Difference Between Biodiversity Loss and Extinction

Biodiversity, sometimes called biological diversity, is the range of organisms present in an area, whether they are plants, animals, microorganisms, or fungi. Generally speaking, milder temperatures and greater rain are associated with a higher concentration of plant species in a given region. This explains why tropical rainforests are so rich in plant and animal life.

Both global biodiversity and regional biodiversity are included under the umbrella term "biodiversity." Madagascar, Brazil, the southwestern United States, and India are just few of the places in the globe that are renowned for their abundance of unique species.

What is Loss of Biodiversity?

The term "biodiversity loss" is used to describe the gradual dwindling of an ecosystem's species diversity over time. A loss of biodiversity can be either global or localised.

There are several issues associated with biodiversity loss. Reduced biodiversity makes ecosystems more vulnerable to stresses like natural catastrophes, climatic shifts, and infectious diseases. Greater system resilience is typically observed in more biologically varied environments.

If, for example, a newly introduced insect or disease wipes out a widespread tree species in a forest, the survival of the forest ecosystem as a whole is not likely to be threatened since many other tree species may easily replace the ecological niche vacated by the deceased species. However, if there aren't many tree species, it's less probable that another tree species will be able to fill the void left by the extinct one. This might spell disaster for any critters that were dependent on the trees that are now extinct. This can have a domino effect on the forest's ecosystem, affecting the species that depend on the organisms that depended on the extinct tree, and so on

Ecosystem services, as defined by scientists, are another benefit that humans receive from biodiversity. Pollination, nitrogen cycling, and maintaining a consistent temperature are just a few examples of the crucial functions that ecosystems provide for humanity. It would be too expensive to provide these functions using human technology rather than relying on natural ecosystems. Therefore, the loss of biodiversity poses a challenge to human civilization as a whole, as it endangers the ecosystems on which we depend for the provision of ecosystem services.

Factors behind Biodiversity Loss

Loss of biodiversity has always been brought about by geological processes like volcanism and asteroid strikes, climate change, and biological invaders from outside an ecosystem. Today, factors like a rising human population and excessive consumerism are at the root of many of the threats to biodiversity that have emerged in recent times. Major causes of modern biodiversity loss include habitat loss, human-introduced invasive species, and anthropogenic climate change.

What is Extinction?

The term "extinction" describes the final, irreversible end of a species. Throughout Earth's history, countless species have perished. A mass extinction happens when many different types of life go extinct at the same time.

In Earth's history, there have been five significant mass extinction events. Numerous marine invertebrates were extinct as a result of the first mass extinction in Earth's history, the Ordovician-Silurian mass extinction, which happened around 445 million years ago and killed off many coral reefs and brachiopod species. We attribute it to the shifting of the supercontinent Gondwana, which brought about climatic and ecological shifts.

The Devonian mass extinction, which happened around 370 million years ago but may have taken place over the span of as long as 25 million years, was the second significant global extinction event. Most coral species and placoderms (a kind of bony fish) perished in this extinction event.

The third mass extinction, between the Permian and Triassic periods (about 252 million years ago), was the most devastating. Approximately 95% of marine species and 70% of terrestrial animals perished, and scientists still don't know what caused it. The Triassic Period's end, around 200 million years ago, saw the second major extinction, which cleared the way for the development of dinosaurs.

There were five major extinction events in Earth's history, the last of which was the doom of the dinosaurs. The present Deccan Traps were formed around 66 million years ago as a result of a combination of an asteroid strike and a lengthy period of severe volcanic activity that wiped out all non-avian dinosaurs.

The sixth mass extinction, often known as the Holocene mass extinction, is apparently occurring right now, according to the scientific community. The bulk of the impetus for this one comes from human actions. The majority of North American and Australian megafauna have perished as a result, and megafauna in Africa and Eurasia are in risk of extinction as well.

Factors That Cause Extinction

Climate change, asteroid strikes, massive volcanic eruptions, and the introduction of a new species into an environment are only few of the fundamental causes of extinction throughout Earth's history. For many of these effects, habitat destruction is the root cause. In the event that a species' natural habitat suddenly disappears, it will likely go extinct unless it can quickly adjust to its new circumstances.

How is Extinction Related to Biodiversity?

The death of all members of a species is known as extinction. In the event that this occurs at a quicker rate than new species can develop to replace the old, biodiversity loss will result.

Role of Extinction in Biodiversity Loss

The fundamental process through which biodiversity loss occurs is extinction, or the disappearance of species due to their inability to adapt to a changing environment. However, as was the case with mammals following the extinction of the dinosaurs, the void left by the demise of one species might be filled by another. As a result, extinction has the potential to reverse the decline in biodiversity or even cause a future rebound in species richness.

Differences Biodiversity Loss and Extinction

The following table highlights how Biodiversity Loss is different from Extinction −


Biodiversity loss



Loss of biodiversity is the outcome of several extinctions occurring over a prolonged time span.

The term "extinction" describes the eradication of a species.

Event or process

A process

A geological event


Reversing biodiversity loss by the gradual introduction of new species is possible.

Once an extinction has occurred, there is no going back.


The interdependence of many species is at the heart of biodiversity loss

A single species could be the sole one affected by extinction.


The term "biodiversity loss" is used to describe the gradual decrease in the variety and/or quantity of animal, plant, fungal, bacterial, etc. species through time. Consequently, ecosystems may become less able to withstand environmental perturbations. Furthermore, it causes ecological services to be lost. Loss of biodiversity has various causes, including human activities now but also climate change and geological processes like volcanism throughout Earth's history.

An extinction event occurs when a single species becomes extinct. When many different types of organisms disappear all at once, we call it a mass extinction. Existing evidence suggests that we are currently experiencing the sixth such catastrophic extinction

Environmental changes that hinder a species' ability to adapt and prosper are the root cause of extinctions. Changes in temperature, volcanic activity, and asteroid strikes are just a few of the usual triggers for such phenomena. Loss of biodiversity and the gradual elimination of species have certain similarities. Even Nevertheless, there are substantial distinctions between biodiversity and extinction. In the long run, many extinctions add up to a loss of biodiversity.

Fortunately, the emergence of novel species means that biodiversity decline is not an irreversible process. Furthermore, it always includes interactions between different species. In contrast, geologically speaking, extinction is an event that causes the extinction of a species (or several species in the case of a mass extinction). The process through which species go extinct is the loss of biodiversity. It's possible that extinction, like death, solely affects a single species.

Updated on: 20-Jan-2023


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