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Jitendra Kumar1, Neeraj Pathak2, Ramesh Kumar Tripathi3, Archit Shukla4, Saurabh Dubey1

1 College of Fisheries, Mangalore, College of Fisheries, Veraval, 3Central Institute of Fisheries Education, Mumbai, 4College of Fisheries, Ludhiana, Punjab


Biodiversity is the degree of variation of life forms within a given ecosystem, biome, or an entire planet. Biodiversity is a measure of the health of ecosystems. Biodiversity is in part a function of climate. In terrestrial habitats, tropical regions are typically rich whereas Polar Regions support fewer species.

  • Refers to the numbers, variety and variability of living organisms and ecosystem

  • Includes all terrestrial, marine and other aquatic organisms

  • Covers diversity within species, between species as well as variations among ecosystems.

Global patterns & Loss of biodiversity

The global patterns of biodiversity and the main factors determining species richness has also increased with the need to understand how biodiversity might change under different scenarios of global climate change, as well as to inform conservation and sustainable resource use efforts.

The Global Convention on Biological Diversity, signed in 1992 at the Earth Summit, describes biodiversity as the "variability among all living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and ecological complexes of which they are part, this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems." 

Among the ten policy fields, Loss of Biodiversity is probably the most controversial one. The diversity of nature is the result of an evolutionary process that started about two billion years ago.

Global biodiversity hotspots

A biodiversity hotspot is a region with a high level of endemic species. Hotspots were first named in 1988 by Dr. Sabina V. To qualify as a hotspot, an area must hold at least 1500 endemic species

    • Brazil's Atlantic Forest contains roughly 20,000 plant species & 1,350 vertebrates etc

  • ! All 34 hotspots contain 50% plant species, 42% terrestrial vertebrates.

  • ! Hotspots cover 15.7% of the land surface.

  • ! Intact hotspot habitat equals 2.5 of the total land surface.

Major problems with biodiversity conservation

Low priority for conservation of living natural resources.

Exploitation of living natural resources for monetary gain.

Values and knowledge about the species and ecosystem inadequately known.

Unplanned urbanization and uncontrolled industrialization.

Major biodiversity threats

  • Habitat destruction

  • Overexploitation

  • Deforestation

  • Anthropogenic climate change

  • Bioaccumulation and Synergetic effects etc..

Habitat loss and degradation

    • Destruction of biodiversity rich areas like tropical forests.

    • Destruction of coral reefs and Wetlands.

    • Ploughing of grasslands.

    • Aquatic ecosystem is threatened.

    • Pollution of freshwater streams, lakes, and marine habitats.

    • Most pervasive threat, impacting 86% of threatened mammals, 86% of threatened birds, and 88% of threatened amphibians

Threats to Reefs

10% of the coral reefs around the world are already dead.

  • Deforestation -

Deforestation is the clearing of trees off an area of land. It includes any forestry practice that results in a long-term land use change. Impacts of Deforestaion on local climate

Types of change:

  • Forest - agriculture

    • Forest - human settlements

    • Forest - non-forest uses e.g., urban, industrial, livestock, etc.

    • Overexploitation33% of mammals and 30% of birds are affected by overexploitation and invasive species. Invasives are affecting 67% of threatened birds on islands

    • Pollution29% of amphibians are affected by pollution and 17% by disease

    What groups are in endangered?

    Numbeer of Globally Threatened Species by Taxon

    IUCN Red List of Threatened Species

    • Classifies species according to their extinction risk

    • Searchable online database containing the global status and supporting information on about 45,000 species

    • Primary goal is to identify and document the species most in need of conservation attention and provide an index of the state of biodiversity

    IUCN Red List

    • Contains 784 documented extinctions

    • 60 extinctions in the wild since 1500 AD

    • Over the past 20 years, 27 documented extinctions or extinctions in the wild

    • Underestimates the true number of extinctions

    • Rates of extinctions 100 to 1,000 times natural background extinction rates

    IUCN Red List — 2008 UpdateIUCN Red List - 2008 Update

    • 2008 assessment includes 44,838 species

    • 869 (2%) are extinct or extinct in the wild

    • 16,928 (38%) are threatened with extinction

      • 3,246 critically endangered

      • 4,770 endangered

      • 8,912 vulnerable

      • 5,570 have insufficient info to determine their status (data deficient)

      • Rates of extinctions 100 to 1,000 times natural background extinction rates

    Why are we losing biodiversity?





    • 10% of India's plant species are under threat.

    • More than 150 medicinal plants have disappeared in recent decades.

    • About 10% of flowering plants, 20% of mammals and 5% of the birds are threatened.

    Impact of loss of Biodiversity

    • Increased vulnerability of species extinction

    • Ecological imbalance

    • Reduced sources of food, structural materials, medicinal and genetic resources

    • Cost increase to the society

    Solutions will include

      • Establishing protected areas

      • Targeted interventions at the genetic,

      • species, and ecosystems levels

      • Restoration of damaged ecosystems

      • Recovery of endangered species

      • Creation of sustainable forms of development

    Seafood — Fish — Crustacea

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