What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity is all the living things on our planet – from the smallest bacteria to the largest plants and animals. So far, we have identified around 1.6 million species but that is probably only a small fraction of the forms of life on Earth.

Biodiversity on Earth is the result of four billion years of evolution. Biodiversity is most commonly used to describe the variety of life in a particular area but it also refers to how those different species interact with each other in these areas, or ecosystems. These ecosystems can vary in size and complexity from a garden pond to the Amazon Rainforest but it is the biodiversity of each area – that variety of species and genes – and the environment in which they exist, that determines what happens in the ecosystem. How each species interacts with others, and the environment in which they exist, determines how each survives and grows. While many of these relationships are robust there are also many that can be fragile.