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Citizen science and global biodiversity
Citizen science and global biodiversity

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9 Summary of Week 2

Biodiversity is a term broadly used to refer to the number, variety and variability of living things on our planet. Although it is often used in terms of species, it can also refer to ecosystems and even genes.

Globally, such a depiction of biodiversity is often discussed in relation to the scale being considered. If the scale is local, we one might consider biodiversity as variation within a species or habitat types in a patch of land. While at regional and continental scales we would consider variations as a result of latitude and differences in solar radiation, which are often a result of glacial cycles or mountain-building episodes, for example. At a global scale, however, such variation could be between biomes and also be a result of continental plate movements. We could envisage local variations occurring within tens of years while regional and continental variations could be considered to develop in millions of years.

One thing that is commonly observed is that the geographical pattern of biodiversity is not even. Often the highest biodiversity on Earth lies in the tropics while at other times it occurs in areas of high spatial or environmental variability.

Having appreciated the scale of biodiversity across space and time, it is time to investigate how to identify species as accurately as possible. This is an essential task but fraught with challenges. You will explore this week using a methodical approach and some useful tools.

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