Biodiversity

Biodiversity is the variation in living organisms, viewed within a given habitat, ecosystem or in the world as a whole. The concept is usually applied to the species diversity, although the notion of genetic biodiversity is applied to the variation in genes within an individual species. While most people think of rainforests as loci of great biodiversity, biomes such as oceans and grasslands are the likely repositories for even greater variation. Retention of diverse biota is important, since intact ecosystems are thought to be essential for provision of ecosystem services to humans, including maintenance of a diverse foodbank, pollination, clean water, flood control, pest control, waste decomposition, biomass energy resources and climate stability. Biodiversity is presently critical since we live in the era of the Mass Holocene Extinction, a period of species loss caused by man, and unrivaled in rate of species loss. Although the number of total species numbers in the tens of millions, most have not yet even been described. The extinction of a species is almost always related to destruction of habitat or man-made pollution.

  • Coral reefs (collection) Featured Article Coral reefs (collection) Coral reefs (collection)

    Coral reefs are one of the most diverse, complex, aesthetically appealing and threatened ecosystems on earth. This collection will include information on a wide range of topics... More »

  • Crustacea Featured Article Crustacea Crustacea

    Crustaceans are invertebrates belonging to the phylum Arthropoda and include such familiar groups as barnacles, crabs, crayfish, lobster, water fleas and pill bugs. Crustaceans... More »

  • Ecoregions of Utah (EPA) Featured Article Ecoregions of Utah (EPA) Ecoregions of Utah (EPA)

    The Ecoregions of Utah comprise a diverse set of plant communities and geomorphic provinces. Ecoregions denote areas of general similarity in ecosystems and in the type,... More »

  • Habitat fragmentation Featured Article Habitat fragmentation Habitat fragmentation

    Habitat fragmentation involves alteration of habitat resulting in spatial separation of habitat units from a previous state of greater... More »

  • Virus Featured Article Virus Virus

    A virus is a microscopic organism that can replicate only inside the cells of a host organism. Most viruses are so tiny they are only observable with at least a conventional... More »

  • South China Sea Featured Article South China Sea South China Sea

      The South China Sea is a critical world trade route and a potential source of... More »

  • Devonian Featured Article Devonian Devonian

    The Devonian period is a geologic time interval within the Paleozoic Era spanning from the end of the Silurian Period, aapproximately 417 million years before present (BP), to... More »

  • Spinner dolphin Featured Article Spinner dolphin Spinner dolphin

    The Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris), a marine mammal in the family of oceanic dolphins,  gets its name from the spinning behavior it shows when it leaps out of... More »

  • Permian Featured Article Permian Permian

    The Permian period lasted from 290 to 248 million years ago and was the last period of the Paleozoic Era. The distinction between the Paleozoic and the Mesozoic is made at the... More »

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Western Himalayan alpine shrub and meadows Last Updated on 2014-10-01 11:12:09 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Western Himalayan Alpine Shrub and Meadows ecoregion has large areas of habitat suitable for conserving viable populations of the high-altitude Himalayan predator, the snow leopard (Uncia uncia), and the large montane ungulates such as blue sheep (Pseudois nayur), Himalayan tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus), Himalayan musk deer (Moschus chrysogaster), and serow (Capricornis sumatraensis), which form its prey. Wild yak (Bos grunniens) used to inhabit the innermost ranges of the western Himalayan alpine meadows adjacent to the Tibetan Plateau. These large beasts are now considered locally extinct throughout most of their former distribution and have not been recorded in Indian territory recently. Most of the ecoregion's mammals are small species, such as the Himalayan palm civet, pale weasel, Himalayan weasel,... More »
Habitat fragmentation Last Updated on 2014-09-30 10:21:30 Habitat fragmentation involves alteration of habitat resulting in spatial separation of habitat units from a previous state of greater continuity. Figure 1. Aerial photograph of dry forest scrub in southern Zambia, fragmented by agricultural land conversion. 2008 This phenomenon occurs naturally on a geologic time-scale or in unusual and catastrophic events: however, since the Holocene era, humans have produced dramatic and swift transformation of landscapes throughout the world, resulting in a level of habitat fragmentation that has induced worldwide reduction in biodiversity and interuption of  sustainable yields of natural resources. Humans produce habitat fragmentation chiefly from agricultural land conversion, urbanization, pollution, deforestation and introduction of alien species; ironically, both human caused wildfires as well as the... More »
Arecaceae: The Majestic Family of Palms Last Updated on 2014-09-25 11:35:18 Arecaceae (Syn. Palmae) is a monocotyledonous plant family containing species of tropical climbers, shrubs and trees commonly known as Palm trees or simply Palms (Figs 1-3). The Arecaceae is a monotypic family in the order Arecales. The family contains several commercially important species such as coconuts, area nuts and date palms, as well as a large number of indoor and ornamental species. Palms are commonly cultivated and well known horticulturally across the planet. Palms are most conspicuous in coastal areas in tropical and sub-tropical ecological zones as well as in the Arabian deserts and throughout the continents of Africa, Latin America, South and South-East Asia, Oceania and coastal US and adjoining island groups. Palms are also common in tropical evergreen forests and in every available ecological habitat in the tropics and sub-tropics covering a... More »
Ecosystem Last Updated on 2014-09-24 22:46:28 An ecosystem is a community of organisms interacting with each other and with their environment such that energy is exchanged and system-level processes, such as the cycling of elements, emerge. The ecosystem is a core concept in Biology and Ecology, serving as the level of biological organization in which organisms interact simultaneously with each other and with their environment. As such, ecosystems are a level above that of the ecological community (organisms of different species interacting with each other) but are at a level below, or equal to, biomes and the biosphere. Essentially, biomes are regional ecosystems, and the biosphere is the largest of all possible ecosystems. Ecosystems include living organisms, the dead organic matter produced by them, the abiotic environment within which the organisms live and exchange elements (soils, water, atmosphere), and the interactions... More »
Astercaceae: The sunflower family Last Updated on 2014-09-24 21:50:45 Asteraceae, also called Compositae, is one of the largest angiospermic plant families among the dicotyledonous, based on the large number of species (1,620 genera and 23,600 species) that represent this plant family with cosmopolitan distribution (Funk et al.,2005). Constituting almost 10% of all flowering plants worldwide, Asteraceae is usually divided into 12 subfamilies (Funk et al., 2009). Except for Antarctica, the family is most abundant in the sub-tropical and temperate latitudes, occurring commonly across meadows, valleys, grassy plains, rolling plateaus, and mountainous slopes (Funk et al., 2005 ; Bayer et al., 2007). It includes edible, medicinal, noxious, invasive and endangered species (Heywood et al., 2007). The majority of plant members representing this family are herbaceous in nature, but shrubs and trees, as well as creepers and climbers, are also... More »