ArticlesBiology ArticlesWhat is Biodiversity? – Definition, Types, Importance & Biodiversity in India

What is Biodiversity? – Definition, Types, Importance & Biodiversity in India

Biodiversity is the short form for biological diversity. Biodiversity is the variety of animals, plants, fungi, and even microorganisms in a geographical region (terrestrial/aquatic ecosystems).

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    What is Biodiversity?

    Biodiversity is the term given to variety of all life on the face of the Earth. Living organisms are found in different types of ecosystems including oceans, forests, deserts, ice caps and even cities. The concept is wide and complex. It is a term that includes both the volume of life on Earth as well as how different species interact with each other and with the physical world around them.

    Biodiversity is usually measured in species richness, which is the count of species in an area.

    The term biodiversity was coined in the year 1985. Biodiversity deals with the variety or heterogeneity of plants, animals, microbes in the biosphere.

    Biodiversity includes not just the varied species (species richness) but the proportions in which they exist in a particular ecosystem (species evenness).

    Biodiversity is vital for the existence of mankind and it provides us with both tangible (jute, fibre, grains, wood, etc) and intangible benefits (oxygen, pollination, etc.).

    Types of biodiversity

    Scientists categorised diversity into three major levels: species, genetic, and ecosystem diversity. Biological diversity deals with the heterogeneity at three different levels.

    • The genetic variability within a species is genetic diversity.
    • The variety of species within a community is species diversity.
    • The organisation of species in an area into distinctive plant and animal communities constitutes ecosystem diversity.

    Importance of biodiversity

    Without bees, human race would become extinct in a span of few years on the face of Earth. Pollination is an important service that is provided by the nature. Other services include nutrient cycling, prevention of soil erosion, oxygen supply, etc. A walk in the forest, watching flowers and bees, hearing to crickets and birds in the wild allows us to find calm and balance.

    Many economically beneficial products like grains, spices, jute, rubber, dyes, medicines, etc., are also obtained from the nature.

    When a species becomes extinct, whole ecosystem is affected directly/indirectly or in the short-term/ long-term. Each organism owns the planet Earth as much as humans. So, it is indispensable to conserve the biodiversity.

    Biodiversity in India

    India is one of the megadiverse nations in the world. The land in the country is only 2.4% of the entire world scape, but it has species diversity of about 8.1%.

    • 96,000 species of animals, about 47,000 species of plants, and nearly half the world’s aquatic plants exist in India.
    • There are 15,000 flowering plants, which is 6% of world’s total.
    • There are high number of endemic species in India. For example, the amphibian diversity in the Western Ghats is very high with lot of endemic species.


    Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on Earth, including animals, plants, fungi, and microorganisms, found in different ecosystems. It encompasses the total volume of life as well as the interactions between species and the physical environment. Biodiversity is typically measured using species richness, which counts the number of species in a particular area. The concept of biodiversity was coined in 1985 and encompasses genetic diversity within species, species diversity within communities, and ecosystem diversity in distinct plant and animal communities. Biodiversity is essential for human existence, providing both tangible benefits like food and resources, as well as intangible benefits such as oxygen production and pollination. The article emphasizes the importance of conserving biodiversity, as the extinction of a species can have significant impacts on ecosystems in the short and long term. India is recognized as a megadiverse country, with a small land area but a high species diversity, including a large number of endemic species.

    Frequently asked questions (FAQs) on Biodiversity

    Who coined the term ‘Biodiversity’?

    Walter G. Rosen coined the term ‘Biodiversity’. It was later popularised by Edward Wilson and he is also considered ‘father of biodiversity’.

    What is biodiversity?

    Biodiversity is variety or heterogeneity at various levels. In simple terms, all the wide range of living organisms on the face of Earth (plants, animals, microbes, etc.) comprise biodiversity.

    What are the types of biodiversity?

    Biodiversity exists at various levels including not just cells but, cell organelles too. But the three major types include-genetic, species and ecosystem biodiversity.

    Why is biodiversity important?

    Biodiversity is vital for the existence of mankind as it provides tangible benefits such as food, resources, and medicines, as well as intangible benefits like oxygen production and pollination. It also plays a crucial role in maintaining ecosystem stability and resilience.

    What happens when a species becomes extinct?

    When a species becomes extinct, it can have direct or indirect impacts on the whole ecosystem in both the short-term and long-term. The loss of a species can disrupt ecological balance and lead to cascading effects on other organisms.

    What are some benefits derived from biodiversity?

    Biodiversity provides various benefits, including economically valuable products like grains, spices, jute, rubber, and medicines. It also offers services like pollination, nutrient cycling, and prevention of soil erosion.

    What is the importance of conserving biodiversity?

    Conserving biodiversity is crucial to maintain the functioning of ecosystems, ensure the survival of species, and sustain human well-being. It helps preserve the balance of nature, protect ecosystem services, and safeguard the future of our planet.

    What are the threats to biodiversity?

    Biodiversity faces numerous threats, including habitat destruction, pollution, climate change, invasive species, overexploitation of resources, and unsustainable land-use practices. These factors contribute to species loss and ecosystem degradation.

    How can individuals contribute to biodiversity conservation?

    Individuals can contribute to biodiversity conservation by supporting conservation organizations, practicing sustainable behaviour (such as reducing waste and supporting sustainable agriculture), advocating for biodiversity protection, and educating others about its importance.

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