Tropical forests and biodiversity conservation: a new ecological imperative

  • Ian R. Swingland


Biodiversity, or biological diversity, is the number, variety and variability of living organisms. It is used today both as a loose description to embrace the richness and variation of the living world and politically within the context of economics and development for the purposes of national and international conventions and agreements. It has three related components at different levels of organization: genes, species and ecosystems. Genetic diversity is the basis of biodiversity and, although the possible combinations of gene sequences will probably exceed the total number of atoms in the universe, only a small fraction (<1%) of genetic material in higher organisms is outwardly expressed in the form and function of the organism (Thomas, 1992). Species diversity is commonly considered the measure of biodiversity: 1.7 million species have been described although estimates for the total number of extant species range from 5–40 million (even 100 million), mainly consisting of insects and microorganisms. However such estimates, and the numbers of species already identified, depend on how they were described as distinct by taxonomists and systematists — ecologically, morphologically, physiologically, genetically, mathematically? The need for commonly agreed names which define a distinct species is vital to conservation but much confusion and dissent can arise (see also Rojas, 1992).


Tropical Forest Global Biodiversity Patchy Environment Tropical Moist Forest Common Property Resource 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1993

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  • Ian R. Swingland

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