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Genetic Diversity

Each individual plant, animal, fungus and bacteria has a set of genes. These genes give an individual its specific characteristics. Differences in genes between individuals within a species makes them slightly different to each other. These differences, or variety of genes within a species, is called genetic diversity.

Human beings all belong to the same species. We do not all look exactly the same, but we look very different to our closest relative, the chimpanzee. We look different because each person has a different set of genes, which determines things like their height, their type of hair and the color of their eyes. It also determines what blood type we are and even what diseases we are prone to getting. Identical twins have genes that are exactly the same.

A population is a group of organisms of the same species that live together. Often single populations of a species share similar genes, which are different to the genes shared by other populations. It is therefore important that all populations survive, in order to keep genetic diversity. The more genes there are, the more a species can adapt to changes in climate and habitat, and the more likely it is for individuals to survive and pass on their special genes to their offspring.

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