Wildflowers and grasses on a native Minnesota bluff prairie. Wildflowers and grasses on a native Minnesota bluff prairie. © ColdSnap Photography

Biodiversity is a measure of the diversity of life. Biodiversity has its own inherent value and provides many ecosystem functions and other benefits, including:

  • Maintaining healthy, stable plant and animal populations
  • Protecting genetic diversity
  • Protecting water and soil resources
  • Filtering pollution and nutrient recycling
  • Contributing to climate stability and carbon storage
  • Recovering from catastrophic events (torrential rain, floods, etc.)
  • Providing sources for food, medicine and other products
  • Resources for research, education and monitoring
  • Opportunities for recreation, tourism and inspiration

Biodiversity includes the number of species present in an area (the species richness) as well as the relative abundances of those species (their evenness). Biodiversity can be measured on different scales, from a square foot to an entire landscape. Biodiversity builds on itself; for example, a diverse plant community can support a more diverse insect community, which in turn provides food for many insect-eating birds.

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