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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 1994 Jul 29;345(1311):81-7.

The quantification of biodiversity: an esoteric quest or a vital component of sustainable development?

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  • Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. 20560.


Biodiversity relates to sustainable development through a series of direct and indirect uses. These include direct harvest, nature tourism, wild genes improving domestic crops, wild species contributing to crop productivity, pest management, sources of medicine and bioremediation (biologically based environmental clean-up). Biodiversity relates through services, individual species indicating environmental change or stress, insights into the life sciences and increasingly today, through wealth generated from biodiversity at the level of the molecule. Sustainable development relates to the quantification of biodiversity through organizing information to enable the foregoing activities. It also relates in little-explored ways to ecosystem function, stability and resilience. Biodiversity is already a proven indicator of environmental change in freshwater systems.

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