Environmental Education on the Web

Biodiversity Resources

Biodiversity Species Diversity Genetic Diversity Ecosystem Diversity Biodiversity Links

Biodiversity resource links are found here and throughout the pages in our Biodiversity section.

 "The Threatened Biosphere" - by Edward O. Wilson

Ten Reasons to Save the Diversity of Life - by Robert M. Riordan/NatureServe

Biological Diversity   (World Resources Institute)
Biological Diversity:  What it is and why it is important.  Ecosystems and Habitats. Biological Diversity is divided into genetic diversity, species diversity, ecosystem diversity, and cultural diversity.
Relative number of described species in major taxa (categories)
Biologists classify life on earth into main categories (or taxa) of living things.  Find out how humans are distinguished from other living organisms.  See a listing of described species by type.

World Atlas of Biodiversity - Interactive map.  Click on main categories to see sub-categories for a selection of maps to display.  Information is provided for each subject below the map as new maps are displayed.

National Biological Information Infrastructure (U.S. Geological Survey)
Website links and information on General Biodiversity, Genetic Diversity, Species Diversity (all Biota, Viruses, Protists, Fungi, Plants, Animals), Ecological or Ecosystem Diversity, Geopolitical Perspectives (geographic/political focus), Systematics/Taxonomy (identification, description, naming, classification of the world's biota), and Collections of the world's known biodiversity (museums, zoos, arboreta, botanical gardens, research collections). 

Classification of Living Things:  An Introduction to the Principles of Taxonomy
With a Focus on Human Classification Categories
(Palomar College)

Guide to Internet Resources for Biological Taxonomy and Classification (Montgomery College)

Why taxonomy matters (BioNET International - the global network for taxonomy)

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
(IUCN - International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources)
IUCN works together with the world's leading scientists in assessing the status of species, subspecies, varieties and subpopulations of biodiversity on a global scale.  The taxa assessed for the (IUCN) Red List are the bearers of genetic diversity and the building blocks of ecosystems, and information on their conservation status and distribution provides the foundation for making informed decisions about preserving biodiversity from local to global levels.

Center for Biological Diversity
Efforts are underway by some groups to weaken the Endangered Species Act, which was put into place to protect threatened and endangered species from extinction.  The Center for Biological Diversity is fighting to keep and improve the laws that protect species.
Click on links at top of page for information on (includes pictures) :
Amphibians, Birds (Marine, Pacific Islands, Raptors, Songbirds), Fish (Anadromous, Desert Fish, Trout, other Native Fish), Invertebrates, Mammals (Marine, Predators, Other), Plants, and Reptiles.
Click on links on side of page for:
ESA Fact Sheet - Learn information about the Endangered Species Act and what the Center for Biological Diversity is doing to fight for laws that protect species.
Nature's Finest Forests - Click on the U.S. map to bring up photos.
Links to facts on Polar Bears, Condor, Oceans and General information.
(The Fact Sheets are in .pdf format - wait for them to load into your computer).

Biodiversity - Everything Counts! (Kids pages from the American Museum of Natural History)

"The World Biodiversity Information Network (REMIB) is a shared computerized system of biological information (it includes databases of a curatorial, taxonomic, ecological, cartographic, bibliographic, ethno-biological type, use of catalogues on natural resources and other subject matters), based on an academic inter-institutional decentralized and international organization, formed by research and higher education centers, both public and private, that possess both scientific biological collections and data banks."  "Gathering these collections in an information network allows not only for the connection of the main databanks, the updating of information and direct contact with specialists, but also access, exchange and consultation of data open to the public in general throughout the world."

The Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History Human Origins Program
In Search of What Makes us Human

Human Genome Resources - National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI)
A major challenge of the Human Genome Project is to organize, analyze, and interpret the data emerging from worldwide sequencing projects into a "human blueprint."   NCBI's website is being used by biomedical researchers from around the world to assist in their research efforts in deciphering the human genetic code.   Sequencing of the human genome signifies the beginning of an exciting new era of science in providing new insights into human biology and new approaches for combating disease.

Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms - to help people without scientific backgrounds understand the terms and concepts used in genetic research.  click on the term of interest to open a page with a wealth of information, including the term's pronunciation, audio information, images and additional links to related terms. Students, teachers and parents will find the glossary an easy-to-use, always available learning source on genetics.

Other advanced glossaries may be found here (scroll down to Glossaries)

Rapid Biological Inventories
Many tropical countries face an urgent need for rapid assessment of their biodiversity
When biological communities rich in biodiversity are in imminent danger, teams of scientists are sent in to carry out rapid biological surveys of plants and animals, and evaluate habitats and ecosystems.  The results are then sent to key decision makers and posted on the web to help assess and guide conservation measures and action as quickly as possible.  The Field Museum (Chicago) is the lead coordinator of Rapid Biological Inventories, working in partnership with worldwide organizations.

All Species Foundation - A project that has been underway for 2 years to build an encyclopedia and inventory of life, and access to information about the vast and amazing biodiversity of this planet.  The mission of ALL Species is to stimulate the development of tools and resources to accelerate the discovery and description of all life on Earth in 25 years; to discover, identify and catalog the millions of unknown living species on Earth.  Such an inventory will result in the ability to count populations of species and determine endangered species.  It will bring a new understanding of nature and tremendously enable our fields of knowledge in Natural History, Conservation, Ecology, Evolutionary and Molecular Biology, and Biologic Wealth.  Speed is crucial and the project will require work and input from many more biologists and the input of many thousands of people from all over the world to be successful.  If you are interested in assisting in this endeavor, see website for details.

Center for Plant Conservation - What is Biodiversity?

Biodiversity Hotspots (Conservation International)
"The most remarkable places on Earth are also the most threatened."
Click on the Hotspots Explorer interactive map to learn about the world's most threatened reservoirs of plant and animal life.
"The Tropical Andes Hotspot is the richest and most diverse of all the Hotspots on the planet - it is simply unmatched," says CI President Russell Mittermeier. "In just over a million square kilometers it holds 15 to 17 percent of the world's entire plant life; it's an awe-inspiring place that has been aptly described as the epicenter of global biodiversity."
(Press Release, "South America Banks on Regional Strategy to Safeguard Quarter of Earth's Biodiversity," 9/16/03)

Biodiversity - Species
More links are provided here in our section on Biodiversity.  Discoveries of new species are within these links.

Exploring Biodiversity in the United Kingdom

Viva Natura - Mexico is one of 12 countries in the world (out of 170 countries) that is considered as "megadiverse"  (click on Mexican Biodiversity link).  Click on Animals for Mexican fauna, Plants for Mexican flora, and  Places for Mexican Biodiversity Hotspots and Protected Areas.  Illustrated Database of Mexican Biodiversity is shielded by Mexican Conservation Organization - Conexion con la Vida Silvestre, A.C., dedicated to the study and conservation of Mexican wildlife.  Listen to sounds of birds, mammals, amphibians, and reptiles.  Photo sections contain images of:  Animals, Plants, Places, and Satellite images of Mexico from NASA.  Some great maps are provided showing: various ecosystems, states, physiogeography, major ecosystems, ecological zoning, diversity of flora, annual precipitation and temperatures, biogeographical regions and priority terrestrial regions.  The Fun and Education link has some interesting things to do. An Identity-X link leads you to photos of animals that haven't been identified with 100% certainty.  Take a look at them - maybe you can identify some, or know someone who can. 

Biodiversity Hotspots in Australia 

Atlas of the Biodiversity of California Guide to the state's rich diversity of biological resources, including maps, illustrations and photographs. Available for purchase through the California Dept. of Fish and Game.

Explanation of the Naming of Living Organisms - The Naming of Trees
(Prepared by Dr. Craig R. McKinley, North Carolina State University)

Natural Perspective
Taxonomy, or classification, is the most relevant to this site: much of this site is organized according to Taxonomic principles; in addition, closely related sciences such as Ecology, Geology, and Climatology provide other perspectives on the world we live in.  Species Index contains photos, with taxonomic names.  Click on links for overviews and info on taxonomy, 4 of the kingdoms of life, and short essays on hiking excursions through nature. 

The Shape of Life (PBS 8-part Series, 2002)
Episodes overview:  What was the first animal? How do we know? How did animals begin to move? Are the descendants of these first movers alive today? What animals were the first to hunt?  Do you need a head to get ahead? How did animals move from the ocean to land?  Why are more than 80% of living species arthropods? What is the purpose of sea shells? How did the struggle for survival lead to animal diversity? Is one type of animal better than the rest? Can you have social behavior without a brain? What caused the rapid appearance of new kinds of animals 520 million years ago? How do humans fit into the shape of life?  Why have animals with backbones enjoyed such success?
Click on the links to the various scientists' biographies to learn how they first became interested in their careers, and advice they have for young people.

Where did human beings come from?  Evolution or Creation...or a combination?

Special Notes: 

Some countries and/or individuals are accused of selling off biological resources to the highest bidders, resulting in the destruction of vast amounts of important ecosystems and biodiversity just to gain money - without regard for the harmful destruction of habitat and endangered, rare and undiscovered species, or the regional and global impacts of their actions.

* * *

Epigenetics - a relatively new science
"Startling study on toxins' harm"  (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, 6-3-05)
Washington State University findings show that disorders can be passed on without genetic mutations. 
"If a pregnant woman is exposed to a pesticide at the wrong time, the study suggests, her children, grandchildren and the rest of her descendants could inherit the damage and diseases caused by the toxin -- even if it doesn't involve a genetic mutation."  

Dr. Michael Skinner, Director of the Center for Reproductive Biology at Washington State University, explains this does not cause a change in the DNA sequence, but a chemical modification of the DNA.  This type of change is classified as an epigenetic change.

"At the moment we humans speak something on the order of 6,500 languages. If we look at the number of languages we will likely pass on to our children, that number is 600."

"Cultural diversity, as measured by linguistic diversity, is fading as human society becomes more interconnected globally."


Stuart L. Pimm, Ph.D.
Nicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences,
Duke University


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