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admin Mar 30, 2011 04:05 PM
What does Biodiversity mean?
Replies (8)
admin Mar 30, 2011 04:06 PM
Biodiversity is an umbrella term to describe collectively the variety and variability of nature. It encompasses three basic levels of organisation in living systems: the genetic, species, and ecosystem levels. Plant and animal species are the most commonly recognized units of biological diversity, thus public concern has been mainly devoted to conserving species diversity. (Source: WRES/GILP96)
EEAstaff May 24, 2011 02:25 PM
Biodiversity includes all living organisms found in the atmosphere, on land, in the soil and in water, their genes,their communities and the habitats and ecosystems of which they are part. All species have a role and provide the fabric of life on which humanity depends: from the smallest bacteria in the soil to the largest mammal in the ocean. The dynamics of species and habitats are interrelated with the water cycle,
the mineral cycle and the energy flow. These processes together determine the state of ecosystems that people manage and on which they depend. (Source: EEA, SOER 2010, Biodiversity Thematic Assessment, )
mtimc Dec 18, 2015 04:11 PM
Surely species count is a poor measure of biodiversity. Species is a man made concept, which, as Darwin pointed out, arises when breeding groups are separated. Just look at the literature on, say, classification of Lesser Black-Backed Gull, which forms a 'Ring species' (, or common chaffinch (

There is also an issue with the language of species 'dying out' - at least in English - species do not die out, but the sets of 'gene combinations' present in one generation have no descendants.
sendex Jul 08, 2020 12:22 AM
Biodiversity is the variability among living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems.
For more
GoEcoNoah Jul 31, 2020 08:18 PM
how important is biodiversity? i don't seem to fully comprehend its relation and importance in our ecosystem.
EEA Aug 04, 2020 01:10 PM
Hello 'GoEcoNoah',

Thank you for your interest in the European Environment Agency (EEA).

'Biodiversity', in simple terms, is the variety of life on Earth. It is also known as 'biological diversity'. The UN Convention on Biological Diversity gives the following definition: "Biological diversity" means the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.

An 'ecosystem' can be described as a dynamic complex of plants, animals and micro-organisms, and their non-biological environment (rock, soil, water, air), which rely on similar conditions in a given geographical area. An example of an ecosystem may be a coral reef or a beech forest.

Biodiversity is very important as it is the living part of the ecosystem. In other words, how strong the ecosystem is and how able it is to sustain itself, depends very much on the integrity of its biodiversity. In addition, ecosystems also provide a vast range of 'ecosystem services'. These are resources or processes that nature provides us and the systems themselves (e.g. pollination, climate regulation, flood protection, soil fertility and the production of food, fuel, fibre and medicine). It is worth noting that all the species hold an important role in maintaining a balance in nature. Therefore, if one aspect of nature gets affected in anyway, the entire ecosystem gets affected.

The importance of conserving biodiversity is echoed in the new EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030, which was recently adopted by the European Commission ([…]8&uri=CELEX:52020DC0380).

We have gathered the following links, which we hope you will find useful:

- What is 'biodiversity', and why do we need it? ([…]/video_popup_view)
- Interview on biodiversity and value of nature ([…]/view)
- The European Environment - state and outlook 2020 (Chapter 3 - Biodiversity and Nature) ([…]/view)

For more information, you may also wish to have a look at our Biodiversity thematic webpage on the EEA website (

We hope this information may be useful to you.

Kind regards,
EEA Enquiry Service
mtimc Aug 04, 2020 05:38 PM
It strikes me that you're presenting a bit of a strawman argument here. If the intention is to identify a public good (biodiversity), then, surely, we need some way to measure whether the good is increasing or decreasing. As I noted above, for instance, the term 'species' is not a good one to use, neither is the term 'ecosystem'. Both are human defined terms and not very meaningful in nature.

Using the definition provided, 'biodiversity' is increased by splitting up currently connected 'ecosystems'. Is that a good approach? I would argue that this depends on the circumstances: it may be desirable in terms of reducing controlled monocultures, but less desirable if it creates very highly specialised populations that would disappear in the face of a small environmental change.

Based on the definitions, I can increase biodiversity, merely by digging up microscopic organisms in my garden and putting them in separate jamjars to evolve. Is that what is intended?
EEA Aug 13, 2020 01:31 PM

Thank you for contacting the European Environment Agency (EEA).

Kindly note that we make reference to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity as a source for our definition, the text of which is found by accessing the following link: The reason for this is because the European Union (EU) is a Party to the Convention and hence, it is required to bring its own biodiversity policy in line with its international commitments. To clarify, the Convention defines biodiversity or biological diversity as the combination of living creatures and their interactions with each other and with the rest of the environment, which also includes:

1. genetic differences within each species (that determines the uniqueness of every individual species);
2. the diversity of species (that is the wide variety of plants and animals and microorganisms that exist) and;
3. the variety of ecosystems (which is how living creatures (including humans) interact with one another).

Kindly also note that biodiversity is defined by the scale we look at, which is distinguished by three types of diversity - alpha, beta and gamma. For more information, you can access this link:[…]/Book%3A_Biodiversity_(Bynum)/7%3A_Alpha%2C_Beta%2C_and_Gamma_Diversity. In this regard, even if a habitat is recreated (or 'disconnecting ecosystems'), we may have more (or less) species at a local scale, where the overall number of species is not changing at a larger scale.

The nature of this web of interactions in natural processes is quite complex. As we also pointed out, biodiversity also provides the resources that sustain our lives (e.g. clean air and water, food and medicine etc.). Hence, often when we experience biodiversity loss, it also reduces the productivity of ecosystems, which in turn reduces the goods and services from which we constantly draw from. This suggests that the loss of biodiversity destabilises ecosystems, as well as weakens their ability to deal with natural disasters and human activities (e.g. climate change and pollution).

We hope this provides further clarification.

Kind regards,
EEA Enquiry Service