A species is a group of organisms that can interbreed to produce fertile offspring. Individuals of the same species have more characteristics in common than they do with organisms of a different species.
Organisms of the same species:
- have more characteristics in common than they do with organisms of a different species, and
- can interbreed to produce fertile offspring.
Sometimes a species may have different kinds or breeds that show great variation, but the individuals still belong to the same species. Different breeds of pedigree dog are like this.
Similar species tend to live in similar habitats. Closely related species share a relatively recent ancestor- a ‘common ancestor’. If they live in different type of habitat, closely related species may have different features.
In the 18th century, Carl Linnaeus started the modern system of putting species of organism into certain groups and giving them scientific names. Each species is given a name using Latin words, so that the same name can be used all over the world. For example, the scientific name for human beings is Homo sapiens. The first part of the name tells you the genus, while the second part of the name tells you the particular species in that genus.
It can be difficult to classify some organisms into species. For example, evolution is a continuing process. Some organisms can only reproduce asexually, while some species can interbreed to produce hybrids. For example the liger is a hybrid cross between a male lion and a female tiger.
Biodiversity is a word that is used to describe the differences between individuals, species and environments. These differences are what make up the term biodiversity. The strict definition of biodiversity is the life differences or variations. The word itself is made up of the two smaller words, "bio" and "diversity." The word "bio" means life, while the word "diversity" indicates differences or variations.
This video looks at Biodiversity
Different Levels of Biodiversity
Genetic diversity refers to differences within a species. This can be seen in the differences in appearance from individual to individual. This can include eye color, hair color, height and build in humans.
Species diversity is the difference between one species and another. This can be as close as the dog to the wolf, or it can be as far apart as the cat to the human. Having a wide variety of different species in an area is a sign of good biodiversity.
Ecosystem diversity are the differences between one environment to another environment. An example of this would be the differences between a rainforest and a desert, a grass plain to the ocean.
Importance of Biodiversity
Biodiversity is important for the continuation of life. If there is a high level of biodiversity within a species, then the species is better able to adapt to challenges they may face. This can include changes in temperature, the extinction of a prey animal or a shift in plant life.
The biodiversity of a species in a specific environment can prove whether the environment is healthy and there is a balance. It is important to note that the number of species is not comparable from one environment to another, but they can be compared from one like environment to another. Do not think desert to rainforest, but rather desert to desert.
The biodiversity of an environment is also very important. By having a variation in the environments, there can be a variation in the species of plants and animals living on the planet. It is best to have a large number of different climates for the variations of life to evolve in.