October 5 – We’re Number Sixteen!

Today’s factismal: The USA is the world’s sixteenth most biologically diverse country.

There’s a good reason that one of the most beloved songs about America lauds its fruited plains and amber waves of grain; it reflects the diversity that is inherent to the American way of life. And it turns out that our diversity is more than skin deep – it goes all the way down into our ecosphere!

There are fifteen countries in the world that are more biodiverse than we are (Data from Conservation International)

There are fifteen countries in the world that are more biodiverse than we are
(Data from Conservation International)

Not including the fish, we have more than 600 different species of vertebrates (critters with backbones). We have more than 2,000 different species of plant (that’s a lot of amber waves!). And (not including politicians) we have more than 91,000 different species of insect!

This biodiversity is important because, as the biology wonks would put it, “life enables life”. A region with more biodiversity can create more opportunities for new species to develop and for old ones to thrive. There are more opportunities for ecological success and the failure of any single species isn’t a catastrophe the way it would be in a non-diverse area.

Bison in Yellowstone National Park (My camera)

Bison in Yellowstone National Park
(My camera)

The problem with all of that diversity is that nobody can recognize all of the critters (not even Sheldon). That’s why iSpot has come together to help folks identify what they’ve found. This citizen scientist powered site focuses on Great Britain but identifies animals and plants that people have seen anywhere in the world. So if you’ve got a question about the name of the critter in your picture, take it over to iSpot!
http://www.ispotnature.org/

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