The Significance of Biodiversity

When you consider regions in the world that are filled with a diverse range of wildlife, what do you think of? The continent of Africa? The rainforests surrounding the Amazon River? How about your own backyard?

You might believe that your backyard cannot compete with Africa or an Amazon rainforest in terms of wildlife. And you may be correct. However, you might also be underestimating your backyard!

If you were to spend an extended period of time in your backyard, you would be surprised by the number of birds, mammals, amphibians, reptiles, and insects that call your backyard their home. And that is just what is visible on and above the surface.

Get down on your hands and knees and examine what crawls on — and underneath! — the soil, and you will discover a completely new world of creatures that typically go unnoticed. Scientists use the term “biodiversity” to describe the variety of life found in a specific area. This term is formed by combining the words “biological” and “diversity” into one.

At its most basic level, biodiversity refers to the range of plant and animal species found in a particular habitat. The species biodiversity of your backyard may include a blackbird, a squirrel, a mosquito, a snake, and a frog. It would also encompass all the species of plants present, such as grass, trees, and flowers.

However, as mentioned before, what is visible is just the surface of biodiversity. You must also consider all the species that cannot be seen. These may include underground worms, as well as thousands of microscopic bacteria that play a crucial role in the ecosystem of your backyard.

If you are a scientist studying biodiversity, you must go beyond simple species biodiversity. You must also take genetic biodiversity into account. This includes all the variations in genes that exist within each species. For example, all dogs belong to the same species, but there is a tremendous amount of diversity when you consider all the different breeds of dogs that exist.

Scientists must also consider ecological biodiversity. There are many ways in which seemingly similar ecosystems can differ based on wildlife and climate. For instance, a forest ecosystem in Florida can be vastly different from a forest ecosystem in Colorado.

Studies on biodiversity have demonstrated that tropical rainforests tend to be the most biodiverse ecosystems on Earth. This is one of the reasons why scientists strive to protect rainforests from human interference. Biodiversity is incredibly important, and a decrease in biodiversity can have negative effects that impact the entire planet.

Why is biodiversity so crucial? A wide variety of plant, animal, and bacterial species allow us to live longer, better, and healthier lives. Robust ecosystems provide us with clean water and the oxygen we breathe.

Dynamic communities of plants, soils, and pollinators provide us with the food we eat and many of the medicines that aid in our healing. Areas with high biodiversity recover more quickly from natural disasters and help prevent diseases.

Regrettably, biodiversity faces numerous threats. Any factor that causes a decrease or extinction of species has a negative impact on biodiversity. Some of these factors include the loss of habitats, excessive use of natural resources, invasive species, pollution, and climate change. As we strive to improve the world, it is crucial to remember the significance of biodiversity and the protection of endangered species.

Give It a Try

Are you prepared to explore some of the most biodiverse places on Earth? Enlist the help of a friend or family member to engage in the following activities:

  • Interested in promoting biodiversity in your own backyard? Create a wildlife garden by providing a few essential elements to support the wildlife in your area. Download and print a copy of the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife Garden Certification Walk-Through Checklist. It will guide you through the process of establishing your very own wildlife garden to enhance the biodiversity of your backyard!
  • Read more about Homegrown Biodiversity online to discover additional ways to enhance the biodiversity of your local area. Create a list of at least three actions you can undertake with a friend or family member to promote biodiversity in your area.
  • How diverse is the area where you reside? Select a small section of your backyard or a local park and try to count the number of species present. This includes birds, mammals, and insects that you can identify. You may not be able to identify any microscopic organisms in the area without a microscope. However, you can dig a little beneath the surface to see what you can find. Enjoy some hands-on exploration of the biodiversity in your area!

Sources of Wonder

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  • (accessed 26 Aug., 2022)

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