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The "Exploring Globalization" textbook defines biodiversity as "a variety of plants and animals." Sure, that is a basic definition to describe it, but if you think about all of the different species of plants and animals in the world, you will see that biodiversity isn't just a simple term. Wikipedia.org has three definitions for this term. The first one is a very straightforward and direct definition. It describes biodiversity as "the variation of life at all levels of biological organization." The second definition states that "Biodiversity is the measure of relative diversity among organisms present in different ecosystems. Finally, the third definition is often used by ecologists and it defines biodiversity as "the totality of genes, species, and ecosystems of a region."
World Atlas for Biodiversity

Genetic Diversity,
Genetic Diversity is the variety of genes in an ecosystem. It is important because it is what causes adaptation and evolution in an ecosystem. If there is a larger variety of species, then there is a larger amount of generic diversity. Different genes will have an advantage and remain high if the environment is always changing.

A model of DNA. Image: Paul A. Thiessen (www.chemicalgraphics.com)
A model of DNA. Image: Paul A. Thiessen (www.chemicalgraphics.com)
Species Diversity.
Species diversity is the main focus of biodiversity. Species are what make an ecosystem. They create an environment where they each have a specific role in that environment.

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Biodiversity or biological diversity is defined by the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity as:

"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 part: this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems."

Did you know?
Because the demand for bananas has gone up so much, much of the tropical forest must be cut down. This is a major problem, because it is destroying the homes of many animals, and reducing the biodiversity in these rainforests drastically.

This is a picture of a banana tree in Dominica, West Indies.
This is a picture of a banana tree in Dominica, West Indies.
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This is a picture of what has happened to the rainforest over time. People are cutting down the rainforest to create large areas for banana growth, and it is negatively influencing biodiversity.