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In this module, the following topics are covered: 1) biodiversity, 2) trends in biodiversity loss with reference to species and ecosystems, 3) ways human activity affects biodiversity, and 4) biodiversity loss effects on people

Learning objectives

After reading this module, students should be able to

  • define biodiversity
  • articulate current trends in biodiversity loss with reference to species and ecosystems
  • explain some of the ways human activity affects biodiversity
  • explain how biodiversity loss concerns people

What is biodiversity?

You're probably familiar with the word, biodiversity    , whether or not you can give an exact definition of it. It's common on the signs at zoos, parks, and nature centers, and it's often used without explanation or definition. Most people understand biodiversity in general terms as the number and mix of plant and animal species that occurs in a given place. Scientists are more precise and include more in their definition. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) , which coordinates efforts to catalogue and preserve biodiversity worldwide, defines biodiversity as "the variability among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems." Rather than just species, biodiversity therefore includes variation from the level of genes and genomes to that of ecosystems to biomes.

Even within a single ecosystem, the numbers of species can be impressive. For example, there is a large region of dry forest and savanna in Brazil known as the Cerrado (see Figure Cerrado Forest ). This ecosystem alone hosts over 10,000 species of plants, almost 200 species of mammals, over 600 species of birds, and about 800 species of fish.

Cerrado Forest
Cerrado Forest . Photograph of the Cerrado Forest. Source: C2rik via Wikimedia Commons .

Generally, biodiversity is greatest in tropical areas–especially "rainforests"—but there are terrestrial biodiversity "hotspots" on all the major continents. (View an interactive map of hotspots .)

One way scientists gauge trends in biodiversity is by monitoring the fate of individual species of animals and plants. For more than 40 years, the IUCN has compiled information in the "Red List of Threatened Species," which "provides a snapshot of what is happening to species around the world." Updates to the Red List are released every four years. Here is how the authors of the most recent one, released in 2008, characterize the news it holds: "The overwhelming message" from the 2008 Red List, they write, "is that the world is losing species and that the rate of loss appears to be accelerating in many taxonomic groups" ( Vie, Hilton-Taylor,&Stuart, 2008, p. 38 ).

Summary of Threatened Species . Table lists the numbers and proportions of species assessed as threatened on the 2008 IUCN Red List by major taxonomic group. Source: IUCN Red List, Wildlife in a Changing World 2008 , p. 17. Please see IUCN Terms of Use for copyright restrictions.

Questions & Answers

what is variations in raman spectra for nanomaterials
Jyoti Reply
I only see partial conversation and what's the question here!
Crow Reply
what about nanotechnology for water purification
RAW Reply
please someone correct me if I'm wrong but I think one can use nanoparticles, specially silver nanoparticles for water treatment.
Damian
yes that's correct
Professor
I think
Professor
what is the stm
Brian Reply
is there industrial application of fullrenes. What is the method to prepare fullrene on large scale.?
Rafiq
industrial application...? mmm I think on the medical side as drug carrier, but you should go deeper on your research, I may be wrong
Damian
How we are making nano material?
LITNING Reply
what is a peer
LITNING Reply
What is meant by 'nano scale'?
LITNING Reply
What is STMs full form?
LITNING
scanning tunneling microscope
Sahil
how nano science is used for hydrophobicity
Santosh
Do u think that Graphene and Fullrene fiber can be used to make Air Plane body structure the lightest and strongest. Rafiq
Rafiq
what is differents between GO and RGO?
Mahi
what is simplest way to understand the applications of nano robots used to detect the cancer affected cell of human body.? How this robot is carried to required site of body cell.? what will be the carrier material and how can be detected that correct delivery of drug is done Rafiq
Rafiq
what is Nano technology ?
Bob Reply
write examples of Nano molecule?
Bob
The nanotechnology is as new science, to scale nanometric
brayan
nanotechnology is the study, desing, synthesis, manipulation and application of materials and functional systems through control of matter at nanoscale
Damian
Is there any normative that regulates the use of silver nanoparticles?
Damian Reply
what king of growth are you checking .?
Renato
What fields keep nano created devices from performing or assimulating ? Magnetic fields ? Are do they assimilate ?
Stoney Reply
why we need to study biomolecules, molecular biology in nanotechnology?
Adin Reply
?
Kyle
yes I'm doing my masters in nanotechnology, we are being studying all these domains as well..
Adin
why?
Adin
what school?
Kyle
biomolecules are e building blocks of every organics and inorganic materials.
Joe
anyone know any internet site where one can find nanotechnology papers?
Damian Reply
research.net
kanaga
sciencedirect big data base
Ernesto
Introduction about quantum dots in nanotechnology
Praveena Reply
what does nano mean?
Anassong Reply
nano basically means 10^(-9). nanometer is a unit to measure length.
Bharti
do you think it's worthwhile in the long term to study the effects and possibilities of nanotechnology on viral treatment?
Damian Reply
absolutely yes
Daniel
how did you get the value of 2000N.What calculations are needed to arrive at it
Smarajit Reply
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Source:  OpenStax, Sustainability: a comprehensive foundation. OpenStax CNX. Nov 11, 2013 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11325/1.43
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