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3. The source of biodiversity

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Chapter Summary

Two analogies are useful in unravelling the force behind biodiversity: the waterfall and the wellspring. In nature, water wells up out of the ground in artesian springs where the groundwater is under pressure. This pressure forces the water in the artesian spring upwards. In evolution, the enforced increase in numbers is the pressure that drives a struggle for survival. Food is an important cause of competition between organisms, and food chains are important pathways of energy flowing through ecosystems. Food chains efficiently convert the high-grade energy of sunlight into low-grade energy in water vapour (plants give off a lot of water in the form of water vapour during their growth) and excrement. This proceeds in a series of alternating wellsprings and waterfalls, creating more organisms which in turn intensify the process.

Keywords: biodiversity; ecosystem; low-grade energy; sunlight; water vapour; waterfall; wellspring



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