The continued survival of life on Earth is dependent on diversity within its ecosystems, species and gene pools. Genetic diversity refers to the spectrum a distinct traits that individual organisms inherit from their parent organisms. The genes of an individual produce its physiological traits and behavioral tendencies which determine the organisms survival odds in a given ecological context.
Genetic diversity describes range of different gene combinations within a group of organisms belonging to the same species. Within a single species, the number of expressed gene combinations can be distinct enough for one group within a species to outcompete another group of the same species. A diverse species (or group of species) is more likely to survive stress in the environment, like severe weather, predation or resource shortages, than a species (or group of species) that has more homogeneity.
Genetic and Species Diversity
Strictly speaking, species diversity is the variety of living organisms that belong to different species. In an ecological community (or total population of plants, animals and microorganisms), is the number of distinct species that are sampled within a given region. Distinct species are those who can not interbreed and reproduce with one another. Species diversity not only accounts for the number of different species in a region, but also the number of individual organisms that belong to each species. Understanding the diversity of a species is a key for knowing how abundant a community of organisms is and how much variety the community has.
Ecosystems are characterized by the interactions between physical conditions and the life imbedded within those conditions. Ecosystem diversity takes into consideration the range of different types of habitats that belonging to a single area. If one region contains a tropical habitat and grasslands, then it would be more diverse than a region that merely contains freshwater habitats.
Within one ecosystem, there can be a wide array of different systematic interactions between organisms, nutrients, weather and the physical environment. Ecosystems range from terrestrial to aquatic, this includes deserts, forests, grasslands, wetlands, and oceans. Ecological land management and conservation strategies are built through an intimate understanding of the levels of variance and interconnectivity within an ecosystem.