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Biodiversity

Biodiversity is defined as the variability among living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part.

  • Biodiversity includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.
  • The importance of this definition is that it draws attention to the many dimensions of biodiversity.
  • Biodiversity includes all ecosystems—managed or unmanaged.

Biodiversity provides four main types of benefits to humans: nutritional, cultural, health, and climate-related.Biodiversity provides four main types of benefits to humans: nutritional, cultural, health, and climate-related.

Levels of Biodiversity

Biodiversity is considered to exist at three levels

1. Genetic Diversity

2. Species Diversity

3. Ecosystem/ Community Diversity

1. Genetic Diversity

  • Variation in genes within a particular species.
  • It is the total number of genetic characteristics in the genetic makeup of a species. Genetic diversity allows species to adapt to changing environments.
  • The genetic diversity gives us beautiful butterflies, roses, parakeets, or coral in myriad hues, shapes, and sizes

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2. Species Diversity

  • It refers to the variety of living organisms on earth.
  • Species differ from one another, markedly in their genetic makeup, do not interbreed in nature.
  • It is the ratio of one species population over a total number of organisms across all species in the given biome.
  • Zero' would be infinite diversity, and ’one’ represents only one species present.

3. Ecosystem/ Community Diversity:

  • This refers to the different types of habitats. A habitat is the cumulative factor of the climate, vegetation, and geography of a region. Change in climatic conditions is accompanied by a change in vegetation as well.
  • Thus the variety or diversity of species in the ecosystem is influenced by the nature of the ecosystem.

Levels of BiodiversityLevels of Biodiversity

Major Components of Biodiversity

Biodiversity is measured by two Major Components:

1. Species Richness

2. Species Evenness

1. Species Richness

  • It is the measure of the number of species found in a community
  • Alpha diversity-It refers to the diversity within a particular area or ecosystem and is usually expressed by the number of species (l.e., species richness) in that ecosystem
  • Beta diversity-It is a comparison of diversity between ecosystems, usually measured as the change in the number of species between the ecosystems.
  • Gamma diversity-It is a measure of the overall diversity for the different ecosystems Within a region

2. Species Evenness

  • It measures the proportion of species at a given site, e.g. low evenness indicates that a few species dominate the site.
  • The building blocks of plants, animals, and humans are identical and are made of four elements - carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, and hydrogen
  • The chain that links consumers to producers is called the food chain or web of life.

Services Provided by Biodiversity

The key ecosystem services provided by biodiversity are 

1. Ecosystem Services

2. Biological Services

3. Social Services

1. 

Ecosystem Services

  • Protection of water resources, soil formation, and protection, Nutrient storage, and recycling.
  • Pollution breakdown and absorption Contribution to climate stability Maintenance of ecosystems.
  • Recovery from unpredictable events

2. Biological Services

  • Food, Medicinal resources, and pharmaceutical drugs.
  • Wood products, Ornamental plants Diversity in genes, species, and ecosystems. Etc.

3. Social Services

  • Research, education, and monitoring
  • Recreation and tourism Cultural values

Causes for Biodiversity Loss

Biodiversity loss is caused by five primary drivers: habitat loss, invasive species, overexploitation (extreme hunting and fishing pressure), pollution, climate change associated with global warming.
  • Loss of biodiversity occurs when either a particular species is destroyed or the habitat essential for its survival is damaged. The latter is more common as habitat destruction inevitable fallout of development.
  • The extinction of species takes place when they are exploited for economic gain or hunted as a sport or for food. Extinction of species may also occur due to environmental reasons like ecological substitutions, biological factors, and pathological causes which can be caused either by nature or man
  • Extinction- end of a species, which is inevitable when the capacity to bread &recovery lost; when they are no longer able to survive in changing environment or against superior Competitor, finally marked by the death of the last individual of that species.

Conservation of Biodiversity

Biodiversity conservation refers to the protection, preservation, and management of ecosystems and natural habitats and ensuring that they are healthy and functional.
  • Conservation of biological diversity leads to the conservation of essential ecological diversity to preserve the continuity of food chains.
  • Conserving biodiversity outside the areas where they naturally occur is known as ex-situ conservation. For example, the Gangetic gharial has been reintroduced in the rivers of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Rajasthan where it had become extinct.
  • Conserving the animals and plants in their natural habitats is known as in-situ conservation.
  • The established natural habitats are: National parks, Sanctuaries, Biosphere Reserves, and Reserved forests, Protected forests, Nature reserves.

Constraints in Biodiversity Conservation:

  • Low priority for the conservation of living natural resources. The exploitation of living natural resources for monetary gain.
  • Values and knowledge about the species and ecosystem inadequately known.
  • Unplanned urbanization and uncontrolled industrialization.

[Question: 890721]

Botanical Garden

A botanical garden refers to the scientifically planned collection of living trees, shrubs, herbs, climbers, and other plants from various parts of the globe.

Zoo

An establishment, whether stationary or mobile, where captive animals are kept for exhibition, to the public and includes a circus and rescue centers but does not include an establishment of a licensed dealer in captive animals -CZA

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FAQs on Shankar IAS Summary: Biodiversity- 1 - Famous Books for UPSC Exam (Summary & Tests)

1. What is biodiversity?
Ans. Biodiversity refers to the variety of living organisms, including plants, animals, and microorganisms, that exist in a particular habitat or on Earth as a whole. It encompasses the diversity of species, genetic diversity within species, and the variety of ecosystems and ecological processes.
2. What are the major components of biodiversity?
Ans. The major components of biodiversity are: - Species diversity: It refers to the variety of different species present in a particular area or on Earth. It includes both the number of species and their relative abundance. - Genetic diversity: It refers to the variety of genes within a particular species. It is essential for the adaptation and survival of species in changing environments. - Ecosystem diversity: It refers to the variety of different ecosystems present in a particular area or on Earth. It includes terrestrial, freshwater, and marine ecosystems, as well as different habitat types within each ecosystem.
3. What are the services provided by biodiversity?
Ans. Biodiversity provides several important services to humans and ecosystems, including: - Ecosystem services: Biodiversity supports essential ecosystem processes such as nutrient cycling, water purification, and soil formation. These services are crucial for the functioning of ecosystems and the provision of clean water, air, and food. - Economic services: Biodiversity contributes to economic activities such as agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. It provides raw materials, genetic resources for crop improvement, and recreational opportunities that support local economies. - Cultural services: Biodiversity has cultural and aesthetic value. It enriches our lives through art, music, literature, and traditions. Biodiversity also plays a role in spiritual and religious practices.
4. What are the causes for biodiversity loss?
Ans. Biodiversity loss is primarily caused by human activities, including: - Habitat destruction: The conversion of natural habitats into agricultural land, urban areas, or industrial sites destroys the homes of many species and reduces their populations. - Pollution: Pollution, such as water pollution and air pollution, can harm and even kill organisms. It can also disrupt ecosystems and reduce biodiversity. - Overexploitation: Unsustainable hunting, fishing, and harvesting of species can lead to their decline or extinction. This includes activities like illegal wildlife trade and overfishing. - Climate change: Global warming and climate change have significant impacts on biodiversity. They can alter habitats, disrupt species' life cycles, and increase the risk of extinction.
5. How can biodiversity be conserved?
Ans. Biodiversity conservation involves a range of strategies and actions, including: - Protected areas: Establishing and effectively managing protected areas, such as national parks and wildlife reserves, can help conserve biodiversity by providing safe habitats for species. - Sustainable land and water management: Adopting sustainable practices in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries can minimize the negative impacts on biodiversity while still meeting human needs. - Conservation of endangered species: Implementing conservation programs for endangered species, such as captive breeding and reintroduction programs, can help prevent their extinction. - Education and awareness: Increasing public awareness about the value of biodiversity and the need for its conservation is crucial. Education programs can help promote behavior change and sustainable practices. - International cooperation: Collaborating at international levels for the conservation of biodiversity, sharing knowledge, and implementing agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity can enhance conservation efforts globally.
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