Biodiversity: Land vs Water

All habitat types, on both land and in water, are losing biodiversity. But the decline is greatest in freshwater habitats – and tropical freshwater habitats in particular.
These declines are on average – as for the overall tropical and temperate LPIs, tropical and temperate species living in each habitat type show starkly different trends. 

The decline is greatest for freshwater species, whose populations show an average 37 per cent decline. The tropical freshwater index declined even more precipitously, by 70 per cent.

Overall, the global tropical index declined by 60 per cent since 1970. In contrast, the index for temperate regions increased by 31 per cent over the same period.  (see figure on right)

However, this does not necessarily mean that temperate biodiversity is in a better state than tropical biodiversity, as the temperate index disguises huge historical losses prior to the start of the analysis.

(The animal populations tracked by the global Living Planet Index can be divided according to their habitat type – terrestrial, freshwater or marine.)

The freshwater Living Planet Index (a) The global freshwater index shows a decline of 37% between ... / ©: WWF/ZSL, 2012
(a) The global freshwater index shows a decline of 37% between 1970 and 2008; (b) The temperate freshwater index shows an increase of about 36%, while the tropical freshwater index shows a decline of around 70%
© WWF/ZSL, 2012

The freshwater Living Planet Index

 / ©: WWF/ZSL, 2012
(a) The global marine index shows a decline of about 22% between 1970 and 2008; (b) The temperate marine index shows an increase of about 53%, while the tropical marine index shows a decline of around 62%
© WWF/ZSL, 2012

The marine Living Planet Index

 / ©: WWF/ZSL, 2012
(a) The global terrestrial index shows a decline of around 25% between 1970 and 2008; (b) The temperate terrestrial index shows an increase of about 5%, while the tropical terrestrial index shows a decline of around 44%
© WWF/ZSL, 2012

The terrestrial Living Planet Index

Scroll over the map to see the LPI in all tropical and temperate habitat types.

Glossary

  • Biodiversity
    Shorthand for biological diversity. Variability among living organisms from all sources including terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems, and the ecological complexes of which they are part; this includes diversity within species, between species and of ecosystems (CBD and UNEP).

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