Basics of Biodiversity UPSC Notes PPT

Basics of Biodiversity UPSC Notes PPT

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  • Biodiversity, short for biological diversity, is the intricate and varied web of life that blankets our planet. It encompasses the incredible variety of living organisms, the ecosystems they form, and the genetic diversity within species. Biodiversity is often referred to as the tapestry of life, as it weaves together the threads of countless species, each playing a unique role in maintaining the balance of nature.

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Basics of Biodiversity: Nurturing Earth’s Tapestry of Life

Biodiversity, short for biological diversity, is the intricate web of life on Earth. It encompasses the variety of living organisms, their interactions, and the ecosystems they form. Understanding the basics of biodiversity is essential for appreciating the richness of our planet’s ecosystems and the services they provide.

What is Biodiversity?

Biodiversity is the sum total of life at all levels of biological organization, from genes to ecosystems. It includes three main components:

1. Genetic Diversity:

This refers to the variety of genes within a species. Genetic diversity is crucial for the adaptability and resilience of populations to changing environmental conditions. It is the foundation of evolutionary processes.

2. Species Diversity:

Species diversity involves the variety of different organisms present in a particular area. It ranges from microscopic bacteria to large mammals. A diverse array of species contributes to the stability and functionality of ecosystems.

3. Ecosystem Diversity:

Ecosystem diversity pertains to the variety of habitats, communities, and ecological processes present in a region. Different ecosystems, such as forests, wetlands, and coral reefs, each have their unique characteristics and contribute to the overall biodiversity of the planet.

Importance of Biodiversity

Biodiversity plays a crucial role in maintaining the health and balance of Earth’s ecosystems. Here are some key reasons why biodiversity is vital:

1. Ecosystem Stability:

Diverse ecosystems are more resilient to disturbances. The presence of various species provides a buffer against environmental changes, ensuring the stability of ecological processes.

2. Ecological Services:

Biodiversity contributes to essential services that ecosystems provide, including pollination of crops, water purification, climate regulation, and disease control. These services are critical for human well-being.

3. Genetic Resources:

Genetic diversity within species is a valuable resource for agriculture, medicine, and other human endeavors. It provides the raw material for breeding programs and the development of new medicines.

4. Aesthetic and Cultural Value:

Biodiversity enriches our lives in aesthetic and cultural ways. The diversity of species, landscapes, and ecosystems contributes to the beauty of the natural world and holds cultural significance for many communities.

Threats to Biodiversity

Despite its importance, biodiversity faces numerous threats, primarily due to human activities. These threats include:

1. Habitat Destruction:

The conversion of natural habitats into agricultural land, urban areas, or other land uses results in the loss of biodiversity.

2. Pollution:

Pollution from various sources, such as industrial discharge, agricultural runoff, and plastic waste, negatively impacts aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, harming both species and habitats.

3. Climate Change:

Rapid changes in climate patterns, driven by human activities, pose a significant threat to many species and ecosystems that may struggle to adapt to these shifts.

4. Overexploitation:

Overharvesting of species for food, medicine, and trade can lead to population declines and even extinction.

Conservation of Biodiversity

Conservation efforts are crucial to preserving biodiversity and mitigating its decline. Some key strategies include:

1. Protected Areas:

Establishing and effectively managing protected areas help conserve critical habitats and species.

2. Sustainable Resource Use:

Promoting sustainable practices in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries ensures that ecosystems can continue to provide resources without depleting biodiversity.

3. Education and Awareness:

Raising awareness about the importance of biodiversity and the threats it faces is vital for inspiring conservation action.

4. Global Collaboration:

International cooperation is essential to address global challenges to biodiversity, such as climate change and the illegal wildlife trade.


  • Biodiversity is a cornerstone of life on Earth, providing resilience, functionality, and beauty to the planet. Recognizing its importance and taking steps to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity is not only an ethical responsibility but also crucial for the well-being of current and future generations. As stewards of this precious tapestry of life, it is our collective duty to ensure the continued diversity and abundance of life on Earth.

Unveiling the Rich Tapestry: Basics of Biodiversity

Biodiversity, a term derived from “biological diversity,” encapsulates the vast array of life forms on Earth and the intricate ecological systems that sustain them. From the towering trees of rainforests to the smallest microorganisms, biodiversity is a fundamental aspect of our planet. In this exploration of the basics of biodiversity, we will delve into the concept’s definition, major plant groups, India’s conservation efforts, species classification, and the crucial importance of biodiversity in maintaining the health of our ecosystems.

Types of Biodiversity

Below is a comprehensive table outlining various types of biodiversity along with examples:

Type of Biodiversity Definition Example
Genetic Biodiversity Variety of genes within a population or species, crucial for adaptation and evolution. Different breeds of domestic dogs (Canis lupus familiaris).
Species Biodiversity Variety of species within a habitat or ecosystem. Rainforests with a multitude of species, including frogs, insects, birds, and plants.
Ecosystem Biodiversity Diversity of ecosystems within a region or the entire planet. Coral reefs, deserts, rainforests, and grasslands coexisting on Earth.
Functional Biodiversity Variety of functions performed by species in an ecosystem, contributing to its overall health. Bees pollinating flowers, fungi decomposing organic matter, predators controlling prey populations.
Temporal Biodiversity Changes in biodiversity over time, considering both short-term and long-term fluctuations. Seasonal variations in the composition of plant and animal species in a deciduous forest.
Spatial Biodiversity Variation in biodiversity across different geographical areas or landscapes. Coastal ecosystems, mountain ranges, and wetlands exhibiting unique biodiversity patterns.
Cultural Biodiversity Diversity of human cultures, knowledge, and practices related to biodiversity. Indigenous communities with unique ecological knowledge and sustainable practices.
Functional Group Biodiversity Diversity of ecological roles or functions performed by groups of species in an ecosystem. Herbivores, carnivores, decomposers, and pollinators contributing to ecosystem dynamics.

Understanding these types of biodiversity provides a holistic view of the complexity and interconnectedness of life on Earth. Each type plays a crucial role in maintaining the health and resilience of ecosystems.

Defining Biodiversity

Biodiversity encompasses the variety of life, including the diversity of species, ecosystems, and genetic diversity within species. This variety is vital for ecological balance, resilience, and the continued evolution of life on Earth.

A. Major Plant Groups

  1. Bryophytes: Non-vascular plants like mosses and liverworts.
  2. Gymnosperms: Seed-producing plants, including conifers and cycads.
  3. Angiosperms: Flowering plants, the most diverse group including trees, herbs, and grasses.

Below is a comprehensive table outlining major plant groups along with examples:

Major Plant Group Characteristics Example
Bryophytes Non-vascular plants, lack true roots, stems, or leaves. Mosses, liverworts, hornworts.
Gymnosperms Seed-producing plants with naked seeds, usually in cones. Pine trees, spruces, cycads.
Angiosperms Flowering plants with enclosed seeds within ovaries. Roses, sunflowers, oak trees, grasses.

Understanding these major plant groups provides insights into the diversity and evolutionary adaptations of plant life on Earth. Each group plays a distinct role in ecosystems and contributes to the overall biodiversity of the planet.

B. India’s Unique Initiatives

  1. India’s 1st Lichens Park: Dedicated to the study and conservation of lichens.
  2. India’s 1st Cryptogamic Park: Focused on conserving cryptogams like algae, fungi, and lichens.
  3. Gross Environment Product (GEP): A measure of economic activity incorporating environmental factors.

Here’s a table outlining India’s unique initiatives in biodiversity conservation:

Initiative Description Example
1. India’s 1st Lichens Park Description: India’s first Lichens Park dedicated to studying and conserving lichens, crucial environmental indicators. Example: Lichens Park in Munnar, Kerala.
2. India’s 1st Cryptogamic Park Description: A park focused on conserving cryptogamic plants (algae, fungi, lichens) and studying their ecological roles. Example: Cryptogamic Park in Matheran, Maharashtra.
3. Gross Environment Product (GEP) Description: An economic indicator incorporating environmental factors, reflecting a holistic development approach. Example: Integrating environmental values in GDP.
4. Biosphere Reserves Description: Designated areas for conservation, research, and sustainable development, often with core and buffer zones. Example: Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve in South India.
5. Ex-situ Conservation Efforts Description: Conservation measures beyond natural habitats, including botanical gardens, seed banks, and captive breeding. Example: National Gene Bank for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, Uttarakhand.

These initiatives showcase India’s innovative approaches to biodiversity conservation, emphasizing the importance of both in-situ and ex-situ conservation methods. The focus on specific plant groups, environmental indicators, and economic valuation reflects a comprehensive strategy towards preserving the country’s unique natural heritage.


C. Measurement of Biodiversity

  1. Types of Species:
    • Keystone Species: Fundamental to ecosystem function (e.g., lions, sea otters).
    • Endemic Species: Found exclusively in a particular region (e.g., North River Terrapin).
    • Umbrella Species: Protection benefits entire ecosystem (e.g., Indian Wild Ass).
    • Invasive Species: Introduced species causing harm (e.g., water hyacinth).
    • Foundation Species: Central to the structure of an ecosystem (e.g., mycorrhiza).
    • Critical Link Species: Essential for ecosystem connectivity (e.g., birds).

Here’s a table outlining different aspects of the measurement of biodiversity along with examples:

Aspect of Measurement Description Example
1. Types of Biodiversity Definition: Classifying biodiversity into genetic, species, ecosystem, functional, temporal, spatial, and cultural types. Example: Categorizing biodiversity based on genes, species, and ecosystems.
2. Genetic Biodiversity Definition: Measuring the variety of genes within a population or species. Example: Studying the genetic diversity in wild rice varieties.
3. Species Biodiversity Definition: Assessing the variety of species within a specific habitat or ecosystem. Example: Counting the number of bird species in a forest.
4. Ecosystem Biodiversity Definition: Evaluating the diversity of ecosystems within a region. Example: Analyzing the different ecosystems in a national park.
5. Functional Biodiversity Definition: Examining the variety of functions performed by species in an ecosystem. Example: Studying the roles of pollinators in a plant community.
6. Temporal Biodiversity Definition: Considering changes in biodiversity over time, including short-term and long-term fluctuations. Example: Monitoring seasonal variations in plant species composition.
7. Spatial Biodiversity Definition: Assessing variation in biodiversity across different geographical areas or landscapes. Example: Comparing biodiversity in coastal and mountain ecosystems.
8. Cultural Biodiversity Definition: Recognizing the diversity of human cultures, knowledge, and practices related to biodiversity. Example: Documenting indigenous practices in sustainable resource use.
9. Functional Group Biodiversity Definition: Evaluating the diversity of ecological roles or functions performed by groups of species in an ecosystem. Example: Studying the diversity of decomposers in a forest ecosystem.

These measurements collectively provide a comprehensive understanding of biodiversity, addressing various dimensions from the genetic makeup of populations to the broader ecosystem and cultural contexts.

Types of Species

Here’s a table outlining different types of species along with examples:

Type of Species Definition Example
1. Keystone Species Definition: Fundamental to ecosystem function, exerting a disproportionate influence on its structure and functioning. Example: Sea otters in kelp forest ecosystems.
2. Endemic Species Definition: Found exclusively in a particular region, often with limited distribution. Example: North River Terrapin in specific river systems.
3. Umbrella Species Definition: Protection benefits the entire ecosystem, as conserving this species indirectly safeguards others. Example: Indian Wild Ass protecting shared grassland habitat.
4. Invasive Species Definition: Introduced species causing harm to the native environment, often outcompeting native species. Example: Water hyacinth disrupting aquatic ecosystems.
5. Foundation Species Definition: Central to the structure of an ecosystem, often forming the primary habitat. Example: Mycorrhizal fungi supporting plant growth in forests.
6. Critical Link Species Definition: Essential for maintaining ecological connectivity, facilitating interactions between different parts of an ecosystem. Example: Birds aiding in seed dispersal and pollination.

Understanding these types of species is crucial for comprehending the intricate web of relationships within ecosystems and the role each species plays in maintaining ecological balance.

Patterns of Biodiversity

A. Sentinel Species

  1. Lichens, Corals, Gangetic Dolphin: Indicators of environmental health.

B. Flagship/Umbrella Species

  1. Asiatic Lions, Nilgiri Tahr: Symbolic species representing conservation efforts.

Here’s a table outlining different patterns of biodiversity along with examples:

Pattern of Biodiversity Definition Example
1. Sentinel Species Definition: Species used as indicators of environmental health; their well-being reflects the overall condition of an ecosystem. Example: Lichens, corals, and Gangetic dolphins serve as sentinels in their respective ecosystems.
2. Flagship/Umbrella Species Definition: Species selected for conservation efforts, and their protection benefits entire ecosystems or landscapes. Example: Asiatic lions, Nilgiri Tahr, and Bengal tigers are flagship species representing broader conservation efforts.
3. Patterns of Diversity in Space Definition: Variation in biodiversity across different geographical areas or landscapes. Example: Coastal ecosystems have different biodiversity patterns than mountainous regions.
4. Patterns of Diversity in Time Definition: Changes in biodiversity over time, considering both short-term and long-term fluctuations. Example: Seasonal variations in the types and abundance of plant and animal species in a deciduous forest.
5. Patterns of Diversity in Taxonomy Definition: Variation in biodiversity at different taxonomic levels, such as species, genera, or families. Example: Diverse species of orchids in a rainforest, representing taxonomic diversity within the plant family Orchidaceae.
6. Latitudinal Biodiversity Gradient Definition: Variation in species diversity with latitude; typically, species diversity increases toward the equator. Example: Rainforests near the equator exhibit higher species diversity compared to boreal forests at higher latitudes.

Understanding these patterns of biodiversity provides insights into the complex and dynamic nature of ecosystems, helping conservationists and ecologists make informed decisions about the management and protection of biodiversity.

Importance of Species Diversity to Ecosystem

Species diversity contributes to ecosystem stability, resilience, and functionality. It enhances productivity, nutrient cycling, and adaptation to changing environmental conditions.

Here’s a table outlining the importance of species diversity to ecosystems along with examples:

Importance of Species Diversity to Ecosystem Description Example
1. Stability and Resilience Description: Species diversity contributes to the stability and resilience of ecosystems, making them more resistant to disturbances and environmental changes. Example: A diverse forest ecosystem is better able to recover from a disturbance, such as a wildfire, compared to a monoculture forest.
2. Ecosystem Productivity Description: Higher species diversity often correlates with increased ecosystem productivity, as different species contribute to various ecological processes. Example: Coral reefs with diverse species of corals, fish, and invertebrates exhibit higher productivity than less diverse reefs.
3. Nutrient Cycling Description: Species play essential roles in nutrient cycling, ensuring the recycling and availability of nutrients within ecosystems. Example: Decomposer organisms, including fungi and bacteria, break down organic matter, releasing nutrients for plants in a forest ecosystem.
4. Resistance to Pests and Diseases Description: Biodiversity can enhance the resistance of ecosystems to pests and diseases by introducing natural controls and reducing vulnerability. Example: Diverse agricultural systems with multiple crop varieties are less susceptible to widespread disease outbreaks.
5. Adaptation to Environmental Changes Description: Species diversity enables ecosystems to adapt to changing environmental conditions, enhancing their ability to withstand and recover from disturbances. Example: Diverse grassland ecosystems can adapt to variations in precipitation and temperature, maintaining overall stability.
6. Provision of Ecosystem Services Description: Diverse ecosystems provide a wide range of ecosystem services, including clean air and water, pollination of crops, and climate regulation. Example: Wetland ecosystems with diverse plant and animal species contribute to water purification and flood control.
7. Habitat and Niche Specialization Description: Different species occupy unique ecological niches, contributing to the overall biodiversity and functioning of ecosystems. Example: Various bird species in a forest may have specialized niches, such as canopy foragers or ground-dwelling insectivores.
8. Cultural and Aesthetic Value Description: Biodiversity holds cultural and aesthetic value, enriching human experiences and connecting communities to their natural heritage. Example: Diverse floral and faunal species contribute to the cultural significance and aesthetic appeal of landscapes.

Understanding the importance of species diversity is crucial for the conservation and sustainable management of ecosystems, ensuring their continued health and functionality.

Also Read: Free PPT Slides

Loss of Biodiversity

A. Triple Planetary Crisis

  1. Biodiversity Loss
  2. Climate Change
  3. Land Degradation

B. IUCN Red List

  1. IUCN Redlist Index: Measures the overall extinction risk.
  2. Possibly Extinct: Species with uncertain survival status.
  3. Green Status of Species: Indicates the recovery status.

Here’s an expanded table with additional aspects of the loss of biodiversity and examples:

Aspect of Loss of Biodiversity Description Example
1. Biodiversity Decline Description: The overall reduction in the variety and abundance of species in a given area or globally. Example: The decline in the global population of amphibians due to habitat loss and a fungal disease.
2. Extinction of Species Description: The permanent loss of a species from the Earth, often due to human activities. Example: The extinction of the dodo bird, primarily caused by habitat destruction and hunting.
3. Habitat Destruction Description: The alteration, degradation, or complete destruction of natural habitats, leading to the loss of species. Example: Deforestation in the Amazon rainforest, resulting in the loss of countless plant and animal species.
4. Pollution Description: The introduction of harmful substances into the environment, negatively impacting the health of ecosystems and their inhabitants. Example: Water pollution from agricultural runoff, leading to the decline of aquatic species in rivers and lakes.
5. Climate Change Description: Global climate changes, driven by human activities, can alter habitats, disrupt ecological relationships, and contribute to species loss. Example: Rising temperatures affecting polar bear habitats in the Arctic, leading to a decline in their population.
6. Overexploitation Description: Excessive harvesting or hunting of species beyond their natural reproductive capacities, depleting populations. Example: Overfishing of certain marine species, such as bluefin tuna, leading to population decline.
7. Invasive Species Description: Introduction of non-native species that outcompete or prey on native species, contributing to their decline. Example: The spread of the cane toad in Australia, negatively impacting native amphibian populations.
8. Fragmentation of Habitats Description: The breaking up of continuous habitats into smaller, isolated fragments, reducing the ability of species to thrive. Example: Construction of roads dividing forests, isolating populations and reducing genetic diversity.
9. Loss of Keystone Species Description: The decline or extinction of species crucial for maintaining the structure and function of ecosystems. Example: Decline of sea otters leading to an overpopulation of sea urchins, impacting kelp forest ecosystems.
10. Altered Fire Regimes Description: Changes in the frequency and intensity of wildfires, affecting species adapted to specific fire conditions. Example: Suppression of natural fires leading to the decline of fire-dependent plant species.
11. Disease Outbreaks Description: Increased susceptibility of species to diseases due to stress, habitat loss, or introduction of pathogens. Example: White-nose syndrome affecting bat populations due to increased susceptibility caused by habitat disturbance.

Understanding the multifaceted nature of biodiversity loss is crucial for developing effective conservation strategies and mitigating the impact of human activities on global ecosystems.

Biodiversity Conservation

A. In-Situ Conservation

  1. Biosphere Reserves: Designated areas for conservation and sustainable use.
  2. Ex-situ Conservation: Conservation outside the natural habitat, e.g., botanical gardens and seed banks.

Here’s a table outlining different aspects of biodiversity conservation along with examples:

Aspect of Biodiversity Conservation Description Example
1. In-Situ Conservation Description: Conservation of species within their natural habitats, emphasizing the protection and sustainable management of ecosystems. Example: Establishment of Biosphere Reserves like the Sundarbans in India, preserving diverse ecosystems and species.
2. Ex-Situ Conservation Description: Conservation measures taken outside the natural habitat, often involving the breeding and maintenance of endangered species in controlled environments. Example: The establishment of seed banks, such as the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, storing seeds to safeguard genetic diversity.
3. Biosphere Reserves Description: Designated areas for conservation that integrate ecological research, biodiversity protection, and sustainable development. Example: The Western Ghats in India, recognized as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, balancing conservation and human activities.
4. Conservation of Endangered Species Description: Focused efforts to protect and increase populations of species facing a high risk of extinction. Example: Conservation programs for the Bengal tiger, including anti-poaching measures and habitat restoration in national parks.
5. Habitat Restoration Description: Efforts to restore degraded or destroyed habitats to their natural conditions, providing a conducive environment for diverse species. Example: Replanting native vegetation in deforested areas to restore natural forest ecosystems.
6. Sustainable Resource Management Description: Balancing the use of natural resources with conservation goals to ensure the long-term health of ecosystems. Example: Community-based sustainable fishing practices that protect marine biodiversity while supporting local livelihoods.
7. International Conservation Agreements Description: Collaborative efforts among countries to address global conservation challenges and protect shared ecosystems. Example: The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), a global treaty aiming to conserve biological diversity and ensure its sustainable use.
8. Restoration Ecology Description: Scientific discipline focused on restoring damaged ecosystems to their original state or improving their ecological function. Example: Restoring wetlands to enhance water quality and provide habitats for diverse plant and animal species.
9. Payment for Ecosystem Services (PES) Description: Financial incentives provided to individuals or communities for maintaining or restoring ecosystems that provide valuable services. Example: Compensating farmers for adopting sustainable agricultural practices that protect biodiversity and ecosystem services.
10. Citizen Science and Education Description: Involving the public in scientific research and education to raise awareness and promote active participation in conservation efforts. Example: Birdwatching programs engaging the public in monitoring bird populations and contributing to scientific knowledge.

Understanding and implementing these various aspects of biodiversity conservation are critical for ensuring the preservation of Earth’s diverse ecosystems and the species they support.

Terms in Biodiversity Conservation

  1. Biopiracy: Unauthorized use of indigenous knowledge for profit.
  2. Bioprospecting: Systematic search for commercializable bioresources.
  3. Biomining: Using microorganisms to extract metals from ores.
  4. Bioassay: Testing the potency of a substance by assessing its effects on living organisms.

Here’s a table outlining different terms in biodiversity conservation along with examples:

Term in Biodiversity Conservation Description Example
1. BIOPIRACY Description: The practice in which indigenous knowledge of nature, originating with indigenous peoples, is used by others for profit, without authorization or compensation to the indigenous people themselves. Example: Patenting medicinal plants used by indigenous communities without proper recognition or benefit-sharing.
2. Bioprospecting Description: A systematic and organized search for useful products derived from bioresources, including plants, microorganisms, animals, etc., that can be developed further for commercialization and overall benefits of society. Example: Researching rainforest plants for potential medicinal compounds.
3. Biomining Description: The process of using microorganisms (microbes) to extract metals of economic interest from rock ores or mine waste. Biomining techniques may also be used to clean up sites that have been polluted with metals. Example: Using bacteria to extract copper from low-grade ore in mining operations.
4. Bioassay Description: An experimental procedure used to assess the effects of a substance on a living organism, often employed in environmental monitoring and toxicity testing. Example: Testing the toxicity of a new chemical on a species of aquatic organisms in a controlled environment.
5. Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Description: An international treaty aiming to conserve biological diversity, promote sustainable use of its components, and ensure the fair and equitable sharing of benefits arising from genetic resources. Example: Participating countries agreeing to protect and sustainably manage their biological resources.
6. 15th COP to CBD (Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity) Description: A global meeting where countries that are parties to the CBD come together to discuss and negotiate issues related to biodiversity conservation. Example: The 15th COP to CBD held to address current challenges and set new goals for biodiversity conservation.
7. High Ambition Coalition Description: A group of countries that advocate for ambitious and effective actions to address global challenges, including biodiversity loss and climate change. Example: A coalition of nations pushing for stronger commitments to protect biodiversity at international forums.
8. Green Status of Species Description: The assessment of the conservation status of a species, indicating whether its populations are stable or declining. Example: A species being classified as “green” if its populations are healthy and not at immediate risk of decline.
9. Possibly Extinct Description: A classification indicating that a species may no longer exist, but there is insufficient evidence to confirm its extinction. Example: A species that has not been observed for several years, but there is still some hope it might be rediscovered.

These terms highlight various aspects and considerations in the field of biodiversity conservation, including legal frameworks, scientific research methods, and international cooperation efforts.


  • Biodiversity is a cornerstone of life on Earth, sustaining ecosystems, providing resources for human well-being, and contributing to the beauty and richness of our planet. Recognizing the basics of biodiversity is a crucial step in fostering a sense of responsibility for its conservation. As stewards of this intricate tapestry of life, it is our collective duty to protect and preserve the diversity that makes our planet unique.

Also Read: Wetlands Mangroves and Coral Reefs Forests UPSC PPT Slides

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