There are three levels of biodiversity: genetic, species, and ecosystem.  To learn more about each of these levels, click the Begin button below.
Three Levels of Biodiversity
Click or touch the name of each level above to see a definition of that level. The Learn More buttons at the bottom of each level will explain more about that level.
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The genetic diversity of each black-throatedgreen warbler contributes to the overall health of a population. Genetically diverse populations tend to adapt better to environmental changes and other natural threats. Click the Learn More button below to see more examples of diversity within a population.
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Each species plays a particular role in a natural community. The loss of a single species can have consequences for the entire community.  Species such as eastern hemlock trees, American black bears, and northern parulas are a part of the species diversity of a unique natural communuty called a hemlock-mixed forest. Click the Learn More button below to find out more about species diversity.
Ecosystem diversity relies on the variety of different ecosystems in a given place. For example, the Appalachian Highlands include forests with specific kinds of trees, rivers and streams with natural raised areas, such as gravel/cobble bars, and bogs. Together, these natural communities form diverse ecosystems across the region. Click the Explore button below and hover your mouse over areas to learn more about the ecosystems in this illustration.
Learn More Genetic Diversity
Genetic Diversity
DogsAn Example of Human-Created Diversity
BirdsAn Example of Naturally Occurring Diversity
What do we mean by genetic diversity? Every member of a species is a little different from other members of that species, just like you are different from the other students in your class, and the students in your class are different from students in classes in other towns and states.  These differences within a species make it possible for the species as a whole to adapt to things like changes in the environment, food supply, and habitat. If each member of a species is too much like the other members, it's harder for that species to make the changes necessary in order to survive. Click the images below to learn more about genetic diversity in dogs and birds.
Human-Created Diversity
Great Dane
Want to do an experiment? Ask your friends and classmates to bring in pictures of their dogs. Make a chart that groups them by breed. Some of them may be a mix of two or three different breeds. Record your findings. You can do the same thing with cats, too!
Landseer Newfoundland
There are over 400 different breeds of dogs. Because there are so many breeds, they are a very good example of diversity within a species. But the big difference between dog diversity and diversity in other animal species is the fact that humans activity has created all these different breeds. They did not occur naturally. Some dogs were bred by humans to be small so they could go down a fox hole and pull out the fox. Some were bred to survive very cold weather and pull sleds with people and supplies. Each breed is different and was created to do a different job. Click on any image below to learn more about that breed.
Diversity in Dogs
Look at the two pictures of the American goldfinch.  Notice the slightly different markings on the tail feathers?  This small difference in markings within this species may help the birds blend in with their surroundings. 
Northern Cardinal
Naturally Occurring Diversity
American Goldfinch
Do you see any differences in the pictures of the cardinals above?  The one on the left has a light spot underneath. Color and markings help animals blend in with their environment, protecting them from predators.
Diversity in Birds:
Learn MoreSpecies Diversity
3 species of trees 
Species Diversity
1 species of amphibians
4 species of birds
What do we mean by species diversity? It simply means the total number of plant, animal, and insect species that can be found in a particular region.  Click or touch the plant and animal outlines in the image below to find out which species group it belongs to. Click or touch the items in the Species Diversity list lower right to see where they are in the image.
3 species of fish
4 species of mammals
1 species of crustacean
What do we mean by species interdependence? Species that share a region develop a dependence on each other in order to survive. If one species is removed from the region, it affects every other species living there. Food Chains and Food Webs are two examples of Species Interdependence. 
Simple Food Chain
Species Interdependence
Birds, insects, and other animals depend on the plants for survival.
Simple Food Web
Crayfish live in the stream.Fish eat the crayfish. Bears eat the fish.
great rhododendron
black-throated green warblers
hemlock-mixed forest
       luna       moth
        fly   agaric
      Northern     parula
CumberlandPlateau gravel/ cobble bars
black-throated green warblers
black-throated green warbler
Eastern hemlock
black bear
black-throated green warbler
black-throated green warbler
species interdependence - the degree to which different species in a given ecosystem, or area,                                                depend on other species in that area for survival
species diversity - the number of different species within a specific region or area
natural community- recurring groups of plants and animals that exist together in a particular                                   environment
ecosystem diversity - the variety of ecosystems in a given region or area
gravel/cobble bars - elevated areas in a stream or river created by gravel or larger stones (cobbles)                                   that are deposited by the water's flow
genetic diversity - the level of diversity within a given species