Molecular Genetics

Genetic Diversity – Definition, Importance, Examples

Diversity refers to a lot of things. When we look at it from the perspective of an ecosystem, we will see that it refers to the different species or ecological niches present. We can bring about genetic diversity in ecosystems by scaling things up within an area.

genetic diversity

It is very important as the genes of any population are quite essential. In other words, genetic diversity can be said to the capability of the species which can adapt to the varying changes in the environment.

Definition of Genetic Diversity 

Genetic diversity is the diversity or variability within species, community or assemblage. As we know, every individual is unique because of their distinctive genes. For instance, every human is unique in their physical appearance. This is because of their genetic individuality. Similarly, this term encompasses various populations of one single species, like the different breeds of dogs or roses.

Importance of Genetic Diversity

The large variation of the different gene sets allows an individual or the whole population to have the capacity to endure environmental stress in any form. For instance, where some individuals have a better capacity to endure the increasing pollution in the environment, some do not have it. This may result in infertility or even death from the same conditions.

Thus, we see how the ones who are able to endure and adapt to this change are much better than the ones who failed to do so and had to either leave or die. This process can be referred to as natural selection. This procedure leads to a loss of genetic diversity in particular habitats. Thus, we see that genetic diversity can in a way tackle natural selection for a better environment.

Examples of Genetic Diversity

As we know that genetic diversity occurs in different species and are not limited to just animals or humans. Thus, we will have a look at the different examples which will help us recognize this process better.

  • Woody Plant Species
  • Domestic Dogs
  • Generalist versus Specialist Species

Woody Plant Species

The woody plant species are the trees that have more genetic diversity than the other vascular plants like grasses. It applies to both the populations as well as the various species. One part of the diversity happens due to the size of the geographic range of each of the species.

Plus, it has depends on how far they can move via their genetic information. For instance, processes of wind pollination or animal seed dispersers. However, a lot of the diversity of these woody plants is still a mystery. The explanation is that it ties to the evolutionary past of the separate species.

Domestic Dogs

Humans have been long breeding different species of dogs for making something new with different traits. However, we see that this genetic variability is reduced as their operative population size is restricted by humans who control their access to mates. On the other hand, the genetic variation has anyway developed because of the diverging of various breeds.

Generalist versus Specialist Species

When we say generalists, we refer to the adaptable species which adapts their behavior to plus diet as per the changes in the environment. For instance, coyotes are a perfect example of this species.

On the other hand, specialist species are those who develop quite specific traits that allow them to benefit from one certain resource. For instance, hummingbirds are examples of this species. An environment that has more inconsistency favors the generalist species more as well as the genetic diversity of these.

Solved Question on Genetic Diversity 

Question– Which of the following is an example of specialist species?

A. Coyote
B. Wolf
C. Hummingbird
D. Dog

Answer– The correct answer is option C.

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