Biodiversity Research

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Hope and faith in the necessity of preserving natural conditions..."part of the national heritage."

"…This matter an unprecedented urgency." (1988)

"Overall, we are locked into a race. We must hurry to acquire the knowledge on which a wise policy of conservation and development can be based for centuries to come."

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Edward O. Wilson, The Diversity of Life, (1992). Biodiversity (1988). The Future of Life, (1999).

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"Climb into the tangle of fallen vegetation, tear away pieces of rotting bark, roll over logs, and you will see these creatures teeming everywhere. As the pioneer vegetation grows denser, the deepening shade and the higher humidity again favor old forest species, and their saplings sprout and grow. Within a hundred years the gap specialists will be phased out by competition for light, and the tall storied forest will close completely over."

p. 11.

"Human demographic success has brought the world to this crisis of biodiversity.... Our species appropriates between 20 and 40 percent of the solar energy captured in organic material by land plants. There is no way we can draw upon the resources of the planet to such a degree without drastically reducing the state of most other species."

p. 272.

"In the next thirty years, the world would lose not only half its forest cover but nearly half of the forest species.

p. 278.

"If it is granted that biodiversity is at high risk, what is to be done? The solution will require cooperation among professions long separated by academic and practical tradition."

p. 312

"So we should try to expand reserves from 4.3 percent to 10 percent of the land surface, to include many of the undisturbed habitats as possible with priority given to the world's hot spots."

p. 337

"Because scientists have yet to put names on most kinds of organisms, and because they entertain only a vague idea of how ecosystems work, it is reckless to suppose that biodiversity can be diminished indefinitely without threatening humanity itself. Field studies show that as biodiversity is reduced, so is the services provided by ecosystems.... These services are important to human welfare."

p. 347-48

"Only in the last moment of human history has the delusion arisen that people can flourish apart from the rest of the living world."

p. 349

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Wilson's edited works.

"Thus, remarkably, we do not know the true number of species on earth, even to the nearest order of magnitude. My own guess, based on the described flora and fauna and many discussions with entomologists and other specialists is that the absolute number falls between 5 and 30 million."

p. 5.

"In the end,suspect it will come down to a decision of ethics–how we value the natural world in which we evolved and now, increasingly, how we regard our status as individuals."

p. 16.

"Rain forests" are key habitats to protect biological diversity, as are coral reefs and the soil of forests and ocean floors.

pp. 8-9.

"Expansion and stewardship may appear at first to be conflicting goals, but the opposite is true. The depth of the conservation ethic will be measured by the extent to which each of the approaches to nature is used to reshape and reinforce the other. The paradox can be resolved by changing its premise forms more suited to ultimate survival, including the protection of the human spirit."

p. 16.

"Surinam, serene, a living treasure awaiting assay."


Biodiversity. Washington, D. C.: National Academy Press, 1988

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Wilson's works.

importance of diversity's loss

The Bottleneck Concept

Diversity of Life

Future of Life


E. O. Wilson | What is biological diversity? | Genes | Nature index