What is biodiversity
Earth is home to a variety of living things. It has a lot of biodiversity.
Biodiversity comes from two words Bio meaning life and diversity meaning variability.
Biodiversity is the variety of all living things; the different plants, animals and micro organisms, the genetic information they contain and the ecosystems they form.
We need biodiversity for Earth the thrive, every living thing is important to the balance of life on Earth.
Classification of living things
All living organisms are classified based on basic, shared characteristics. Organisms within each group are then further divided into smaller groups. These smaller groups are based on more detailed similarities within each larger group. This grouping system makes it easier for scientists to study certain groups of organisms. Characteristics such as appearance, reproduction, mobility, and functionality are just a few ways in which living organisms are grouped together.
Taxonomists classify all organisms into a hierarchy, and give them standardised names, that are often Latin or Greek, or derived from other languages and even people's names.
These specialised groups are collectively called the classification of living things. There are seven main levels of classification in the hierarchy. They are, from the most to the least inclusive.
Kingdoms is the most basic classification of living things. Living things are placed into certain kingdoms based on how they obtain their food, the types of cells that make up their body, and the number of cells they contain.
Currently there are five kingdoms
Today we are going to focus on two of the five kingdoms - Plants and Animals or Flora and Fauna.
Animals are multi-celled living things that get the energy they need for survival, and the nutrients they need for growth and repair, by feeding on other living things.
Most animals feed by eating or ingesting their food.
Carnivores such as wolves and sharks get meat.
Herbivores such as horses and parrots feed on plants.
Detritivores like worms and millepedes feed on dying, dead and rotting bit of other living things (organic waste matter).
Omnivores eat both plants and animals.
To study and understand the animal kingdom, we need to have some method of grouping or classifying its creatures. Animals can be divided into groups or 'classified' by looking at the similarities and differences between them.
Animals are divided into two main groups.
Animals that have a backbone are called vertebrates.
Animals that don't have a backbone are called invertebrates.
Vertebrates and invertebrates are divided into smaller groups.
Vertebrates, for example, are divided into fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.
There are many different groups of invertebrates too. They include invertebrates which have soft bodies such as jellyfish, worms and molluscs (like slugs and squids). There are also groups of invertebrates with hard bodies, such as insects, crustaceans and spiders.
Vertebrates are animals that have a backbone inside their body.
The major groups include;
Invertebrates are animals that don't have a backbone.
There are so many invertebrates on this planet that it is impossible to count them all. They come in many shapes and sizes, live practically anywhere and provide many services that are vital for our survival.
Some have soft bodies, like worms, slugs and jellyfish.
Other invertebrates, like insects, spiders and crustaceans, have a hard outer casing called an exoskeleton. This protects their body a bit like a suit of armour.
Terrestrial (meaning they live on land) invertebrates include the following groups, many of which also have members that live in freshwater or marine environments. Familiar examples of invertebrates include
Let’s see if we can correctly match the animal with the correct group.
Now lets take a look at the second kingdom - plants.
Plants are very important to life on Earth they;
Produce the Oxygen which is vital to animals' and humans' existence.
They clean the air from pollution by absorbing Carbon Dioxide
They help regulate the temperature on Earth
They are home from a variety of animals
When humans breathe (respire) we inhale Oxygen and exhale Carbon Dioxide. Plants do the opposite they take in Carbon Dioxide and release Oxygen through a process called photosynthesis.
Unlike animals, plants make their own food using photosynthesis. The food produced is the sugar called glucose.
Let’s imagine Photosysthesis as a recipe. We need a few ingredients for it to work. These are;
Where and how to plants get these ingredients?
Plants have green leaves, inside the leaves is something called Chlorophyll, it is the Chlorophyll that makes leaves green. Chlorophyll is vital to photosynthesis as it helps plants get energy from the sun.
Inside the leaves are tiny holes or pores called stomata. Carbon dioxide from the air is absorbed through the stomata.
Water is absorbed by the roots, it travels through the stem in tiny vessels, like your veins, up to the leaves of the plant.
What happens next?
Now the plant has all it needs for photosynthesis. From this the plant creates its own food, called Glucose, which is a type of sugar. This process of Photosynthesis also creates Oxygen, the plant doesn’t need to Oxygen (We call anything created from a chemical reaction that we don’t need a by-product) and so releases it back through the pores in the leaves.
Complete Photosynthesis activity sheet
Plants are a vital part to keeping our planet healthy, they take in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and produce some of the oxygen we need to breathe. Can you see the relationship we have with plants and them with us?
Trees provide us with around 30% of the Oxygen we breathe, so where does the other 70% come from?
Oxygen from the Ocean
The ocean provides around 70%. Marine like plants in the ocean called Phytoplankton are responsible for this.
These single-celled organisms live at the top of the ocean (first 100m), although they are not technically of the plant kingdom they too take Carbon Dioxide and release Oxygen by Photosynthesis because they too contain Chlorophyll. Phytoplankton are part of the Protist Kingdom.
The circle of Life
When they are grown up, they might reproduce and have young animals of their own. These children will get older and may eventually also have children too, and so the life cycle keeps going! In order for living things to have a healthy life cycle they need;
Air to breathe
Water to stay hydrated
Food to provide energy
Sunlight for energy
Suitable and safe environment to grow and reproduce.
As a planet we exist together in a delicate balance. We must respect everything on this planet. We are all connected in the great circle of life. Let’s listen to our good friend Mufasa explain this too us.
We are all responsible for the health of this planet and all the living things that call planet Earth home.
We must be aware of our actions and choices and consider how those will impact our environment and the living things we share it with. When we respect something we care for it. You don’t need super powers to save the planet, it is the little things we do every single day that make a big difference.
Our individual health will always align with the health of the planet.
Here are some super easy things you can do that will help protect the biodiversity of our wonderful home - Earth.
Gratitude - Spend time in nature
Have you ever heard the saying sometimes the small things are the biggest?
Sometimes we stop observing the little things, we miss the sparks of brilliance, the joys of nature - blooming flowers, buzzing bees, singing birds.
Try to take time to spend time in nature, take a few deep breathes in. Observe the things around you everything has beauty, life and energy, but we don’t always have the eyes to see it. Practice developing new ways of looking at things, become more attentive, more mindful, better observers, practice gratitude everyday. It is amazing how things start to change.
Spend some time in the garden, perhaps try growing your own vegetables, fruits or herbs. Plant flowers in your garden, Bees will really appreciate this! If you watch them carefully you will see them visit the flowers and collect yellow pollen all over their legs. The carry to pollen to other plants, pollinating them! This means more plants and we already know how important they are to life on Earth.
3. Look after local animals
Do you have lots of birds visiting your garden? Try putting some seeds out in your garden or build a bird feeder from recycled materials. These will come in very handy for the birds come winter time when food is a little harder to come by!
You could also put a bird bath in your garden, keep it nice and shallow as the birds will be easily able to bath and little insects will be able to take a drink without falling in.
Creating our own Terrarium
Let’s create our own mini Environment.