Posted by: ahowland | 14th Apr, 2011


This week we have focused a lot on biodiversity all over the world. We have talked about Costa Rica’s and the Amazon Rainforest’s tremendous biodiversity, which offer some of the most diverse areas in the world. Costa Rica, whose land area is only 0.03% of the entire planet’s surface, contains some 500,000 species which represent nearly 4% of the total species estimated worldwide. The Amazon Rainforest contains millions of animals, and has about 2.5 million species of insects alone.


Learning about other place’s diversity of plants and animals, we never actually talk about the biodiversity right on our backyard. While Virginia or even the United States cannot compete with the biodiversity in the rainforest, Virginia does contain its fair share of plants and animals. According to LandScope, Virginia contains 2,546 species of plants and 737 species of vertebrates that are native to the state. There is also an estimated 30,000 terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates species living in Virginia as well, although there is no accurate count. Compared to the rest of the United States and the world for overall native species diversity, Virginia ranks 10th for vertebrates and 13th for vascular plants in the US. Virginia also ranks 8th in the US for globally rare animals and 14th for globally rare plants. Another interesting fact is that Virginia also contains a few endemic species, or species that are only found in Virginia. These include nine vertebrate species and five vascular plant species, and a more numerous invertebrate species list. This all is great and shows that we have a pretty diverse state right here in Virginia. This is due to Virginia’s rich range of habitats in it- from the coastal areas to the mountains, and everything in between, the state offers a wide range of different habitats to support a very diverse group of plants and animals.


It’s hilarious how we always think of Virginia as completely mowed over by suburbia and as just a continuation of Washington DC, but in reality it’s one of the most beautiful and wild places in our country. I love that dichotomy, but it’s only going to be like that as long as people protect it, or else in a couple decades it really will be mowed over.

Haha you’re exactly right, we do tend to think of VA as a place of only urban centers with some wildlife in the mountains, but in reality we have a wide range of habitats that host a lot of different species. And I agree, we need people to protect and preserve our wildlife habitats.

I often try to share these things about Virginia to my classes to show you don’t have to travel far and spend a lot to see amazing natural stuff.


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