What Is Biodiversity? Essay Example
There are several different version are the term “Biodiversity”. One way to define biodiversity would be defined as a variation between living organisms and its ecological complexes. Diversity itself can be defined as the number of different objects and their how many times they occur. For biodiversity, the objects can be arranged at different levels, which can range from an ecosystem to a cellular structure in their cells. Therefore, biodiversity includes different ecosystems, organisms and their abundance.
Another way to define biodiversity is as the full scope of variation between living things, as well as the ecological structures in which they occur, and this incorporates the entire ecosystem or community diversity, genetic diversity, and species diversity. This definition incorporates the different levels of organisms from the community to the genes. Ecosystem diversity is the different habitat in a region. For instance, a good example would be the area that contained wetlands, fresh water, salt water and grasslands. Species diversity refers to the differences and amounts of different types of organisms that live in a given area. For instance, a kelp forest in the ocean is a good example of species diversity, as it contains numerous types of invertebrates and vertebrates. Genetic diversity refers to the different combination of alleles or genes in a population for a specific single species and the different variation of genes found within different populations of the same species. For instance, the same species of animal that lives in colder temperatures versus warmer temperatures has to make different adaptations to survive.
A third definition is defined as additional factors to biodiversity than just the number of different kinds of species. Biodiversity also has three main components: composition, function and structure. The components are the species in their variation and their species richness. The ecosystem structure refers to the physical patterns. For instance, there is more diversity in a structure composed of multilayers instead of an individual. The ecosystem functions refer to the processes that occur, such as the carbon cycle and natural disturbances.
There are different methods that can be used in order to measure biodiversity; however, the difficult is that the number of genes cannot be counted directly. Therefore, there is debate on what the best method is for estimating biodiversity. It has been noted that the best estimates are using genealogy to predict the species richness (number of species). Biologists propose phylogenetic or taxonomic measurements of diversity. These measurements predict the biodiversity of different species using the genealogical relationships between the organisms in combination with models of the gene evolution. The positive aspect of this approach is that in the absence of knowledge of the gene difference among the species being studied, this approach can estimate a value; however, the problem with this method is that it is a prediction, not a fact. Therefore, is species richness really being accurately measured?
Another method is popular estimates using species richness. Instead of using the gene to identify diversity, species richness is measured in the field. For instance, a grid of cells for a specific area is plotted and each organism in the grids is identified to their taxonomic classification. The number of species in that area is then counted. The positive aspect of this method is that it is not a prediction. The organisms are actually being counted and the number of species is being recorded. The negative aspect of this method is that there are too many species within some survey regions; therefore, a study could not be performed across a large region. This type of sampling method would be too long and lead to too many errors.
Practical estimates for biodiversity are another method. This method uses higher taxa as surrogates. This method would be used to survey a larger region since doing the species richness method only counts for about 1% of the species in the entire region. Sampling a larger region using the higher taxon richness at the family level is suggested as a more useful tool for species richness. This type of survey would be more suitable for large regional studies, as well as a more cost-effective approach. It increases the taxonomic coverage and gives an idea of the diversity that is present in the region. The negative aspect of this approach is that the large regions are still hard to sample and the types of families in which are to be identified need to be narrowed down, which leads to some errors.
One more method that is used to measure biodiversity is the relationship among estimates of biodiversity value. This method is used if sampling methods are limited. Higher levels of biological organization are used for more practical measures. When completing this analysis many of the relationships on the scale of surrogacy, such as ecosystem niche richness, class niche richness, or species richness are poorly understood. Therefore, they must be used with supporting evidence from test samples using genetic analysis. The positive aspect to this approach is that is uses the three aspects to of biodiversity, genetics, richness and ecosystem variation.
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