What is biodiversity?

  • Variety of organisms present in an area
  • Species: a group of organisms with a very similar appearance, anatomy, physiology, biochemistry and genetics. Can interbreed to produce fertile offspring.
  • Habitat: a place where an organism lives
  • Community: all the living organisms in a habitat

Levels of Biodiversity

  • Habitat: number of habitats in an area
  • Species:
    • Species Richness: number of species in an area
    • Species Evenness: number of each species
  • Genetic Variety: variety of genes that make up a species (alleles)

Why measure biodiversity?

  • Important for conservation
  • Required before a major project such as housing development
Habitat FeatureLow biodiversityHigh Biodiversity
Number of speciesfewmany
Ability to adapt to environmentlittlegreater
Type of food websfew links, each very importantmany links, each with reduced importance
Effect of a change in environmentCatastrophicNegligible