Chapter: Environmental Science and Engineering

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Levels and Values of Biodiversity

1) Genetic diversity 2) Species diversity 3) Community and Ecosystem diversity

1 Levels of Biodiversity

 

1) Genetic diversity

 

v   It is a level of biodiversity that refers to the total number of genetic characteristics in the genetic makeup of a species.


v   It is distinguished from genetic variability, which describes the tendency of genetic characteristics to vary.


2) Species diversity

v   It refers to the variety of species within a region.


v   Species diversity is an index that incorporates the number of species in an area and also their relative abundance.


v   It is generally a much more useful value than species richness.


3) Community and Ecosystem diversity

 

v   Ecosystem diversity refers to the diversity of a place at the level of ecosystems. This has 3 perspective:


v   Alpha Diversity: Within community diversity. Alpha diversity refers to the diversity of organisms sharing the same Community/Habitat.

 

v   Beta Diversity: Between community diversity. It refers to the diversity of organisms sharing two habitats.


v   Gamma Diversity: Diversity of the habitat over the total landscape or geographical area is called gamma diversity.

 

2 Values of Biodiversity

 

Food: About 80,000 edible plants and about 90% of present day food crops have been domesticated from wild.

 

Drugs & Medicines: About 75% of world’s population depends on plants or plant extracts.

 

Fuel: Forests have been used since ages for fuel wood. Fossil fuels are also products of Biodiversity.

 

Social Value: Many of the plants like Tulsi, Lotus, Peepal etc are considered holy and sacred.

 

v   About 2.1 million species have been identified till date, while many more species are believed to exist.


v   According to UNEP estimate, approximately 9.0 – 52 million of species exist on Earth


v   India’s position is 10th in the world & 4th in Asia in terms of Plant diversity.


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