We explain what biodiversity is, how it is classified and some examples. In addition, what are its characteristics, risks and importance.

Biodiversity is threatened by numerous human activities.

What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity or biological diversity is called the wide variety of living things that exist on planet Earth and that they enter into natural relationships with each other. It is the product of billions of years of evolution.

When an environment is biodiverse or has high biodiversity, it means that it is a place inhabited by numerous and different species of living beings. In comparison, there are others that are less populated or populated by a lesser variety of species.

The word “biodiversity” comes from Englishbiodiversity and it was used for the first time in 1986 in the conference that Walter G. Rosen read on the subject in the National Forum on Biodiversity. This notion has been useful to make visible the opposite, that is, impoverishing biodiversity.

The Biodiversity is threatened by numerous human activities that cause the depopulation of various ecological regions, even eradicating species. It is, therefore, a term with ecological implications, but also applicable to the description of various ecosystems by biology scholars.

See also: Natural regions

Origin of biodiversity

The biological diversity that populates the Earth today is the result of a long evolutionary process four billion years (4,000,000,000 years).

Though cannot be determined exactlyit is estimated that it was then that the first forms of life appeared.

Nevertheless, the development of biodiversity was slowsince until 600 million years ago, all life on the planet consisted of bacteria and microorganisms.

The enormous variety of life forms that we know today gave his first steps in the Phanerozoic period, 540 million years ago. Then the so-called “Cambrian explosion” occurred, in which multicellular organisms arose for the first time.

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Thus began a race to plenty. It suffered some setbacks, due to the different mass extinctions that have occurred throughout the history of the planet. However, it eventually led to the world as we know it, including the rise of our own species.

Types of Biodiversity

In species known as dogs we can observe genetic diversity.

Three levels of biodiversity are usually recognized:

  • Genetic or intraspecific diversity. It consists of the abundance of genotypic versions, that is, genetic versions within the same species of living beings.
  • Specific diversity. It consists of the abundance of genetic systems that distinguish species, that is, the abundance of species in a region.
  • Total ecosystem diversity. It consists of the total abundance of the planet’s biological communities, which together constitute the so-called biosphere.

Because it is important?

In addition to the moral objective of protecting living beings, biodiversity It is of paramount importance for the survival of the human being himself.. In the first place, it guarantees to a great extent the balance of gases in the atmosphere and therefore the habitable conditions of the planet itself.

Another important point is that not all species in the world are known yet, and many are known only when they are about to be eradicated by our actions. Thus, we do not know what medical potential there may be in them, and what mysteries they could solve in our understanding of our own existence.

examples of biodiversity

60% of the planet’s life forms reside in the Amazon jungles.

Biodiversity is everywhere. In everyday life we ​​can distinguish it for example among dogs, of which there are 400 different breeds that nevertheless form the same species.

In more distant areas, such as the Amazon jungles, there are true refuges from life untouched by man. Approximately 60% of the planet’s life forms reside there, 30% of which have so far been cataloged by science.

Regions with the greatest biodiversity

The greatest biodiversity is found in the intertropical zone.

The most biodiverse regions of the planet are the tropics, Cancer and Capricorn, covering 40% of the Earth’s surface. This is because they are warm areas with little change in temperature between their seasons. 80% of known life accumulates in them.

  • Tropic of Cancer. From west to east it crosses the territories of Mexico, the Bahamas, Mauritania, Mali, Algeria, Niger, Libya, Chad, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, India, Bangladesh, Burma and China.
  • Tropic of Capricorn. It crosses from west to east the territories of Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Namibia, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, Madagascar and Australia.
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The intertropical or equatorial zone is above all an enormous source of biodiversity. This is found especially the American, African and Asian junglesthe largest reservoirs of species on the planet.

What dangers does biodiversity face?

Deforestation threatens the region’s biodiversity.

The main threats against biodiversity they come from the hand of man. Industrial and agricultural activities often require the radical modification of numerous ecosystems, for example through:

  • The installation of machinery that keeps animals away or permanently modifies them.
  • The dumping of waste that modifies the chemical conditions of the environment and alters the ecological balance.
  • The introduction of new species in environments where they can reproduce without control and end up with endogenous species.
  • Deforestation and indiscriminate felling, either for the wood and paper industry, or to obtain arable land, or to expand urban sprawl.
  • The mining and oil exploitation, in addition to the ecological catastrophes of its accidental spills of crude oil into the sea.
  • The indiscriminate hunting of some species.

How is biodiversity assessed?

To assess the biodiversity of a specific region, the following parameters are usually used:

  • Wealth. It consists of the number of ecosystem elements, depending on the level of analysis: number of differentiated genes, number of species, number of habitats, etc.
  • Relative abundance. The frequency with which one of the analyzed elements appears in the ecosystem in relation to the others that accompany it.
  • Differentiation. It is the degree of genetic, taxonomic or functional remoteness of the analyzed elements.

It should be noted that biodiversity is not a static attribute, immobilebut dynamic and constantly changing. Nor is it evenly distributed on the planet.

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endemic species

biodiversity endemic species
The carnivorous plant Heliamphora chimantensis is only found in Venezuela.

Endemic species are known as those that are specific and exclusive to a geographic region or a particular ecosystem. For example, the carnivorous plant Heliamphora chimantensis It is typical of the southern savannahs of Venezuela, and does not exist anywhere else on the planet.

The endemic species are the most susceptible to modification of their habitats by humans, since they are unable to survive in other places. Therefore, if their habitats are not protected, an important part of the world’s biodiversity will be lost.

biological balance

The biological balance is adequate and fair compensation between individuals that are born, their food and their predators. Therefore, it is one of the necessary conditions for the preservation of the planet’s biodiversity.

of this balance depends on the preservation of the food chain or the trophic pyramid, which is a cycle of transmission of matter and energy between species. Thanks to it, the subsistence of all is possible, in the terms in which natural selection dictates it.

The meddling of man in ecosystems unbalances them biologically. In some cases it removes necessary steps from the pyramid and in others it allows the disorderly proliferation of some species and the extinction of others.

Biodiversity preservation

Biodiversity - Greenpeace
Green Peace seeks to raise awareness about the care of planet Earth and its biodiversity.

There are many efforts and organizations that fight to preserve biodiversity. Since the year 2000, the UN declared May 22 as the International Day for Biological Diversityand also to 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity.

The purpose of these statements is to raise awareness about the urgent need to take action in this regard. Other organizations running similar campaigns include Green Peace, Earth Action and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF).


  • “Biodiversity” on Wikipedia.
  • “Biodiversity”in BioEncyclopedia.
  • “What is biodiversity?” in Argentine Government.
  • “Notes on the origin of biological diversity” by Elena Pérez-Urria Carril at the Faculty of Biology of the Complutense University of Madrid.
  • “Why is biodiversity so important?” (video) by Kim Preshoff on TED-ed.
  • “Biodiversity & Human Well-being” in GreenFacts.
  • “Biodiversity” in The Encyclopaedia Britannica.

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