The Importance of Biodiversity

Module Progress:

As you learned in Lesson 2, the dominant model of agriculture relies heavily on a system that favors monocultures, or the production focus of one singular crop. In this module, you’ll look at a concept that is a pillar to sustainable agriculture: Biodiversity. Biodiversity is so crucial because of the role it plays in ecosystems and agroecosystems. In this module, you’ll explore that role and why it is so important for resilient food systems. You’ll watch a video and read an excerpt that give you an overview of the concept. Check out the photos included here to notice variations of species within ecosystems. Then, learn about biodiversity’s role in agroecosystems and choose some important terms to define to underline your understanding.

Film 1: Why is Biodiversity so important?

with Kim Preshoff | TedEd

Biodiversity is the variety of different types of life found on the Earth and the variations within species. It is a measure of the variety
of organisms present in different ecosystems. This can refer to genetic variation, ecosystem variation, or species variation (number of species) within an area, biome, or planet.

Biodiversity is necessary for life, and species preservation is important to all of us. Every species is linked with a multitude of others in an ecosystem. While minor disruptions in a particular ecosystem tends to lead to processes that eventually restore the system, large disturbances of living populations or their environments may result in irreversible changes. Maintaining diversity increases the likelihood that some varieties will have characteristics suitable to survival under changed conditions.


(Science for All Americans, pp. 61, 65.)

Biodiversity in Photos

Forest biodiversity                                                                                            Soil biodiversity









Film 2: What is biodiversity and why is it important?

Biodiversity is the term used to encompass the variety of all living organisms on Earth, including their genetic diversity, species diversity and the diversity of marine, terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, together with their associated evolutionary and ecological processes. But as biodiversity is also a human concept, different people bring their own set of values to bear on it. Dr Steve Morton talks about the different values that humans obtain from biodiversity and the role we will need to play in shaping its future:

Choose one of the following academic articles to learn about biodiversity in agroecosystems:

Article 1: Biodiversity in Natural vs. Agro-ecosystems (Highlighted)

by Moonen and Báberí | Agriculture Ecosystems and Environment, 2008

Article 2: Resilience through Crop Diversification

by Brenda Lin | Bioscience, 2011

Choose one or more of the following terms to define and explore (on your own):

species richness

ecosystem collapse


energy cycles

ecosystem function

ecosystem services

functional biodiversity


FORUM QUESTION: Why is biodiversity important in agroecosystems?