Biodiversity can be quite easily defined as the diversity or variety of living organisms on this planet. But it happens to be so much more than that. It can be studied at many levels. At the highest level, you can look at all the different species on the entire Earth. On a much smaller scale, you can study biodiversity within a pond ecosystem or a neighbourhood garden. Discovering, identifying and understanding the various relationships between all the living organisms on Earth are some of the greatest challenges in science.
Around 7,000 species of plants have been known to be cultivated for the purpose of human consumption in human history. The great biodiversity of varieties resulting from human and ecosystem interaction guaranteed food for the survival and development of human populations throughout the world in the face of pests, diseases, climate fluctuations, droughts and other unexpected environmental events. Presently, only about a few crops provide for most of the human food energy needs, four of which are rice, wheat, maize and potato which are responsible for more than 60% of our energy intake. This dependence on this relatively small number of crops for global food security, will be crucial to maintain a high genetic diversity within these crops to deal with increasing environmental stress and to provide farmers and researchers with opportunities to breed for crops that can be cultivated under unfavourable conditions such as drought, salinity, flooding, poor soil and extreme temperatures. Similarly the biodiversity of animals is vast and the animal species that have been domesticated for use in agriculture and food production is the primary biological capital for livestock development and is vital to food security and sustainable rural development. Yet its management has been abysmal. There have been a lot of animals that have gone extinct over the past few years and this is a matter of great sorrow. Conservation of biodiversity of both plants and animals is the need of the hour.
Biodiversity has been understood as the measure of the variety of organisms present in different ecosystems. This can refer to genetic variation, ecosystem variation or species variation (number of species) within an area, biome or planet. Biodiversity on land tend to be greater near the equator, which seems to be the result of the warm climate and high primary productivity. Biodiversity is quite obviously not distributed evenly on Earth. It is richest in the tropics.
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