Biodiversity encompasses not only genetic diversity within populations and species, faunal biodiversity, and the diversity of ecosystems but also the complex functional relationships and interactions among the different levels.
Biodiversity has a high intrinsic value and is the basis for the human well-being: in the form of ecosystem services, the diversity of life stabilizes the climate and the availability of clean water, food, and raw materials. Last but not least, biodiversity is of enormous ethical, cultural, and aesthetic importance for humans.
Biodiversity is under threat, however. Immense population growth, the globalization of economies and other socio-economic developments are the main causes of climate change and the destruction and alteration of habitats. Anthropogenic influences are causing the largest global extinction event in 60 million years and have detrimental effects on water systems, agriculture, human health, and the frequency of severe weather events.
One of the greatest global challenges we face is to slow down, stop, or even reverse the current loss of biodiversity. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that in many cases we do not have the knowledge needed to make truly informed social and political decisions.
The Leibniz Association therefore sees biodiversity research as a national priority in an international context. The 20 Leibniz Institutes, whose distinguished research focuses on biological diversity, are making a substantial contribution to the exploration and the identification of its environmental, economic, and social significance. The research museums of natural science, whose biological collections comprise a total of over 70 million items, are one unique feature.