Biodiversity and conservation

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Biodiversity and conservation

Biodiversity- variety of life on Earth

Convention of Biological Diversity definition- agreed upon by 150 governmental leaders at the 1992 UN conference for environment and development in Rio de Janeiro- "Rio Earth Summit".

"Variability among living organisms from all sources and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this included diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems".

Genetic- how coding of organisms varies between indviduals and populations- important for adaptations and evolution. Important for human exploitation of genetic resources for food, medicine etc through selective breeding, GM etc.

Organismal- Species used as the most recognisable and fundamental unit of biodiversity. But... what is a species?  Some organisms fit outside our definitions of a "species".

Ecological- from populations to niches, habitats, ecosystems and biomes- way of breaking up a continua of phenomena to recognise and compare. e.g. Tundra vs. Rainforest. But...subjective.

Biodiversity= v.variable in different habitats


  • Example: Coral reefs, Philippines- rainforests of the sea. Small area around one island: Palawan- 300species coral; 736 species fish.
  • Example: Temperate coastal waters, UK- 60 species fish


  • Example: Rainforest Bornea- 1175 tree species in 50ha plot
  • Example: Boreal forest- 1/2 tree species in 50ha plot

Freshwater Lakes:

  •  Lake Baikal, Russia- 580 benthic invertebrate species- largest freshwater lake in the world- v. high diversity despite the forests being low in diversity.
  • Great Slave Lake, Canada- same latitude but only 4 benthic inverebrate species 

What is driving this?

Conservation strategies:

  • Traditional- charismatic megafauna
  • Biodiversity/modern- multiple species, patterns & processes- whole ecoystem approach.

Why do this?

Intrinsic valule-


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