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What is Biodiversity?
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Defining Biodiversity - King County
Biodiversity in the American West 1. EcoWest missionInform and advance conservation in the AmericanWest by analyzing, visualizing, and sharing dataon environmental trends. EcoWest decks This is one of six presentations that illustrate key environmental metrics. These wildlife neighbors help enrich our lives and anchor us to our homes through defining a sense of place.
Biodiversity in Alabama
It is no coincidence that each state in the union has formally adopted such natural symbols as state birds, wildflowers, and trees. Our biological riches, however, go well beyond such well-known creatures, and from a conservation perspective many of the species of greatest interest—and concern—are those that are not so readily apparent to casual observers, or are extremely localized. Salamanders, for example, are often evident only to those setting out to actively look for them, but play a huge ecological role.
Ranging in size from tiny, soil dwelling creatures to aquatic behemoths nearly a yard long, there are more different types of salamanders in the United States than in any other country on Earth. For sheer number of species, however, insects dwarf all other groups of organisms, with more than 90, different types documented in the United States. These include such popular creatures as butterflies, which together with their moth and skipper relatives account for more than 12, U.
As the noted naturalist J. By way of comparison, there are more species of freshwater fishes in a single river in Tennessee the Duck , than are found on the entire European continent! A surprising number of freshwater groups reach their maximum diversity worldwide in the United States, including crayfishes, caddisflies, stoneflies, mayflies, and freshwater mussels.
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No discussion of the diversity of life in the United States would be complete without at least a brief mention of the fascinating and unique flora and fauna of Hawaii. Having emerged as volcanos from the Pacific Ocean floor, the Hawaiian Islands are the most isolated large land mass in the world—about 2, miles separates the islands from the nearest continent. Because of this extreme isolation, relatively few plants and animals were able to naturally colonize the islands.
Those that did, however, have evolved into one of the most distinctive and spectacular assemblages of species in the world. The term endemic refers to species that are restricted to a single area. The Hawaiian honeycreepers, a group of birds, illustrates the amazing evolutionary diversification that has occurred.
From just one or at most two original colonists, more than 30 species of honeycreeper evolved, some with thick, parrot-like beaks specialized for cracking seeds while others developed long, curved beaks for sipping nectar. While some at-risk plants and animals gain formal legal protection under the Endangered Species Act, others are identified as imperiled through a system developed NatureServe and its network of state natural heritage programs.