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  A definition of Biodiversity

Biodiversity 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, 1993 ).

Furthermore, 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 of Wildlife.

Part 1: Components of Biodiversity

Part 2: Importance of Biodiversity

Part 3: Processes and Patterns

Part 4: Biodiversity Surveys


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part 1: components of biodiversity