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Old 01-02-2011, 12:48 AM   #1
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Default Simplify the definition?

Does the definition for biodiversity seem confusing to you?
Does including species diversity,genetic diversity and habitat diversity confuse the whole issue of biodiversity loss?
Some people seem to think so.
Personally I think the more we know, the better able we will be to grasp the loss of biodiversity and what that entails.

My favorite definition...The totality of genes, species, and ecosystems in a region or in the world.
( naturalsciences.org/microsites/invasives/glossary.htm) (n/a, 843042)

So what do you think?

Does the word biodiversity hinder public awareness and what can we do about it? - The Pimm Group



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Article 2 of the Convention on Biological Diversity states:
“‘Biological diversity” means the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems.”
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Let’s simplify the definition of biodiversity. I propose “the variety of life.” It’s all-encompassing and, perhaps, more importantly, it’s easy to understand. It’s the same definition as that used on Ecokids, the only children’s site in the list of definitions. We need to take biodiversity beyond academia. Convoluted definitions will just be a hindrance. Biodiversity as “the variety of life” is simple and easy to understand, but still meaningful
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Old 01-02-2011, 07:01 AM   #2
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I think "the variety of life" would be helpful when I'm trying to communicate my interests to those outside the environmental movement. One can expand on that as appropriate for the audience and topic.
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Old 01-02-2011, 09:17 AM   #3
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I like the concept of "totality" in there because much of what is covered by the concept of biodiversity is microscopic as well as including the insects as well. And many of these are as yet unidentified.
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Old 01-02-2011, 10:53 AM   #4
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Seems reasonable enough

I would not use the word gene (due to being terribly pedantic). I would use a phrase like viable genomes say.

If a gene is likened a brick, (and I think the word gene is a bit meaningless now) then the above is like saying "the worlds architecture is the sum of the bricks, etc."
I might not have made the point very well.

My point is that genes are useless without a vehicle. Talking about genes is misleading in this sense, they cannot live in isolation. They must live in a genome. And the genome must be able to go forwards in time.
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Old 01-02-2011, 03:33 PM   #5
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Yes, but the variety of genes within a species and the numerous combinations possible within individuals of that species is the basis for adaptation to specific conditions.
A gene would not be like a brick but like the rules governing structural integrity.
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Old 01-02-2011, 03:35 PM   #6
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Right, Philip. I think interconnectedness is part of the meaning.
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Old 01-02-2011, 03:51 PM   #7
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What's a Genome?

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GENES
A gene is a small piece of the genome. It's the genetic equivalent of the atom: As an atom is the fundamental unit of matter, a gene is the fundamental unit of heredity.
The number of genes in the genome varies from species to species. More complex organisms tend to have more genes. Bacteria have several hundred to several thousand genes. Estimates of the number of human genes, by contrast, range from 25,000 to 30,000.
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GENOMES
A genome is all of a living thing's genetic material. It is the entire set of hereditary instructions for building, running, and maintaining an organism, and passing life on to the next generation. The whole shebang.
In most living things, the genome is made of a chemical called DNA. The genome contains genes, which are packaged in chromosomes and affect specific characteristics of the organism.

Imagine these relationships as a set of Chinese boxes nested one inside the other. The largest box represents the genome. Inside it, a smaller box represents the chromosomes. Inside that is a box representing genes, and inside that, finally, is the smallest box, the DNA.

In short, the genome is divided into chromosomes, chromosomes contain genes, and genes are made of DNA.
The word " genome " was coined in about 1930, even though scientists didn't know then what the genome was made of. They only knew that the genome was important enough, whatever it was, to have a name.

So genomes belong to species, but they also belong to individuals. Every giraffe on the African savanna has a unique genome, as does every elephant, acacia tree, and ostrich. Unless you are an identical twin, your genome is different from that of every other person on earth—in fact, it is different from that of every other person who has ever lived.
Though unique, your genome is still recognizably a human genome. The difference is simply a matter of degree: The genome differences between two people are much smaller than the genome differences between people and our closest relatives, the chimpanzees.
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Old 01-02-2011, 04:43 PM   #8
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A little reading on the subject.

Genes as Replicators

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Dawkins proposes that the active germ-line replicator - such as the genes found in human sex cells - is the optimon, or the unit benefiting from adaptations. Under this view, adaptations exist for the propagation not of the species nor of the individual, but of the optimon. An optimon benefits from any adaptation that is likely to increase its chances of being copied or the number of its descendants. Thus, an optimon in human sex cells clearly benefits from the survival and reproduction of its vehicle, or the body in which it finds itself. Thus, it is to the benefit of an optimon to produce successful adaptations in its vehicle.
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Richard Dawkins defines a gene as belonging to a class of entities called replicators, or entities that make copies of themselves. Genes are replicators because they commonly duplicate themselves during mitosis (cell division).
Obviously, natural selection cannot choose replicators directly, because it does not operate directly on DNA, but rather on the phenotypic effects expressed by genes. Therefore, natural selection does in a sense select at the organism level, because it makes proxy selections based on the adaptation of the phenotypes of various competing organisms. Natural selection operates directly on phenotypic adaptations and thus indirectly on the genes responsible for those phenotypes.
Optimons obviously benefit from the survival of their vehicles, so adaptations appear to favor the survival of the individual organism. However, some optimons do not always favor the individual organism - some may confer a measure of "altruistic" behavior toward kin because they are likely to share genes with a given organism. By coding for altruistic behavior, such genes encourage their own survival in the body of the relative benefiting from the behavior. Conversely, an optimon may "prefer" to favor, say, more offspring for a given organism over that individual organism's survival. Thus the optimon ensures its own replication even at the expense of its vehicle when necessary.
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Old 01-02-2011, 04:48 PM   #9
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OK, I did say I was not necessarily for simplification...lol.
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Old 01-03-2011, 02:18 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hazelnut View Post
Right, Philip. I think interconnectedness is part of the meaning.
I also think that the understanding the linkages is an integral part of biodiversity.

The "variety of life" is certainly simple, but biodiversity isn't. The "variety of life" just implies a large number of different life forms. Under that kind of definition, a zoo would have a high biodiversity.

Biodiversity, as it is most commonly used, is tied to ecosystems. It's about the relationships between all the life forms in a self-sustaining natural system. The butterfly caterpillar is linked to it's host plant, the flower is linked to it's pollinator(s), etc., etc.

Sometimes "easy to understand" is not the best solution. The "variety of life" definition for biodiversity would be easy, but I don't think it would be meaningful.
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