly free-living organisms often consisting of one Cell (biology), biological cell. They constitute a large domain (biology), domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typ ...

bacteria
; * 1.5-3 million fungi, estimates based on data from the tropics, long-term non-tropical sites and molecular studies that have revealed cryptic species, cryptic speciation. Some 0.075 million species of fungi had been documented by 2001; * 1 million mites * The number of microbial species is not reliably known, but the Global Ocean Sampling Expedition dramatically increased the estimates of genetic diversity by identifying an enormous number of new genes from near-surface plankton samples at various marine locations, initially over the 2004–2006 period. The findings may eventually cause a significant change in the way science defines
species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individu ...

species
and other taxonomic categories. Since the rate of extinction has increased, many extant species may become extinct before they are described. Not surprisingly, in the animalia the most studied groups are birds and mammals, whereas fishes and arthropods are the least studied animals groups.


Measuring biodiversity

A variety of objective means exist to empirically measure biodiversity. Each measure relates to a particular use of the data, and is likely to be associated with the variety of genes. Biodiversity is commonly measured in terms of taxonomic richness of a geographic area over a time interval.


Species loss rates

During the last century, decreases in biodiversity have been increasingly observed. In 2007, German Federal Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel cited estimates that up to 30% of all species will be extinct by 2050. Of these, about one eighth of known plant species are threatened with extinction. Estimates reach as high as 140,000 species per year (based on Species-area curve, Species-area theory). This figure indicates sustainability, unsustainable ecological practices, because few species emerge each year. Almost all scientists acknowledge that the rate of species loss is greater now than at any time in human history, with extinctions occurring at rates hundreds of times higher than background extinction rates. As of 2012, some studies suggest that 25% of all mammal species could be extinct in 20 years. In absolute terms, the planet has lost 58% of its biodiversity since 1970 according to a 2016 study by th
World Wildlife Fund
The Living Planet Report 2014 claims that "the number of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, and fish across the globe is, on average, about half the size it was 40 years ago". Of that number, 39% accounts for the terrestrial wildlife gone, 39% for the marine wildlife gone and 76% for the freshwater wildlife gone. Biodiversity took the biggest hit in Latin America, plummeting 83 percent. High-income countries showed a 10% increase in biodiversity, which was canceled out by a loss in low-income countries. This is despite the fact that high-income countries use five times the ecological resources of low-income countries, which was explained as a result of a process whereby wealthy nations are outsourcing resource depletion to poorer nations, which are suffering the greatest ecosystem losses. A 2017 study published in ''PLOS One'' found that the biomass of insect life in Germany had declined by three-quarters in the last 25 years. Dave Goulson of Sussex University stated that their study suggested that humans "appear to be making vast tracts of land inhospitable to most forms of life, and are currently on course for ecological Armageddon. If we lose the insects then everything is going to collapse."


Threats

In 2006, many species were formally classified as rare species, rare or endangered species, endangered or threatened species, threatened; moreover, scientists have estimated that millions more species are at risk which have not been formally recognized. About 40 percent of the 40,177 species assessed using the IUCN Red List criteria are now listed as threatened with extinction—a total of 16,119. Jared Diamond describes an "Evil Quartet" of habitat destruction, Overhunting, overkill, introduced species and secondary extinctions. Edward O. Wilson prefers the acronym HIPPO, standing for Habitat destruction, Invasive species, Pollution, human overpopulation, human over-Population and overharvesting, Over-harvesting. The most authoritative classification in use today is IUCN's Classification of Direct Threats (''version 2.0 released in 2016'') which has been adopted by major international conservation organizations such as the US Nature Conservancy, the World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International and BirdLife International. The 11 main direct threats to conservation are: 1. Residential & commercial development :* housing & urban areas'' (urban area]s, suburbs, villages, vacation homes, shopping areas, offices, schools, hospitals)'' :* commercial & industrial areas'' (manufacturing plants, shopping centers, office parks, military bases, power plants, train & shipyards, airports)'' :* environmental impact of tourism, tourism & recreational areas'' (skiing, golf courses, sports fields, parks, campgrounds)'' 2. Farming activities :* environmental impact of agriculture, agriculture'' (crop farms, orchards, vineyards, plantations, ranches)'' :* aquaculture ''(shrimp or finfish aquaculture, fish ponds on farms, hatchery salmon, seeded shellfish beds, artificial algal beds)'' 3. Energy production & mining :* renewable energy production ''(geothermal, solar, wind, & tidal farms)'' :* non-renewable energy production ''(oil and gas drilling)'' :* mining ''(fuel and minerals)'' 4. Transportation & service corridors :* service corridors ''(electrical & phone wires, aqueducts, oil & gas pipelines)'' :* transport corridors ''(roads, railroads, shipping lanes, and flight paths)'' :* collisions with the vehicles using the corridors :* associated accidents and catastrophes ''(oil spills, electrocution, fire)'' 5. Biological resource usages :* hunting ''(bushmeat, trophy, fur)'' :* persecution ''(predator control and pest control, superstitions)'' :* plant destruction or removal ''(human consumption, free-range livestock foraging, battling timber disease, orchid collection)'' :* logging or wood harvesting ''(selective or clear-cutting, firewood collection, charcoal production)'' :* fishing ''(trawling, whaling, live coral or seaweed or egg collection)'' 6. Human intrusions & activities that alter, destroy, simply disturb habitats and species from exhibiting natural behaviors :* recreational activities ''(off-road vehicles, motorboats, jet-skis, snowmobiles, ultralight planes, dive boats, whale watching, mountain bikes, hikers, birdwatchers, skiers, pets in recreational areas, temporary campsites, caving, rock-climbing)'' :* war, civil unrest, & military exercises ''(armed conflict, minefields, tanks & other military vehicles, training exercises & ranges, defoliation, munitions testing)'' :* illegal activities ''(smuggling, immigration, vandalism)'' 7. Natural system modifications :* fire suppression or creation ''(controlled burns, inappropriate fire management, escaped agricultural and campfires, arson)'' :* water management ''(dam construction & operation, wetland filling, surface water diversion, groundwater exploitation, groundwater pumping)'' :* other modifications ''(land reclamation projects, shoreline rip-rap, lawn cultivation, beach construction and maintenance, tree-thinning in parks)'' :* removing/reducing human maintenance ''(mowing meadows, reduction in controlled burns, lack of indigenous management of key ecosystems, ceasing supplemental feeding of condors)'' 8. Invasive & problematic species, pathogens & genes :* invasive species ''(feral horses & household pets, zebra mussels, Miconia tree, kudzu, introduction for biocontrol)'' :* problematic native species ''(overabundant native deer or kangaroo, overabundant algae due to loss of native grazing fish, locust-type plagues)'' :* introduced genetic material ''(pesticide-resistant crops, genetically modified insects for biocontrol, genetically modified trees or salmon, escaped hatchery salmon, restoration projects using non-local seed stock)'' :* pathogens & microbes ''(plague affecting rodents or rabbits, Dutch elm disease or chestnut blight, Chytrid fungus affecting amphibians outside of Africa)'' 9. Pollution :* household sewage & urban wastewater ''(discharge from municipal waste treatment plants, leaking septic systems, untreated sewage, outhouses, oil or sediment from roads, fertilizers and pesticides from lawns and golf-courses, road salt)'' :* industrial & military effluents ''(toxic chemicals from factories, illegal dumping of chemicals, mine tailings, arsenic from gold mining, leakage from fuel tanks, PCBs in river sediments)'' :* agricultural & forestry effluents ''(nutrient loading from fertilizer run-off, herbicide run-off, manure from feedlots, nutrients from aquaculture, soil erosion)'' :* garbage & solid waste ''(municipal waste, litter & dumped possessions, flotsam & jetsam from recreational boats, waste that entangles wildlife, construction waste, construction debris)'' :* air-borne pollutants ''(acid rain, smog from vehicle emissions, excess nitrogen deposition, radioactive fallout, wind dispersion of pollutants or sediments from farm fields, smoke from forest fires or wood stoves)'' :* excess energy ''(noise pollution, noise from highways or airplanes, sonar from submarines that disturbs whales, heated water from power plants, lamps attracting insects, beach lights disorienting turtles, atmospheric radiation from ozone holes)'' 10. Catastrophic geological events :* earthquakes, tsunamis, avalanches, landslides, & volcanic eruptions and gas emissions 11. Climate changes :* ecosystem encroachment ''(inundation of shoreline ecosystems & drowning of coral reefs from sea level rise, dune encroachment from desertification, Bush encroachment, woody encroachment into grasslands)'' :* changes in geochemical regimes ''(ocean acidification, changes in atmospheric CO2 affecting plant growth, loss of sediment leading to broad-scale subsidence)'' :* changes in temperature regimes ''(heat waves, cold spells, oceanic temperature changes, melting of glaciers/sea ice)'' :* changes in precipitation & hydrological regimes ''(droughts, rain timing, loss of snow cover, increased severity of floods)'' :* severe weather events ''(thunderstorms, tropical storms, hurricanes, cyclones, tornadoes, hailstorms, ice storms or blizzards, dust storms, erosion of beaches during storms)''


Habitat destruction

habitat (ecology), Habitat destruction has played a key role in extinctions, especially in relation to tropical forest destruction. Factors contributing to habitat loss include: overconsumption, Human overpopulation, overpopulation, Land use, land-use change and forestry, land use change, deforestation, pollution (air pollution, water pollution, soil contamination) and global warming or climate change. Habitat size and numbers of species are systematically related. Physically larger species and those living at lower latitudes or in forests or oceans are more sensitive to reduction in habitat area. Conversion to "trivial" standardized ecosystems (e.g., monoculture following deforestation) effectively destroys habitat for the more diverse species that preceded the conversion. Even the simplest forms of agriculture affect diversity – through clearing/draining the land, discouraging weeds and "pests", and encouraging just a limited set of domesticated plant and animal species. In some countries, property rights or lax law/regulatory enforcement are associated with deforestation and habitat loss. A 2007 study conducted by the National Science Foundation found that biodiversity and genetic diversity are codependent—that diversity among species requires diversity within a species and ''vice versa''. "If anyone type is removed from the system, the cycle can break down and the community becomes dominated by a single species." , the most threatened ecosystems occur in fresh water, according to the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment 2005, which was confirmed by the "Freshwater Animal Diversity Assessment" organised by the GBIF, biodiversity platform and the French ''Institut de recherche pour le développement'' (MNHNP). Co-extinctions are a form of habitat destruction. Co-extinction occurs when the extinction or decline in one species accompanies similar processes in another, such as in plants and beetles. A 2019 report has revealed that bees and other pollinating insects have been wiped out of almost a quarter of their habitats across the United Kingdom. The population crashes have been happening since the 1980s and are affecting biodiversity. The increase in industrial farming and pesticide use, combined with diseases, invasive species, and climate change is threatening the future of these insects and the agriculture they support.


Introduced and invasive species

Barriers such as large rivers, seas, oceans, mountains and deserts encourage diversity by enabling independent evolution on either side of the barrier, via the process of allopatric speciation. The term invasive species is applied to species that breach the natural barriers that would normally keep them constrained. Without barriers, such species occupy new territory, often supplanting native species by occupying their niches, or by using resources that would normally sustain native species. The number of species invasions has been on the rise at least since the beginning of the 1900s. Species are increasingly being moved by humans (on purpose and accidentally). In some cases the invaders are causing drastic changes and damage to their new habitats (e.g.: zebra mussels and the emerald ash borer in the Great Lakes region and the lion fish along the North American Atlantic coast). Some evidence suggests that invasive species are competitive in their new habitats because they are subject to less pathogen disturbance. Others report confounding evidence that occasionally suggest that species-rich communities harbor many native and exotic species simultaneously while some say that diverse ecosystems are more resilient and resist invasive plants and animals. An important question is, "do invasive species cause extinctions?" Many studies cite effects of invasive species on natives, but not extinctions. Invasive species seem to increase local (i.e.: alpha diversity) diversity, which decreases turnover of diversity (i.e.: beta diversity). Overall gamma diversity may be lowered because species are going extinct because of other causes, but even some of the most insidious invaders (e.g.: Dutch elm disease, emerald ash borer, chestnut blight in North America) have not caused their host species to become extinct. Local extinction, Extirpation, population decline and Species homogeneity, homogenization of regional biodiversity are much more common. Human activities have frequently been the cause of invasive species circumventing their barriers, by introducing them for food and other purposes. Human activities therefore allow species to migrate to new areas (and thus become invasive) occurred on time scales much shorter than historically have been required for a species to extend its range. Not all introduced species are invasive, nor all invasive species deliberately introduced. In cases such as the zebra mussel, invasive species, invasion of US waterways was unintentional. In other cases, such as mongooses in Hawaii, the introduction is deliberate but ineffective (nocturnal rats were not vulnerable to the diurnality, diurnal mongoose). In other cases, such as oil palms in Indonesia and Malaysia, the introduction produces substantial economic benefits, but the benefits are accompanied by costly unintended consequences. Finally, an introduced species may unintentionally injure a species that depends on the species it replaces. In Belgium, ''Prunus spinosa'' from Eastern Europe leafs much sooner than its West European counterparts, disrupting the feeding habits of the ''Thecla betulae'' butterfly (which feeds on the leaves). Introducing new species often leaves endemic and other local species unable to compete with the exotic species and unable to survive. The exotic organisms may be predators, parasites, or may simply outcompete indigenous species for nutrients, water and light. At present, several countries have already imported so many exotic species, particularly agricultural and ornamental plants, that their indigenous fauna/flora may be outnumbered. For example, the introduction of kudzu from Southeast Asia to Canada and the United States has threatened biodiversity in certain areas.


Genetic pollution

Endemic species can be threatened with extinction through the process of genetic pollution, i.e. uncontrolled Hybrid (biology), hybridization, introgression and genetic swamping. Genetic pollution leads to homogenization or replacement of local genomes as a result of either a numerical and/or Fitness (biology), fitness advantage of an introduced species. Hybridization and introgression are side-effects of introduction and invasion. These phenomena can be especially detrimental to rare species that come into contact with more abundant ones. The abundant species can interbreed with the rare species, swamping its gene pool. This problem is not always apparent from morphology (biology), morphological (outward appearance) observations alone. Some degree of gene flow is normal adaptation and not all
gene In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structure, Biochemistry, chemical processes, Molecular biology, molecular interactions, Physiology, physiological mecha ...

gene
and genotype constellations can be preserved. However, hybridization with or without introgression may, nevertheless, threaten a rare species' existence.RIRDC.gov.au RIRDC Publication No 01/114; RIRDC Project No CPF – 3A
; Australian Government, Rural Industrial Research and Development Corporation


Overexploitation

Overexploitation occurs when a resource is consumed at an unsustainable rate. This occurs on land in the form of overhunting, excessive logging, poor soil conservation in agriculture and the illegal wildlife trade. About 25% of world fishery, fisheries are now overfished to the point where their current biomass is less than the level that maximizes their sustainable yield. The overkill hypothesis, a pattern of large animal extinctions connected with human migration patterns, can be used to explain why megafaunal extinctions can occur within a relatively short time period.


Hybridization, genetic pollution/erosion and food security

In agriculture and animal husbandry, the Green Revolution popularized the use of conventional Hybrid (biology), hybridization to increase yield. Often hybridized breeds originated in developed countries and were further hybridized with local varieties in the developing world to create high yield strains resistant to local climate and diseases. Local governments and industry have been pushing hybridization. Formerly huge gene pools of various wild and indigenous breeds have collapsed causing widespread genetic erosion and genetic pollution. This has resulted in the loss of genetic diversity and biodiversity as a whole."Genetic Pollution: The Great Genetic Scandal"
Genetically modified organisms contain genetic material that is altered through genetic engineering. Genetically modified crops have become a common source for genetic pollution in not only wild varieties, but also in domesticated varieties derived from classical hybridization. Genetic erosion and genetic pollution have the potential to destroy unique genotypes, threatening future access to food security. A decrease in genetic diversity weakens the ability of crops and livestock to be hybridized to resist disease and survive changes in climate.


Climate change

Global warming is a major threat to global biodiversity. For example, coral reefs – which are biodiversity hotspots – will be lost within the century if global warming continues at the current rate. Climate change has proven to affect biodiversity and evidence supporting the altering effects is widespread. Increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide certainly affects plant morphology and is acidifying oceans, and temperature affects species ranges, phenology, and weather, but, mercifully, the major impacts that have been predicted are still potential futures. We have not documented major extinctions yet, even as climate change drastically alters the biology of many species. In 2004, an international collaborative study on four continents estimated that 10 percent of species would become extinct by 2050 because of global warming. "We need to limit climate change or we wind up with a lot of species in trouble, possibly extinct," said Dr. Lee Hannah, a co-author of the paper and chief climate change biologist at the Center for Applied Biodiversity Science at Conservation International. A recent study predicts that up to 35% of the world terrestrial carnivores and ungulates will be at higher risk of extinction by 2050 because of the joint effects of predicted climate and land-use change under business-as-usual human development scenarios. Climate change has advanced the time of evening when Brazilian free-tailed bats (''Tadarida brasiliensis'') emerge to feed. This change is believed to be related to the drying of regions as temperatures rise. This earlier emergence exposes the bats to greater predation increased competition with other insectivores who feed in the twilight or daylight hours.


Human overpopulation

The world's population numbered nearly 7.6 billion as of mid-2017 (which is approximately one billion more inhabitants compared to 2005) and is forecast to reach 11.1 billion in 2100. Sir David King (scientist), David King, former chief scientific adviser to the UK government, told a parliamentary inquiry: ''"It is self-evident that the massive growth in the human population through the 20th century has had more impact on biodiversity than any other single factor."'' At least until the middle of the 21st century, worldwide losses of pristine biodiverse land will probably depend much on the worldwide Birth rate, human birth rate. Biologists such as Paul R. Ehrlich and Stuart Pimm have noted that human population growth and overconsumption are the main drivers of species extinction. According to a 2020 study by the World Wildlife Fund, the global human population already exceeds planet's biocapacity – it would take the equivalent of 1.56 Earths of biocapacity to meet our current demands. The 2014 report further points that if everyone on the planet had the Footprint of the average resident of Qatar, we would need 4.8 Earths and if we lived the lifestyle of a typical resident of the US, we would need 3.9 Earths.


The Holocene extinction

Rates of Biodiversity loss, decline in biodiversity in this sixth mass extinction match or exceed rates of loss in the five previous Extinction event, mass extinction events in the
fossil record A fossil (from Classical Latin: , literally 'obtained by digging') is any preserved remains, impression, or trace of any once-living thing from a past geological age. Examples include bones, Seashell, shells, exoskeletons, stone imprints of a ...
. Loss of biodiversity results in the loss of natural capital that supplies ecosystem services, ecosystem goods and services. From the perspective of the method known as Natural Economy the economic value of 17 ecosystem services for Earth's
biosphere The biosphere (from βίος ''bíos'' "life" and σφαῖρα ''sphaira'' "sphere"), also known as the ecosphere (from Greek οἶκος ''oîkos'' "environment" and σφαῖρα), is the worldwide sum of all s. It can also be termed the zo ...
(calculated in 1997) has an estimated value of US$33 trillion (3.3x1013) per year. Species today are being wiped out at a rate 100 to 1,000 times higher than baseline, and the rate of extinctions is increasing. This process destroys the resilience and adaptability of life on Earth. In 2019, a summary for policymakers of the largest, most comprehensive study to date of biodiversity and ecosystem services, the ''
Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services The ''Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services'' is a report by the United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and international security, se ...
'', was published by the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The report was finalized in Paris. The main conclusions: 1. Over the last 50 years, the state of nature has deteriorated at an unprecedented and accelerating rate. 2. The main drivers of this deterioration have been changes in land and sea use, exploitation of living beings, climate change, pollution, and invasive species. These five drivers, in turn, are caused by societal behaviors, from consumption to governance. 3. Damage to ecosystems undermines 35 of 44 selected UN targets, including the UN General Assembly's Sustainable Development Goals for poverty, hunger, health, water, cities' climate, oceans, and land. It can cause problems with food, water and humanity's air supply. 4. To fix the problem, humanity will need a transformative change, including sustainable agriculture, reductions in Consumption (economics), consumption and waste, fishing quotas and collaborative water management. On page 8 the report proposes on page 8 of the summary " enabling visions of a good quality of life that do not entail ever-increasing material consumption" as one of the main measures. The report states that "Some pathways chosen to achieve the goals related to energy, economic growth, industry and infrastructure and sustainable consumption and production (Sustainable Development Goals 7, 8, 9 and 12), as well as targets related to poverty, food security and cities (Sustainable Development Goals 1, 2 and 11), could have substantial positive or negative impacts on nature and therefore on the achievement of other Sustainable Development Goals". The October 2020 "Era of Pandemics" report by IPBES asserted that the same human activities which are the underlying drivers of climate change and biodiversity loss are also the same drivers of
pandemics A pandemic (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 mil ...
, including the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Peter Daszak, Chair of the IPBES workshop, said "there is no great mystery about the cause of the COVID-19 pandemic – or of any modern pandemic . . . Changes in the way we use land; the expansion and intensification of agriculture; and unsustainable trade, production and consumption disrupt nature and increase contact between wildlife, livestock, pathogens and people. This is the path to pandemics."


Conservation

Conservation biology matured in the mid-20th century as ecologists, naturalists and other scientists began to research and address issues pertaining to global biodiversity declines. The conservation ethic advocates management of natural resources for the purpose of sustaining biodiversity in
species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest group of organisms in which any two individu ...

species
,
ecosystems An ecosystem (or ecological system) consists of all the organisms and the physical environment with which they interact. These biotic and abiotic components are linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy enters the syste ...
, the Evolution, evolutionary process and human culture and society. Conservation biology is reforming around strategic plans to protect biodiversity. Preserving global biodiversity is a priority in strategic conservation plans that are designed to engage public policy and concerns affecting local, regional and global scales of communities, ecosystems and cultures. Action plans identify Ecological economics#Methodology, ways of sustaining human well-being, employing natural capital, Capital market, market capital and ecosystem services. In the EU Directive 1999/22/EC zoos are described as having a role in the preservation of the biodiversity of wildlife animals by conducting research or participation in breeding programs.


Protection and restoration techniques

Removal of exotic species will allow the species that they have negatively impacted to recover their ecological niches. Exotic species that have become pests can be identified taxonomically (e.g., with Digital Automated Identification SYstem (DAISY), using the Consortium for the Barcode of Life, barcode of life). Removal is practical only given large groups of individuals due to the economic cost. As sustainable populations of the remaining native species in an area become assured, "missing" species that are candidates for reintroduction can be identified using databases such as the ''Encyclopedia of Life#Resources and collaborations, Encyclopedia of Life'' and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility. * Biodiversity banking places a monetary value on biodiversity. One example is the Australian Native Vegetation Management Framework. * Gene banks are collections of specimens and genetic material. Some banks intend to reintroduce banked species to the ecosystem (e.g., via tree nurseries). * Reduction and better targeting of pesticides allows more species to survive in agricultural and urbanized areas. * Location-specific approaches may be less useful for protecting migratory species. One approach is to create wildlife corridors that correspond to the animals' movements. National and other boundaries can complicate corridor creation.


Protected areas

Protected areas, including forest reserves and biosphere reserves, serve many functions including for affording protection to wild animals and their habitat. Protected areas have been set up all over the world with the specific aim of protecting and conserving plants and animals. Some scientists have called on the global community to designate as protected areas of 30 percent of the planet by 2030, and 50 percent by 2050, in order to mitigate biodiversity loss from anthropogenic causes. In a study published September 4 in Science Advances researchers mapped out regions that can help meet critical conservation and climate goals. Protected areas safeguard nature and cultural resources and contribute to livelihoods, particularly at local level. There are over 238 563 designated protected areas worldwide, equivalent to 14.9 percent of the earth's land surface, varying in their extension, level of protection, and type of management (IUCN, 2018).Forest protected areas are a subset of all protected areas in which a significant portion of the area is forest. This may be the whole or only a part of the protected area. Globally, 18 percent of the world's forest area, or more than 700 million hectares, fall within legally established protected areas such as national parks, conservation areas and game reserves. The benefits of protected areas extend beyond their immediate environment and time. In addition to conserving nature, protected areas are crucial for securing the long-term delivery of ecosystem services. They provide numerous benefits including the conservation of genetic resources for food and agriculture, the provision of medicine and health benefits, the provision of water, recreation and tourism, and for acting as a buffer against disaster. Increasingly, there is acknowledgement of the wider socioeconomic values of these natural ecosystems and of the ecosystem services they can provide. Forest protected areas in particular play many important roles including as a provider of habitat, shelter, food and genetic materials, and as a buffer against disaster. They deliver stable supplies of many goods and environmental services. The role of protected areas, especially forest protected areas, in mitigating and adapting to climate change has increasingly been recognized over the last few years. Protected areas not only store and sequester carbon (i.e. the global network of protected areas stores at least 15 percent of terrestrial carbon), but also enable species to adapt to changing climate patterns by providing refuges and migration corridors. Protected areas also protect people from sudden climate events and reduce their vulnerability to weather-induced problems such as floods and droughts (UNEP–WCMC, 2016).


National parks

National park is a large natural or near natural areas set aside to protect large-scale ecological processes, which also provide a foundation for environmentally and culturally compatible, spiritual, scientific, educational, recreational and visitor opportunities. These areas are selected by governments or private organizations to protect natural biodiversity along with its underlying ecological structure and supporting environmental processes, and to promote education and recreation. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), and its World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA), has defined "National Park" as its Category II type of protected areas. National parks are usually owned and managed by national or state governments. In some cases, a limit is placed on the number of visitors permitted to enter certain fragile areas. Designated trails or roads are created. The visitors are allowed to enter only for study, cultural and recreation purposes. Forestry operations, grazing of animals and hunting of animals are regulated and the exploitation of habitat or wildlife is banned.


Wildlife sanctuary

Wildlife sanctuary, Wildlife sanctuaries aim only at the conservation of species and have the following features: # The boundaries of the sanctuaries are not limited by state legislation. # The killing, hunting or capturing of any species is prohibited except by or under the control of the highest authority in the department which is responsible for the management of the sanctuary. # Private ownership may be allowed. # Forestry and other usages can also be permitted.


Forest reserves

There is an estimated 726 million ha of forest in protected areas worldwide. Of the six major world regions, South America has the highest share of forests in protected areas, 31 percent. The forests play a vital role in harboring more than 45,000 floral and 81,000 faunal species of which 5150 floral and 1837 faunal species are
endemic Endemism is the state of a species In biology, a species is the basic unit of biological classification, classification and a taxonomic rank of an organism, as well as a unit of biodiversity. A species is often defined as the largest gro ...
. In addition, there are 60,065 different tree species in the world. Plant and animal species confined to a specific geographical area are called endemic species. In forest reserves, rights to activities like hunting and grazing are sometimes given to communities living on the fringes of the forest, who sustain their livelihood partially or wholly from forest resources or products. The unclassed forests cover 6.4 percent of the total forest area and they are marked by the following characteristics: # They are large inaccessible forests. # Many of these are unoccupied. # They are ecologically and economically less important.


Steps to conserve the forest cover

# An extensive reforestation/afforestation programme should be followed. # Alternative environment-friendly sources of fuel energy such as biogas other than wood should be used. # Loss of biodiversity due to forest fire is a major problem, immediate steps to prevent forest fire need to be taken. # Overgrazing by cattle can damage a forest seriously. Therefore, certain steps should be taken to prevent overgrazing by cattle. # Hunting and poaching should be banned.


Zoological parks

In zoological parks or zoos, live animals are kept for public recreation, education and conservation purposes. Modern zoos offer veterinary facilities, provide opportunities for threatened species to captive breeding, breed in captivity and usually build environments that simulate the native habitats of the animals in their care. Zoos play a major role in creating environmental awareness, awareness about the need to conserve nature.


Botanical gardens

In botanical gardens, plants are grown and displayed primarily for scientific and educational purposes. They consist of a collection of living plants, grown outdoors or under glass in greenhouses and conservatories. Also, a botanical garden may include a collection of dried plants or herbarium and such facilities as lecture rooms, laboratories, libraries, museums and experimental or research plantings.


Resource allocation

Focusing on limited areas of higher potential biodiversity promises greater immediate return on investment than spreading resources evenly or focusing on areas of little diversity but greater interest in biodiversity. A second strategy focuses on areas that retain most of their original diversity, which typically require little or no restoration. These are typically non-urbanized, non-agricultural areas. Tropical areas often fit both criteria, given their natively high diversity and relative lack of development.


In society

In September 2020 scientists reported that "immediate efforts, consistent with the broader sustainability agenda but of unprecedented ambition and governance, coordination, could enable the provision of food security, food for the human population growth, growing human population while reversing the global terrestrial biodiversity trends caused by Habitat conservation, habitat conversion" and recommend measures such as for addressing drivers of Land use, land-use change, and forestry, land-use change, and for increasing the extent of land under Conservation management system, conservation management, efficiency in sustainable agriculture, agriculture and the shares of plant-based diets.


Legal status


International

* United Nations
Convention on Biological Diversity The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is a multilateral treatyMultilateral may refer to: * Multilateralism * Multilateration * Flea flicker (American football) {{disambig .... The conven ...
(1992) and Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety; * Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES); * Ramsar Convention (Wetlands); * Bonn Convention on Migratory Species; * United Nations World Heritage Site#Convention and background, Convention concerning the Protection of the World's Cultural and Natural Heritage (indirectly by protecting biodiversity habitats) * Regional Conventions such as the Apia Convention * Bilateral agreements such as the Japan-Australia Migratory Bird Agreement. Global agreements such as the
Convention on Biological Diversity The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), known informally as the Biodiversity Convention, is a multilateral treatyMultilateral may refer to: * Multilateralism * Multilateration * Flea flicker (American football) {{disambig .... The conven ...
, give "sovereign national rights over biological resources" (not property). The agreements commit countries to "conserve biodiversity", "develop resources for sustainability" and "share the benefits" resulting from their use. Biodiverse countries that allow bioprospecting or collection of natural products, expect a share of the benefits rather than allowing the individual or institution that discovers/exploits the resource to capture them privately. Bioprospecting can become a type of biopiracy when such principles are not respected. Sovereignty principles can rely upon what is better known as International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, Access and Benefit Sharing Agreements (ABAs). The Convention on Biodiversity implies informed consent between the source country and the collector, to establish which resource will be used and for what and to settle on a International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, fair agreement on benefit sharing.


European Union

In May 2020, the European Union published its Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. The biodiversity strategy is an essential part of the climate change mitigation strategy of the European Union. From the 25% of the European budget that will go to fight climate change, large part will go to restore biodiversity and Nature-based solutions, nature based solutions. The EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 include the next targets: * Protect 30% of the sea territory and 30% of the land territory especially Old-growth forests. * Plant 3 billion trees by the year 2030. * Restore at least 25,000 kilometers of rivers, so they will become free flowing. * Reduce the use of Pesticides by 50% by the year 2030. * Increase Organic farming. In linked EU program From Farm to Fork it is said, that the target is making 25% of EU agriculture organic, by the year 2030. * Increase Biodiverisity in agriculture. * Give €20 billion per year to the issue and make it part of the business practice. Approximately half of the global GDP depend on nature. In Europe many parts of the economy that generate trillions of euros per year depend on nature. The benefits of Natura 2000 alone in Europe are €200 - €300 billion per year.


National level laws

Biodiversity is taken into account in some political and judicial decisions: * The relationship between law and ecosystems is very ancient and has consequences for biodiversity. It is related to private and public property rights. It can define protection for threatened ecosystems, but also some rights and duties (for example, fishing and hunting rights). * Law regarding species is more recent. It defines species that must be protected because they may be threatened by extinction. The U.S. Endangered Species Act is an example of an attempt to address the "law and species" issue. * Laws regarding gene pools are only about a century old. Domestication and plant breeding methods are not new, but advances in genetic engineering have led to tighter laws covering distribution of genetically modified organisms, gene patents and process patents. Governments struggle to decide whether to focus on for example, genes, genomes, or organisms and species. Uniform approval for use of biodiversity as a legal standard has not been achieved, however. Bosselman argues that biodiversity should not be used as a legal standard, claiming that the remaining areas of scientific uncertainty cause unacceptable administrative waste and increase litigation without promoting preservation goals. India passed the Biological Diversity Act in 2002 for the conservation of biological diversity in India. The Act also provides mechanisms for equitable sharing of benefits from the use of traditional biological resources and knowledge.


Analytical limits


Taxonomic and size relationships

Less than 1% of all species that have been described have been studied beyond simply noting their existence. The vast majority of Earth's species are microbial. Contemporary biodiversity physics is "firmly fixated on the visible [macroscopic] world". For example, microbial life is metabolically and environmentally more diverse than multicellular life (see e.g., extremophile). "On the tree of life, based on analyses of small-subunit ribosomal RNA, visible life consists of barely noticeable twigs. The inverse relationship of size and population recurs higher on the evolutionary ladder—to a first approximation, all multicellular species on Earth are insects". Decline in insect populations, Insect extinction rates are high—supporting the Holocene extinction hypothesis.


Diversity study (botany)

The number of morphological attributes that can be scored for diversity study is generally limited and prone to environmental influences; thereby reducing the fine resolution required to ascertain the phylogenetic relationships. DNA based markers- microsatellites otherwise known as ''simple sequence repeats'' (SSR) were therefore used for the diversity studies of certain species and their wild relatives. In the case of cowpea, a study conducted to assess the level of genetic diversity in cowpea germplasm and related wide species, where the relatedness among various taxa was compared, primers useful for classification of taxa identified, and the origin and phylogeny of cultivated cowpea classified show that SSR markers are useful in validating with species classification and revealing the center of diversity.


See also

* Australian Grains Genebank * Bioversity International * Defaunation * Deforestation and climate change * Ecological indicator * Genetic diversity * Index of biodiversity articles * International Day for Biological Diversity * Megadiverse countries * Soil biodiversity * Species diversity * World Scientists' Warning to Humanity * Zero-Force Evolutionary Law *French Office for Biodiversity


Sources


References


Further reading

* * * * * *
D+C-Interview with Achim Steiner, UNEP: "Our generation's responsibility"
* * * *


External links


NatureServe: This site serves as a portal for accessing several types of publicly available biodiversity dataBiodiversity Factsheet
by the University of Michigan's Center for Sustainable Systems
Color-coded images of vertebrate biodiversity hotspots


Documents


Biodiversity Synthesis Report
(PDF) by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment (MA, 2005)
Conservation International hotspot mapThe Economics of Biodiversity: The Dasgupta Review
2021
Zhuravlev, Yu. N., ed. (2000) ''Стратегия сохранения биоразнообразия Сихотэ-Алиня = A Biodiversity Conservation Strategy for the Sikhote-Alin Vladivostok: Russian Academy of Sciences, Far Eastern Branch


Tools


GLOBIO
an ongoing program to map the past, current and future impacts of human activities on biodiversity

an interactive map from the United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation Monitoring Centre
Biodiversity Information Serving Our Nation (BISON)
provides a United States gateway for serving, searching, mapping and downloading integrated species occurrence records from multiple data sources


Resources


Biodiversity Heritage Library
– Open access digital library of taxonomic literature.
Mapping of biodiversityEncyclopedia of Life
– Documenting all species of life on earth. {{Authority control Biodiversity, Biogeography Conservation biology Population genetics Species Ecology