Biodiversity
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Biodiversity

Before talking about a subject as broad as biodiversity, it’s important to understand a few important words that appear frequently on this site. These words correspond to ideas, these ideas express realities, and these realities make up the world around us.

Before talking about a subject as broad as biodiversity, it’s important to understand a few important words that appear frequently on this site. These words correspond to ideas, these ideas express realities, and these realities make up the world around us.

BIODIVERSITY
“Biodiversity” is a compound word, i.e., it is made from two other words or parts of words. In this case, these words are bio and diversity. The first comes from the Greek word bios, meaning “living” or “life.” The second word is of Latin origin and means “two directions” or “going in opposite directions,” somewhat like a tree whose branches grow and multiply, diverging away from each other.

So biodiversity is the diversity of life or, more fundamentally, the different paths taken by different life forms. It is the wealth, variety, and abundance of the living world.

Biodiversity can be broadly split into three levels: (1) genetic diversity
Genes are like recipes or blueprints: they are the instructions for how to build a living thing. Genetic diversity is what causes all the physical differences between you and another person, unless you are identical twins.

(2) species diversity
All humans belong to a single species, Homo sapiens, and this is part of the second level—the diversity of organisms. In general, a living thing is an organism that is born, develops, feeds, reproduces and reacts to its environment. We can classify organisms into different categories according to how they evolved and their physical forms. The most well-known category for this level of diversity is the species; however, it is not known how many species actually exist on earth. Nearly 1,729,000 species have been discovered and described over the last 250 years, but a recent study suggest that there may be as many as 8,700,000. So over 85 percent of the species on earth are still unknown to science.

(3) ecosystem diversity
Species live in habitats and develop many relationships with each other. This is the third level: ecological diversity, i.e., the variety of habitats in which organisms live. The aspect of this level of diversity we are probably most familiar with is the ecosystem. An ecosystem is an environment in which an organism lives and interacts with other organisms and with nonliving matter (air, soil, water) and the sun’s rays. Organisms are constantly searching for food and ways to reproduce.

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