Lesson 06 – Biodiversity

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Read About Biodiversity


Read the vocabulary terms to understand the reading better.

Biodiversity is the number and variety of living things that live in a specific area.

Organisms are living things that can grow, use nutrients, and produce young.

Characteristics are special features or qualities that help to identify a person, a thing, or a specific group.

Habitats are natural environments in which a species or groups of species live.

Biomes are specific types of very large community areas in nature that have special environmental conditions and a special group of plants and animals that don’t live anywhere else (e.g., grasslands, rainforests, and deserts).

A critical habitat is a specific area where a protected or endangered species of plant or animal lives, and which is extremely important to how that species lives, eats, and reproduces.


Scientists estimate that there are 1.7 million species of animals and plants in the world. This means that there is an 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.

A pond is a type of habitat

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.

We get timber from our environment
The Bay of Fundy is a critical habitat

To learn more about biodiversity, watch the video by TED-Ed on Youtube.

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