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Microbial diversity and the “lower-limit” problem of biodiversity

Malaterre, Christophe (2013) Microbial diversity and the “lower-limit” problem of biodiversity. Biology and Philosophy, 28. pp. 219-239.

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Science is now studying biodiversity on a massive scale. These studies are occurring not just at the scale of larger plants and animals, but also at the scale of minute entities such as bacteria and viruses. This expansion has led to the development of a specific sub-field of “microbial diversity”. In this paper, I investigate how microbial diversity faces two of the classical issues encountered by the concept of “biodiversity”: the issues of defining the units of biodiversity and of choosing a mathematical measure of diversity. I also show that the extension of the scope of biodiversity to microbial entities such as viruses and many other not-clearly-alive entities raises yet another foundational issue: that of defining a “lower-limit” of biodiversity.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Keywords: microbial diversity, definition of biodiversity, biodiversity scope, biodiversity measure, units of biodiversity, definition of life
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Depositing User: Christophe Malaterre
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2013 11:51
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2013 11:51
Item ID: 9666
Journal or Publication Title: Biology and Philosophy
Publisher: Springer
Official URL:
DOI or Unique Handle:
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Date: 2013
Page Range: pp. 219-239
Volume: 28

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