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An Introduction to Biodiversity

What is biodiversity and why is it important?

Biodiversity is defined as the variety of living species on Earth – plants, animals and microorganisms – and the ecosystems they form.

Conservation of global biodiversity is important to sustaining human life at local and global levels. Humans depend on the healthy functionality of other life forms to sustain food growth, water resources and a healthy environment. Many argue that preservation of biodiversity is important because all species have intrinsic value, while others focus on the inherent value of nature in general.

In a complex world, no one argument can solve the threats to biodiversity—all arguments are important to addressing the issue of preserving and conserving biodiversity.


Biodiversity is critical to global sustainability

Global biodiversity loss is occurring at alarming rates – an estimated 100 to 1,000 times faster than pre-human levels — and the threats are numerous. Among them are urbanization, invasive species, pollution, overexploitation and increasing CO2 concentrations. Addressing each of these threats is complicated and any possible solution can generate new problems.

Without intervention, the populations of species will continue to the point of extinction for many, increasing the global loss of biodiversity. The enormous scope and uncertainty of the crisis is a complex challenge to address. It demands the engagement of social and biological scientists, decision and policy makers, and community members worldwide.

Bee pollinating flower

Leaders in sustainability and conservation science

Meeting today’s biodiversity challenges takes innovative research, education, communication and policy strategies capable of responding to a rapidly changing biophysical, institutional and cultural landscape. The Center addresses these challenges through its commitment to interdisciplinary collaboration and multi-stakeholder engagement—drawing on a long history of conservation biology research at ASU.

People snow and ice mountains