Abstract: Biodiversity conservation has become the stated objective of national governments, state agencies, local communities, and scientific organizations. Yet despite this attention the term biodiversity remains poorly defined. One of the unfortunate consequences of this lack of definition is a proliferation of claims that biodiversity can be both used and conserved. This claim is difficult to assess without a more precise way of defining biodiversity. We offer a heuristic framework for measuring the consequences of human use for biodiversity. Our definition of biodiversity includes three components: genetic, population/species, and community/ecosystem. Each component has its own three attributes: composition, structure, and function. Using this definition, we assessed the effects of different types of human use on the different components and attributes of biodiversity. We show that (1) different degrees of human use or alteration result in differential conservation of biodiversity components; (2) some components and attributes of biodiversity are more sensitive to human use than others; and (3) only extremely limited use or virtually no alteration will protect all components.
Conservation Biology – Wiley
Published: Dec 1, 1999
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