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Term Biodiversity

Wide range of living organisms, communities and ecosystems, as well as the ecological and evolutionary processes that allow them to function in a dynamic state of continuous adaptation. The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) defines biodiversity as the degree of variation among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic organisms, as well as the ecological complexity of which they are part. It includes diversity within the species, between species and diversity of ecosystems. It is also known as biological diversity.

Biodiversity is the result of the evolutionary process manifested in the existence of different forms of life. It spans over all organization levels of living beings. It is divided into three categories: biodiversity of ecosystems, of species and of genetics. In 1992, the World Resources Institute (WRI), the World Conservation Union (IUCN), and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) published the Global Biodiversity Strategy, the goals of which can be summarized in three points: a) save biodiversity, b) study biodiversity, and c) use biodiversity in an equitable and sustainable manner.

Currently, most scientists estimate that there are approximately 33 million species, although some believe there may be up to 100 million species. Apparently, we only know about 10% of these: no more than 1.4 million have been formally described by taxonomists and have a scientific name registered in official literature. Every day, experts around the world are discovering new species, collected in previously little explored environments, such as the canopies of tropical forests, soils and the depths of the oceans. In fact, in recent years, even new species of monkeys, deer, birds and trees have been discovered. To science, many of these belong to new genres and new families, which are higher-level hierarchical categories than the species itself.

One of the main sources of diversity in the world is located in the Neotropical region, which includes the Greater Antilles in the Caribbean. This archipelago is considered to be a true biodiversity hotspot, as it has an extraordinary biodiversity that is highly threatened. The island of The Hispaniola is the most diverse of all the Antilles and is shared by two countries, the Republic of Haiti in the west and the Dominican Republic in the east.

The Hispaniola has a density of plant species -number of species per unit area- of 0.064, which is higher than that of Cuba (0.052), Madagascar (0.010) or Australia (0.005). According to scientific calculations, The Hispaniola has about 6,000 species of vascular plants, including some 600 pteridophytes (ferns and related plants) and around 700 species of trees. One third of these species is considered endemic (meaning it is not naturally found outside the island) and is, in one way or another, threatened or endangered. There are over thirty endemic plant genera. Some of the richest families in terms of number of species of plants in Haiti and in the Dominican Republic are grasses (Poaceae), plants with composite flowers (Asteraceae, especially herbs), orchids (Orchidaceae) and legumes (Fabaceae).

In regards to vertebrate fauna in the Dominican Republic, at least 399 species of fish, 65 of amphibians, 146 of reptiles, 306 of birds and 48 of mammals, of which half are bats, are known. Some of the aquatic mammals are marine, or rather coastal, mammals: dolphins, whales and manatees. Because it is an island, it is estimated that 97% of amphibians, 94% of reptiles and 10% of birds are endemic and only found in The Hispaniola.


Additional Information
PhotoBiodiversidad - Hicotea
PhotoBiodiversidad - Iguana de Ricord
GraphicBiodiversity Hotspots
Topic  BiodiversityForest resourcesEnvironmental managementEnvironmental educationProtected areasResources coastal / marineLegal and Institutional