What Is Biodiversity?
In the life sciences, there is wide-ranging debate about biodiversity. While nearly everyone is in favor of biodiversity and its conservation, methods for its assessment vary enormously. So what exactly is biodiversity? Most theoretical work on the subject assumes it has something to do with species richness-with the number of species in a particular region-but in reality, it is much more than that. Arguing that we cannot make rational decisions about what it is to be protected without knowing what biodiversity is, James Maclaurin and Kim Sterelny offer in What Is Biodiversity? a theoretical and conceptual exploration of the biological world and how diversity is valued.
Here, Maclaurin and Sterelny explore not only the origins of the concept of biodiversity, but also how that concept has been shaped by ecology and more recently by conservation biology. They explain the different types of biodiversity important in evolutionary theory, developmental biology, ecology, morphology and taxonomy and conclude that biological heritage is rich in not just one biodiversity but many. Maclaurin and Sterelny also explore the case for the conservation of these biodiversities using option value theory, a tool borrowed from economics.
An erudite, provocative, timely, and creative attempt to answer a fundamental question, What Is Biodiversity? will become a foundational text in the life sciences and studies thereof.
Researchers in several different fields will benefit from the breadth of Maclaurin and Sterelny's tour of the biodiversity literature and from their often penetrating analyses. What Is Biodiversity? deserves to be widely read; if its central messages are absorbed, the level of debate about this vitally important topic will improve. - Todd Grantham, College of Charleston"
James Maclaurin is senior lecturer in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Otago in New Zealand. Kim Sterelny divides his time between Victoria University of Wellington, where he is professor of philosophy, and the Research School of Social Sciences at Australian National University. He is the coauthor, with Paul Griffiths, of Sex and Death: An Introduction to Philosophy of Biology.
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Related organisations include:
- Biodiversity Action Network
- British Wildlife
- Conservation Handbook Gratis Copies Project
- East Africa Natural History Society / Nature Kenya
- Ecology Matters
- Nature Conservancy
- Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust