What is biodiversity?
It is the variety of life on Earth, in all its forms and all its interactions. If that sounds bewilderingly broad, that’s because it is. Biodiversity is the most complex feature of our planet and it is the most vital.
More formally, biodiversity is comprised of several levels, starting with genes, then individual species, then communities of creatures and finally entire ecosystems, such as forests or coral reefs, where life interplays with the physical environment. These myriad interactions have made Earth habitable for billions of years.
Ecuador is considered the most biodiverse country in the world (per unit area).
It is also known as one of 17 megadiverse countries in the world.
For being defined as that, a country must have a high level of endemism, species biodiversity and a marine ecosystem along its borders.
Ecuador’s richness in animals is breathtaking and growing with every new discovery, and keep in mind the country is made up only 0.2% of the worlds land area:
- 1660 species of birds, that’s 16% of the world’s biodiversity, including 140 different hummingbirds
- 500 different amphibians, that’s 8% worldwide
- 414 species of reptiles, 5% worldwide
- 400 different mammals, 8% worldwide
- Insect species cannot be counted, it might be well over a million
Also, you can find around 10% of the world’s plants here, around 25,000 different ones, including 5000 different orchids.
Colombia ranks second amongst the 12 most biodiverse countries in the world. According to the 2019 Biodiversity Information System in Colombia, there are 51,330 species registered in the country. The country currently has 1,116 protected areas, representing 15% of the national territory.
1,941 bird species
1,435 freshwater fish
A huge variety of plants can also be found. Among them:
22,840 flowering plants
4,270 orchids, most endemic
289 palm trees
Peru, as most countries in the northern part of South America, is a megadiverse country.
– 1,857 bird species
– 559 mammals (including 56 different primates)
– 469 reptiles
– 623 amphibians
– 1,141 freshwater fish
– 4,000 butterfly species, which is the highest diversity worldwide
Peru’s flora is not less impressive:
– 20,585 different species of plants
– 2,700 species of orchids, 800 of them endemic, including the world’s largest orchid, ‘Inkill’ (Sobralia altissima), which grows up to 13.4 m in height.