What’s Biodiversity?

Let’s have a look at our farm and a forest to help explain the idea of ‘biodiversity‘. If you want to look at the biodiversity of a forest before the farm, click here to skip down the page to Forest Land.

Here’s a photo of a farm – our farm- and some questions below:

Texel lamb and ewe on our farm

1 Count the number of different types (species) of creatures in this photo.
2 Now count the number of different types (species) of plants.
3 Are there many species of living things here?
(Click here for answers if you need to!)

A species is a type of living thing.  There does not seem to be many different species in this photo. There seems to be a lack of variety in the species here, doesn’t there? ‘Diversity‘ is a word that come from variety. So another way of saying this is ‘There is not much diversity here!”

Now ‘bio‘ is a word that refers to living things,  so the word ‘biodiversity’  is about living things and the number of different types of species of living things in a place.  In biodiversity, more is better – that is, the more species, the better the biodiversity.

Now let’s think about how these living things are linked:
4 What do sheep do with grass?
5 What do sheep do for the grass?
6 How do sheep use the trees?
7 Do the sheep do anything that is good for the trees?
(Click here for answers if you need to!)

Living things are linked through what they use for homes and what they eat.
If there are more different types of living things, then there can be more links.  A great number of species makes more links possible which makes biodiversity better.

Let’s look at how many there is of each thing in the photo:
9 Count the total numbers of sheep, then trees, then the grass plants!
10 Which of these three living things has the most numbers?
11 Why do the sheep need so many grass plants?
12 What happens to sheep when there are few grass plants?

In farming, we have areas where we try to grow one thing at a time. There seems to be little variety in the different types of living things in the farmland. This makes farmland poor in biodiversity.  However, the farmer’s job is to care for species that will become food and that is easier when working with specific crops or animals in one place.
(Click here for answers if you need to.)

Forest Land
Forest Land
How different is a forest, like the one in the photo below in northeast Victoria?

Mountain Forest in North East Victoria

13 Can you count the number of different types of plants in this bit of forest?
14 What about the actual number of just one species eg tall white-trunked trees?
15 Can you make a list of different creatures that might be living here?
16 What food can you see in this forest that people could eat?
17 What sorts of problems would there be in caring for the animals here?
(Click here for answers if you need to.)

A forest will have many more different types of plants and of creatures hiding within it. That makes it rich in biodiversity.  However, forests are not places where we make a lot of food for people.

Well done. You now know what biodiversity is about!

Can you use some of these questions to check out the biodiversity at your place? Yes, even in your backyard!

Want to check your answers to the questions on this page?  Go to this answers page .

Otherwise select from the biodiversity on our farm pages that I am looking forward to building up and sharing with you during this year.

Page updated 15 Jan 2013
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