Biodiversity is the diversity of plant and animal life in an environment, especially as represented by the number of species within that environment. The greater the number of species, the higher the biodiversity, and high biodiversity will always ensure the best chance of survival for each species within an ecosystem.
Because everything in nature is cyclical, any increase in species diversity will necessarily result in a higher production of vital nutrients and energy. Conversely, any decrease in species populations, such as the long leaf pine, will result in a more unstable, less sustainable, and potentially dangerous environment.
All species of living things, humans included, rely on other living things, or organisms, to sustain them. Consider the bee, and how important it is for the pollination and growth of human-cultivated crops. If bees were ever to disappear, something like a third of global food production would very quickly collapse.
This is just one, very big example, but the principle applies at even the tiniest of levels, from the tallest tree canopy to the mycelial networks branching out below the soil to the sea floor of the Gulf of Mexico. Other possible examples include the symbiotic relationship of mosses and lichens, the reintroduction of wolves at Yosemite National Park which led to an increase in other species populations, such as the beaver and Aspen, or the countless ways that humans affect and interact with the land they inhabit, from deforestation to mountaintop removal to worksite runoff. In this vast web we inhabit, a single strand connects and joins all the others. To alter or remove one is to throw the entire network out of balance.
Want to learn more? Click below for community generated species lists of Ruffner's flora and fauna.