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Since the start of the Phanerozoic, biodiversity has apparently showed an overall but not monotonic increase from near zero to several thousands of genera.
Live, reproduce, die
Icon bioDNA.svg
Life as we know it
Divide and multiply
Great Apes
Not to be confused with human biodiversity, a euphemism for racialism.

Biodiversity is the somewhat hard-to-define quality of variation among living things in a specific ecosystem, in agriculture, within a certain taxonomic group, or in the entire biosphere.

Biodiversity is seen as important to the sustainability of life in general and as an all-round Good Thing.[1] Having various options of "life support systems" often means that, when conditions change, they are unlikely to all fail at once.[2]

Environmentalists regard human-caused ("anthropogenic") loss of biodiversity as a serious problem. Some branches of environmental philosophy give intrinsic value to biodiversity, and consider its conservation important beyond ecological services for humans.[3]

It is difficult to measure biodiversity, but with closer observation, one can simply see how diverse even a single ecosystem is. A single drop of pond water has several species of microscopic animals (from copepods to water fleas to rotifers), and other microorganisms (amoebas, paramecium, diatoms, and euglena). More complex information-based methods must decide when to describe genetic diversity versus diversity based on phenotypes and genotypes, which require more definitions of measurements themselves. Meaningful diversity-indices also take into take into account the total number of individuals of each species, and apply statistical measures.[4][5][6]

See also[edit]


  1. See the Wikipedia article on 1066 and All That.
  4. Ecological Diversity and Its Measurement by Anne E. Magurran (1988). Princeton University Press. ISBN 0691084912.
  5. Measuring Biological Diversity by Anne E. Magurran (2003). Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 0632056339.
  6. See the Wikipedia article on Measurement of biodiversity.