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What is Biodiversity? Know the difference between In Situ and Ex Situ conservation

Tulika Tandon

What is Biodiversity?

Biological diversity is the variety of all life forms ranging from unicellular organisms like bacteria, fungi, protozoa to multicellular organisms like plants and animals and their genes of which they are a part of.

Biodiversity forms the foundation of the vast array of ecosystem services that critically contribute to human well-being.

According to the most widely accepted definition of Biodiversity,  “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.” 

What is the conservation of biodiversity?

The conservation of biodiversity means protecting all the various species that live on Earth and also protecting the ecosystems that let these species thrive and evolve. 

Loss of Biodiversity 

Several factors such as pollution, erosion, evolution, urbanization, industrialisation, population and depletion lead to the loss of biodiversity.

The loss of biodiversity directly impacts the food chains linked to it. 

Objectives of conservation of biodiversity

  1. To protect the species diversity
  2. To ensure the sustainable management of the species
  3. To prevent and restore ecological processes and life support systems. 

There are two methods for the conservation of biodiversity:

  • In Situ
  • Ex Situ

In-Situ conservation:

In-situ conservation of biodiversity is done within the natural habitat of the species. This method allows for the protection of the natural ecosystem that the species live in.

The In situ conservation includes the development of:

  1. National Parks
  2. Wildlife Sanctuaries
  3. Biosphere Reserves
National parks are those areas that focus on the protection of the natural environment of the species. They get involved in providing recreation and enjoyment activities for the general public. Within a national park are present its landscapes including the flora and fauna in their natural state.
Wildlife sanctuaries are naturally occurring areas that can protect the endangered species from being hunted, poached or killed by predators. In a wildlife sanctuary, no animal is bred for commercial gains. It provides a safe refuge to all the wild animals.
Biosphere Reserves are multipurpose areas that protect the wildlife, the traditional lifestyle of the inhabitant and domesticated plants and animals. This place allows for tourist activities. 

Advantages of In Situ conservation:

  1. It is a cost-effective method to conserve biodiversity
  2. In this type of arrangement, many living organisms can be conserved simultaneously
  3. Since the organisms can stay in their natural ecosystem, they are allowed to evolve to better environmental conditions

Ex Situ Conservation:

Ex-situ conservation involves breeding and maintenance of endangered species in artificial ecosystems. These are man-made ecosystems like zoos, nurseries, botanical gardens, gene banks and others. In such an arrangement there is little or no competition for food, water and space between animal species.

Advantages of Ex Situ Conservation:

  1. The arrangement provides for all the essential life-sustaining conditions like food, climate, veterinary care etc
  2. Artificial breeding methods can be used to successful breeding and create many more offsprings thus saving many endangered species. 
  3. The species can be protected from poaching and population management can be done effectively

A threat to biodiversity is a threat to humankind.  The methods and strategies that are applied to save biodiversity from being extinct are useful for ecological balance maintenance. Since biodiversity provides economic and ethical benefits to humankind, it becomes our moral responsibility to conserve it.

Know what is Biodiversity Governance


How many types of Biodiversity conservation are there?

Biodiversity conservation can be divided into Insitu conservation and Ex-situ conservation

List the importance of Biodiversity

Biodiversity is important as it provides functioning ecosystems that supply oxygen, clean air and water, pollination of plants, pest control, wastewater treatment and many ecosystem services.

What does Biodiversity stand for?

Biodiversity is the shortened form of two words "biological" and "diversity"

What are the three types of Biodiversity?

Genetic, species, and ecosystem diversity are the three types of biodiversity

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