Here is a compilation of term papers on ‘Biodiversity’. Find paragraphs, long and short term papers on ‘Biodiversity’ especially written for school and college students.
Term Paper on Biodiversity
Term Paper Contents:
- Term Paper on the Definition of Biodiversity
- Term Paper on the Importance of Biodiversity
- Term Paper on the Levels of Biodiversity
- Term Paper on the Patterns of Biodiversity
- Term Paper on the Conservation of Biodiversity
- Term Paper on the Loss of Biodiversity
- Term Paper on the Significance of Biodiversity
Term Paper # 1. Definition of Biodiversity:
‘Biodiversity is the ‘diversity of life on earth’. It includes all life forms and the ecosystems of which these life forms are a part of. It refers to the variety within the living world.
It forms the basis of sustainable development and environmental health of the planet and is the source of economic and ecological security for future generations. The concept of biodiversity was first put forth in 1980. Edward Wilson, a famous Sociobiologist popularised the term ‘biodiversity’.
Simply put, it’s the variety of life. More broadly, biodiversity is our collective life support system.
Ontario’s Biodiversity Strategy (OBS) adopts the definition of biodiversity that is used in the Canadian Biodiversity Strategy and the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity:
Biodiversity is the variability among living organisms from all sources, including inter alia [among other things, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.
Term Paper # 2. Importance of Biodiversity:
i. You are a part of biodiversity:
The same things that affect bugs, trees and fish have an impact on you too — the quantity of clean, fresh water, or the quality of the air we breathe.
ii. Everything is connected:
The health of biodiversity affects you. And what you do affects biodiversity. Everything we do either uses natural resources or returns them as waste. The amount of land and resources that a population or a person uses is called an ecological footprint. We all can do things to make our personal footprints smaller.
iii. Natural systems based on healthy biodiversity provide all kinds of services for you… for free!:
Things like cooling and filtering air, controlling floods, pollinating plants, controlling pests, aerating soil, and filtering and storing water. These ecosystem services would cost a lot if we had to (or even could) use technology to provide them. These services are called ecosystem services.
iv. You have to live with what’s left:
A wise saying states “We don’t inherit the earth from our parents we borrow it from our children.” If you’re a parent, what kind of environment will you be leaving your children? If you’re one of the children, you might want to know what you’ll be getting in the future. What we do or don’t do now, matters greatly to our future quality of life.
While the term “biodiversity” may not be well known or understood, the ecological services provided by biodiversity are vital to everyday life. Not a day, hour, or even second goes by that we do not depend on biodiversity for survival.
i. The air we breathe is a product of photosynthesis by green plants.
ii. Insects, worms, bacteria, and other tiny organisms break down wastes and aid in the decomposition of dead plants and animals to enrich soils.
iii. More than 90 percent of the calories consumed by people worldwide are produced from 80 plant species.
iv. Almost 30 percent of medicines are developed from plants and animals, and many more are derived from these sources.
Biodiversity is the variety and differences among living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine, and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part. This includes genetic diversity within and between species and of ecosystems.
Thus, in essence, biodiversity represents all life. India is one of the mega biodiversity centres in the world and has two of the world’s 18 ‘biodiversity hotspots’ located in the Western Ghats and in the Eastern Himalayas. The forest cover in these areas is very dense and diverse and of pristine beauty, and incredible biodiversity.
According to an MoEF Report (1996), the country is estimated to have over 45, 000 plant species and 81, 000 animal species representing 7% of the world’s flora and 6.5% of its fauna. The 1999 figures are 49, 219 plant species representing 12.5% and 81, 251 animal species representing 6.6%.
The sacred groves of India are some of the areas in the country where the richness of biodiversity has been well preserved. The Thar desert and the Himalayas are two regions rich in biodiversity in India. There are 89 national parks and 504 wildlife sanctuaries in the country, the Chilika Lake being one of them. This lake is also an important wetland area.
Over the last century, a great deal of damage has been done to the biodiversity existing on the earth. Increasing human population, increasing consumption levels, and decreasing efficiency of use of our resources are some of the causes that have led to overexploitation and manipulation of ecosystems.
Trade in wildlife, such as rhino horn, has led to the extinction of species. Consequences of biodiversity loss can be great as any disturbance to one species gives rise to imbalance in others. In this the exotic species have a role to play.
To prevent such loss, the Government of India is setting up biosphere reserves in different parts of the country. These are multipurpose protected areas to preserve the genetic diversity in different ecosystems. Till 1999, ten biosphere reserves had been set up, namely Nilgiri, Nandadevi, Nakrek, Great Nicobar, Gulf of Mannar, Manas, Sunderbans, Similipal, and Dibru Saikhowa. A number of NGOs are being involved in the programme to create awareness. But legal protection is provided only to national parks and sanctuaries, which cover about 4.5% of India’s land area.
Term Paper # 3. Levels of Biodiversity:
There are three levels of biodiversity:
i. Genetic Diversity:
Genetic diversity refers to the diversity at the genetic level within a species. It provides the raw materials for adaptation to changing environment. This is how speciation or formation of species occurs. Some examples of genetic diversity are as follows.
Rauwolfia vomitoria, a medicinal plant in the Himalayan range exists in so many different varieties. Each variety produces an active chemical, reserpine that differs in potency and concentration. In India there are more than 50,000 genetically different strains of rice and about 1000 varieties of mango.
In recent years it is felt that a serious loss of species and reduction in the genetic diversity of crops and wild species is taking place. This is because of transformation of natural landscapes in the world particularly in the tropics. This can lead to loss of ecosystem stability and function.
ii. Species Diversity:
Species diversity refers to the variety of species within a region. The term, biodiversity is commonly used as a synonym to species diversity. It refers to species richness, which is the number of different species in a habitat.
For example, tiger (Panthera tigris), lion (Panthera leo) and the snow leopard (Panthera uncia) belong to the same genus Panthera but they differ at the species level. An estimated 1.5-1.7 million species have been identified and described to date. The total existing organisms at present vary between 3 and 30 million.
iii. Ecosystem Diversity:
Ecosystems consist of interdependent communities and their physical environment. A single ecosystem may cover thousands of hectares or may cover a few hectares. It could be as small as a pond or lake. In an ecosystem, there are different landforms that support different and specific vegetation.
The number of ecosystems present in a region is a measure of biodiversity. India has greater ecosystem diversity than a country like Norway. This is because of the presence of deserts, coral reefs, wetlands, estuaries, rain forests, plains, etc.
Term Paper # 4. Patterns of Biodiversity:
The distribution of plants and animals is not uniform throughout the world. Many plants and animals show interesting patterns in diversity. Latitudinal gradient in diversity is one kind of pattern. Biodiversity increases as one moves from the poles to the equator.
It is minimum at the poles and very high in the tropical rain forests (latitudinal range of 23.5°N to 23.5°S). Colombia located near the equator has nearly 1,400 species of birds while New York at 41°N has 105 species and Greenland has only 56 species. India located mostly in the tropical latitudes has more than 1,200 species of birds.
Forests in Equador have 10 times as many species of vascular plants compared to a forest of the same area located in the temperate region. The rain forests of Amazon have the greatest biodiversity on earth. It is home to more than 40,000 species of plants, 3,000 species of fishes, 133 species of birds, 427 species of mammals, 427 species of amphibians, 378 species of reptiles and about 1,25,000 species of invertebrates. There are many yet to be discovered.
Biodiversity also exhibits a gradation with the change in altitude. It increases as one moves from higher to lower altitudes. This is because of decrease in temperature and greater seasonal variability.
Species Area Relationship German naturalist and Geographer, Alexander Von Humbldt during his pioneering and extensive explorations of the South American Jungles observed that within a region species richness increased with the explored area. The relation between specie richness and area explored can be represented graphically as seen in Fig. 2. A rectangular hyperbola is obtained.
It can be described by the equation:
Log S = log C = Z log A
where S = Species richness
A = Area
Z = Slope of the line (regression coefficient)
C = Y-intercept
The value of Z lies in the range of 0.1 to 0.2, regardless of the species under considered. In large areas such as the continents, the slope of the line is much steeper, with the value of Z between 0.6 and 1.2. For the fruit eating or frugivorous birds and mammals in the tropical forests of different countries, the slope is 1.15.
Significance of Species Richness in an Ecosystem:
It is believed by ecologists that a community with more species is more stable than those with less species. A stable community exhibits more productivity when compared to an unstable community. David Tilman, a famous ecologist conducted ecosystem experiments in outdoor plots and provided many answers. He found that increased diversity contributed to higher productivity.
An understanding of how species richness contributes to the well-being of an ecosystem is not completely understood. It is, however, very clear that a rich biodiversity is essential for a healthy ecosystem as well as for the survival of the human race. How the elimination of a tree frog species will affect the functioning of the Western Ghats is not clear. Although direct answers to these questions are not available, it can be understood by an analogy provided by Paul Ehrlich, a Stanford ecologist.
An ecosystem can be compared to an aeroplane, which is made using thousands of rivets. The rivets are compared to the species of the ecosystem. If a rivet is removed by a passenger travelling in the plane, it will not affect the safety of the flight initially. But as more and more rivets are removed, the plane will become dangerously weak.
Also, loss of rivets on the wings is more dangerous than the rivets on the seats or window of the plane. Similarly, removal of a species will not affect the ecosystem initially, but can prove dangerous later. Also, the removal of key species which drives the major ecosystem functions, may be critical to the ecosystem.
Term Paper # 5. Conservation of Biodiversity:
We should conserve biodiversity because of the several reasons. They can be broadly grouped into three categories – the commercial services, the ecosystem services and the ethical services.
Source of Food:
Many plants and animals are eaten as food. However 85% of the World’s food production is met by cultivating less than 20 plant species. Rice, wheat and corn, yield about two-third of food production.
New breeding techniques are being used in developing disease resistant and high yielding varieties of crops and fruits and high yielding varieties of animal varieties. Biodiversity, thus serves as a potent source for raw materials for breeding programmes in agriculture, animal husbandry, sericulture, apiculture, floriculture and fishery.
Other Useful Industrial Products:
Many useful products such as resins, tannins, paper, tea, coffee, dry fruits, gums, etc. are obtained from plants. Animals provide fur, skin, honey, leather, pearls, ivory, lac, etc. for trade. Many plant species such as cotton, flax, hemp, jute are the major sources of fibres. Many plants have ornamental value.
Many substances with therapeutic properties are obtained from a variety of plants. (Table 5). In Ayurveda, plant and their extracts are directly used. About 25% of the drugs are derived from plants and 25,000 species of plants. There are about 199 pure chemicals extracted from 90 species of plants which are used in medicines. Many animals are used in the production of hormones and enzymes, while fungi and microbes provide lifesaving drugs such as antibiotics.
The Amazon forest is estimated to produce by photosynthesis about 20% of the total oxygen in the earth’s atmosphere. Pollination is vital process for plants. This is achieved by several species such as the bees, bumblebees, birds and bats.
Sports and Recreation:
Zoological parks and circus are the source of fun and recreation to people. Fishing is a favourite sport for many. Hunting of animals is not permitted because of loss of animals, though it has always been a good sport since time immemorial.
Research and Educational Value:
Animals such as guinea pig, fruit fly, rat, monkey and chimpanzee are used in biological and medical research. New drugs and treatment procedures are first tried out in animals before its use in humans.
The beauty of the forests, the greenery, beautiful flowers, birds and butterflies make the earth a heavenly place to live in. Biodiversity is also a source of spiritual rejuvenation.
The beauty of the wild has been a source of inspiration for many poets and painters. Animal based idioms such as crocodile tears; dead as a dodo, to kill two birds with one stone are used in the English language. Animals and plants figure in scriptures. Plants and animals are the symbols of national pride and heritage. Plants such as the Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum) and peepal (Ficus religiosa), animals such as the cows, snakes, rat and birds are considered sacred by Indians.
Ethical Value and the Right to Live:
Every species is a product of organic evolution and has a right to exist on earth. It is unethical to let any species disappear from earth because of man’s activities. Man has to understand that he is only a part of nature and has no right to exploit nature beyond its capacity.
Ecological Services to Mankind:
Biodiversity renders many kinds of ecological services to man such as:
a. Every organism has a definite role to play in the ecosystem. Disappearance of any link in the food chain may upset the balance in the nature and create havoc. For example, hunting of the carnivores will increase the population of herbivores, which will result in overgrazing. This will reduce the plant population and affect rainfall and ultimately affect the entire ecosystem including man.
b. Man obtains clothes, wood, rubber, oxygen from nature.
c. Soil formation, recycling of nutrients, waste disposal, etc. depend on biodiversity.
d. Ecosystems that are rich in biodiversity are more stable.
e. Some species are the indicators of pollution levels and alert us of potential hazards.
f. Biodegradable pesticides can be obtained from many wild plants.
g. Biodiversity is also a source for improving varieties and growing high yielding crops.
Term Paper # 6. Loss of Biodiversity:
Species of plants and animals are disappearing from earth at an alarming rate. This is known as extinction. Biological extinction however is also a natural phenomenon. The rate of extinction initially was one species every 1000 years. But man’s intervention has hastened the extinction rates. The rate of extinction went up to one species every 10 years between 1600 and 1950. Currently it is one species every year. If the present trend continues, nearly half of all the species on earth might be wiped out of earth within the next 100 years.
About 784 species including 338 vertebrates, 359 invertebrates and 87 plants have become extinct in the last 500 years as per the IUCN Red List. Some examples of extinct animals are the Dodo in Mauritius, Quagga in Africa, Thylacine in Australia, Stellar’s sea cow in Russia and three sub species of tiger. In the last twenty years, about 27 species have disappeared.
More than 15,500 species worldwide are facing the threat of extinction. Presently 12% of all bird species, 23% of mammal species, 32% of amphibian species and 31% of all gymnosperm species in the world face the threat of extinction.
Destruction of the tropical forests in the world is the one of today’s most urgent global environmental issue. What remains of the 14% of rain forests is not more than 6%. If the current rate of deforestation continues, it is estimated that 5-10% of the tropical forest species may face extinction within the next one to two decades.
The rain forest continues to be destroyed at the rate of over 1,00,000 sq. km every year. This will have immediate and long-term effects on human survival as majority of the world’s population still depends on wild plants and animals for food, medicine, housing and household material, agriculture, fodder and fuel wood. Domesticated biodiversity has also been affected as traditional crop strains are being replaced by laboratory generated hybrids.
Term Paper # 7. Significance of Biodiversity:
a. It provides the assurance of food, raw materials such as fibre for clothing, materials for shelter, fertiliser, fuel and medicine.
b. The resources also provide raw materials for plant and animal breeding.
c. It also helps to maintain the ecological balance necessary for survival of not only plants and animals but also humans on earth.
It is estimated that there are about 3-30 million plant, animal and other species on earth. Although species of birds and mammals have been well recorded, the insects, spiders, fungi, nematodes and bacteria are poorly known. India is ranked 6th among the 12 mega diversity countries.
The biological resources of India include 50,000 species of plants and 81,000 species of animals. There are more than 20,000 species of ants, 3,00,000 species of beetles, 28,000 species of fish and nearly 20,000 species of orchids.
However, due to habitat loss and over exploitation due to the expanding population, the biodiversity of the country is severely threatened and some species which were once abundantly found have now become rare or extinct. The Indian cheetah, Acinonyx jabatus is a classic example.
There is a growing concern towards the conservation of biodiversity and natural resources. The Wildlife Protection Act 1972, Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and the Forest Policy of 1988 are the results of such concern.