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Biodiversity – Importance, Types and Threats

Class 10
May 15, 2023

Human Sustainability – Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the basis upon which ecosystems and humans can function. Without biodiversity in an ecosystem, there would be fewer plants and animals in our world today, including us. Biodiversity is described as “biological diversity in an environment as measured by the number of distinct plant and animal species.”

This includes the number of distinct species and genetic variation within a single species. In addition, an ecosystem’s various plants and animals collaborate to keep the ecosystem balanced. These interactions result in functioning systems that provide us with food, medicine, and new technologies.


Traditionally, biodiversity is classified into three levels: genetic diversity, species diversity, and ecosystem diversity. But what exactly do these levels mean?

Types of biodiversity


Genetic Variability/ Diversity

Genetic diversity means the variety of genes found in the living world. Different genes and gene expressions exist between and within different species, and genetic variability contributes to the diversity of life forms, physical and biological characteristics, and phenotypes based on interactions with the environment.

Species Variety/Diversity

We use the term species diversity to describe the diversity of living species. The Earth is home to millions of living species. They are all unique and classified according to their characteristics (insects, animals, plants, fungi, etc.). Species diversity is frequently divided into two categories:

Intraspecies diversity refers to genetic variation among individuals and populations of the same species. One of many examples of intraspecific biodiversity is people with white or black skin, blond or brown hair, and blue or green eyes.

Interspecific biodiversity means the diversity of living species among themselves in terms of their number, nature, and relative importance. For example, assume that humans (or Homo sapiens), a species with 7.7 billion organisms, have greater diversity than the few African elephants on the verge of extinction.

Ecosystem Diversity

The biodiversity of ecosystems refers to the variety of ecosystems, both in nature and in number, in which living species interact with their environment and with one another. On Earth, for example, there are various ecosystems, each with its own unique characteristics, such as deserts, oceans, lakes, plains, and forests.


There are differences within these ecosystems, such as cold or hot deserts, boreal or tropical forests, warm or cold-water coastal regions, and so on. In addition, each ecosystem has its own characteristics, species, and modes of operation.

Interaction is a fundamental concept that emphasizes a constantly evolving reality at each level and between them. Indeed, biodiversity is not limited to a fixed inventory of living species at any given time.

The evolution of biodiversity and its interactions applies to all organisms (plants, animals, bacteria, and others) as well as the ecosystems in which they survive and interact.

Unfortunately, as we spread around the world, we have disrupted and destroyed many ecosystems by reducing biodiversity. This damage can be seen in a variety of ways, including decreased crop yields in developing countries and an increase in the rate of animal extinction.

Importance of Biodiversity

Biodiversity is important for a variety of reasons, which can be broadly divided into two categories: importance for ecosystems and importance for us.

Biodiversity is what allows ecosystems to function and thrive. Many different plant and animal species have coexisted in the same habitats for millions of years. They eventually balance each other out and keep the ecosystem together. When a species is removed (biodiversity is reduced), the ecosystem may lose balance and collapse.

The iconic example is sea otters in kelp forests along the California coast. Sea otters consume sea urchins, and sea urchins consume kelp. Sea urchins multiply when sea otters are removed, eating large portions of the kelp forest, destroying the habitat, and eventually killing other animals that live there. The entire ecosystem collapses.

A high level of biodiversity protects against such a situation and makes ecosystems more resilient to change. In short, biodiversity maintains an ecosystem’s balance for it to function and self-regulate.

Biodiversity provides billions of dollars for us in resources, which we call ecosystem services. These services are divided into three groups:

  1. Provision services
  2. Regulation services
  3. Cultural services

Biodiversity and ecosystem services

1. Provision Services:

Provision services include everything related to producing renewable resources, such as farming or energy generation. For example, in farming, a greater diversity of crops reduces the likelihood that they will all die from the same weather event or disease. This increases overall yield while also protecting the farmer.

2. Regulating Services:

Anything that reduces environmental change is referred to as regulating services. For example, maintaining tree species biodiversity in a forest increases the number of trees that grow there. More trees absorb more CO2, assisting in the control of climate change.

3. Cultural Services:

Cultural services are defined as anything that provides us with direct value or enjoyment. This could be any outdoor activity.

Biodiversity has played a vital role in the formation of our planet and continues to help us improve our lives. As a result, the true value of biodiversity exceeds our ability to comprehend it.

Threats to Biodiversity

Biodiversity has been under constant threat since the dawn of time. As we grow, we remove, change, and use the land to meet our needs. Changes we make frequently harm natural habitats and reduce biodiversity.

The most serious threat to biodiversity is habitat loss. This can be accomplished by clear-cutting forests, polluting oceans, or altering the natural habitat. We harvest a large number of natural resources, and when this is not done in a sustainable manner, the results are disastrous.

Threat to biodiversity

Land development is one of the leading causes of habitat destruction. Over the last century, as urbanization has increased, more and more land has been repurposed, destroying natural habitats and increasing noise and pollution. When habitats change, animals flee or die, reducing biodiversity significantly.

Climate change is inextricably linked to urbanization and habitat loss. This is because human development has increased as urbanization has increased, as has the consumption of many natural resources.

Climate change alters regional climates, making it difficult for many species that are specifically adapted to those regions to survive. Furthermore, as the climate changes, species will migrate to new areas, altering existing ecosystems.

Finally, some climates will vanish as a result of these changes. Glaciers will melt, and islands will be submerged.

Climate change

Invasive species are the final threat to biodiversity. Invasive species are plants or animals that are not local to a region and often come from a great distance away. We move these organisms both intentionally and unintentionally.

Invasive species

New animals are sometimes brought to an area as pets or sneakily hitch a ride on human transport. When invasive species are introduced into an area, they can sometimes thrive because the existing ecosystem is not adapted to their presence.

Invasive species frequently outcompete native species, causing them to become extinct. The brown tree snake, which was accidentally introduced to Guam via aircraft in the 1950s, is one example of this. The brown tree snake is blamed for the extinction of three bird and five reptile species in Guam over the last 50 years.

Methods of Protecting Biodiversity

Even though the biodiversity of many habitats is under threat, there are many things we can do to help mitigate the threat. These are some actions you can take to protect biodiversity.

1. Government regulation

Governments have the power to regulate what happens to habitats within their borders. Therefore, legislation that protects natural habitats by prohibiting the development, natural resource harvesting, or other forms of human exploitation significantly impacts the preservation of natural biodiversity.

Furthermore, laws protecting specific species, such as the Endangered Species Act of the United States, aid in the protection of animals that have already been impacted.

Protecting habitats before they are altered is the most effective method of biodiversity conservation, and it is most successfully implemented through government regulations.

2. Nature preserves

Nature preserves, also known as national parks, are a type of government regulation. They shield a region and the organisms that live in it from certain forms of development and allow people to visit them. This is fantastic because it protects the natural habitat and serves as a viewing area for the ecosystem.

The goal is that, over time, this will increase people’s respect for the natural world and put pressure on the government to protect other areas.

3. Reducing invasive species

Invasive species are sometimes intentionally introduced into an area, but they are also sometimes introduced by accident. To reduce the number of invasive species unintentionally transported, planes, ships, and cargo must be thoroughly inspected before being offloaded in a new country.

Furthermore, people should not introduce new species of animals or plants into an area without consulting with ecologists who are familiar with the area.

4. Restoration of habitats

We can try to restore a damaged area to its natural state after human impacts have damaged it. This involves reintroducing the native plants and animals to the area. This has been demonstrated to be a promising method of restoring biodiversity to a region.

The return of wolves to Yellowstone National Park is one example of this. When wolves returned to the area, they ate more elk and coyotes, increasing the coyote’s prey species and allowing elk-trampled riparian (river bank) areas to recover.

These restoration projects can be commenced by governments, local organizations, or non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

5. Captive breeding and seed bank

Captive breeding is the practice of breeding animals in captivity (often in zoos). This is considered somewhat controversial because it necessitates the capture of animals that are frequently on the verge of extinction. However, on the plus side, it allows for the species’ population to grow so that it can be reintroduced into the wild.

Seed banks are locations where large quantities of plant seeds are stored. This provides a failsafe in the event that a species becomes extinct in the wild. The plant can be grown from saved seed and reintroduced into its natural environment.

This is a very real problem, and seed banks have been collecting samples for many years, with some seed banks stockpiling over 2 billion seeds at any given time.

6. Research

Understanding how species interact within their environment is critical to their conservation. As humans better understand species interactions, we discover new and more direct ways to help protect organisms and preserve biodiversity.

The use of wildlife corridors in urban areas is one example. We discovered that by studying many different species, we could dramatically increase their populations. In addition, it reduces the number of animals that have direct contact with humans while also providing areas for migratory animals to travel long distances.

7. Reduce climate change

As we all know, climate change has disastrous consequences for all living things on Earth. This is because we consume massive amounts of fossil fuels, directly contributing to climate change.

We must abandon fossil fuels in favor of alternative energy sources and natural or sustainable products. Climate change mitigation necessitates a global effort.

8. Purchase of sustainable products

Many safeguards are now labeled with ecolabels that indicate whether they are environmentally friendly. Some of the most well-known ecolabels are Energy Star, USDA Organic, and Rainforest Alliance Certified.

Because our consumption of natural resources is one of the primary causes of biodiversity loss, it is our responsibility to purchase products that are produced in the most environmentally friendly manner possible.

Furthermore, purchasing these items increases demand for environmentally friendly products, encouraging more manufacturers to produce them.

9. Sustainable living

We can all choose to live a more sustainable lifestyle on a daily basis. For example, taking shorter showers, riding a bike to work, or purchasing eco-friendly products all help reduce the resources we use.

This is arguably the most important way to protect biodiversity because it is something that anyone can do, often with only minor lifestyle changes. Biodiversity in various habitats would improve if everyone chose to live sustainably.

10. Education

Education, as with most environmental issues, is one of the keys to success. People’s awareness of the importance of biodiversity conservation grows due to education. People become more involved and eventually influence their government representatives, pushing for environmental protection as public awareness grows.

One of the most effective ways to protect biodiversity is through government legislation that protects our natural environments.

The Responsibility of Science and Technology in Conserving Biodiversity

As our society grows, we use more resources, which degrades natural biodiversity, but growth also leads to advances in science and technology.

Science and technology are currently two of the most essential tools in conservation biology.

We use science, specifically ecology, to understand the web of interactions in our biomes. Scientists can identify key species in ecosystems by understanding these interactions. This data is used to direct conservation efforts.

It is also used to comprehend pollution and its repercussions on an ecosystem. For example, toxin bio-magnification in a food chain can be disastrous for top predators. This is a constantly evolving field of science, and these two examples are just a few ways to put the information it discovers to use.

In conservation biology, technology is becoming increasingly important—sustainable technologies such as renewable energy, biodegradable packaging, and recycling help to reduce our environmental impact.

Furthermore, technologies such as cloning enable scientists to bring back species that are already thought to be extinct.

The importance of biodiversity in natural ecosystems cannot be overstated. It contributes to the availability of resources and services we rely on daily. Unfortunately, human development and urbanization pose a serious threat to natural biodiversity.

There will be disastrous consequences if nothing is done to mitigate these changes. We can do numerous things in politics, science, and even our daily lives to assist in resolving these issues. As humans, we must recognize the risks associated with our consumer lifestyles and work tirelessly to repair what has already been harmed and prevent future harm.

The time has come for us to come together to save biodiversity.

Human Sustainability - biodiversity


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