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In an example used for describing the meaning of the word "biodiversity" in Cambridge dictionary the phrase "species habitat and biodiversity" is used:

the number and types of plants and animals that exist in a particular area or in the world generally, or the problem of protecting this:

a new National Biological Survey to protect species habitat and biodiversity

My question is, shouldn't "species" be used with possessive s? This raises another question: what is the correct form of using the word "species" with possessive s in this context?

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  • I wouldn't think this would be possessive? species seems to be broadly describing a type of habitat rather than a particular set. Aug 17, 2019 at 12:01

2 Answers 2

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We have three options:

  1. In this case, the author uses "species" as an attributive noun because it describes "habitat" (and perhaps also "biodiversity").

  2. If we wanted to precede "habitat and biodiversity" with a plural posessive (indicating that the habitat and biodiversity somehow "belonged" to multiple species), then we would use the plural possessive form of "species":

a new National Biological Survey to protect species' habitat and biodiversity

  1. We could also precede "habitat and biodiversity" with a singular possessive, but in that case "species" would require a determiner, e.g.:

a new National Biological Survey to protect a species' habitat and biodiversity

(Note that "species's" is not standard.)

All three options are correct.

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You would use species’ which is the plural possessive form of species.

You sentence would be:

a new National Biological Survey to protect species’ habitat and biodiversity

You could add more clues to the sentence to show you are talking about more than one:

a new National Biological Survey to protect multiple species’ habitat and biodiversity

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