Biodiversity refers to the variety of life. It is now agreed that there is a “biodiversity crisis”, corresponding to extinction rates of species that may be 1000 times what is thought to be “normal”.
Biodiversity science has a higher profile than ever, with the new Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services involving more than 120 countries and 1000s of scientists.
At the same time, the discipline is re-evaluating its foundations – including its philosophy and even core definitions. (“phylogeny”) is emerging as an important way to look at biodiversity, with relevance cutting across current areas of concern – from the question of resilience within ecosystems, to conservation priorities for globally threatened species – while capturing the values of biodiversity that have been hard to quantify, including resilience and maintaining options for future generations.
The microbial communities in the human gut to global threatened species, has inevitably resulted in an explosion of new indices, methods, and case studies.We need to recognizes that the challenge of finding a synthesis, and building shared concepts and a shared toolbox, requires both an appreciation of the past and a look into the future.
We are intended to analyse and synthesize our understanding of natural and managed ecosystems and their constituent organisms and resources at different scales from the biosphere to communities, populations, individual organisms and molecular interactions.
As people have ventured to all parts of the globe, one might expect that the new species being discovered each year would be microscopic organisms that can only be distinguished at the metabolic level. While it is true that most new species identified are insects, microbes and fungi, we are still discovering new vertebrates
- Life has existed on earth for over 3.5 billion years, but over 95% of the species have gone extinct !
Human construction and development disrupt natural environments, but most habitats have an extraordinary ability to recover when given the chance. This is because dormant seeds in the soil can germinate, stabilize the soil, and initiate successional events that restore vegetation which provides food and structure for other colonizing organisms. Native plants like fireweed can help revegetate an area after fire.