[2024] Biodiversity For UPSC, All concepts and Important MCQs

This section contains complete information about biodiversity and at the end, you will also get to solve some important MCQs related to the concept.

What is biodiversity?

Biodiversity can be defined as the “variability among living organisms from all sources, including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; this includes diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems”. This definition of biodiversity was given at the Rio summit of 1992.

This term was mainly popularised by a socio-biologist named Edward Wilson to describe the combined diversity at all the levels of biological organisation.

Biodiversity in a broader sense means the different forms of life and life sustaining systems and processes available on the earth.

Important Facts About Biodiversity

  1. More than 70% of all the recorded species are animals, while plants of all types comprise just around 22% of them.
  2. Among animals, Insects are the most species-rich taxonomic group, making up more than 70% of the total.
  3. The largely tropical “Amazonian Forests” in South America has the most biodiversity on globe.
  4. Most of the undiscovered species are in Tropics, (which is an area lying between Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn).

Levels of biodiversity | Types of biodiversity

The different types of biodiversity are;

  1. Genetic diversity
  2. Species diversity
  3. Community/ecosystem diversity
  4. Functional diversity

Genetic Diversity

It involves diversity within species due to variation in genes. It is the difference in the genetic makeup in one individual species. It is also called variability within species.

It allows population to respond to the changing environment, thus increasing its chances of survival in case of drastic changes or threats.

Species Diversity

Species are different looking organisms with different genetic makeup that are unable to interbreed.

Species diversity refers to diversity amongst various species of a region. This is the variety of distinct types of living organisms in different habitats.

It is calculated as the ratio of one species population over total number of organisms across all species in a given biome. A zero value will mean infinite diversity and value of One will mean only one species is present.

Community Diversity | Ecosystem Diversity |Ecological Diversity

It refers to diversity at the level of habitats or ecosystems.

A habitat may be defined as an ageregation of climate, vegetation and geography of a region.

It describes the number of niches, trophic levels and various ecological processes that sustain energy flow, food web and recycling of nutrients.

Functional Diversity

This includes the different types of biological and chemical processes such as mass and energy flow, essential for the survival of living beings.

Biodiversity Hotspots

We all know that biodiversity is not uniformly distributed across all geographical regions. In 1988, Norman Meyers developed the concept of ‘Biodiversity Hotspots’ which describes the places with richest and most threatened reservoirs of plant and animal life on earth. He put forward this concept in two articles in “The Environmentalist”.

Criteria for biodiversity hotspots

In order to label any area as a biodiversity hotspot, it must satisfy the following conditions;

  1. The region must have atleast 1500 species of vascular plants as endemic i e. they are found nowhere else on the earth except in that region. A hotspot, in otherwords is irreplaceable.
  2. 70% of its original habitat must be lost. In other words, we can say, a hotspot must be threatened.

These conditions have been laid down by Conservation International (CI) and till date 35 hotspots across the world have been identified by it. The 35th hotspot was identified in 2011 and it is “Forests of East Australia“.

These 35 biodiversity hotspots cover around 2.3% of Earth’s total land surface and contain more than 50% of the world’s total Plant species and 42% of all terrestrial vertebrate species as Endemic Species.

Biodiversity in India

India is a mega diverse rich country and has very rich biodiversity.

India has around 24% of its geographical area under forest cover, as against the target of 33%.

India has world’s 2.4% of land area, 18% of human population and around 7.2% of world’s recorded species.

India has “two Realms“, ” five Biomes“, “ten Bio-geographic zones“, “twenty five bio-geographic provinces“.

Biodiversity hotspots in India

The biodiversity hotspots in India are:

1. Western Ghats

This hotspot runs parallel to the western coast of Indian peninsula for almost 1600km through Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala ( and Srilanka). Forests are generally evergreen at lower elevation and semi evergreen at higher elevation

Agasthyamalai hills, Silent valley and Amambalam reserve are the main centres of biodiversity here.

To study the ecology of Western Ghats, an expert panel headed by a famous ecologist Madhav Gadgil was appointed in 2010. In 2012, another committee was constituted for the same purpose known famously as Kasturirangan Committee.

2. Himalayas

The eastern Himalayan hotspot extends to entire Indian Himalayan region (and that falling in Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal, China, Myanmar and Bhutan). Many deep and isolated valleys are rich in endemic plant species here. This area is a rich source of primitve flowering plants and is popularly known as “cradle of speciation”.

The area comprises of temperate forests at altitudes of 1780 to 3500 meters.

3. Indo-Burma

It Includes entire North-eastern India, except Assam and Andaman group of Islands (and Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and southern China).

Note: Eastern Himalayas (also known as Cradle of Speciation) was earlier conssidered as a biodiversity hotspot, but it is now a part of two hotspots viz Indo-Burma and Himalayas

4. Sunda land

It includes Nicobar group of islands ( and Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei and Philippines).

Threats to biodiversity

Biodiversity is at great risk due to threats posed by factors Like:

  • Habitat Loss and Destruction
  • Hunting and poaching
  • Commercial exploitation
  • Deforestation and conversion of forest land to agricultural or industrial land
  • Pollution
  • Forests burns,
  • filling up of a wetland and habitat destruction
  • Floods, droughts
  • Lack of or decrease in pollination
  • Earthquakes and landslides

Another factor responsible for loss of biodiversity is the introduction of invasive exotic species. These exotic or non-native species may invade the native species and lead to their disappearance as it changes the biotic interactions in the region. Few example of such species are

(ii) Water hyacinth (Eihhornia): It has threatened many aquatic species in several tropical areas including India as it clogs rivers and lakes. disabling sunlight to reach phytoplanktons. This in turn affects their photosynthesis ability and ultimately affects the entire food chain of the aquatic system. It is called terror of Bengal.

(i) Nile perch: its introduction in Lake Victoria in South Africa eliminated the native Cichid fish species and threatened the entire ecosystem.

(iii) African catfish (Clarias Gariepinus): it was introduced for aquaculture purpose in India and is now posing threat to the aquatic ecosystem.

Co-Extinction is another threat to biodiversity wherein extinction of one species affects the species associated to it. This is mainly true for organisms in mutualism and symbiotic relation with each other.

Extinction of species

Extinction of species is a natural process and is a part of geological history of the earth. Usually, it is of 3 types:

Natural Extinction: It occurs at a very slow rate wherein some species disappear with the change in environment and the newer ones with more adaptive features evolve.

Mass Extinction: When large number of species. becomes extinct due to catastrophic events, it is called mass extinction. It occurs suddenly in millions of years and on a very large scale for a short period.

Anthropogenic Extinction: This man made extinction is the severest form of biodiversity depletion and is occurring at a faster pace within short period.

Man-Animal Conflict: Due to destruction of natural habitat of the wildlife, they tend to move outside their original habitate towards different regions. In this movement, the needs of wildlite animals overlap and hence come in conflict with human needs, which leave a negative impact on both human lives as well as wildlife animals.

Other causes of the conflct an be land use transformation, growth of human population as well as wildlife population etc

Conservation of biodiversity

Two ways of conserving biodiversity are: in-situ conservation and ex-situ conservation

Ex-situ conservation: It involves conservation of wildlife outside their natural habitat like in botanical gardens, zoos, seed and dna banks. tissue culture, cryptoconservation (in which liquid nitrogen is used for conservation of propagated plants).

In-situ conservation: Conserving the wildlife in their natural habitat is called in-situ conservation. It includes National Parks (protected areas), Wildlife Sanmtuartes (protected areas), Biosphere Reserves, Reserved Forests, Protected Forests etc


Patents that are given for biological entities and products derived from them are called biopatents. It must be noted here that patents are rights given to an inventor to prohibit others from commercially exploiting the the invention


Commercial exploitation of rich biodiversity and traditional knowledge of biological resources without proper authorization from the concerned country is called biopiracy


Use of biological weapons, carrying pathological biological agent against humans is called biowar.


They are a set of standards that may be used to regulate human activities with respect to biological world; particularly when experimenting with biotechnology.

Initiatives For Biodiversity Conservation

Various initiatives that have been taken towards biodiversity conservation are listed below;

Earth Summit

Earth summit is also known as Rio summit, Rio conference, and United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED).

It was held in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) from 3rd to 14th june 1992.

After 20 years, another summit was held in Rio de Janeiro, and that summit is famously known as Rio+20 or Rio Earth summit 2012.

The main outcomes of these Rio Summits are tabulated below:

MissionOutcome from Earth Summits
To protect biodiversityConvention on bio diversity (CBD)
To reverse climate changeUNFCC
To promote sustainable developmentAgenda 21

Here, we will deal with Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) only, as only it is directly related with biodiversity.

Convention on Biodiversity (CBD)

It was the outcome of Rio summit and is also known as biodiversity convention.

It is an international legally binding treaty.

It entered into force on 29th December 1993.

Convention on biological diversity has 3 main goals. they are

  1. Conservation of biodiversity.
  2. Sustainabe use of components of biodiversity.
  3. fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources.

Its main components are: 1. Aichi targets, Cartagena protocol on biosafety, Nagoya protocol on Genetic Resources.

Aichi Targets

These were set in 10th meeting of COP in 2010 held in Nagoya Japan for a time period of 2011-2020. They were 20 in number and divided into 5 strategic goals;

Strategic Goal A: Address the underlying causes of biodiversity loss by mainstreaming biodiversity across government and society.

Strategic Goal B: Reduce the direct pressures on biodiversity and promote sustainable use.

Strategic Goal C: To improve the status of biodiversity by safeguarding ecosystems, species and genetic diversity.

Strategic Goal D: Enhance the benefits to all from biodiversity and ecosystem services.

Strategic Goal E: Enhance implementation through participatory planning, knowledge management and Capacity building.

Nagoya Protocol

It is a protocol on genetic resources and a supplementary agreement to Convention of Biological Diversity.

It is also known as Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS).

This protocol was adopted at 10th Conference of parties (COP), held in 2010 at Nagoya, Japan.

It aims at creating greater legal certainity and transparency for both providers and users of genetic resources by establishing more predictable conditions for access to genetic resources.

It helps in benefit sharing when genetic resources leave the contracting party providing the genetic resource.

Cartagena Protocol

It is a protocol on biosafety.

It entered into force in 2003, and provides for AIA (Advanced Informed Agreement) among the member countries.

It seeks to protect biodiversity from the threats posed by living modified organisms (LMOs) resulting from modern biotechnology.

Biological Diversity Act, 2002

The biological Diversity act of India was legislated by Indian parliament for the preservation of biological diversity in India.

Its objectives/goals are same as the 3 goals of Convention on Biological diversity.

In addition, it provided for a 3 tier structure to regulate access to biological resources. The structure is;

  • The National Biodiversity Authority (NBA) at national level
  • The State Biodiversity Boards (SBBs) at state level
  • The Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) at local level
National Biodiversity Authority
National Biodiversity Authority was setup in 2003 to implement Biological diversity act 2002.
It is a statutory body.
Its headquarter is at Chennai

Now that you have revised the concepts related to biodiversity, check your understanding now by participating in this quiz containing best MCQs on biodiversity below.

Quiz On Biodiversity For UPSC

In the forthcoming section, you will get some important MCQs on biodiversity. We are sure that you will find them very useful.

The variety among species and within species is known as:

  1. Diversity
  2. Informatics
  3. Deduction
  4. Reduction


The concept of Biodiversity Hotspots was developed by:

  1. Norman Myers
  2. Van Humboldt
  3. Charles Elton
  4. Rachel Carson.

Norman Myers

What is India’s share of the global species diversity? (KAS 2021)

  1. 2%
  2. 4%
  3. 6%
  4. 8%


Plants that grow in water are called as Hydrophytes. What name is given to plants that grow in desert conditions?

  1. Halophytes
  2. Xerophytes
  3. Mesophytes
  4. Phaeophytes


Which of the following is known as “cradle of speciation”?

  1. Sunda Land
  2. Western Ghats
  3. Eastern Himalayas
  4. Indo Burma

Eastern Himalayas

Which of the following can be threats to the biodiversity of a geographical area? (UPSC)

  1. Global warming
  2. Fragmentation of habitat
  3. Invasion of alien species
  4. Promotion of vegetarianism

Select the correct answer using the codes given below:

  1. 1, 2 and 3 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 4 only
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4

1, 2 and 3 only

  1. Bio Diversity
  2. Ozone depletion
  3. Ecological Succession
  4. Global Warming


Western ghats of India is known as;

  1. Endemic Queen
  2. Endemic Crown
  3. Endemic Ghat
  4. Endemic Home

Endemic Crown

Vultures used to be very common in Indian countryside some years ago are rarely seen nowadays. This is attributed to; (UPSC)

  1. the destruction of their nesting sites by new invasive species
  2. a drug used by cattle owners for treating their diseased cattle
  3. Scarcity of food available to them
  4. a widespread, persistant and fatal disease among them

a drug used by cattle owners for treating their diseased cattle

The loss of genetic diversity in an isolated small population could be attributed to:

  1. Mutation
  2. Inbreeding
  3. Speciation
  4. Genetic Drift
  1. 1 and 2
  2. 2 and 3
  3. 2 and 4
  4. 1 and 4

2 and 4

In which one among the following categories of protected areas in India are local people not allowed to collect and use the biomass? (UPSC)

  1. Biosphere reserves
  2. National parks
  3. Wetlands declared under Ramsar convention
  4. Wildlife sanctuaries

National Parks

The 2030 agenda for sustainable development provides a global blueprint and stimulates action in the following areas: (KAS 2021)

  1. People, planning, prosperity, peace and partnership
  2. People, peace, prosperity, planet and partnership
  3. Peace, people, prosperity, plants and partnership
  4. Peace, people, planning, planet and partnership

people, prosperity, planet, partnership and peace

Which one of the following groups of animals belongs to the category of endangered species? (UPSC)

  1. Great Indian bustard, Musk Deer, Red Panda and Asiatic Wild Ass
  2. Kashmir Stag, Cheetah, Blue Bull, Great Indian Bustard
  3. Snow Leopard, Swamp Deer, Rhesus Monkey, Saras (Crane)
  4. Lion Tailed Macaque, Blue Bull, Hanuman Langur, Cheetah

Great Indian bustard, Musk Deer, Red Panda and Asiatic Wild Ass

In a particular region in India, the local people train the roots of living trees into robust bridges across the streams. As the time passes, these bridges become stronger. These unique ‘living root bridges’ are found in; (UPSC)

  1. Meghalaya
  2. Himachal Pradesh
  3. Jharkhand
  4. Tamil Nadu


The non-native species successfully establish in the introduced environment and causes damage to the environment due to;

  1. Better adaptation to the new environment
  2. All the niches are utilized by the native species
  3. Absence of natural enemies in the introduced region
  4. Low biotic potential

Choose the correct option:

  1. 1 and 2
  2. 1 and 3
  3. 1 and 4
  4. 2 and 4

1 and 3

Which of the following National Parks is unique in being a swamp with floating vegetation that supports a rich biodiversity? (UPSC)

  1. Bhitarkanika National Park
  2. Keibul Lamjao National Park
  3. Keoladeo Ghana National Park
  4. Sultanpur National Park

Keibul Lamjao National Park

With reference to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which of the following statements is/are correct? (UPSC)

  1. IUCN is an organ of the United Nations and CITES is an international agreement between governments.
  2. IUCN runs thousands of field projects around the world to better manage natural environments.
  3. CITES is legally binding on the States that have joined it, but this Convention does not take the place of national laws.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

2 and 3 only

Which one of the following is the national aquatic animal of India? (UPSC)

  1. Saltwater crocodile
  2. Olive ridley turtle
  3. Gangetic dolphin
  4. Gharial

Gangetic Dolphin

What is Rio+20 Conference, often mentioned in the news? (UPSC)

  1. It is the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development
  2. It is a Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organization
  3. It is a Conference of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change
  4. It is a Conference of the Member Countries of the Convention on Biological Diversity

It is the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development

With reference to ‘Eco-Sensitive Zones’, which of the following statements is/are correct? (UPSC)

  1. Eco-Sensitive Zones are the areas that are declared under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 .
  2. The purpose of the declaration of Eco-Sensitive Zones is to prohibit all kinds of human activities, in those zones except agriculture.

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Neither1 nor 2

Other than poaching, what are the possible reasons for the decline in the population of Ganges River Dolphins? (UPSC)

  1. Construction of dams and barrages on rivers
  2. Increase in the population of crocodiles in rivers
  3. Getting trapped in fishing nets accidentally
  4. Use of synthetic fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals in crop-fields in the vicinity of rivers

Select the correct answer using the code given below.

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 2 and 3 only
  3. 1, 3 and 4 only
  4. 1, 2, 3 and 4

1, 3 and 4 only

How does National Biodiversity Authority help in protecting the Indian agriculture? (UPSC)

  1. NBA checks the biopairacy and protects the indigenous and traditional genetic resources.
  2. NBA directly monitors and supervises the scientific research on genetic modification of crop plants.
  3. Applications for intellectual property rights related to genetic/ biological resources can not be made without the approval of NBA.

Which of the statements given above is/ are correct?

  1.  1 only
  2. 2 and 3 only 
  3. 1 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3

1 and 3 only

Consider the following statements. (UPSC 2010)

  1. Biodiversity hotspots are located only in tropical regions.
  2. India has four biodiversity hotspots viz Eastern Himalayas, Western Himalays, Western Ghats and Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. Only 1
  2. Only 2
  3. Both of them
  4. None of them

None of them

Also Check: Rivers and Lakes Of Jammu Kashmir

Also Check: Nuclear Program of India

These were some best MCQs on biodiversity. We are sure that these MCQs on biodiversity will be very helpful for you and hope that you will share them with your friends and other aspirants.

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