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1: Biodiversity, living matter and biomass

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    What does the biosphere represent on Earth? How is the biomass distributed between oceans and continents? While hiking in the mountains, in the forest or while scuba diving, we appreciate the diversity of nature: the colorful flora of an alpine meadow, the incredible diversity of the fauna of a lagoon and the discreet tracks of animals in a forest! The contrast between biomes marine and terrestrial is striking, but quantifying these differences remains difficult. Our vision of the species that inhabit the planet is biased. We notice the most visible organisms – or the largest – but we are far from imagining the importance of “the invisible majority” [1], the prokaryotes or more broadly the microorganisms, especially in soils. How to correctly estimate the global biomass of all living organisms and quantify the abundance of the biosphere’s constituents? This is a fundamental question in biology. The quantification of the biomass of living organisms on Earth presented here – broken down by major taxonomic groups, ecological strategies and global environments – provides a basis for exploring today’s major environmental issues.

    1: Biodiversity, living matter and biomass is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts.

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