Biodiversity and Conservation Class 12 Biology Notes And Questions

Notes Class 12

Please refer to Biodiversity and Conservation Class 12 Biology notes and questions with solutions below. These revision notes and important examination questions have been prepared based on the latest Science books for Class 12. You can go through the questions and solutions below which will help you to get better marks in your examinations. We have provided the latest Class 12 Biology Notes and Questions for all chapters in your NCERT Class 12 Biology Book.

Class 12 Biology Biodiversity and Conservation Notes and Questions

Biodiversity is the diversity of biological organisation ranging from cellular macromolecules to biomes.
Edward Wilson popularized the term ‘biodiversity’.


  1. Genetic diversity: Diversity shown by a single species at genetic level. E.g. Rauwolfia vomitoria (Himalaya) shows
    genetic variation in the potency & concentration of the chemical reserpine. India has more than 50,000 different
    strains of rice and 1000 varieties of mango.
  2. Species diversity: Diversity at species level. E.g. Western Ghats have greater amphibian species than Eastern Ghats.
  3. Ecological diversity: Diversity at ecosystem level.
    E.g. In India, deserts, rain forests, mangroves, coral reefs, wet lands, estuaries & alpine meadows are seen.

o According to IUCN (2004), more than 1.5 million species described so far.
o According to Robert May’s Global estimate, about 7 million species would have on earth. (He considered the species to be discovered in the tropics. i.e. only 22% of the total species have been recorded so far).
o Animals are more diverse (above 70%) than plants including Plantae and Fungi (22%).
o Among animals, insects are most species rich group (70%, i.e. out of every 10 animals, 7 are insects).
o Number of fungi species is more than the combined total of the species of fishes, amphibians, reptiles & mammals.

Biodiversity and Conservation Class 12 Biology Notes And Questions

o India has only 2.4% of world’s land area, but has 8.1% of the species diversity. India is one of the 12 mega diversity
countries of the world. Nearly 45,000 plant species and twice as many of animals have been recorded from India.
o Applying May’s global estimates, India would have more than 1 lakh plant species and 3 lakh animal species.
o Biologists are not sure about total number of prokaryotic species because
• Conventional taxonomic methods are not suitable for identifying microbial species.
• In laboratory, many species cannot be cultured.

i. Latitudinal gradients

  • Species diversity decreases from the equator to the poles.
  • Tropics (latitudinal range of 23.5o N to 23.5o S) have more species than temperate or polar areas.
    E.g. Number of bird species in different latitudes:
    o Colombia (near equator): about 1400 species.
    o India (in tropics): > 1200 species.
    o New York (41o N): 105 species.
    o Greenland (71o N): 56 species.
  • Tropical forest region like Equador has up to 10 times of vascular plant species as compared to a temperate forest
    region like the Midwest of USA.
  • Tropical Amazonian rain forest (South America) is the greatest biodiversity on earth. It contains
    o > 40000 species of plants
    o 3000 species of fishes
    o 1300 species of birds
    o 427 species of mammals
    o 427 species of amphibians
    o 378 species of reptiles
    o > 1,25,000 species of invertebrates
  • Biodiversity (species richness) is highest in tropics because
    o Tropics had more evolutionary time.
    o Relatively constant environment (less seasonal).
    o They receive more solar energy which contributes to greater productivity.

ii. Species- Area relationship
According to the study of Alexander von Humboldt in South American jungles, within a region, species richness increases with increasing explored area, but only up to a limit.
Relation between species richness and area gives a

Biodiversity and Conservation Class 12 Biology Notes And Questions
  • On a logarithmic scale, the relationship is a straight line described the equation Log S = log C + Z log A
  • Generally, for small areas, the Z value is 0.1 to 0.2.
  • But for large areas (e.g. entire continents), slope of the line is steeper (Z value: 0.6 to 1.2).
  • E.g. for frugivorous birds and mammals in the tropical forests of different continents, the Z value is 1.15.


  • According to David Tilman, plots with more species shows less year-to-year variation in total biomass.
  • Increased diversity contributes to higher productivity. It is essential for ecosystem health and survival of human race.
  • ‘Rivet popper hypothesis’: It is an analogy used to understand the importance of biodiversity.
    It is proposed by Stanford ecologist Paul Ehrlich.
    In an airplane (ecosystem), all parts are joined with many rivets (species). If passengers pop a rivet (extinction of a
    species), it may not affect flight safety (functioning of the ecosystem). But as more and more rivets are removed, the
    plane becomes dangerously weak. Loss of rivets on the wings (key species that drive major ecosystem functions)
    is more dangerous than loss of a few rivets on the seats or windows.


  • IUCN Red List (2004) says that 784 species (338 vertebrates, 359 invertebrates & 87 plants) were extinct in
    the last 500 years. E.g. Dodo (Mauritius), Quagga (Africa), Thylacine (Australia), Stellar’s sea cow (Russia) and 3
    subspecies (Bali, Javan, Caspian) of tiger.
  • 27 species have been disappeared in the last 20 years.
  • More than 15,500 species are facing threat of extinction.
  • 12% birds, 23% mammals, 32% amphibians, 31% gymnosperm species face the threat of extinction.
  • The current extinction rate is 100 – 1000 times faster than in the pre-human times. If this trend continues, nearly 50%
    species might be extinct within next 100 years.
    Impacts of Loss of biodiversity
    o Decline in plant production.
    o Environmental perturbations such as drought.
    o Increased variability in ecosystem processes such as plant productivity, water use and pest & disease cycles.

Causes of Biodiversity losses (‘The Evil Quartet’)

  1. Habitat loss and fragmentation: Most important cause.
  • E.g. Tropical rain forests (loss from 14% to 6%).
  • Thousands of hectares of rain forests are being lost within hours.
  • The Amazon rain forest is being cut for cultivating soya beans or for conversion of grass lands for cattle.
  • Fragmentation badly affects animals requiring large territories and migratory animals.
  1. Over-exploitation: Stellar’s sea cow, Passenger pigeon etc. extinct due to over exploitation.
  2. Alien species invasions: Alien species cause decline or extinction of indigenous species. E.g.
  • Nile Perch introduced in Lake Victoria (East Africa) caused extinction of more than 200 species of cichlid fish.
  • Invasive weed species like Parthenium (carrot grass), Lantana and Eicchornia (water hyacinth) caused damage to our native species.
  • Illegal introduction of the African Catfish (Clarias gariepinus) for aquaculture is a threat to the indigenous catfishes in our rivers.
  1. Co-extinction: When a species becomes extinct, the species associated with it also extinct. E.g.
  • Extinction of the parasites when the host is extinct.
  • In co-evolved plant-pollinator mutualism, extinction of one causes the extinction of the other.


There are 3 categories of reasons for conservation.

a. Narrowly utilitarian arguments

  • Human derive economic benefits from nature such as food, firewood, fibre, construction material, industrial products (tannins, lubricants, dyes, resins, perfumes) and medicines.
  • More than 25% of the drugs are derived from plants.
  • 25,000 species of plants have medicinal value.

b. Broadly utilitarian arguments
Biodiversity has many ecosystem services. E.g.
• Amazon forest (‘lung of the planet’) produces 20% of total O2 in the earth’s atmosphere.
• Pollination through bees, bumblebees, birds and bats.
• Aesthetic pleasures.

c. Ethical arguments
• Every species has an intrinsic value. We have a moral duty to care for their well-being.
Biodiversity conservation is 2 types: In situ (on site)
conservation and Ex situ (off site) conservation.

a. In situ conservation (on site)
It is the conservation of genetic resources within natural or human-made ecosystems in which they occur. E.g. Protected areas such as National Parks, Sanctuaries, Biosphere reserves, cultural landscapes, natural monuments etc.
• National Park: Strictly reserved for the welfare of the wildlife where private ownership, cultivation, grazing etc. are prohibited. E.g. Eravikulam National Park in Kerala.
• Sanctuary: Here, protection is given only to the animals.
Collection of timbers, minor forest products and private ownership are allowed so long as they do not harm the animals. E.g. Periyar wildlife sanctuary in Kerala.
• Biosphere Reserves: Areas of land or coastal ecosystems for conservation and sustainable use.
• Sacred forests (Sacred groves): Forest fragments which are communally protected based on religious beliefs. E.g.
o Sacred groves in Khasi & Jaintia Hills in Meghalaya.
o Aravalli Hills of Rajasthan.
o Western Ghat regions of Karnataka & Maharashtra.
o Sarguja, Chanda & Bastar areas (Madhya Pradesh).
India has 14 Biosphere Reserves, 90 National Parks and 448 wildlife sanctuaries.

b. Ex situ conservation (off site)
It is the conservation of organisms outside their habitats. E.g. genetic resource centres, zoological parks, wildlife safari parks, botanical gardens, gene banks, cryopreservation etc.
• These are the regions with very high species richness, high degree of endemism (species confined only to a specific region) but most threatened.
• There are 34 hotspots in the world.
3 hotspots cover India’s biodiversity regions- Western Ghats & Sri Lanka, Indo-Burma and Himalaya.
• All hotspots together cover only < 2% of the earth’s land area. But the species richness is extremely high. Protection
of hotspots reduced the ongoing extinctions by 30%.

International Efforts for conserving biodiversity
The Earth Summit or Convention on Biological Diversity (Rio de Jeneiro, 1992) – 3 objectives:
a. Conservation of biodiversity.
b. Sustainable use of biodiversity.
c. Sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.
The World Summit on Sustainable Development (Johannesburg, South Africa, 2002): 190 countries pledged to reduce the current rate of biodiversity loss.

Biodiversity and Conservation Class 12 Biology