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Studying Biodiversity

Additional reading and exercises, to accompany Studying Biodiversity, a video series from the University of Helsinki.

Contents: 10 chapters

1. What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity is a major topic right now, not just because of the threats it faces, but also because we now understand better than ever just how little we in fact know about it.

2. What is biodiversity good for?

So what if species go extinct, genetic variation decreases and diverse ecosystems are turned into fields and heavily managed forests? Why do we need to save forty different species of dung beetle and dozens of different kinds of habitats?

3. Crash course in biodiversity science

How do we study biodiversity? How do we produce reliable and relevant new information?

4. Who studies biodiversity?

Professional biodiversity scientists conduct research, write articles, collaborate, publicise their findings, and much more. But regular citizens are also important collectors of biodiversity data.

5. The hidden biodiversity of microbes

The more we study the biodiversity of microbes, the more diversity we find and the more important it turns out to be. Microbes are difficult to study because they are invisible to the naked eye, but in recent years technological advances have revolutionised our understanding of microbes.

6. The biodiversity of dung beetles

Dung beetles provide a window into biodiversity, while also clearly demonstrating the connection between the diversity of nature and its functioning.

7. Known and unknown nature

The Finnish flora and fauna are likely among the best known in the world, but even here we still have a lot of species we don’t know about. With the species we do know, we often have no idea how they are doing. What we know least of all is how species will be doing in the future, as their environment changes.

8. Changing nature

Nature is dynamic – it has always been changing. Right now, however, ecosystems are changing more rapidly than ever before. Human activity is speeding up environmental change.

9. A fragmented world

The fragmentation of species’ habitats into several separate patches makes species’ lives more difficult in many ways. Habitat fragmentation is one of the most important human-caused threats to biodiversity, but many species have also adapted to life in a naturally fragmented habitat.

10. What we can do

Biodiversity loss is a large and complex problem, and the solution is not in any one person’s hands but requires us all to work together.