what a unique planet we live on. Here, life exists in a great
variety of fascinating and exquisite forms. Every plant and animal
found in the many habitats of our planet is part of an interconnected
and complex tapestry of life. This intricate relationship among
plants, animals and their environments is known as biological
diversity - or "biodiversity" for short.
fabric" has evolved over billions of years, yet the balance is
so fragile its threads can unravel in an evolutionary blink of
an eye. Humans are part of this complex tapestry and have greatly
affected the biodiversity on Earth.
activities - washing a car, brushing one's teeth, going to the
grocery store - can affect the quality of the air we breathe,
the water we drink and the soil we depend on for our food. As
the world becomes more developed, it is important that we take
time to examine how our personal choices can affect the health
of the Earth.
have contributed to the loss of many species of plants and animals
on Earth. Because of the integrated relationship among living
things in Nature, the current loss of biodiversity is quickly
becoming one of the world's most pressing problems.
is hard to pinpoint what exactly compels us to hike Mt. Rainier
on a hot summer day, to sit quietly on the beach to listen to
the surf and admire the setting sun, or to stare in awe at a pod
of whales frolicking in the cold waters of the San Juan Islands.
But it is certain that we humans are drawn to and are a part of
effort, we can continue to enjoy and preserve a lasting legacy
of the Earth's natural wonders for future generations.
come learn how
insects dominate in the
this section, "The Big Picture," we hope
to tell you about biodiversity, how it's measured
and about some of the indicators pointing to the
growing extinction of species on Earth.
is what's in the other sections on the menu bar
Visit four major ecosystems to understand biodiversity's
effects on Earth and its inhabitants.
Find out how you can help preserve biodiversity
Neat links to other sites that offer more information
on a variety of topics covered on this website.
Send us your feedback and questions here.
recommend following the starfish for the whole story!
estimate between 10 and 100 million species of living
things exist on Earth. Only 1.7 million have been