March 22 – Diverse, Diverser, Diversest

Today’s factismal: There are about four times as many species on land as there are in the ocean.

Biodiversity is the hot new term in biology and ecology; it refers to the number of species and the number of individuals in each species in an area. An area with high biodiversity is like a teenager’s room, with lots of stuff strewn about. An area with low biodiversity is like the inside of an empty room, with very little stuff anywhere. And, generally speaking, when it comes to biodiversity, more is better.

That’s 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.

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)

But not all areas are equally biodiverse. For example, the USA is the sixteenth most biodiverse country in the world. 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. Not bad, but there are fifteen countries with even more biodiversity.

The number of different species on Earth has increased over time (After Dragon's Flight)

The number of different species on Earth has increased over time (After Dragon’s Flight)

And any one of those countries is far more diverse than the oceans near it are. Overall, there is about twenty-five times more biodiversity on land than there are in the ocean. In part,t hat is because there are simply more species; an estimated 6.6 million species live on land and just 2.1 million live in the oceans. And in part it is due to the number of critters that live in each area. Swamps have nearly twenty times the number of animals (measured as total biomass) as the open ocean does.

The problem with all of that diversity is that nobody can recognize all of the critters. 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/

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s