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Topic – Biodiversity

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Read about biodiversity, or click on the play button below to listen aloud.

Biodiversity

Scientists estimate that there are 1.7 million species of animals and plants in the world. This means that there is amazing diversity of life on our planet. Most species tend to live in specific areas, or habitats. In these habitats, they can find the things they need to stay alive.

Classifications of Habitats

Scientists classify habitats the same way they classify organisms: by their characteristics. Scientists have not agreed on one system of classification for habitats. But all systems used are based on similar plant, animal, and climatic features. The systems start with large groups that are further divided into smaller and smaller groups.

The largest groups of habitats are biomes. There are many types of biomes. Examples include deserts, forests, grasslands, tundra, and oceans. Each of these groups is divided into smaller groups. For example, the forest groups include boreal, subarctic, subtropical, and temperate.

Scientists study organisms in smaller areas to better understand them. They study how the organisms interact with each other and with the environment. The environment includes non-living things such as soil, water, air, heat, and light. A habitat community is made up of the set of organisms that live within a certain area. The area could be as large as a forest, or as small as a pond.

Why Is Biodiversity Important?

Each species, no matter how small, has a role to play. A healthy community of diverse species will be able to sustain life. The species are better able to recover from natural disasters and changes in climate.

Our quality of life depends on biodiversity. We get many things from our environment. These include food products, timber, fresh water, clean air, and medicines. Healthy communities help regulate our climate and pollinate our crops. They also provide us with beautiful landscapes and recreational areas. By studying and maintaining biodiversity, we can help keep our planet healthy.

Sometimes areas become what is called a critical habitat. This happens when a species is threatened, or is near extinction, and needs protection. Laws to prevent killing, removing, or bothering of the species protect the critical habitat. This effort helps the species survive and thrive.


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