How to Understand the Concept of Biodiversity

"Without knowing it, we utilize hundreds of products each day that owe their origin to wild animals and plants. Indeed our welfare is intimately tied up with the welfare of wildlife. Well may conservationists proclaim that by saving the lives of wild species, we may be saving our own." ~ Norman Myers

When you first start learning about biodiversity, it is important to understand what biodiversity consists of before learning more about how preserving biodiversity is important to ensuring a sustained and healthy way of life for humanity and the planet. This article provides a brief overview to help you quickly grasp the meaning of biodiversity.


  1. Image titled Understand the Concept of Biodiversity Step 1
    Learn about biodiversity. Biodiversity is a shorthand way of saying biological diversity. Biodiversity includes all of the various forms of life on Earth. You might also know it as "the web of life". This web of life is divided into three parts to help simplify a very complex concept:
    • Genes
    • Species
    • Ecosystem
  2. Image titled Understand the Concept of Biodiversity Step 2
    Learn about genes. Genes are special codes or instructions that are found in all cells. The codes give organisms different characteristics; this is what determines the way that we look and behave. For example, it is genes that determine whether we have blue or brown eyes, big or small feet or the ability to sing or not etc. Genetic diversity is a key part of biodiversity that makes people, animals and plants unique.
  3. Image titled Understand the Concept of Biodiversity Step 3
    Learn about species. A species is a group of organisms that can reproduce. Every day we see different species as we go about our daily lives, including humans, dogs, cats, birds and worms, making species diversity the most obvious type of biodiversity. Our planet, Earth, supports millions of species, many of which we are yet to identify!
    • Within a species, there is genetic diversity, as discussed in the step before. This means that groups of organisms that share a common ancestor and have the same characteristics are identified as a breed for animals and as a variety for plants.
  4. Image titled Understand the Concept of Biodiversity Step 4
    Learn about ecosystems. At its most basic, an ecosystem is the nature in which all species live. Ecology is the study of species in their natural environment. You are probably aware already that there are many types of ecosystems on Earth. Some of them are more familiar than others but all are equally important in terms of biodiversity. Here are some types of ecosystem:
    • Mountain
    • Peatlands
    • Desert
    • Forest
    • Marine
    • Snow
  5. Image titled Understand the Concept of Biodiversity Step 5
    Write your own report on biodiversity. For a class project, it can be both fun and educational to produce a small report, booklet or mini-essay about biodiversity to help increase your class' awareness of what biodiversity is. Suggestions for a report or project include:
    • A photo essay of the different types of ecosystems and species
    • A booklet on what biodiversity is with illustrations drawn by class members
    • A mini-essay detailing what you think biodiversity means to you and include pictures
    • Make models of biodiversity elements from paper, plasticine, pipe cleaners etc. Create an ecosystem; divide into class groups and choose an ecosystem each and hold a show to display each one. Have each group describe the important aspects of their chosen ecosystem.
    • Hold a show-and-tell event in class; have all the class bring photos/magazine cut-outs or perhaps toy animals, pieces of plant life from the garden and family photos etc., to describe the basic elements of biodiversity.


  • Did you know that in the Amazon rain forest, a single tree can provide a home for up to 2,000 species of birds, insects, fungi, epiphytes and microorganisms?
  • At present, there are over 375,000 known species of plants that produce flowers and 15,000 known species of mammals and birds. There are thousands of small organisms or microorganisms that scientists have yet to identify.
  • For teachers: Use this article to help inspire class discussion and ideas for further biodiversity projects.

Things You'll Need

  • Photos (family, animals, plants etc.) or magazine images
  • Project workbooks or paper (use recycled where possible!)
  • Scissors, glue etc. for making collages and other presentation methods
  • Models and modeling materials
  • Library books and internet access for further research work

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Biodiversity | Science for Kids