Friday, June 8, 2012


          Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given species, ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas polar regions support fewer species.

       The sequel to that first biodiversity book, naturally titled Biodiversity II (Reaka-Kudla et al. 1997), documents the rapid rise of the term "biodiversity" in importance and influence. But it also traces the study of aspects of biodiversity back as far as Aristotle. To some extent, biodiversity merely offers a new, emotive, term for some older ideas and programs. In fact, "biodiversity" is now used sometimes to mean "life" or "wilderness" or other conservation values. "Biodiversity" also has served on occasion as a catch-all for "conservation" itself.
       The scientific literature illustrates how most any conservation activity might use the label "biodiversity". On the one hand, workers taking advantage of the acknowledged importance of the term have expanded its meaning to capture concerns at a fine scale, such as that focussing on a favourite single species. This focus might be referred to more accurately as one of "biospecifics". At the coarser scale, one important interpretation, discussed below, advocates a primary linkage of biodiversity to the maintenance of ecosystem processes — what might be called the "bio-processes" approach.
      The number of the problem of defining biodiversity is that it is hard to exclude anything from a concept that is taken so easily to mean "everything". Sarkar has argued that interpreting biodiversity across all biological levels, from genes to ecosystems, amounts to considering all biological entities, so that biodiversity absurdly "becomes all of biology".

     The term "biodiversity" is used in this context largely as an assumed foundation for ecosystem processes. Norton (2001) sees the process focus as replacing, not complementing, the "increasingly obsolete" inventory/items perspective of biodiversity, arguing that we "will likely move away from the inventory-of-objects approach altogether". The processes perspective is to determine how we look at biodiversity: "…applied to biodiversity policy, we can focus on the processes that have created and sustained the species and elements that currently exist, rather than on the species and elements themselves". Further, "it is reasonable to interpret advocates of biodiversity protection as valuing natural processes for their capacity to maintain support and repair damage to their parts".