What is biodiversity?

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Introduction: “What is biodiversity” refers to the variety of all living organisms on Earth, from the tiniest microorganisms to towering trees and majestic animals. Biodiversity encompasses the different species, genetic diversity within each species, and the variety of ecosystems that these species inhabit. In essence, “what is biodiversity” can be defined as the web of life that supports the health and well-being of our planet, providing numerous benefits to humans such as clean air, water, and food. However, human activities such as habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change are threatening this delicate balance, making it more important than ever to protect and preserve the diversity of life on Earth.

Background: Have you ever thought about the number and variety of living organisms in the world? According to scientists, there are an estimated two million different types of creatures in the planet. Pakistan boasts approximately 6,000 plant species and 23,000 animal species. Despite having many traits in common, these organisms differ in terms of their size, shape, color, morphology, behavior, and reproductive strategies. The differences among the living organisms add to the biodiversity of an area. Each species has a specific role in an ecosystem. An ecosystem becomes less productive as species are lost.

In this article we will tell you how different kinds of organisms are classified. We will also study the effects of human activities on the existence of organisms.

What is the meaning of biodiversity?

The term ‘biodiversity’ is derived from a Greek word, ‘bio’ which means ‘life’ and ‘diversity’ means variety within a species an among species. So, biodiversity refers to the variety of life on Earth, including the diversity of species, ecosystems, and genetic information.

Biodiversity is not distributed uniformly on the Earth biologists estimated that today’s global biodiversity may consist of more than 100 million kinds of organisms. An area’s biodiversity is influenced by factors such as soil type, height, and climate. The biodiversity of the Earth’s tropical regions is greater than that of its polar regions, which has fewer species.

What is the importance of biodiversity? 

The following factors highlight how important biodiversity is.

  1. Food for human beings:  biodiversity provides high variety of food for human beings. Fish, forestry, cattle, and crops are all significant sources of food for humans.  
  2. Production of drugs: biodiversity plays a vital role in human and animal health. As medicines and sources of vital vitamins, a diverse range of plants, animals, and fungus are used. Fungi are the source of medicines like streptomycin, neomycin, and erythromycin. Medications derived from fungi include Streptomycin, Neomycin, and Erythromycin.
  3. Industrials benefits of biodiversity: biodiversity plays an important role in the production of industrial materials. Building material, fibres, dyes, resins, gums adhesives, rubber and oil are some of the industrial materials derived from the plants.
  4. Relation with ecosystem: biodiversity is the essential component of ecosystem. In an ecosystem, species show interaction among each other. In the ecosystem, each species plays a particular role. When species disappear, the ecosystem becomes less productive. Natural cycles for example water cycle nitrogen cycle etc. going on in the ecosystem. Its biodiversity affects many different things, including the fertility of the soils, a stable climate, and many more.

Classification of organisms

About 2 million different types of organisms have been discovered and described by biologists (0.5 million plant and 1.5 million animal species). These make up a very small portion of all the species that are thought to exist on earth. To study such a large collection of organisms. Biologists classify them. Biologists use classification as a technique to group and subgroup species according to their similarities and differences.

Basis of classification

Aristotle classified organisms in the basis of habitat (air, water, land). However, it was not justified because animals belonging to the same group might not share anything other than a habitat. Fish and turtles, for instance, cannot be grouped together.

Later, Organisms were categorized by physical traits by biologists.  Some of the characteristic which are used to classify organisms are as follows:

  • Prokaryotic or Eukaryotic cell
  • Unicellular or Multicellular
  • Autotrophs (Photosynthetic) or Heterotrophs (Non-photosynthetic)

Modern system of classification is based not only on the habitat and physical characteristics but also on genetics, anatomy, physiology and evolutionary history.

Conservation  of Biodiversity:

Conservation of biodiversity means protecting the variety of living organisms and their habitats on Earth. The steps taken for saving the biodiversity on the Earth are termed as conservation of biodiversity and other resources is necessary to fulfill the needs for the present generation, as well as for the future generations.

Impact of human beings on biodiversity:

The biodiversity of many locations and the Earth as a whole is dwindling daily as a result of human activity. A species that no longer lives anywhere on the Earth is called extinct species. That species which are likely to become endangered in the near future are called threatened species.

Due to human activity, many plant and animal species are now in danger of extinction i.e. Indonesia is home to plants such as the Rafflesia and grass fern. Similar endangered animal species include giant pandas in China and mountain gorillas in Africa. In Pakistan animals like Asiatic cheetah, Tiger, lion, indian wild ass, indian one-horned rhinoceros, swamp deer, blackbuck and hangul have become extinct.

In Pakistan 31 species of mammals, 20 species of birds and 5 species of reptiles are listed as endangered. For example, the birds Houbara  bustard (talor) and capra falconeri (markhor) and  plants like yew, chilghoza and  sanobar have become endangered in Pakistan.

Conservation of biodiversity in Pakistan

Deforestation and hunting are the two key problems facing Pakistan’s efforts to conserve biodiversity.We have only 5.2% forest in our country. Likewise, numerous species have gone extinct or are now at risk of extinction. For example, over-finishing in rivers, lakes and ponds has resulted in the reduction of many fish species like shermahi , mahasher

Etc. similarly, Macropolo  sheep and Houbara bustard (Markhor) population has been reduced due to over hunting. To obtain the glands used to make perfume, musk deer are slain. The most significant threat to indus river dolphins is the discharge of highly polluted water into the ocean, which is making these dolphins blind.

Following area a few examples of the steps taken in Pakistan to conserve biodiversity.

  1. Indus Dolphin project (IDP) to save Indus dolphin
  2. Protected areas Management project in Machiara in Azad Jammu Kashmir
  3. Marine Turtle Conservation project
  4. Ban on the hunting of markhor  and urial in Balochistan
  5. Himalayan Jungle Project to protect the biodiversity in Himalayan region
  6. Conservation of biodiversity of the Suleiman Range, Balochistan
  7. Northern Areas conservation project
  8. Conservation of migratory birds in chitral, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
  9. Himalayan wildlife project to check the hunting of brown bears
  10. Conservation of Chiltan Markhor
  11. Ban on Bear-baiting in Pakistan

Added by: Sadiq Ameen member of https://writersclubpk.com/writers-directory/


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