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What is alpha diversity?

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Quick Answer

Alpha diversity is the first part of a three-tiered scale for measuring the biodiversity of an area. An area's alpha diversity is a measure of the diversity of species within an ecosystem. Obtaining this measurement usually entails walking the ground and counting or collecting representatives of each species encountered.

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Full Answer

Alpha diversity is subtly different from the other two measurements, known as beta and gamma. Alpha diversity deals with species in a single area, while beta diversity is a measure of the difference in diversity between ecosystems in a given area. Gamma diversity is an expression of the overall diversity of an area regardless of the ecosystems where the species are found.

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