What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity literally means the whole variety of life on earth - from you to your back garden, from the rain forest to the desert, from the birds to the bees. The word is a contraction of the phrase “biological diversity”, the term given to the variety of life on this planet. It reflects the number and variety of living organisms. Together biodiversity and life diversity makes the variety of life on earth.

“One of the great unknowns in science today is how much biological diversity there is on earth.” E.O. Wilson (American biologist and naturalist.)

In celebration of the great variety of life on Earth, the United Nations (UN) declared 2010 to be the International Year of Biodiversity. In Ireland, the 3rd National Biodiversity Action Plan was launched for the period 2017-2021. It gives broad requirements for all Government Departments so as to maintain Ireland's rich biodiversity.

Interdependent Levels of Biodiversity

Grassland Habitat
Courtesy NPWS ©
The Common Frog
Courtesy NPWS © Photographer: Joan O’Neill

Biodiversity takes variety into account at different organisational measures and must be considered at three distinguished interdependent levels that correspond in hierarchical order (Krishnamurthy, 2003). These include:

  • Ecosystem Diversity, 

  • Species Diversity, and

  •  Genetic Diversity within Species

Ecosystem diversity, also known as ecological diversity refers to diversity at the ecological or habitat level. This term denotes the diversity of communities, not only in organisms but also in the physical environment in which they live (Solan, Apeden and Paterson, 2012).

Species diversity, also known as taxonomic or organismal diversity refers to the number of species (known as species richness) and the abundance of species within a particular location.

Genetic diversity refers to the diversity within species that is distinguished from genetic variability. This type of diversity allows for populations to adapt to different environments.

The United Nations definition of biodiversity which was included in the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) is described as: “ the variability among living inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic systems and the ecological complexes of which they are part: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems” (CBD, 2019)


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By Friends of Merlin Woods | 2016-09-19 23:26:16

Merlin Park Woodlands and meadows

Galway citys largest and oldest urban woodland with beautiful wildflower and orchid meadows in the Eastside of Galway .A place full of biodiversity from butterflies, dragonflies , foxes, rabbits and the Red Squirrel