The planetary ecosystem

These life forms are found in almost every location on the Earth where there is liquid water, including in the Earth’s interior. Their reproduction is both rapid and profuse. The combination of a high mutation rate and a horizontal gene transfer. They form an essential part of the planetary ecosystem. However, some microorganisms are pathogenic and can post health risk to other organisms.

Aerial photo autumn forest
Richmond, Utah, USA – photo: Layne Lawson

Classifying plants These life forms are found in almost every location on the Earth

Among the many ways of classifying plants are by regional floras, which, depending on the purpose of study, can also include fossil flora, remnants of plant life from a previous era. People in many regions and countries take great pride in their individual arrays of characteristic flora, which can vary widely across the globe due to differences in climate and terrain.

Regional floras commonly are divided into categories such as native flora and agricultural and garden flora, the lastly mentioned of which are intentionally grown and cultivated. Some types of ‘native flora’ actually have been introduced centuries ago by people migrating from one region or continent to another, and become an integral part of the native, or natural flora of the place to which they were introduced. This is an example of how human interaction with nature can blur the boundary of what is considered nature.

‘Useless’ plants

Another category of plant has historically been carved out for weeds. Though the term has fallen into disfavor among botanists as a formal way to categorize ‘useless’ plants, the informal use of the word ‘weeds’ to describe those plants that are deemed worthy of elimination is illustrative of the general tendency of people and societies to seek to alter or shape the course of nature. Similarly, animals are often categorized in ways such as domestic, farm animals, wild animals, pests, etc. according to their relationship to human life.

Animals as a category have several characteristics that generally set them apart from other living things. Animals are eukaryotic and usually multicellular (although see Myxozoa), which separates them from bacteria, archaea, and most protists. They are heterotrophic, generally digesting food in an internal chamber, which separates them from plants and algae. They are also distinguished from plants, algae, and fungi by lacking cell walls.


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Jane Roe

Jane Roe

Jane is a 24-year-old researcher who enjoys charity work, cycling and cookery. She is allergic to artificial food colourings. She has a severe phobia of sharks, and is obsessed with milkshakes.

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