Biodiversity—a relatively new word in the English language that is unfamiliar to most—is simply a contraction of biological diversity that all of us encounter personally on a daily basis. Whenever we eat a meal, make any kind of purchase, work in the garden, or take a vacation, we derive direct and indirect benefit from biodiversity. Simply defined, biodiversity is the grand total of the profusion of all life forms on earth (plants, animals, and microorganisms). When we think of life, we immediately conjure up images of familiar plant and animal species.
Scientifically, biodiversity is more precisely defined by three components. The first of these is a genetic component that specifies the different combinations of genes in all individuals that comprise any species. Groups of individuals sharing the same habitat in nature usually share the same local adaptations to that habitat, and are often recognized as discrete races or varieties that differ regionally from other populations of the same species, but all comprise the total genetic diversity of the species.