Biodiversity the variety of plant and animal life in the world or in a particular habitat, a high level of which is usually considered to be important and desirable.
Both the species that inhabit the region and the ecological function that each one fulfills are important, which in some way allows the existence of all the others.
The most important value of biodiversity lies in the fact that it is a process initiated by a variety of species over a large number of years, time necessary to achieve something like the balance of the biosphere.
The survival of the species is ensured by the biological system in which they are found, and in this plane man is just another species: the use and benefit of biodiversity has contributed in many ways to the development of human culture.
Biological systems tend to have their own dynamics, to the extent that species perform functions but also become extinct, so that a naturally extinct species causes a disturbance in the ecosystem that can be replaced by another species.
However, different actions carried out by man tend to modify biological diversity from different angles: the alterations of climatic conditions, the persecution and overexploitation of species, the destruction and fragmentation of habitats, the introduction of invasive species and intensive agriculture are harmful to some of the Earth’s species.
Importance of biodiversity
When the loss of diversity is caused by the manipulation by man of the natural systems, this recomposition is not done automatically and may jeopardize the entire ecological system.
- Integrate economic development with the preservation of the environment.
- Related to the latter, abandon production techniques that degrade living resources or soil.
- Dimension the importance of each component of biological diversity, in addition to the system in general.
- Caring for native forests, from individual behaviors but also with public policies.
- Mapping and monitoring environments, as well as their flora and fauna populations .
- Avoid the introduction of exotic species unless they are especially beneficial.
Indicators and examples
Different indicators are used to measure biodiversity : the Simpson index is one of the most frequent. According to these indicators, a classification has been generated that contains seventeen countries called megadiverse, which together host more than 70% of the planet’s biodiversity.
Next the list, including some elements of the biodiversity of each one of them:
- United States : The enormous space of the country houses 432 species of mammals, 311 of reptiles , 256 of amphibians, 800 of birds, 1154 of fish and more than 100,000 of insects.
- India : Wildlife includes cows, buffaloes, goats, lions, leopards and Asian elephants. In the country there are 25 wetlands and it has endemic species such as the monkey of Nilgiri, the toad of Beddome, the tiger of Bengal and the Asian lion.
- Malaysia : There are about 210 species of mammals in the country, 620 species of birds, 250 species of reptiles (150 of them are snakes), 600 species of coral and 1200 species of fish.
- South Africa : With the third largest biodiversity in the world, it includes 20,000 different plant types, and 10% of the world’s known bird and fish species.
- Mexico : It has 37 ‘wild areas’ of the planet, with a great diversity of birds and fish (875 species, 580 of seabirds and 35 of marine mammals ).
- Australia : With 8% of its protected area, the country has kangaroo and koala as endemic species, but it also includes platypuses, possums and devils from Tasmania. There is a wide variety of trees, usually eucalyptus and acacia trees.
- Colombia : It is the country richest in birds with 1870 species, in addition to including more than 700 species of frogs, 456 species of mammals, and more than 55,000 species of plants (a third of them only inhabit that country).
- China : It has more than 30,000 advanced plants, and 6,347 vertebrates, representing between 10% of the plants and 14% of the world’s animals.
- Peru : There are some 25,000 species, of which 30% are endemic. There are some 182 species of Andean domesticated plants.
- Ecuador : There are between 22,000 and 25,000 plant species, with a high rate of endemics. In addition, there is a large number of mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles.
- Madagascar : Includes 32 species of primates unique in the world, 28 species of bats, 198 species of birds and 257 species of reptiles.
- Brazil : It is the country with the greatest biodiversity in the world, with the largest number of mammals and more than 3000 freshwater fish, 517 species of amphibians, 3150 of butterflies, 1622 types of birds and 468 types of reptiles.
- Democratic Republic of the Congo : Large mammals such as elephants, lions, leopards, chimpanzees or giraffes are highlighted.
- Indonesia : In the so-called ‘Bosques del Paraíso’ there is a large number of species, including 500 mammals and 1600 birds.
- Venezuela : There are some 15,500 species of plants, as well as a large number of animals, including 1,200 species of fish.
- Philippines : Characterized by a large number of reptiles and amphibians.
- Papua New Guinea : Nearly 4,642 vertebrate species live in the jungle of New Guinea.