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Thomas Lovejoy in 1980s used the term Biological Diversity.

The term Biodiversity first appeared in 1988 in a publication

by Edward. O. Wilson
Biodiversity is the range of life forms on Earth.
These include millions of plants, animals and micro-
organisms, the
genes they contain and the ecosystems of which they are a
Levels of Biodiversity : 3 levels

I. Genetic Biodiversity: This is the diversity of the

hereditary information( genes) within a species.
Genetic diversity results in variations.
II. Species Biodiversity : Species is the unit used to
classify the millions of life forms on Earth. Based
on this level 17 countries in the world have been
termed as megadiversity countries (Conservation
International, 1988).
India is a mega diversity country.
iii. Ecosystem Biodiversity: it refers to the diversity
of habitats or the variety of ecosystems found
within a biogeographical boundary.
Rose Varieties
Banyan Tree

• Australia
• Brazil
• China
• Colombia
• Democratic Republic of Congo
• Ecuador
• India
• Indonesia
• Madagascar
• Malaysia
• Mexico
• Papua New Guinea
• Peru
• Philippines
• South Africa
• United States of America
• Venezuela
Grassland Ecosystem

Tropical Rainforest
India – a Megadiversity Nation:
 India occupies only 2.4 % of Earth’s surface, but has approximately 8% of
world biodiversity.

 17.3 % flowering plants and vertebrates occur in India. 60% of insects

and fungi also have been reported from India.

 India rates 10th in the world and 4th in Asia in plant biodiversity.

 India is 10th in the number of endemic species of higher vertebrates.

 We also have 47000 spp. of plants, which is 12% of world flora.

Domesticated Biodiversity :

There is also considerable biodiversity among

domesticated animals and plants.

Microorganism Biodiversity:

These are the most abundant organisms on Earth.

These are present everywhere. These include
bacteria, virus, protozoa, yeast, fungus etc and
form a vital part of life on Earth.
Biodiversity - Facts and Trends
 We do not know how many species exist on Earth. The
most widely accepted estimate is 10 million, but there may
be as many as 30 million.

 Only about 2 million of these species have been

identified so far.
 A majority of the unidentified species are microbes,
insects and tiny sea creatures.
 Large species of mammals, birds and plants make up
fewer than 5% of the total species.

 Terrestrial biodiversity is up to 25 times more than ocean


 Biodiversity is higher in tropics

 Terrestrial biodiversity is more in tropical forests

Value of Biodiversity:

I. To meet basic survival needs

II. Aesthetic value
III. Economic value
IV. Ethical value
V. Ecological services
VI. Religious, Spiritual and Cultural value
Economic Value:

Each species is of potential value to humans. The global collection of

genes, species and ecosystems is a resource that provides for human
needs now, and is essential for human survival in future.

Upto 80 % of world human population depend on medicines form nature,

most of which are derived from plants and some from animals. About
20,000 plant species are used for medical purposes.

Biodiversity derived products, much as timber, tubers, fruits, nuts, rubber,

paper, resins, oils, fibers ( silk ) , fish, meat, musk, honey, bees wax,
pearl, etc. are of great economic value.
Genetic diversity is important in breeding crops and livestock.

Many crops have been rescued with genetic materials from wild relatives
or traditional varieties. Biodiversity, therefore represent a ‘living library
of options for adopting to local and global change’.
Ecological Services:

Many species depend on each other in intricate ways for survival.

Destroying one species can lead to further extinctions or changes.

I Harvesting and fixation of solar energy (photosynthesis)

Ii Maintenance of O2 & CO2 composition by animals and plants.
iii. Co2 Sequestration
iv. Control of climate ( forest & ocean)
v. Maintenance of ecosystem equilibrium though species interaction
vi. Pollination of flowers (birds and insects)
vii. Biological control of pests
viii. Prevention of soil erosion.
ix. Purification and conservation of water
x. Regulation of water cycle and nutrient cycle
xi. Decomposition and cycling of energy
Food Web
Keystone Species: Robert T. Pain
(1969) introduced the concept. A
keystone species is a plant or animal
that plays a unique and crucial role in
the way a community or an ecosystem
functions. Without it the community
/ecosystem would suffer imbalance
leading to disastrous consequences.
Causes of Loss of Biodiversity

Habitat loss and fragmentation –Human-Wildlife conflict

Introduced species – eg: Parthenium, Lantana, Tilapia,

African cat fish, African snail, Mikania etc.
Global Climate Change
Economic Systems and Policies
Some Agricultural and Forestry practices – ‘Stability and
Diversity are being replaced by Uniformity and Productivity’.
Unsustainable natural resource consumption
Mikania Lantana camara

Giant African snail Tilapia

peacock feather ivory

Tiger skin Rhino horn

Miss Kerala-Sahyadria denisonii
Conserving Biodiversity

Why conserve Biodiversity?

While extinction of some species and evolution of new ones

are a part of the natural process of evolution .These two
processes occurred at a roughly equal rate over most of the
history of life. But, now the rate of extinction has outstripped
the rate of speciation at an alarming rate. This rapid loss of
biodiversity is becoming a major cause of concern.

Just because natural resources and the services they provide

appear to be free, we should not take them for granted.
Biodiversity is a fundamental part of Earth’s life support system.
Without it we would not be able to survive.

The term Biodiversity should also remind us that no single organism

lives in isolation.

United Nations observed the year 2010 as the International Year of

Biodiversity-with the theme “Biodiversity is our life”.

2011-2020 has been declared as the United Nation’s Decade on

Biodiversity with the theme “Living in Harmony with Nature”.
Biodiversity conservation- Approaches and Strategies

1. Traditional approach- Sacred Groves.

There are 1500 sacred groves in Kerala

2. Treaties, Agreements and Acts

At International level

a. The Biodiversity Convention (CBD) – 1992 in Brazil

b. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species
of wild fauna and flora (CITES)- 1975
c. The world Heritage Convention- 1975- UNESCO – World
Heritage Sites
d. The Convention of Wetlands of International Importance –
1975, also known as Ramsar Convention - Ramsar sites.
sacred groves
At National Level

Wild life (Protection) Act, 1972.

National Biodiversity Act, 2002- has a 3 tier system of
National Biodiversity Authority ( NBA ), Chennai,
State Biodiversity Board (SBB),
Biodiversity Management Committee (BMC)- at the
panchayath level- People’s Biodiversity Register (PBR).
3. In – Situ Conservation

Conserving Biodiversity in natural habitats in Protected


IUCN Definition: An area of land or sea, especially

dedicated for the protection and maintenance of biological
diversity and of natural and associated cultural resources
and managed through legal or other effective means.
Kinds of Protected Areas:
1. Wildlife Sanctuaries: More than 500 wildlife
sanctuaries in India and 15 in Kerala.
2. National Parks: There are 98 National Parks in
India and 6 in Kerala.
3. Biosphere Reserves :A UNESCO sponsored
programme on Man and Biosphere, in 1973. There are
18 Biosphere Reserves in India and 2 in Kerala - Nilgiri
Biosphere Reserve and Agasthyamalai Biosphere
4. Ecological hotspots
( Norman Myers, 1988)

Conservation International, identifies

hotspots based on 2 criteria:
1. 0.5% or 1,500 spp. of vascular plants are
present as endemics 2. to have lost at least 70% of
original habitat has been lost.
34 hotspots have so far been identified, which includes
3 from India – Western Ghats,Himalayas and Indo-

Occupy a combined area of 2.3% of earth’s surface.

Contain almost 50% of worlds plant spp. and 42 % of all
terrestrial vertebrate spp. as endemics
5. World Heritage Sites:
This is another programme of UNESCO.
There are 29 World Heritage Sites in India, of which 6 are
related to environment and biodiversity.
Western Ghats is a World Heritage Site.

6. Ramsar Sites:
These are wetlands of unique value.
India has 25 Ramsar Sites and 4 in Kerala –
Sasthamkotta lake, Ashtamudi wetland,
Vembanad Kole wet lands and Thrissur kole wetlands.
Species – specific Protected Areas

a. Tiger Reserves: In 1972, tiger was declared as our National

Animal, and a programme called Project Tiger was launched to
save the species from extinction.

In Project Tiger, prime tiger habitats are identified and protected

as Tiger Reserves . There are 53 Tiger Reserves in India and
3 in Kerala- Periyar, Parambikulam and Anamalai (Ker./TN).

b. Elephant Reserves : Launched in 1992. There are 26

Elephant Reserves in India and 4 in Kerala :- Nilgiri- Eastern
Ghats, South Nilgiri, Western Ghats and Periyar.

c. Gir Lion Sanctuary Project 1972: The Gir forests in Gujarat is

the only surviving habitat of Asian Lion.
People’s Participation:

There are several programmes to involve local communities in the

planning, management and monitoring of conservation
programmes and to ensure that they are the beneficiaries of
economic and other returns.

Joint Forest management

Joint Protected Area Management
Eco development
Flagship Species: A species that has the ability to capture
the imagination of the public and induce people to support
conservation awareness and action.
ex. Bengal tiger, Giant Panda, Asian elephant etc.

Umbrella Species: A species with large area requirements

for which protection of the species offer protections to
other species that share the same habitat. ex. Tiger,
Elephant etc
Red Data Book:

IUCN, since 1963 publishes every year, a list of Threatened Species.

This list is called Red list. There are 9 categories in the list

Extinct (E)
Extinct in the wild (EN) – survive only in captivity.
Critically Endangered (CE) – Extremely high risk of extinction in the wild
Endangered (E) – High risk of extinction in the wild
Vulnerable (VU) – High risk of endangerement in the wild.
Near Threatened (NT) – Likely to become endangered in near future
Least Concern (LC) – Lowest risk
Data Deficient (DD) – Not enough data to make an assessment of its status
Not Evaluated (NE) – Not yet evaluated

According to IUCN, there are 3 Threatened Categories – Critically Endangered,

Endangered and Vulnerable
Ex-Situ Conservation

Conservation of biodiversity outside natural habitats.

Ex-Situ conservation is a process of protecting an endangered
species or its genetic material under the care and vigilance of human
beings, in zoos, botanical gardens, gene banks etc.

Methods of Ex-situ conservation

a) Zoological garden
b) Botanical garden
c) Gene banks including – seed banks, germplasm bank etc
d) Cryopreservation: It is a methods of long term storage of
genetic materials. Sperms, ova, embryo, seeds, vegetables
of plants etc. can be effectively stored by this method.

In this method, these genetic materials are preserved in liquid

nitrogen at -196° C, whereby all metabolic processes and cell
divisions are temporarily arrested.
The Millennium Seed Bank is an international conservation project
by Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in England. The project aims at
collection and storing seeds of endangered plants.

Gene Banks in India:-

National Gene Bank Seed Repository

National Bureau of barefoot Plant Genetic Resources,

New Delhi

Tropical Botanical Garden and Research Institute (TBGRI),

Captive breeding and Release Programmes:

Captive breeding is a process of breeding of rare or endangered

animals in human controlled environment.

Breeding is usually done in zoos, hatcheries, aquariums or in any other

conservation facilities. After captive breeding animals are released
into a wild habitat.
IBP– India Biodiversity Portel –
A repository of information designed to
harness and disseminate collective
intelligence on the biodiversity of the Indian

IBP is endorsed by the National Knowledge

Commission of India.
Organisations in Biodiversity conservation:


2. IUCN (WCU) – Established in 1948, Head Quarters at Gland,
3. WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature)-1961, Morges, Switzerland
4. UNEP (United Nations Environement Programme)- 1972,
5. IUCN Species Survival Commission (SSC)

 BNHS (Bombay Natural History Society) – Bombay

 WWF India
 CEE (Centre for Environment Education), Ahamedabad
 ATREE (Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and Environment, Bangalore
In Kerala
 Kerala Sastra Sahithya Parishat
 SEEK, Edat, Payyannura
 Malabar Natural History Society, Kozhikode
Conservation Awareness:

 United Nations observe 22nd May every year as International Day for
Biological Diversity (IDB).

2016- Theme-Mainstreaming Biodiversity; Sustaining People and

their Livelihood

 Declaring specific species of plants and animals as National Animal/Tree/

Flower or as State Animal/ Tree or as Heritage Animal etc.

 Conduct of various Awareness Programmes.

What can students do to study biodiversity?

 Read about it in magazines and books

 Visit zoos, nature centres, aquaria, wildlife sanctuaries,
national parks
 Watch television programmes about nature and its

 Join nature clubs. Go on nature camps, Go butterfly –

watching or bird watching.
 Identify and clip news items and articles on biodiversity from
newspapers, and put them up on a college notice board for
others to read
 Gather traditional knowledge about medicinal value of plants

 Collect examples of plants and animals that have religious, ritual or
other cultural significance or use.

 Gather information about any sacred grove in their district or state, if

possible, by visiting it. Who is the presiding deity of the grove? What
is the folklore associated with the grove? Identify the major floral and
faunal species in the grove. Are these species widespread outside the

 Collect information on how farmers in their area conserve seeds. Are

there different ways of conserving seeds of different varieties or
species of plants?

 Gather information on species of plants and animals native to their

district or state
What can students do to save biodiversity?

 Join and support local, national and international conservation organizations

(World wide Fund for Nature- India has chapters in all cities and several towns in
 Support laws that protect habitat. Buy greeting cards, calendars, diaries etc.,
proceeds of which go towards saving Biodiversity.

 Promote awareness and information about biodiversity by organizing slide

shows, film or videos shown and public lectures in their college.
 Write article for, or publicize relevant information through, the college notice
board, college magazine or local newspapers.
 Inventory local species of trees and shrubs, Study their characteristics
(e.g., shade- giving, ornamental, fruit-bearing, attract birds) and identify
the appropriate trees that could be grown on the streets of their city, town
or housing colony. Then lobby with municipal or other responsible
authority to do so.
• Grow native species of plants (trees, shrubs, climbers etc.) on
the college/school campus. These would attract other local
wildlife such as bird, butterflies, insects.

• Grow some traditional vegetables (i.e., those that are not

commonly available in the market but are native to their region)
in their backyards. Or students could grow such vegetables
on a patch of land in the college compound. Conserving these
plants would assure their survival for generations to come.

• Students should grow the vegetables using organic techniques

so as not to alter the original characteristics of the variety.

• Start a seed bank, publicize it, and share or exchange seeds

with interested citizens . Saving seed species is a way to help
protect the gene pool.
 Gather information on local species of medicinal plants
such as tulsi and grow a small medicinal garden at house
or on the college campus.

 Initiate, organize or participate in responsible citizen act

against existing or proposed activities that harm or are
likely to harm local biodiversity. These would include
activities such as destruction of public open spaces and
destruction or pollution of a water body.
The Message is clear………

Biodiversity is for ever. It is important for the health of our planet and human

society. It must therefore, be conserved- that is, it should be managed in a way

that it can be used rationally and sustainably as well as protected.