The Principle of Optimum Biodiversity

Biodiversity and Humankind

The Principle of Optimum Biodiversity


Aleshchenko G.M. and Bukvareva E.N. Two-Level Hierarchical Model of Optimal Biological Diversity // Biology Bulletin, 2010, Vol. 37, No. 1, pp. 1–9

In order to analyze the possible mechanisms of optimization of biodiversity, the two-level hierarchical model was developed and studied. The lower level subsystems are interpreted as the populations and the upper level is considered as the community of one trophic level consisting of these populations. The indexes at the population level (phenotypic diversity) and at the community level (the number of species) were considered as the characteristics of an integrated hierarchical system. The adaptation of biosystems to environmental conditions occurs through the optimization of diversity at the population and community levels during their interaction. The criteria of optimization used in the lower and upper levels correspond to maximal efficiency of resource utilization by biosystems. The results of modeling correspond to a known empirical biodiversity pattern that allows the use of the optimal diversity principle as an additional mechanism of its formation at the population and cenosis levels.

Bukvareva E.N., Aleshchenko G.M. 2012. The Principle of Optimal Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning // International Journal of Ecosystem 2012, 2(4): 78-87


We propose the principle of optimal diversity of biosystems. According to this principle, the optimal values of inner diversity of biosystems correspond to their maximum viability (minimum extinction probability). We have inves-tigated a mathematical model of a two-level “population-community” system in a fluctuating environment. The subsystems of the lower level are interpreted as populations while those of the upper level are interpreted as a community of one tro-phic level made up of these populations. The optimality criteria correspond to the maximum effectiveness of resource utili-zation by the biosystems, which is possible to consider as an index of ecosystem functioning. Оptimal values of diversity depend on the intensity of resource flow and the instability of the environment. optimal species diversity increases in more stable and “rich” environments, while optimal intrapopulation diversity decreases in more stable environments and is inde-pendent of the intensity of resource flow. These opposite reactions allow us to make an assumption of the different roles of intrapopulation diversity and species diversity in a fluctuating environment: intrapopulation diversity is the basis of adapta-tion to environmental instability, while species diversity enables a community to use resources to the maximum and effec-tively. In general, the results of our modelling agree with empirical biodiversity patterns, giving us grounds to propose the prin-ciple of optimal biodiversity as a working hypothesis complementary to other ideas about interrelation between biodiversity and ecological functioning.

Bukvareva E., Aleshchenko G. 2005. Principle of biosystem optimal diversity // European Conference on Ecological Modelling. Proceedings / The Fifth European Conference on Ecological Modelling – ECEM, 2005, Pushchino, Russia, September 19-23, 2005 ; edited by Alexander S.Komarov. – Pushchino :IPBPSS RAN, 2005, P.29-30

Bukvareva Elena N. The Principle of Optimum Diversity in Biological and Social Systems // Hierarchy and power in the history of civilizations. Fifth International Conference. Abstracts. Moscow, 2009. P. 128-129.

Bukvareva E.N., Aleshchenko G.M. 2005. Principle of biosystem optimal diversity : two-level hierarchical model “populations-community” 

Biodiversity and Humankind

regulating ecosystem functions are shown to change significantly due to largescale anthropogenic transformations of natural ecosystems and current climate shifts. A new forming functions of natural ecosystems, including their climateregulating functions

D.S. Pavlov, B.R. Striganova, and E.N. Bukvareva. 2010. An Environment-Oriented Concept of Nature Use // Herald of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 2010, Vol. 80, No. 1, pp. 74–82.

The current forms of nature use either disturb or destroy natural ecosystems, the functions of which create and stabilize environmental conditions suitable for human life. The authors of this article propose to switch from the strategy of intensive consumption of natural resources to an economic model that would maintain
natural environmental regulation and ensure the sustainable development of civilization. The environment-oriented concept of nature use developed by the authors is based on the principle that we should first preserve the regulating and supporting functions of biotic communities and the diversity of living organisms.

 D.S. Pavlov and E.N. Bukvareva. 2007. Biodiversity and life support of humankind // Herald of the Russian Academy of Sciences, 2007, Vol. 77, No. 6, pp. 550–562.

Favorable conditions for human life on the earth are ensured by the incessant work of natural ecosystems. The efficiency of biospheric regulation mechanisms is provided by biodiversity at the global, biocenotic, specific, and population levels. The current scale of the destruction of the planet’s living cover makes us advance the conservation of the existing natural systems as a strategic goal. The task of this article below is to attract the attention of the scientific community to the need of conserving biodiversity as the basis of biosphere stability.


E. Bukvareva. Megadiversity vs. keydiversity // Young, J., Neshover, C., Henle, et al. (Editors). 2007. European research for a sustainable Europe: Research contributing to the implementation of the EU Biodiversity Strategy. Report of an e-conference. P.111-113. (

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