Marvier, Michelle A. Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, California.
Linzey, Donald W. Wytheville Community College, Wytheville, Virginia.
Last reviewed:September 2016
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- Global biodiversity
- Ecosystem function
- Ecosystem stability
- Species importance
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The number of different plant and animal species living in a defined ecosystem or study area; a contraction of biological diversity. Biodiversity includes genetic diversity (variability in the genetic makeup among individuals in a single species), species diversity (the variety of species in different habitats on the Earth), and ecological diversity (the variety of biological communities that interact with one another and with their nonliving environments). Biodiversity can be expressed mathematically as an index that includes both the number of different species in a particular ecosystem (species richness) and the relative abundance of each species present (species equitability). In addition, biodiversity across the world can be affected detrimentally by human activity, especially by human-caused habitat loss and degradation. The biodiversity of these regions, known as biological hotspots (Fig. 1), is a great concern of conservationists. See also: Biological diversity; Conservation (species); Ecology; Ecosystem; Species concept
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