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21 - From Ecological Diversity to Biodiversity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 April 2008

David L. Hull
Affiliation:
Northwestern University, Illinois
Michael Ruse
Affiliation:
Florida State University
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Summary

INTRODUCTION

During the last three decades, biodiversity conservation has emerged as a central focus of environmental concern in many regions of the world (Sarkar 2005). As a result, large-scale efforts are being devoted to devising systematic protocols for conservation, sometimes involving computational efforts unprecedented in ecology (Margules and Pressey 2000). These efforts presume that a sufficiently precise concept of biodiversity is at hand. Some philosophical attention has also been focused on elaborating an adequate normative basis for conservation. These attempted normative justifications for biodiversity conservation also depend on what is meant by biodiversity. Yet, “biodiversity” remains a contested term.

The term “biodiversity” was first used in 1986 as a contraction for “biological diversity” by Walter G. Rosen while planning for a (U.S.) National Forum on Biodiversity (Takacs 1996). Subsequently, temporarily mutated as “BioDiversity,” it was used as the title for the proceedings from that meeting (Wilson 1988). No attempt was made to define the term precisely, even as its use spread - the chronology in Table 21.1 includes the most salient episodes. Conservation biology also emerged as a distinct interdisciplinary research area during the 1980s with its central aim the protection of biodiversity (Takacs 1996, Sarkar 2002, 2005).

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2007

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