California Biodiversity Council
c/o University of California
Agriculture and Natural Resources
Program Support Unit
2801 Second Street
Davis, California 95618
(530) 752-2196 fax firstname.lastname@example.org
What is Biodiversity?
Biological diversity, or the shorter "biodiversity," (bio-di-ver-si-ty) simply means the diversity, or variety, of plants and animals and other living things in a particular area or region. For instance, the species that inhabit Los Angeles are different from those in San Francisco, and desert plants and animals have different characteristics and needs than those in the mountains, even though some of the same species can be found in all of those areas.
Biodiversity also means the number, or abundance of different species living within a particular region. Scientists sometimes refer to the biodiversity of an ecosystem, a natural area made up of a community of plants, animals, and other living things in a particular physical and chemical environment.
In practice, "biodiversity" suggests sustaining the diversity of species in each ecosystem as we plan human activities that affect the use of the land and natural resources.
Why is biodiversity important?
Everything that lives in an ecosystem is part of the web of life, including humans. Each species of vegetation and each creature has a place on the earth and plays a vital role in the circle of life. Plant, animal, and insect species interact and depend upon one another for what each offers, such as food, shelter, oxygen, and soil enrichment.
Maintaining a wide diversity of species in each ecosystem is necessary to preserve the web of life that sustains all living things. In his 1992 best-seller, "The Diversity of Life," famed Harvard University biologist Edward O. Wilson -- known as the "father of biodiversity," -- said, "It is reckless to suppose that biodiversity can be diminished indefinitely without threatening humanity itself."