The variety of life forms that develops in a natural environment is called biodiversity . All plants, animals, microorganisms , as well as the genetic material of each of them are included in the definition .
Both the species that inhabit the region and the ecological function that each one fulfills are important, which somehow allows the existence of all the others.
The most important value of biodiversity is the fact that it is a process initiated by a variety of species over a large number of years, time needed 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 only one more species: the use and benefit of biodiversity has contributed in many ways to the development of human culture.
- See also: Habitat and Ecological Niche
Biological systems tend to have their own dynamics, to the extent that species fulfill functions but also become extinct, so that a naturally extinguished 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 edges: 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 natural systems, this recomposition is not done automatically and may jeopardize the entire ecological system.
That is why there are permanently campaigns to favor the care of biodiversity , and the preservation of ecosystems . For this, a series of actions are recommended:
- 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.
- Take care of native forests, from individual behaviors but also with public policies.
- Map and monitor the 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 house more than 70% of the planet’s biodiversity.
Below is the list, including some elements of the biodiversity of each of them:
- United States : The country’s huge space is home to 432 species of mammals, 311 reptiles , 256 amphibians, 800 birds, 1154 fish and more than 100,000 insects.
- India : Wildlife includes cows, buffalo, goats, lions, leopards and Asian elephants. In the country there are 25 wetlands and it has endemic species such as the Nilgiri monkey, the Beddome toad, the Bengal tiger 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 world’s third biodiversity, it includes 20,000 different types of plants, and 10% of the world’s known species of birds and fish.
- Mexico : It has 37 ‘wild areas’ of the planet, with a great diversity of birds and fish (875 species, 580 seabirds and 35 marine mammals ).
- Australia : With 8% of its protected area, the country has kangaroo and koala as endemic species, but also includes platypus, possum and Tasmanian devils. There is a great variety of trees, usually eucalyptus and acacias.
- Colombia : It is the richest country 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 (one 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 about 25,000 species, of which 30% are endemic. There are about 182 species of Andean domesticated plants.
- Ecuador : There are between 22,000 and 25,000 species of plants, with a high endemic rate. In addition, there are a lot 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 3,000 freshwater fish, 517 amphibian species, 3150 butterflies, 1622 types of birds and 468 types of reptiles.
- Democratic Republic of Congo : Large mammals such as elephants, lions, leopards, chimpanzees or giraffes stand out.
- Indonesia : In the so-called ‘Forests of Paradise’ there are a large number of species, including 500 mammals and 1600 birds.
- Venezuela : There are about 15,500 species of plants, as well as a large number of animals, including 1200 species of fish.
- Philippines : Characterized by a large number of reptiles and amphibians.
- Papua New Guinea : About 4,642 vertebrate species live in the New Guinea jungle.