What is biodiversity

The Earth is inhabited by a rich and varied array of living organisms, whose species, the genetic diversity of individuals and the ecosystems that they inhabit constitute what is known as biodiversity1.

"Ecosystems are communities of interacting organisms and the physical environment in which they live. Ecosystems are not just assemblages of species- they are combined systems of organic and inorganic matter and natural forces that interact and change. Ecosystems are intricately woven together by food chains and nutrient cycles; they are living sums greater than their parts. Their complexity and dynamism contribute to their productivity, but make them challenging to manage." 2

Human beings are among the millions of species that live on the planet, and as such interact in very different ways with the rest of the species and with the ecosystems. Human survival and that of all other living beings depends on these relationships.

Figure 1
Levels of organization of the concept of biodiversity

Note: Costa Rica’s biodiversity is administered by the Ministry of the Environment and Energy, through the National System of Conservation Areas and the National Commission for Biodiversity Management.

Summary by Vilma Obando, December 2003

11Watson, R; Heywood, V.;Baste, I; Diaz, B; Gámez, R.; Janetos, T.; Reid, W; Ruark, G. 1995. World Evaluation of Biodiversity. Summary for Policymakers. UNDP. P. 9-10
2WRI. 2000. Guide to World Resources 2000 – 2001. People and Ecosystems: the Fraying Web of Life. Summary. World Resources Institute (WRI), Washington D.C., US., p.3


Photo: Manuel A. Zumbado, INBio

Photo: Manuel A. Zumbado, INBio

Photo: Angel Solís, INBio
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