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What Does Biodiversity Mean

Biodiversity is a word that is used a lot in scientific circles and environmental groups. Research is often carried out to determine the biodiversity of a particular area or the planet. In fact the year 2010 is the International Year of Biodiversity. But what exactly does biodiversity mean?

Biodiversity can be defined as the number of plant and animal life that lives in a certain area or habitat. It can refer to a small area (biome) or the entire planet. A good way to remember this is that the prefix “bio” is a Greek word meaning life and diversity means variety or assortment. So biodiversity therefore means the variety of life found in an area.

Why Is Biodiversity Good?
So why exactly is biodiversity an important factor in scientific and environmental studies? The level of biodiversity in a biome or on the planet is thought to indicate how healthy that habitat is. If an area has a high variety of animal and plant life it is said to be very healthy as it is capable of supporting life well. However, if an area that should have a high level of biodiversity does not, it is deemed unhealthy and research is conducted to find out the cause. The levels of biodiversity differ hugely throughout the planet. It is understandable that a dessert area would have a lower level of biodiversity than a tropical rainforest. High levels of biodiversity are important because almost all living things rely on one another to survive. The loss of one species would cause a chain reaction that would dramatically affect the survival of an ecosystem.

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