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 »

Recently Updated
Southern Africa bushveld Last Updated on 2015-04-20 21:47:35 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Southern Africa bushveld is an element of the vast savannas that cover much of southern Africa. There is low endemism in this ecoregion for both flora or fauna, but the charismatic large mammals and rich birdlife characteristic of African savannas are in evidence. The rugged Waterberg Mountains contain the highest levels of species richness and endemism in the region, and are noted for their reptilian endemism. Cattle ranching and urban expansion from the nearby Pretoria-Witwatersrand-Vereeniging complex are the major threats to the conservation of this ecoregion. However, ecotourism has become a major land-use commitment in the bushveld and has led to the establishment of a number of small nature reserves and private game parks, which augment the conservation status of this ecoregion. The Southern... More »
Alcids in marine ecosystems Last Updated on 2015-04-11 18:42:04   Alcidae is the name for a family of marine birds that includes murres, razorbills, dovekies, puffins, guillemots, auklets, and murrelets. They are commonly referred to as alcids or auks. These birds of the open ocean spend most of their lives at sea, coming to shore only to breed. Most alcids are colonial breeders, nesting in dense colonies on mainland cliffs or offshore islands, where they are inaccessible to terrestrial predators. They are long-lived and socially monogamous, often returning to the same nesting site to mate with the same partner, year after year. Females lay a single egg (or two eggs in a few species), and both parents contribute to egg incubation, chick brooding, and feeding the nestling(s) until they are ready to leave the nest for the sea. Three distinct chick-rearing strategies exist among the alcids. Chicks of most species remain at the nest site and... More »
Zambezian flooded grasslands Last Updated on 2015-04-08 23:59:46 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection Located within the miombo and mopane woodlands of the Central African Plateau, Zambezian flooded grasslands are an anomaly of productivity and abundance in a landscape characterized by nutrient deficient soil and associated vegetation. Unlike the surrounding woodlands that generally support animals only in rather low densities, the wetlands and floodplains of this ecoregion provide habitats to sizable faunal populations, since food and water are abundant throughout most of the year. Large populations of waterbirds gather during the rainy season, and numerous herd animals and  carnivores  frequent the landscape. However, in a climate of rapid population growth and increasing need for land and natural resources, this fragile ecoregion may face increasing threat. Several conservation measures are... More »
Kalahari acacia-baikiaea woodlands Last Updated on 2015-04-08 23:56:27 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection Semi-arid Kalahari acacia-baikiaea woodland stretches across the center of southern Africa, from northern Namibia through Botswana and just into the Tuli Block of South Africa. Surface water is scarce here, and droughts occur approximately once every seven years. As a result, the human population is relatively low, especially on the sandveld that covers most of the ecoregion. This woodland supports a rich and diverse fauna, including a variety of ungulates and a number of threatened large mammals such as White Rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum), Black Rhinoceros (Diceros bicornis), African Painted Hunting Dog (Lycaon pictus), and African Elephant (Loxodonta africana). However, human populations are increasing and the growing cattle industry has far-reaching adverse effects on the environment and wildlife. The... More »
Angolan scarp savanna and woodlands Last Updated on 2015-04-08 23:53:01 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Angolan scarp savanna and woodlands ecoregion is a complex area where several major African ecological zones meet, and where topographical features have resulted in a high diversity of vegetation types and significant levels of endemism. Biologically, the most important portion of the ecoregion is the west-facing scarp that supports rainforest at higher altitudes. This forest holds a significant number of endemic birds, and some other endemic animals and plants. The long period of insurrection, foreign mercenary activity and civil instability in Angola have contributed to the outcome that these forests and other parts of the ecoregion have never been adequately surveyed biologically, and hence more endemics can be expected with further study. However, the highly unstable civil war means that all biological... More »