Spectrum of concepts associated with the term “biodiversity”: a case study in a biodiversity hotspot in South America

  • Claudia Cerda
  • Iñigo Bidegain


In most conservation programs that include public participation, the word “biodiversity” is used. However, many variables influence the public understanding of the term and determine what biodiversity means to local stakeholders. Those representations of the concept must be addressed and included in conservation actions. We asked 47 local stakeholders in a biosphere reserve (BR) located in a biodiversity hotspot in South America, for whom the conservation of biodiversity is not the main focus of interest, to explain how they understand the term “biodiversity.” Twenty-two different definitions were provided, ranging from purely ecological concepts to the human dimension. Although the diversity of animals and plants was the most frequently mentioned concept, the variety of concepts that emerged suggested that more explicit examples of social constructions must be considered in public participatory projects and environmental education programs. Actors living in a close relationship with nature provide a greater diversity of elements in defining biodiversity, visualizing ecological but also instrumental values.


Biodiversity Concepts Social understanding Biodiversity hotspot Management 



We thank Emilia Catalán, Rosario Valenzuela, and Luis González for data collection. We also thank our respondents that were willing to respond our interview.


This study was funded by the Fondecyt Research Grant No. 1151063: “Exploring human wildlife-relationships in Chile: a multistakeholder perspective to wildlife conservation management”.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Ethical approval for studies with human participants was obtained for the research from the Scientific Ethics Committee of the Faculty of Social Sciences of University of Chile.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Forest Sciences and Conservation of NatureUniversity of ChileSantiagoChile

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