chapter  5
34 Pages

Coral reefs and the conservation of biological diversity

Biological diversity, commonly shortened to biodiversity, is the term used to describe the prolifi c variety of life on earth in all its forms and at all levels.1 Three main groupings of diversity can be identifi ed, namely organismal, genetic and ecological. The fi rst – organismal diversity – relates to the differences within the various levels in the taxonomic hierarchy, such as diversity amongst species. By way of illustration, seven species of sea turtle exist, including the hawksbill and green turtle. The sheer scale of species diversity, however, is diffi cult to quantify. Scientists have identifi ed 1.75 million species although they suspect that the number of species actually inhabiting the earth may be closer to 13 million.2