has been most generally defined as the "full
variety of life on Earth" (Takacs,
1996). More specifically, biodiversity is the study
of the processes that create and maintain variation. It is concerned
with the variety of individuals within populations, the diversity
of species within communities, and the range of ecological roles
within ecosystems (Graham
Bell, pers. comm.).
If this seems like
a vague definition, that's because it is. There is no agreement
on what exactly biodiversity means. It can refer to genetic diversity,
to species diversity or to the diversity of environments or habitats.
Some believe that it has simply replaced the terms "nature"
or "wilderness" (Chadwick,
researchers and conservationists all employ a working definition
of biodiversity shaped by their values, interests and goals. There
is a great variety of human perception about what biodiversity
is and, therefore, there are many different reasons why it important
to conserve biological diversity.
This section of the
website will provide a brief overview of some theoretical basics
of biodiversity. Each of four parts will discuss, respectively,
the different levels of biodiversity, why biodiversity is valuable
in itself and in its contribution to human well-being, the processes
that generate and maintain biodiversity, and how biodiversity
is assessed in the field.
There are many resources
on the net that address theory of biodiversity. One particularly
good one is the Biodiversity Center at Defenders
1: Components of Biodiversity
2: Importance of Biodiversity
Part 3: Processes
Part 4: Biodiversity