Biodiversity is the variety of life found in a particular habitat or region. Biodiversity may refer to various plant and animal species as well as genetic or ecological biodiversity. Biodiversity is essential for maintaining healthy ecosystems and providing humans with the means to satisfy basic needs, such as food, water and medicine.
Genetic biodiversity refers to the variety of genes that exist within the population of a specific species. Genetic biodiversity prevents disease within plant and animal populations and allows a species to adapt to changes within its environment. Ecological biodiversity is the diversity of ecosystems, habitats and natural communities. Ecological biodiversity is the way in which different species interact with each other and their surrounding environments. Ecological biodiversity provides a range of services, such as pollination, climate regulation, nutrient cycling and water purification. These services are essential for ensuring the planet remains habitable.
Non-natural environmental changes resulting from human activities have accelerated the rate of species extinction. Threats to biodiversity include climate loss, commercial exploitation, pollution and climate change. These threats have rapidly altered natural ecosystems and placed serious strain on the diversity of species found on Earth. As of 2015, about one-third of all known species are threatened with extinction.