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of terms related to the biodiversity



Darwin Day

An international celebration of science and humanity, February 12. (http://www.darwinday.org/)

Darwin Declaration (1998)

The governments of the world that recognise the Convention on Biological Diversity have affirmed the existence of a taxonomic impediment to sound management and biodiversity conservation. Removal of this impediment is a crucial, rate-determining step in the proper implementation of the Convention's objectives. There is an urgent need to train and support more taxonomic experts, and to strengthen the infrastructure required to discover and understand the relationships among the world's biological diversity. (http://www.biodiv.org/doc/meetings/cop/cop-04/information/cop-04-inf-28-en.pdf)

debt-for-nature swaps

A conservation agency buys up some of a developing country's international debt ("secondary" debt) on the world's money market. The agency then promises to dispose of the debt in return for a promise from the indebted country that it will look after a conservation area.


The breakdown of organic materials by organisms in the environment, releasing energy and simple organic and inorganic compounds. About 10 percent of the energy that enters living systems through photosynthesis in plants passes to herbivores, and a fraction of this energy then passes to carnivores. Whether feeding on living or non-living material, however, the detritivores (the organisms consuming non-living material, such as many fungi, bacteria, and earthworms) and consumers break down organic material (such as sugars and proteins(protein)) to obtain energy for their own growth, thereby returning the inorganic components (the nutrients) to the environment, where they are again available to plants.


Isolating the active compound out of a natural product mixture.

deliberate release

- Any use of an organism that is not a contained use. - Introduction into the environment for scientific or commercial purposes of transgenic plants and microorganisms. - Any intentional introduction into the environment of a GMO or a combination of GMO’s without provisions for containment such as physical barriers or a combination of physical barriers together with chemical and/or biological barriers used to limit their contact with the general population and the environment.


- The study of birth rates, death rates, age distributions, and size of populations(population). It is a fundamental discipline within the larger field of population biology and ecology. - The rate of growth and the age structure of populations, and the processes that determine these properties.


A major food-source in a variety of ecosystems(ecosystem), consisting of organic remains of plants and animals, often heavily colonised by bacteria.

development values

The value to society of converting environmental resources(resource) to development uses.


- Having two sets of genes(gene) and two sets of chromosomes - one from the female parent, one from the male parent. - Having a pair of homologous chromosomes with the exception of the sex chromosome, the total number of chromosomes being twice that of a gamete.

direct use value

Economic values derived from direct use or interaction with a biological resource or resource system.

directional selection

Selection leading to a consistent directional change in any character of a population through time, for example selection for larger eggs.

disruptive selection

Selection favouring individuals that deviate in either direction from the population average. Selection favours individuals that are larger or smaller than average.

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)

The molecule that generally encodes all genetic information, controls all cellular functions in most forms of life and controls inheritance. It consists of two strands or chains of sub-units, known as nucleotides(nucleotide).

DNA bank

Storage of DNA, which may or may not be the complete genome, but should always be accompanied by inventory information. (Note: at the present time, animals cannot be reestablished from DNA alone.)

do-no-harm principle (= precautionary principle) (opp.: wait-and-see principle)

- A proactive method of dealing with the environment that places the burden of proof on those whose activities could harm the environment. - If the costs of current activities are uncertain, but are potentially both high and irreversible, the precautionary principle holds that society should take action before the uncertainty is resolved.

domestic animal diversity (DAD)

The spectrum of genetic differences within each breed, and across all breeds within each domestic animal species, together with the species differences; all of which are available for the sustainable intensification of food and agriculture production.

domestic biodiversity

The genetic variation existing among the species, breeds(breed), cultivars(cultivar) and individuals of animal, plant and microbial species that have been domesticated, often including their immediate wild relatives(wild relative).

domesticated species (syn.: cultivated species)

Species in which the evolutionary process has been influenced by humans to meet their needs.


Organisms that have undergone domestication.


- The process by which plants, animals or microbes selected from the wild adapt to a special habitat created for them by humans. - The adaptation of an animal or plant to life in intimate association with and to the advantage of man.

donor control

A predator - prey interaction in which the predator does not control the prey population size.


A process by which surface waters increase in density and sink. Strong downwelling occurs mainly off Greenland and Antarctica.

drift (see genetic drift)

- Random gene frequency changes in a small population due to chance alone. - A cumulative process involving the chance loss of some genes and the disproportion ate replication of others over successive generations in a small population, so that the frequencies of genes in the population is altered. The process can lead to a population that differs genetically and in appearance from the original population.


A gill net suspended vertically from floats at a specific depth and left to drift freely.

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