Genetic diversity, the level of biodiversity
, refers to the total number of genetic
characteristics in the genetic makeup of a species. It is distinguished from genetic variability
, which describes the tendency of genetic characteristics to vary.
Genetic diversity serves as a way for populations to adapt to changing environments. With more variation, it is more likely that some individuals in a population will possess variations of alleles that are suited for the environment. Those individuals are more likely to survive to produce offspring bearing that allele. The population will continue for more generations because of the success of these individuals.
The academic field of population genetics