What is it about?

Biodiversity means the range of different life forms and how they interact. This 'critical review' explains scientists' current understanding of biodiversity. This includes: • The history of the term biodiversity • How its meaning has changed over time • How the range of life forms on earth has changed from prehistoric times to today • Where some of these changes have happened • What other changes have happened in those places at those times • Patterns that can then be seen that suggest causes of biodiversity. The review explains how biodiversity is affected by both natural circumstances and by human activities. For example, biodiversity is affected by the physical features of a landscape, and the climate conditions. It is also affected by building work, changes to how land is used, and use of natural resources. The review also explores some of the reasons for "biodiversity loss", which is the term used when the range of life forms is reduced. This can be due to extinction, which may be caused by pollution, or when habitats are destroyed. We are seeing some new causes of biodiversity loss, including noise and light pollution, and seabed exploration. Biodiversity is directly relevant to the following Sustainable Development Goals: SDG 15: Life on Land SDG 14: Life Below Water And indirectly relevant to the following Goals: SDG 13: Climate Action (changes in climate affect biodiversity) SDG 12: Responsible Consumption and Production (use of natural resources affects biodiversity) SDG 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities (urbanization affects biodiversity)

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Why is it important?

The review helps us understand why biodiversity is important, and how it is threatened. It talks about how many species have disappeared over time and the extent to which humans have played a role in this. Humans have caused some species to go extinct, like large animals and those on islands, but we have also helped protect some species and their habitats. We need to be more aware of how important biodiversity is, and work harder to protect it. The review emphasizes the urgent need for us to take action that will halt the decline of biodiversity and protect the ecosystems that support life on Earth. KEY TAKEAWAYS: For Policy Makers: • Implement and enforce policies for the conservation of biodiversity, considering both land and water ecosystems. • Incorporate biodiversity considerations into long-term planning and development strategies. • Collaborate internationally to address global consumption patterns that contribute to biodiversity decline. For Practitioners: • Integrate biodiversity conservation practices into daily land and water management activities. • Promote sustainable resource harvesting and reduce ecological footprints in operational practices. • Engage in research and monitoring efforts to understand and address emerging drivers of biodiversity decline. For the Public: • Advocate for sustainable practices in daily life to reduce individual ecological footprints. • Support local conservation initiatives and participate in community-based biodiversity projects. • Raise awareness about the importance of biodiversity and its impact on our well-being, encouraging responsible consumption.

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This page is a summary of: Biodiversity: Concepts, Patterns, Trends, and Perspectives, Annual Review of Environment and Resources, October 2022, Annual Reviews,
DOI: 10.1146/annurev-environ-120120-054300.
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