A sampling of fungi collected during summer 2008 in Northern Saskatchewan mixed woods, near LaRonge is an example regarding the species diversity of fungi. In this photo, there are also leaf lichens and mosses.

Biodiversity refers to the variety and variability of life on Earth. Biodiversity is typically a measure of variation at the genetic, species, and ecosystem level.[1] Terrestrial biodiversity is usually greater near the equator,[2] which is the result of the warm climate and high primary productivity.[3] Biodiversity is not distributed evenly on Earth, and is richest in the tropics. These tropical forest ecosystems cover less than 10 percent of earth's surface, and contain about 90 percent of the world's species.[4] Marine biodiversity is usually highest along coasts in the Western Pacific, where sea surface temperature is highest, and in the mid-latitudinal band in all oceans. There are latitudinal gradients in species diversity.[5] Biodiversity generally tends to cluster in hotspots,[6] and has been increasing through time,[7][8] but will be likely to slow in the future.[9]

Rapid environmental changes typically cause mass extinctions.[10][11][12] More than 99.9 percent of all species that ever lived on Earth, amounting to over five billion species,[13] are estimated to be extinct.[14][15] Estimates on the number of Earth's current species range from 10 million to 14 million,[16] of which about 1.2 million have been documented and over 86 percent have not yet been described.[17] More recently, in May 2016, scientists reported that 1 trillion species are estimated to be on Earth currently with only one-thousandth of one percent described.[18] The total amount of related DNA base pairs on Earth is estimated at 5.0 x 1037 and weighs 50 billion tonnes.[19] In comparison, the total mass of the biosphere has been estimated to be as much as 4 TtC (trillion tons of carbon).[20] In July 2016, scientists reported identifying a set of 355 genes from the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) of all organisms living on Earth.[21]

The age of the Earth is about 4.54 billion years.[22][23][24] The earliest undisputed evidence of life on Earth dates at least from 3.5 billion years ago,[25][26][27] during the Eoarchean Era after a geological crust started to solidify following the earlier molten Hadean Eon. There are microbial mat fossils found in 3.48 billion-year-old sandstone discovered in Western Australia.[28][29][30] Other early physical evidence of a biogenic substance is graphite in 3.7 billion-year-old meta-sedimentary rocks discovered in Western Greenland.[31] More recently, in 2015, "remains of biotic life" were found in 4.1 billion-year-old rocks in Western Australia.[32][33] According to one of the researchers, "If life arose relatively quickly on Earth .. then it could be common in the universe."[32]

Since life began on Earth, five major mass extinctions and several minor events have led to large and sudden drops in biodiversity. The Phanerozoic eon (the last 540 million years) marked a rapid growth in biodiversity via the Cambrian explosion—a period during which the majority of multicellular phyla first appeared.[34] The next 400 million years included repeated, massive biodiversity losses classified as mass extinction events. In the Carboniferous, rainforest collapse led to a great loss of plant and animal life.[35] The Permian–Triassic extinction event, 251 million years ago, was the worst; vertebrate recovery took 30 million years.[36] The most recent, the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, occurred 65 million years ago and has often attracted more attention than others because it resulted in the extinction of the dinosaurs.[37]

The period since the emergence of humans has displayed an ongoing biodiversity reduction and an accompanying loss of genetic diversity. Named the Holocene extinction, the reduction is caused primarily by human impacts, particularly habitat destruction.[38] Conversely, biodiversity positively impacts human health in a number of ways, although a few negative effects are studied.[39]

The United Nations designated 2011–2020 as the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity.[40] and 2021-2030 as the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration [41] According to a 2019 report by IPBES, 25% of plant and animal species are threatened with extinction as the result of human activity.[42][43][44]

History of terminology

  • 1916 - The term biological diversity was used first by J. Arthur Harris in "The Variable Desert," Scientific American, 6182: "The bare statement that the region contains a flora rich in genera and species and of diverse geographic origin or affinity is entirely inadequate as a description of its real biological diversity."
  • 1975 - The term natural diversity was introduced (by The Science Division of The Nature Conservancy in a 1975 study, "The Preservation of Natural Diversity.")[citation needed]
  • 1980 - Thomas Lovejoy introduced the term biological diversity to the scientific community in a book.[45] It rapidly became commonly used.[46]
  • 1985 - According to Edward O. Wilson, the contracted form biodiversity was coined by W. G. Rosen: "The National Forum on BioDiversity ... was conceived by Walter G.Rosen ... Dr. Rosen represented the NRC/NAS throughout the planning stages of the project. Furthermore, he introduced the term biodiversity".[47]
  • 1985 - The term "biodiversity" appears in the article, "A New Plan to Conserve the Earth's Biota" by Laura Tangley.[48]
  • 1988 - The term biodiversity first appeared in a publication.[49][50]
  • The present - the term has achieved widespread use.
Other Languages
Afrikaans: Biodiversiteit
العربية: تنوع حيوي
aragonés: Biodiversidat
asturianu: Biodiversidá
Avañe'ẽ: Tekove'etaita
azərbaycanca: Bioloji müxtəliflik
भोजपुरी: जैवविविधता
български: Биоразнообразие
català: Biodiversitat
Cymraeg: Bioamrywiaeth
eesti: Elurikkus
español: Biodiversidad
Esperanto: Biodiverseco
euskara: Bioaniztasun
français: Biodiversité
한국어: 생물 다양성
hrvatski: Bioraznolikost
Bahasa Indonesia: Keanekaragaman hayati
italiano: Biodiversità
Kreyòl ayisyen: Divèsite byolojik
Limburgs: Biodiversiteit
македонски: Биоразновидност
Bahasa Melayu: Biokepelbagaian
Nederlands: Biodiversiteit
日本語: 生物多様性
norsk nynorsk: Biologisk mangfald
occitan: Biodiversitat
Tok Pisin: Biodaivesiti
português: Biodiversidade
română: Biodiversitate
Simple English: Biodiversity
slovenčina: Biodiverzita
slovenščina: Biotska raznovrstnost
српски / srpski: Biološka raznovrsnost
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Bioraznolikost
татарча/tatarça: Биотөрлелек
українська: Біорізноманіття
Tiếng Việt: Đa dạng sinh học