Biodiversity Essay Questions

12 Questions with Answers and Explanations on “Biodiversity Conservation” for Biology Students:

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Q. 1. Briefly mention about—

(a) Genetic diversity,

(b) Species diversity,

(c) Ecological diversity.

Ans. (a) Genetic diversity:

The occurrence of single species in high diversity at the genetic level over its distributional range is called as genetic diversity.

Such as in Rauwolfia vomitoria in Himalaya region, 50,000 varieties of rice, 1,000 varieties of mango in India.

(b) Species diversity:

The occurrence of diversity as the species level in a geographical region is called species diversity, e.g. western ghats have more amphibian species diversity than in eastern ghats.

(c) Ecological diversity:

A geographical region having different ecosystems will have more ecologically diverse organisms one having one or two types only. For example, India has more ecological diversity than Norway.

Q. 2. Explain with examples—latitudinal gradients.

Ans. The decrease in the species diversity from equator towards the poles is latitudinal gradient in diversity. This can be justified by following examples:

(i) Colombia located near equator has nearly 1,400 species of birds, New York at 41 °N has 105 species and Greenland at 71 °N has 56 species only. India has 1,200 species.

(ii) Equador’s forest has upto 10 times more species than mid west of USA for vascular plants.

Q. 3. Give three hypotheses for explaining why tropics show greatest levels of species richness.

Ans. The following three hypothesis for greatest levels of species richness are—

(a) Speciation:

It is the function of time. The tropical latitudes have remained undisturbed for millions of years and had a long time for evolution among species diversification as compared to temperate regions that frequented for glaciations in past.

(b) Tropical environment:

It is more constant, less seasonal and predictable, than the temperate ones. This provides rich specialization and leads to greater species diversity.

(c) Solar energy:

There is presence of more solar energy and it contributes more productivity and in turn more diversity.

Q. 4. Study the following plot.

Answer the following:

(i) Which line/plot describes the species-area relationship on a logarithmic scale? Give the equation also.

(ii) What is the shape of curve for species richness and area for a wide variety of taxa?

(iii) What is the value of Z in a region and continent?

(iv) What does steeper slope of Z mean?

Ans. (i) The straight line represents the relationship. The equation is—Log S = Log C + Z Log A

(ii) Rectangular hyperbola.

(iii) Z value in a continent lies between – 0.6 to 1.2. Z value in a continent lies between 0.6 to 1.2.

(iv) It means more species richness relationship.

Q. 5. How is biodiversity important for ecosystem functioning?

Ans. Biodiversity is very important for the ecosystem functioning and its stability. It also is responsible for the health of the ecosystem but the very survival of human in the ecosystem on this planet.

Q. 6. How is a stable community identified?

Ans. The following points if observed suggest that the community is stable—

(a) It must not show too much variation in the productivity from year-year.

(b) It must be resistant or resisetent to occasional disturbances caused by nature and man-made.

(c) It must be resistant to invasions by alien species.

Q. 7. How many mass extinction of species are there on records since the origin and diversification of life on earth? How is the present episode different? What is the result of loss of biodiversity in a region?

Ans. There were 5 episodes of mass extinction of species. The present sixth episode is in progress.

The current rates of extinction is estimated to be faster than the pre-human times because of our activities. It is estimated to be faster 100-1000 times. General loss is:

(a) Decline to plant production.

(b) Lowered resistance to environmental disturbances such as droughts.

(c) Increased variability in certain ecosystem processes.

Q. 8. Briefly give the views regarding the reasons for conserving biodiversity.

Ans. There are the following views:

(a) Narrowly utilitarian:

We humans derive countless direct economic benefits from nature. Such as food, medicines and many more utility things.

Nations with rich biodiversity can expect to reap enormous benefits from the increasing resources put into bioprospecting.

(b) Broadly utilitarian:

It says that biodiversity plays a major role in many ecosystem services that nature provides. There are many intangible benefits that we derive from nature, including aesthetic pleasures.

(c) Ethical values:

All living beings that share this planet have equal right to live as do humans. We must realize that every species has an intrinsic value, even if we do not have any current economic value. We have to maintain the biological legacy in good order for future generations.

Q. 9. What are sacred groves? What is their role in conservation?

Ans. India has a history of religious and cultural traditions that emphasized protection of nature.

In many cultures, tracts of forests are set aside and trees, animals are given total protection. Such forests are called sacred groves.

Such forests are called sacred groves which help us to preserve, protect the forests, wildlife and other rare, threatened and vulnerable species.

Q. 10. Among the ecosystem services are control of floods and soil erosion. How is this achieved by the biotic components of the ecosystem?

Ans. Control of floods and soil erosion are done by preserving the forests. There must be a balance between the plants and animals to maintain the biodiversity.

Q. 11. The species diversity of plants (22 per cent) is much less than that of animals (72 per cent). What could be the explanations to how animals achieved greater diversification?

Ans. The animals have higher per cent than the species diversity of plants because they are mobile and move from one place to another.

They moved to different habitats/ecosystem and developed species diversity.

Q. 12. Can you think of a situation where we deliberately want to make a species extinct? How would you justify it?

Ans. Human health, followed by health of plants and animals of economic use. The health of human, plants and animal species is always in danger due to pathogens, and vectors, secondary or primary hosts.

For the welfare of human, we want to deliberately make such pathogenic species extinct. This will ensure, the pathogenic diseases free human life and animal life.

71 Research Questions

At IMCC2 in 2011, the SCB Marine Section developed a list of 71 research questions critical to the advancement of marine conservation. We encourage IMCC3 proposals that address one or more of these questions.

Table 1. Full list of 71 questions

Question category





How much marine biomass is lost to "ghost fishing," and what is the most effective way to reduce this source of mortality?



What are the impacts of recreational fishing on marine ecosystems?



How can fishing gear and techniques be improved to minimize habitat damage?



To what degree must the foraging needs of top predators and other animal species be considered in our exploitation of fish stocks to ensure healthy ecosystems?



How can the impacts of bycatch from legal and illegal, unreported, and unregulated fisheries be reduced to a level that will allow for reversal of declining trends of affected species?



In what circumstances do no-take zones produce benefits to surrounding fisheries?



How prevalent are the negative evolutionary effects of “sustainable fishing” and how can they be minimized (e.g. Reznick & Ghalambor 2005)?



How can partial fishing closures be used to maximize the benefits of Marine Protected Area (MPA) networks?



Under what circumstances can aquaculture produce a net benefit for marine conservation?



What characteristics of eco-labeling programs make them true indicators of a sustainable fishery, and to what degree can such programs contribute to the sustainability of global fisheries?



What is the most cost-effective way to prevent illegal, unreported, and unregulated harvesting in marine ecosystems?

Climate change


What are the implications of climate change for small island nations, in terms of both sea level rise, and to their ability to meet international conservation commitments while maintaining local food security?



To what degree can no-take or highly-protected MPAs provide resilience and/or a buffer against ecosystem disruption caused by climate change and ocean acidification?



How will marine ecosystems and species adapt and respond to the individual and interactive effects of ocean acidification, anoxia, and warming, and to what extent is mitigation possible?



What attributes of species (e.g., tropical or temperate, sessile or motile, etc.) make them particularly sensitive to stressors attributable to climate change?



What measures can best prevent the extinction/extirpation of geographically constrained species and populations in the face of climate change?



How will global climate change and ocean acidification affect ocean productivity and, ultimately, biodiversity?



How can marine climate refugia be identified and protected to the maximum extent possible?



To what extent will stressors (such as noise, exotic species, and contaminants) increase as polar marine environments warm and become increasingly accessible to human activities, and how will these disturbances affect polar biodiversity?



How will climate change influence the distribution, richness, relative abundance, and prevalence of diseases and invasive species in the marine environment?



What are the possible ecological impacts of technological mitigation strategies (e.g., coastal defenses) developed to allow human communities adapt to climate change?



How will human pressures on the seascape shift and change as climate change impacts affect additional areas of the ocean?



How will climate change impact the three-dimensional distribution, abundance, and dispersal of marine species, and what are the implications?



What capacity do marine organisms, particularly sessile species, have to adapt to changing oceanographic conditions?



How will the capacity to sequester carbon in biotic and abiotic components of marine ecosystems change over time?

Other anthropogenic threats


Which strategies can be used to mitigate and/or manage the effects of the spread of existing and emergence of new marine pathogens?



Which anthropogenic stressors have the largest influence on host-pathogen interactions?



How can the formation of anoxic “dead zones” be forecasted and prevented, and how can conditions leading to dead zone formation be reversed if they form?



How can the cumulative effects of the use of new technologies (such as energy infrastructure) be rapidly and effectively assessed, and translated into precautionary policy recommendations?



How should damage from anthropogenic oil release be quantified and what is the ecologically relevant scale for assessment?



What are the technological and biological limitations that prevent effective cleanup of chronic and acute spills of oil and other chemicals, and how should these limitations inform social and economic decisions about exploration, extraction, transport and use?



How can the benefits of tourism to marine ecosystems be maximized while minimizing negative impacts?



What effects do urbanization and changing patterns of land use have on coastal, estuarine, and marine biodiversity, and how can policy and practice be integrated to ensure that these effects are mitigated?



To what extent and in which ways does anthropogenic noise affect marine fauna, particularly species that depend heavily upon sound, and how do these impacts accrue over time and space?



What are the relative conservation implications of acute versus chronic anthropogenic stressors?



What are the cumulative and population-level effects of marine environmental contaminants, such as plastics and other refuse?



How can the negative impacts of shipping on marine species and ecosystems (e.g., disturbance to sensitive habitat areas, output of CO2 and black carbon, underwater noise, and the release of other pollutants during construction and operations) be reduced and public awareness of such impacts be elevated?



How can key large-scale ecological processes be identified, protected, and restored?



How can recovery rates of species that vary between ecosystems be incorporated into the development of conservation targets and metrics of conservation success?



What restoration methods (e.g., in situ habitat restoration, translocation, etc.) are most likely to enhance natural marine ecosystem form, function, and services?



Given the variation in characteristics of individual species, how can conservation strategies be implemented to maintain connectivity across taxa, habitats, and scales to ensure resilient marine communities?



To what extent are the changing frequency, intensity, and magnitude of disturbances (including both natural and anthropogenic) altering the distribution and abundance of individual species and communities in marine ecosystems?



How can the provision of ecosystem services (known and unknown, quantitative and qualitative) be incorporated into marine conservation planning and management, and how do we determine how much of each ecosystem service we need to protect?



How do we better identify species at risk of extinction in marine ecosystems, and when should the "triage" approach to conservation of critically endangered species be applied to marine systems (Bottrill et al. 2008)?



How much emphasis should be placed on identifying and maintaining intraspecific genetic diversity in marine systems?



How can tipping points for marine ecosystems and/or individual species be identified, what are the consequences of reaching or passing these thresholds, and can these consequences be reversed?

Marine citizenship


What are the best methods to encourage context-specific behavioral changes to increase conservation of the marine environment, and what behaviors are most important to change?



What are the best methods and tools available to engage citizens in marine conservation?



What are the most critical messages, concepts, and skills that should be communicated to, and developed with, citizens to improve societal understanding of marine conservation problems?



What are the best ways to frame marine conservation messages in light of different values and perceptions of the marine environment held by different audiences?



How can the effectiveness of – and compliance with – international treaties that influence marine conservation be increased, including at a local level?



What are the unique challenges of high seas management and what are the best methods for ensuring effective and credible high seas governance and conservation?



How can effective policy-making and evaluation of marine systems be proactively advanced in light of recognized shifting of historical baselines?



What are the best ways to estimate, evaluate, and manage cumulative impacts and multiple anthropogenic stressors in the marine environment?



What are the best methods to resolve conflicting policies in the marine environment (e.g., terrestrial vs. marine policies, dual mandates of organizations, etc.) to achieve marine conservation goals?



How can the success of marine conservation initiatives and policies be best measured, and what elements of success may be most readily transferable to other marine areas or conservation activities?



What are the most effective ways of establishing, adaptively managing, and assessing the ecological, social, and economic benefits of MPA networks?



How can marine spatial planning best support marine conservation goals?



How should evidence from multiple disciplines be used most effectively to underpin marine conservation policy making, and how should contradictions within the evidence base be resolved?



How should uncertainty, risk, and precaution be incorporated into effective marine conservation policy-making?



What scale-specific governance models have supported the achievement of marine conservation goals?



How can the trade of marine species be better regulated, managed, and monitored?



How should novel and emerging marine contaminants be regulated even if their impacts and conservation implications are not fully understood?

Social and cultural considerations


How have humankind's various worldviews shaped perceptions, relationships, and narratives related to the marine environment, and how do these influence marine conservation?



How can marine conservation support food security, cultural security, and human well-being whilst acknowledging local governance and sovereignty?



How can marine cultural heritage, maritime historical heritage, and biological conservation be best integrated to maximize benefits for all stakeholders?



How are socially just and equitable marine conservation processes and outcomes (incorporating gender, inter-generational, and socioeconomic equity) best developed and delivered?



What lessons derived from conflict management, resolution, and avoidance in other disciplines could be beneficially applied to marine conservation?

Scientific enterprise


How can taxonomic expertise be increased in order to reduce uncertainty in the conservation and management of marine ecosystems?



How can scientific and management cultures be changed to promote open sharing of data in formats that are accessible (and standardized)?



What strategies can be used to promote long-term integrated multi-disciplinary collaborations?


*These “71 important questions for the conservation of marine biodiversity” are part of a paper accepted for publication in SCB’s journal Conservation Biology (authored by Parsons, E.C.M., Favaro, B., Draheim, M., McCarthy, J.B., Aguirre, A.A., Bauer, A.L., Blight, L.K., Cigliano, J.A., Coleman, M.A., Côté, I.M., Fletcher, S., Foley, M.M., Jefferson, R., Jones, M.C., Kelaher, B.P., Lundquist, C.J., Nelson, A., Patterson, K., Walsh, L., Wright, A.J. and Sutherland, W.J.) The open-access paper can be viewed at:

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