Biological diversity or biodiversity for short is the variety of living organisms within an ecosystem such as deserts, rain-forests, and coral reefs. This includes the genetic variation within species, the variety of species within a habitat, and the variety of habitats within an area. The biodiversity of an area is heavily dependent on its climate. Terrestrial habitats and tropical regions with warmer climates tend to be richer in biodiversity. Colder areas such as the polar regions tend to have fewer species and thus, less biodiversity.
Biodiversity is important because it is an indicator of how healthy an ecosystem is. Healthy ecosystems, rich in biodiversity, can better withstand and recover from damaging events including natural disasters. Biodiversity is also important for the provision of ecosystem services. Living organisms are crucial in the cycles of elements that sustain us including carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen. When biodiversity in a habitat declines, the cycles are compromised, species become endangered and the potential of the ecosystem to function as whole is jeopardized. Every time we harm our environment by engaging in environmentally irresponsible behaviors such as overfishing or polluting we are contributing to the loss of biodiversity.
Biodiversity hotspots are areas with high biodiversity that are under stress by humans. Coral reefs in the marine environment are an example of a biodiversity hotspot. They are considered to be among the most biologically diverse yet most neglected habitats on the planet. They make up only 1% of the ocean’s environment yet they support a large portion of marine life. Coral reefs are victim to ocean acidification. As ocean temperatures rise, algae on coral reefs die, leaving the coral reefs bleached and unable to function or support life.