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
Madagascar subhumid forests Last Updated on 2015-05-29 22:09:34 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Madagascar subhumid forests ecoregion, centered in the Central Highlands of Madagascar, contains a large number of endemic species, found in the relict forest patches and also in some wetland areas, but the remaining habitats are agricultural areas that have almost no biological value. This ecoregion is the site of some of the major extinctions of recent times, including that of the world’s largest flightless bird, Aepyornis maximus, and a number of large lemurs. With only small fragmented areas of habitat left within this ecoregion, there is a high risk of further species extinction over the next several decades. The Madagascar subhumid forests is classified within the Tropical and Subtropical Moist Broadleaf Forests biome. This ecoregion is an important part of the Madagascar and the Indian... More »
Mesozoic Last Updated on 2015-05-29 10:10:24     The Mesozoic Era is divided into three time periods: the Triassic (245-208 Million Years Ago), the Jurassic (208-146 Million Years Ago), and the Cretaceous (146-65 Million Years Ago). Mesozoic means "middle animals", and is the time during which the world fauna changed drastically from that which had been seen in the Paleozoic. Dinosaurs, which are perhaps the most popular organisms of the Mesozoic, evolved in the Triassic, but were not very diverse until the Jurassic. Except for birds, dinosaurs became extinct at the end of the Cretaceous. Some of the last dinosaurs to have lived are found in the late Cretaceous deposits of Montana in the United States. The Mesozoic was also a time of great change in the terrestrial vegetation. The early Mesozoic was dominated by ferns, cycads, ginkgophytes, bennettitaleans, and other unusual plants. Modern... More »
Madagascar dry deciduous forests Last Updated on 2015-05-28 20:11:13 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Madagascar dry deciduous forests of western Madagascar are some of the world’s most species rich and most distinctive tropical dry forests. They are characterized by very high local plant and animal endemism at the species, genera and family levels. A significant fraction of these dry forests have been previously cleared, and the remaining forests are fragmented and critically threatened by uncontrolled burning and cuttining for charcoal production, grazing and agriculture. Since human settlement of this region during the Holocene, an estimated 97 percent of the island’s dry deciduous western forests have been destroyed, and those remaining are extremely localized and fragmented. This ecoregion also contains spectacular limestone karst formations, known as tsingy, and their associated forests,... More »
Madagascar mangroves Last Updated on 2015-05-27 11:30:24 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection Shielded from monsoon winds by the Central Highlands of Madagascar, Madagascar mangroves occupy a wide range of environmental and climatic conditions, and chiefly occur at the western coastline along the Mozambique Channel of the Indian Ocean. Although the ecoregion’s species richness is low, it is noteworthy in supporting certain endemic tree species; for example, thre are only 163 vertebrate taxa found in the entire ecoregion. The Madagascar mangroves are within the Mangroves biome of the Afrotropic Realm. These mangroves also shelter highly diverse mollusk and crustacean communities, while capturing sediment that threatens coral reefs and seagrass beds. Dugongs, birds and sea turtles utilise mangroves, as do the native Malagasy people. Rice farming, shrimp aquaculture as well as stockpiling of... More »
Madagascar succulent woodlands Last Updated on 2015-05-22 14:24:18 WWF Terrestrial Ecoregions Collection The Madagascar succulent wodlands ecoregion comprises a mosaic of succulent xeric adapted plants and deciduous forests that represent critical habitats for many species of animals and plants restricted to the western region of Madagascar. Some of the remarkable fauna and flora found in this ecoregion include the giant jumping rat (Hypogeomys antimena), the flat-tailed tortoise (Pyxis planicauda), two species of baobabs and several species of primates. This succulent woodland is located in southwestern and central western Madagascar. Its southern limit is the start of the spiny thicket and northern limit the lower end of the dry deciduous forest. The southern portion of the succulent woodland ecoregion is inland from the spiny thicket and further north this ecoregion meets the sea around Belo-Tsiribihina.... More »