The biodiversity here on Earth is astounding.
It comes together to make the planet we live on what it is – without biodiversity, the world would just another rocky planet orbiting around a star! Which to be fair, is quite amazing in itself!
Our planet is special though, and it’s biodiversity that makes it so.
Here are 60 fascinating facts about biodiversity in 2023.
Biodiversity is the term given for the wide variety of all life found here on Earth.
From slow worms to Sumatran tigers, bacteria to bonobos, algae, fungi and microscopic life – the diversity found on our weird and wonderful planet is breathtaking!
A single life form is known as a species. This is a natural unit of similar individuals who are capable of breeding together and exchanging genes.
Since time began, all species have had to adapt with change in the environment. If they didn’t manage to cope, they’ve probably become an extinct species.
Each and every organism found within a habitat has learnt to work together in one way or another. Organisms have found that being beneficial to one species, often brings a benefit back round to you. This is what helps forms ecosystems to make an environment a more stable place to live.
Everything that lives within the oceans, rainforests, cities, deserts, tundra, ice-caps, rocks, soil and more is collectively known as biodiversity.
Why is biodiversity so important?
It’s not just the volume of life here on Earth, but also how all the very differing species interact together and with the world around them, which is important.
Organisms rely on each other (biodiversity) to survive. We’re connected, and always have been, to a wider natural ecosystem. Each and every part of this amazing web of life enables us to not only survive, but to thrive! When it’s full to the brim of difference, it’s better for us all.
60 Fascinating Facts About Biodiversity
Let’s get to it with our biodiversity facts. The 60 stats have been split up into a few handy sections, including the UK, global, ocean, rainforest, soil and fun facts about biodiversity.
UK biodiversity facts
1. The UK boasts more than 70,000 known species of animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms.
2. There has been a 13% decline in the average abundance of wildlife in the UK since the 1970s.
3. According to a number of scientists, humans are the most dangerous species in global history!
4. 26% of the UK’s mammals are at a very real risk of becoming extinct, while 22% of seabird species studied have declined in the last five decades.
5. 33 different species have gone extinct in the UK since the 1500s. These include the more charismatic lynx and wolves, but also smaller but no less important species such as the apple bumblebee, Mitten’s beardless moss, and the common tree frog.
6. Slow worms are probably the most frequently seen reptile in Britain.
7. Although honeybees get most of the credit, at least 1,500 insect species pollinate plants in the UK. In some parts of the world, birds, bats, and even lizards also get involved.
8. There are over 600 species of spider in the UK. Most are native, but some have been introduced accidentally through trade and many are increasing their range across the country.
9. Peregrines nest in over 200 urban or manmade locations across the UK today.
10. London now has the second-highest urban peregrine population anywhere in the world, after New York City.
Global biodiversity facts
11. Trees and other plants clean the air we breathe and help us tackle the global challenge of climate change by absorbing carbon dioxide.
13. Pollinators such as birds, bees, and other insects, are estimated to be responsible for a third of the world’s crop production.
14. Without pollinators we would not have apples, cherries, blueberries, almonds, and many other foods we eat.
15. We are living in the age of humans, a time referred to by many as the Anthropocene.
16. Human activities are overusing the earth’s bio-capacity by an estimated 56%.
17. There are no concrete figures on the number of species which actually exist on our planet. 1.2 million species have been identified and described but estimates range from 10 to 100 million – experts assume there are approximately 15 million existing species.
18. The current rate of global extinction of species is 100 to 1,000 times faster than the assumed natural extinction rate.
19. For thousands of years around 3,000 types of wheat, 5,000 types of rice and 6,000 types of maize were cultivated. Today, however, only a handful of high-yield breeds are grown.
20. Genetic diversity and wealth of species are closely interconnected. The lower the genetic diversity within a species, the greater the risk that the species will die out.
Ocean biodiversity stats
21. Life from the oceans provides the main source of animal protein for many people.
22. Coral reefs and mangrove forests act as natural defences protecting coastlines from waves and storms. They may also help with nature-based solutions to climate change.
23. The world’s oceans are key components of our global ecosystem – from the food it provides to the role it plays in climate and weather regulation, ocean health is intrinsically linked to human health.
24. Blue Carbon = Carbon fixed and stored in marine and coastal ecosystems, including the organisms that live along the shore and in the deep ocean.
25. One whale is equivalent to about 1,000 trees in regards to the levels of carbon they absorb throughout their life.
26. Coral is extremely sensitive to water temperature – with rising ocean temperatures due to climate change, coral has begun to bleach. Coral bleaching is the first sign of coral death. If too many reefs die, this can lead to the destruction of marine ecosystems and even the extinction of some fish.
27. Our oceans cover over 70% of our planet but yet we know more about the surface of the moon than the ocean floor.
28. An estimated 8 million tonnes of plastic end up in the sea every year, killing and harming marine life.
29. The sea produces around half of all the oxygen we breathe (thanks to phytoplankton, tiny single-celled ocean plants). Not to mention absorbing half of all man-made climate-changing carbon dioxide.
30. Microplastic is easily ingested by different sea creatures, including plankton, which then pass the problem up the food chain.
Rainforest biodiversity facts
31. Tropical Rainforests are defined as closed canopy forests growing within 28 degrees north or south of the equator.
32. A rainforest always comprises an area of tall, mostly evergreen trees and a high amount of rainfall (more than 200cm per year).
33. Each year, 140,000 square kilometres of rainforests are destroyed across the world.
34. Rainforests are astoundingly dense with flora and fauna – a 4-square-mile patch can contain as many as 1,500 flowering plants, 750 species of trees, 400 species of birds and 150 species of butterflies (if not more).
35. The Brazil nut tree, a vulnerable species, can live up to 1,000 years in undisturbed rainforest habitats.
36. 1.6 billion people are supported by forests globally.
37. The Amazon Rainforest is known to be home to 427 mammal species, 1,300 bird species, 378 species of reptiles, and more than 400 species of amphibians. Species are still being discovered every year. Over 10,000 species of beetles have been discovered in the Amazon over the last decade.
38. Rainforests are incredibly diverse and complex, they are home to more than half of the world’s plant and animal species—even though they cover just 6% of Earth’s surface.
39. 15% of all the bird and butterfly species in the world live in the Amazon.
40. The most endangered rainforests are those in West Africa, where human populations are doubling every 20 years, and those in Central America and South-East Asia.
Soil biodiversity statistics
41. Soils are not just rock, dirt and dust, but are astonishing living systems with some of the most dense biodiversity levels on Earth!
42. Large and diverse populations of soil organisms are thought to improve soil health, which could lead to increased crop growth.
43. Some microscopic organisms grow together to build structures known as microbial mats. Microbial mats have been observed in extreme ecosystems, such as in extremely salty areas around coasts and desert soils.
44. In forest soils, the role of fungi is one crucial piece of the wider ecological network. Fungi have many ecological roles as well as having a symbiotic relationship with trees and other plants too.
45. Healthy soils have six different layers (known as horizons) – beginning with top and organic matter (like plant and animal residues) and ending with bedrock.
46. 95% of food production relies on the soil.
47. Earthworms are a real hero of healthy soils – they do amazing work. Their activity offers many benefits, from increased nutrient availability and better drainage, to creating a more stable soil structure.
48. One gram of soil can contain up to 10 billion organisms – that’s more than the number of people on the planet in a quarter of a tablespoon.
49. It can take up to 1,000 thousand years for a single centimetre of topsoil to form.
50. Soils store more carbon than the atmosphere, and all of the world’s plants and forests combined, which means that soil is one of our most important weapons against climate change.
Bonus: 10 fun Facts about biodiversity
51. There is a phenomenon called ‘latitudinal diversity gradient. This is where biodiversity consistently increases from the poles to the tropics due to the more stable and warmer tropical climates.
52. In some ecosystems, species have developed such specialised mutualistic relationships that they can’t survive without each other. For example, some species of acacia trees in Africa have a symbiotic relationship with certain ants, offering them food in exchange for protection against herbivores. Another example is in humans…
53. The human body is home to trillions of microscopic lifeforms, including protozoa, viruses, bacteria and fungi. Collectively, these are known as the human microbiota.
54. The Human Microbiome Project has provided comprehensive data about gut microbes on 2,172 species isolated from human beings across 12 phyla.
55. Each species on Earth is categorised very carefully into a taxonomic rank. Biological classification consists of Domain > Kingdom > Phylum > Class > Order > Family > Genus > Species.
56. The blue whale is the largest known species to have ever lived. A blue whale can weigh more than 180,000kg – about the same 30 Tyrannosaurus Rex.
57. Dinosaurs lived on Earth for about 165 million years. So far, scientists have identified around 1,000 different dinosaur species.
58. Modern humans have only been around for 300,000 years. There used to be more human diversity, but 8 previous Homo species are now extinct.
59. World Biodiversity Day is celebrated on 22nd May. However, we think every day should be biodiversity day.
60. Earth is the only known place in the universe where biodiversity exists.
So. there you have it – 60 Fascinating Facts about Biodiversity! Amazing aren’t they?
As you can see, the list could easily go on and on. I might be updating in the future to 100 facts!
It’s great to know that there are many more like minded people out there, who care about living sustainably and thoughtfully. Together we can certainly make a difference, and awareness is always going to be the first step.
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I’m the Creator and Editor of Tiny Eco Home Life. I write and publish information about living a more sustainable, environmentally friendly life. Away from the laptop, I love spending time in nature and with my young family (plus Murphy the dog!) I round up my thoughts and recent blogs on the Eco Life Newsletter.
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