The Lower Sugar River Watershed is well known for its wealth of biodiversity. But what is biodiversity?
Biodiversity can mean one of several things depending on scale and context. Taking the largest view, biodiversity refers to the variations of all forms of life on Earth, from the genetic level up to the species and community levels. However, biodiversity can be measured on a smaller scale too, such as the level of biodiversity found in a natural area or in a watershed. Species richness, or the number of plant and animal species found in an area, is often a measure of that area’s biodiversity.
Species Depend on Biodiversity
Maintaining a high degree of biodiversity is important because of interactions in nature that require many species to depend on other species in one way or another. In other words, biodiversity is important to maintaining the web of life. If one species goes extinct, it could have a dramatic effect on other species that persist. Interactions between and among plants, animals, and even soil biota can be complex and are often not fully understood, so conserving the entire biodiversity of a region is an important endeavor.
People Benefit from Biodiversity
Humans depend on the diversity of life. A healthy biodiverse ecosystem benefits people in many ways. From enjoying the beauty of a rare wildflower or endangered landscape, to the protection of soil and water that support the production of our food to the continued health of rare ecosystems, the level of biodiversity of a watershed has wide-ranging implications for the quality of life that we enjoy.