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Biodiversity in Plants and Animals

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What is Biodiversity?

IVSAT 2024

The diversity or variety among the different species in the living organisms that are present on planet Earth is called the Biodiversity of plants and animals. The term biodiversity was coined by Walter G Rosen in 1986, and the literal meaning of the word is biological diversity. Studying the concept of biodiversity involves counting the total number of species living in a specific area. The study of the diversity of plants and animals will result in awareness about many organisms and help in the conservation of species that are on the verge of extinction. There are levels to the study of biodiversity, as the level of studies depends on the area we are considering as well as the kind of organisms that inhabit that particular area in the ecosystem.

Definition of Biodiversity

Earlier the term biodiversity was used to express concepts like ‘species richness ‘or the ‘species diversity’. Biologists also referred to biodiversity as the ‘genes, species, and their relation with the ecosystem of a particular region, in the whole’. 

Many attempted to define the concept of biodiversity of plants and animals, but it was in the book of ‘Biodiversity: An Introduction (2004)’ that the term is best and most easily defined. The definition of Biodiversity in a book by Gaston and Spicer states that variation of life at all levels of biological organizations is called Biodiversity.

Plant Biodiversity

One of the most invaluable characteristics of the environment is the plant biodiversity because the balance of the ecosystem depends on it. The plant biodiversity is responsible for protecting watersheds, moderating climate, providing shelter to animals, for mitigation of soil erosion, and plants are also our leading food and medicine source. Recently the vast plant biodiversity of Earth is endangered because of the increasing deforestation due to increased industrialization with the rise of the human population. Urgent conditions have already arrived for the plant biodiversity is under threat with the alarming number of plant species that are getting extinct every day. And if plant biodiversity is increasingly threatened then drastic changes will occur like the extinction of several species (including animal species) along with the rise of pollution, global warming, and there will eventually be a scarcity of oxygen, food and natural resources. 

Animal Biodiversity

In nature, there exists biodiversity of plants and animals of around 8.7 million species, among which the animal biodiversity is also vast.

Animals play a vital role in the contribution to food production as livestock and help in rural development. Due to a lack of awareness and a strong will for biodiversity conservation, many such animal species have gone extinct from this Earth. It is high time people become aware and promote animal rights so that others can also understand the need for the preservation of animal biodiversity. 

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Biodiversity Hotspots in India

Nature has generously painted various landscapes throughout our country. A lot of them have been designated as Biodiversity Hotspots - areas with a plethora of and diverse fauna and flora and are at risk of becoming threatened. 

Officially, four from the total of 36 Biodiversity Hotspots around the globe are in India The four hotspots are as follows:

  • The Himalayas

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  • The Western Ghats

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  • The Indo-Burma region

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  • The Sundaland

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These are in addition to the Sundarbans as well as the Terai-Duar Savanna grasslands, which are known for their distinctive foliage and animals.

Types of Biodiversity

There are three different types of biodiversity:

  • Species diversity: It refers to the variety of different species observed in a particular area. 

  • Genetic diversity: It refers to the diversity in the genes as well as chromosomes present in different species. 

  • Ecological diversity: It can be defined as the variations in plant and animal species that are connected by food chains and food webs.

Importance of Biodiversity

  • Biodiversity is necessary for the health of ecosystems- Biodiversity is essential for maintaining ecological processes such as nutrient cycling and climate regulation that keep Earth habitable by humans. 

  • Biodiversity is necessary for the production of food- Biodiversity is also necessary for the production of food. All crops are domesticated versions of plants that were originally found in the wild. Many animals, including cows, pigs, and chickens, were also once wild and were domesticated by humans. 

  • Biodiversity is necessary for scientific research- Biodiversity allows us to study the relationships between different populations of plants and animals, which can lead to new discoveries. 

  • Biodiversity is important for cultural reasons- Biodiversity is important to us culturally because it allows people to maintain their traditional ways of life, which can be greatly affected by environmental changes. Biodiversity also plays an important role in many different cultures’ literature and religious traditions.

 Solved Examples

What is The Role of Animals in The Ecosystem?

Answer: The Biodiversity of animals and their abundance in the environment is nothing less than a blessing for us as humans. Without animals, the cycle of producers and consumers would be ruined. Animals are one of the most critical levels of the food pyramid.

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Did You Know?

A region that consists of thousands of species and a significant level of Biodiversity, but that is threatened by human habitation is called a biodiversity hotspot. Hotspots are called the richest but an endangered biogeographic ecoregion. But according to Meyer, a region to qualify as a hotspot for plants and animal biodiversity, it has to meet two strict conditions:

  • The area must contain at least 1500 species or 0.5% of vascular plant species as endemic.

  • And the area has to have lost at least 75% of its primary plantation.

Only the areas that will abide by all the criteria as mentioned above will be considered as biodiversity hotspots. The biodiversity hotspots only cover 2% of the total area of Earth’s surface, and only 36 hotspots are known to exist. These hotspots are identified to host diverse plant and animal species of the ecosystem. To be precise, a hotspot can support up to 15000 endemic species even after losing 95% of the area of habitat.

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FAQs on Biodiversity in Plants and Animals

Where is the maximum biodiversity found?

In the tropical region, the maximum Biodiversity is found. To be precise, the utmost Biodiversity occurs in the tropical rainforest because they are less seasonal and rather more constant. And the predictable environment is the most suitable to promote niche habitat for species diversity.

A tropical region like Equador is densely populated by ten times as many species than other areas. The temperate zone like that of the Midwest of the USA is home to diverse species of vascular plants. The tropical Amazonian rain forest of South America has the most abundant Biodiversity because it hosts more than forty-thousand species of plants and more than 2 lakh animal species. 

What is the study of plants and animals called?

The subject that covers everything related to the study of plant species is called botany. It is the responsibility of botanists to study and work for the conservation and preservation of the plant species. The subject that covers every concept related to the animal species is called zoology and zoologists take on the task to study, conserve and preserve animal species. As a whole, the subject that covers all concepts related to living organisms is called biology or life sciences. There are even subtopics related to the main topics that people also specialize in. For example, microbiology is a  study of microscopic organisms(organisms that cannot be observed through naked eyes).