Resources & Research : Science & History


The nutrients and energy available in varying amounts and qualities in different places make it possible for many plants and animals to share the earth.

Biological diversity - or "biodiversity" - is the number and variety of living organisms on earth, the millions of plants, animals, and microorganisms, the genes they contain, the evolutionary history and potential they encompass, and the ecosystems, ecological processes, and landscapes of which they are integral parts. Biodiversity thus refers to the life-support systems and natural resources upon which we depend.

There are three main components of biodiversity:
- Genetic Diversity: Genes are the biochemical packages that are passed on by parents to their offspring, and which determine the physical and biochemical characteristics of offspring. Genetic diversity refers to the variation of genes within species, making it possible to develop new breeds of crop plants and domestic animals, and allowing species in the wild to adapt to changing conditions.

- Species Diversity: A species is a group of plants, animals, microorganisms, or other living organisms that are morphologically similar; that share inheritance from common ancestry; or whose genes are so similar that they can breed together and produce fertile offspring. Usually different species look different.

Species diversity refers to the variety and abundance of species within a geographic area. Often the term "species richness" is used as a measure of species diversity, but this refers only to the number of species within a region, and thus technically only one component of diversity.

- Ecosystem Diversity: An ecosystem consists of communities of plants, animals and microorganisms, and the soil, water, and air on which they depend. These all interact in a complex way, contributing to processes on which all life depends such as the water cycle, energy flow, the provision of oxygen, soil formation and nutrient cycling. Ecosystem diversity can refer to the variety of ecosystems found within a certain political or geographical boundary, or to the variety of species within different ecosystems.

Source: Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism web page


Dave Showalter




Dave Showalter

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