The term biodiversity first appeared in a publication in 1988 when entomologist E. O. Wilson used it as a title. Since then, the term has often been used by biologists, environmentalists, political leaders, and citizens. A similar term in the United States is "natural heritage." It predates the others and is more accepted by the wider audience interested in conservation. Broader than biodiversity, it includes geology and landforms.
Biologists most often define biodiversity as the "totality of genes, species, and ecosystems of a region". An advantage of this definition is that it seems to describe most circumstances. There are three levels at which biological variety can been identified:
- species diversity
- ecosystem diversity
- genetic diversity.
The idea can be used for tackling practical problems in conservation, for example:
- loss of species
- destruction of habitats
- introduced and invasive species
- genetic pollution
- effect of climate change
- Dasmann R.F. 1968. A different kind of country. MacMillan, New York. Template:Catalog lookup linkScript error: No such module "check isxn".
- Soulé M.E. and B. A. Wilcox. 1980. Conservation biology: an evolutionary-ecological perspective. Sinauer. Sunderland, Massachusetts.
- Edward O.Wilson, editor, Frances M.Peter, associate editor 1988. Biodiversity, National Academies Press. Template:Catalog lookup linkScript error: No such module "check isxn".; Template:Catalog lookup linkScript error: No such module "check isxn". online edition
- Global Biodiversity Assessment. UNEP, 1995, Annex 6, Glossary. Template:Catalog lookup linkScript error: No such module "check isxn"., used as source by "Biodiversity", Glossary of terms related to the CBD, Belgian Clearing-House Mechanism. Retrieved 2006-04-26.
- Template:Cite book
- Levin, Simon A. 2013. Encyclopedia of biodiversity. Academic Press. ISBN 978-0-12-384719-5
- Wilson E.O. 2016. Half-Earth: our planet's fight for life. Liveright. ISBN 978-1631490828