Biodiversity & Species Lists

What is biodiversity and why is it important?  Although there are numerous definitions for biodiversity provided by many authors, upon review of them it becomes apparent that each of them is framed around a number of common concepts.  These key concepts can be summarized as follows: Biodiversity is a measure of the number of different species and individuals found within a given habitat, is related to the number of habitats found within a geographic area, involves the interaction between species in a given habitat and looks at the genetic variation within individuals of a single species. The importance of genetic variation cannot be over stressed. The "variation within and between populations of species has a profound affect on their physical characteristics, viability, productivity, resilience to stress, and adaptability to change (Keystone Center)."  This in turn determines whether they decline or prosper when change occurs.  The changes which can effect a specific species and the ecosystem are perhaps typified by the habitat destruction due to human activities.  However there is hope as humans have the power to preserve habitat and allow for the continued existence of many species.     

Alberta's Habitats:

Alberta is a biologically diverse province with numerous habitats and ecosystems.  These habitats include a wide range of biomes including: prairie, mountains, wetlands, forests and riparian. Within each of these habitats exists an inter-related web of insect life that is crucial to the well being of all of the inhabitants. They range from parasitic wasps that control caterpillar populations to dung beetles which help in the breakdown of ungulate manure.

Tracking Species Encountered:

Constructing lists of the various insect species encountered over a period of time in a specific area provides a picture of how habitats are changing and how individual species are adapting to this change.  It can also provide information on the life cycle of each insect species.  Many insects species have high and low peaks in their populations which are controlled by a number of factors including but not limited to: climate, density of food plants or prey and predator and parasite populations.  These increases and decreases in populations can be localized in there geographic extent or quite wide spread.  In some cases huge populations of a particular insect can migrate into Alberta due to favourable conditions to the south.


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