What is Biodiversity?
All life on earth is part of one great, interdependent system. It interacts with, and depends on, the non-living components of the planet: atmosphere, oceans, freshwaters, rocks, and soils. Humanity depends totally on this community of life--this biosphere--of which we are an integral part. Biological diversity, or biodiversity, is the variety of the world's organisms, including their genetic diversity and the assemblages they form. It is the blanket term for the natural biological wealth that under girds human life and well-being. The breadth of the concept reflects the interrelatedness of genes, species, and ecosystems.
Biological diversity is under a lot more pressure and a lot of species are failing to critical population levels from fragmentation, degradation and the destruction of important habitats, increasing population pressure and limited resources.
Humanity interacts with and depends on both the living and non-living components of the planet. In the faraway past, human actions were small when set against the dominant processes of nature.
Earth's plants, animals, and micro-organisms -- interacting with one another and with the physical environment in ecosystems -- form the foundation of non-stop development.
New species are still being discovered--even new birds and mammals. On average, about three new species of birds are found each year, and as recently as 1990, a new species of monkey was discovered. Other vertebrate groups are still far from being completely described: An estimate that 40 percent of freshwater fishes in South America have not been identified yet.
Surprisingly, scientists have a better understanding of how many stars there are in the galaxy than how many species there are on Earth. Estimates of global species diversity have varied from 2 million to 100 million species, with a best estimate of somewhere near 10 million, and only 1.4 million have actually been...