Diversity of Organisms

"We find ourselves ethically destitute just when, for the first time, we are faced with ultimacy, the irreversible closing down of the earth's functioning in its major life systems. Our ethical traditions know how to deal with suicide, homicide and even genocide, but these traditions collapse entirely when confronted by biocide, the killing of life systems of the earth, and geocide, the the devastation of the earth itself."
-Father Thomas Berry

Meaning of Quote: People generally don't have ethics when it comes to the environment, because they don't understand the repercussions.


Domain Bacteria ~ Kingdom Eubacteria

Cell Surface Structures: Cell Wall (1).
Motility: Eubacteria use flagella to move through water. Bacterial gliding and twitching motility move bacteria across surfaces (2).
Genetic Material: Prokaryotes contain their genetic material in the nucleoid region of the cytoplasm (3).
Reproduction: Eubacteria reproduce through a form of asexual reproduction, binary fission, which allows them to split into two genetically identical cells (1).
Nutrition: Phototrophs are organisms that obtain energy from light. Chemotrophs obtain energy from chemicals. Autotrophs need only inorganic compound CO2 as a carbon source. Heterotrophs need at least one organic nutrient, such as glucose to make other organic compounds (3).
Oxygen Preferences: Obligate aerobes must have oxygen for growth. Obligate anaerobes cannot live in oxygen. Facultative anaerobes can grow with or without oxygen (1).
Nitrogen Metabolism: Prokaryotes can metabolize nitrogen in a variety of ways. For example, some prokaryotes convert atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia (3).
Types of Eubacteria: Parasites and Saprobes (Decomposers)
Symbiotic Relationship: Some soil bacteria live in the ground and take in Nitrogen from the surroundings. The Nitrogen is combined with Oxygen to form nitrates and nitrites, which are used by plants to make proteins. Some soil bacteria break down the nitrogen compounds and release the nitrogen back into the environment. Plants could not live without Nitrogen-fixing and denitrifying bacteria. E. coli in the intestines of mammals aid in digestion. Some bacteria are parasites. They live in a host and eventually overpopulate. As they do they use the host’s food and water, and eventually they starve the tissues (1).


Domain Archaea~Kingdom Archaeabacteria

Three Types: There are three types of archaebacteria. The thermoacidophiles live in the extremely hot, acidic water and moist areas within and surrounding sulfur hot springs. Methanogens are obligate anaerobes (free oxygen kills them), which oxidize CO2 during cellular respiration to produce methane as a waste product. Strict halophiles live in extremely salty solutions such as the Dead Sea and the Great Salt Lake (4).
Evolutionary link: Archae are similar to eukaryotic organisms in that they lack a part of the cell wall called the peptidoglycan. Also, archae and eukaryotes share similarities in the way that they make a new copy of their genetic material (5).


Domain Eukarya~

Kingdom Protista

Animal-like Protists: All animal-like protists are heterotrophs. Likewise, all animal-like protists are able to move in their environment in order to find their food. Unlike, animals, however, animal-like protists are all unicellular.
Fungus-like Protists: Fungus-like protists are heterotrophs with cell walls. They also reproduce by forming spores. All fungus-like protists are able to move at some point in their lives. There are three types of fungus-like protists: water molds, downy mildews, and slime molds.
Plant-like Protists: Plant-like protists are autotrophic. They can live in soil, on the bark of trees, in fresh water, and in salt water. These protists are very important to the Earth because they produce a lot of oxygen. Furthermore, these plant-like protists form the base of aquatic food chains. Plant-like protists can be unicellular, multicellular, or live in colonies. The plant-like protists are divided into four basic groups: euglenoids, dinoflagellates, diatoms, and algae (6).
Protists Evolution: Endosymbiotic hypothesis is an attempt to account for the major evolutionary leap from prokaryotes to protists, the first eukaryotes. The hypothesis proposes a larger prokaryote ingested a smaller prokaryote, and organelles such as mitochondria and chloroplasts arose. Much evidence comparing similarities of mitochondria to prokaryotes supports this idea (7).
Examples of Protists: Giardia lamblia is an animal-like protist that uses flagella as its means of locomotion and food capturing. It is an internal parasite the causes diarrhea. Giardia lamblia contaminates waters of aquatic lands and river banks. When animals and humans drink the water, the protist becomes parasitic to the host. It leaves the host through the feces. After it has left the host it then contaminates everything that comes into contact with the feces. Many humans get this disease by drinking infected waters or eating infected meats.
Plasmodium is a parasitic animal-like protist. It is the cause of malaria. Plasmodium is transported through mosquitoes. While in the mosquito the Plasmodium is in a dormant stage. When it is transported into the human it becomes active. It is mostly found in the red blood cells of humans. The Plasmodium asexually reproduces inside the liver and then enters the red blood cells. The red blood cells are destroyed in massive amounts. Merozoites are produced in some of the red blood cells. These merozoites develop into the male and female gametophytes. The infected gametophytes are taken in through a mosquito and the process begins all over again.
Dinoflagellates are plant-like protists found in salt water. They are unicellular and have flagella to help them move through the water. The Dinoflagellates are capable of glowing in the dark. They are the cause of Red Tide, when there is an outburst in population and in turn water becomes red/brown in color. The Dinoflagellates can produce toxins. If a human eats seafood contaminated with the toxins he/she will have memory loss and other impaired brain functions. Red algae is a plant-like protist that can be found in aquatic areas; most live in marine waters, but some are found in fresh waters as well. Not all red algae appear
red. The color depends on the pigmentation and chlorophyll abundance in the protist. They can appear green, purple, and black. The cell walls of red algae are composed of agar, which gives it a slimy/slippery feeling. Humans use red algae every day. The red algae Eucheuma is used as thickening agents in such things as paints, dairy products, and hair conditioners.
Macrocyctis is giant kelp. It is one of the most complex of all protistans. They are multicellualr and contain stipes (stem-like structures), blades (leaf-like structures), and holdfasts (anchoring structures). Kelp often live in giant colonies, creating a kelp bed. These giant kelp beds act like underwater "forests". Many fish, bacteria, and other protistans live their lives with in the giant kelp "forests" (8).

Kingdom Plantae

Characteristics of Plants: Almost all plants live on land and have adapted to the conditions on land through the development of a waxy cuticle to prevent drying out, structures to absorb and transport water throughout their bodies, and rigid internal support to remain erect without the buoyancy available in water. This rigidity is provided in large part by the cell wall, which is composed of cellulose , a complex carbohydrate , and lignin , a phenolic compound that stiffens the cellulose fibers (9).
Plant Evolution: All plants are multicellular eukaryotes with the capacity for photosynthesis. Plants are evolved from aquatic protists. The steps of adaptation include cuticles to prevent drying and developing a system of specialized cells such as vascular conduits for better water transport. These provide new habitats further away from water sources. Early terrestrial plants such as ferns were seedless, so gametes were dispersed via spores. One reproductive adaptation is the evolution of seeds, which carry plant gametes further from parents and therefore increase opportunities for uncontested resources. Evolution of flowers enables more efficient seed dispersal and pollination secondary to pollinators (7).
Classification of Plants: Non-vascular--Non-vascular plants are those plants that do not use a system of vessels to transport water and nutrients between different parts of the plant (10). Vascular--A vascular plant is one which has a system of vessels which transport water and nutrients between different parts of the plant (e.g. from the roots to the leaves) (11). Angiosperms--Angiosperms have stems, roots, and leaves. Angiosperm's seeds are found in a flower. Angiosperm eggs are fertilized and develop into a seed in an ovary that is usually in a flower. The flowers of angiosperms have male or female reproductive organs (12). Gymnosperms-- Gymnosperms have seeds on cones. Most coniferous trees are evergreen and are specially adapted to survive in areas with lots of snow (13).
Diversity of Angiosperms: Angiosperms can be broken down into two smaller groups or classes: Magnoliopsida and Liliopsida. Liliopsidaphytes include plants such as the grasses, lilies, irises, orchids, cattails, and palms, which have one cotyledon in the seed, parallel veins in the leaf, and flower parts in multiples of three. The Magnoliopsidaphytes which include almost all trees and shrubs (other than gymnosperms) and most other non-woody plants have two cotyledons in the seed, net venation, and flower parts in multiples of four or five (14).
Role of Plants in the Environment: As a critical part of the ecosystem, plants provide oxygen for organisms to survive. They are able to reduce the problem of pollution, by using carbon dioxide. Plants are also the basis of most food webs as producers of food for herbivores and ultimately carnivores. Plants also provide shelter for animals, clean and filter water and help prevent soil erosion (15).


Kingdom Fungi

Characteristics and Structures of Fungi: The different groups of fungi have different levels of cellular organization. Some groups consist of single-celled organisms that have a single nucleus per cell. Other groups consist of single-celled organisms in which each cell has hundreds or thousands of nuclei. Others consist of multicellular organisms that have one or two nuclei per cell. The bodies of multicellular fungi usually consist of thin, cottony filaments called hyphae. A group of hyphae is called a mycelium. The mycelium carries on all the life-maintaining processes of the fungi, including sexual reproduction. Fungi do not contain chlorophyll and cannot create their own food through photosynthesis. Some fungi are parasites, living in or on another organism from which they obtain their nutrients. This relationship usually harms the host. Such parasitic fungi usually have tissues called haustoria that penetrate the host's body (16).
Fungus Evolution: Fungi evolved from protists, although it was through unknown mechanisms (7).
Types of Fungi and Their Role in the Environment: The kingdom of fungi is divided into four major groups: conjugating fungi, sac fungi, club fungi, and imperfect fungi. Conjugating Fungi are land-based and feed on organic matter, although there are a few parasitic species. The conjugating fungi have a continuous mycelium containing hundreds or thousands of nuclei, with no divisions between them. Species of conjugating fungi cause potato blight, downy mildew, black bread mold, and water mold. Sac fungi receive their name because many species in this group reproduce sexually by forming a spore-filled structure called an ascus, which means "a sac." Sac fungi includes many species that are beneficial to humans. For example, yeasts are a major group of sac fungi. However, some other sac fungi cause plant diseases. Club fungi species reproduce sexually by forming spores on top of club-shaped structures called basidia. A significant species of club fungi is called mycorrhizae, which means "fungus root." Mycorrhizal fungus form a symbiotic relationship with many types of plant roots. The fungus typically supplies nitrogen-containing compounds to the plant, and the plant supplies carbohydrates and other organic compounds to the fungus. Mycologists have never observed the sexual reproduction of fungi in the imperfect fungi group. Since this part of their life cycle is missing, they are referred to as imperfect fungi. These fungi may have lost their sexual phase through the course of evolution. Species in this group produce plant and animal diseases. Athlete's foot and ringworm in humans are caused by imperfect fungi. The best known product obtained from this group of fungi is penicillin (16).

Kingdom Animalia

Basic Characteristics of Animals: All animals are eukaryotes. All animals are heterotrophs. Animals are multicellular. Most animals (with the exception of sponges) have bodies that are differentiated into tissues. Most animals are capable of movement. Most animals undergo sexual reproduction, although a small number are capable of asexual reproduction. Most animals are diploid. Animals do not possess rigid cell walls (17).
Symmetry: Symmetry in biology is the balanced distribution of duplicate body parts or shapes. The body plans of most multicellular organisms exhibit some form of symmetry, either radial symmetry or bilateral symmetry or "spherical symmetry" (18).
Radial Versus Bilateral Symmetry: Animals can be either bilaterally or radially symmetrical. An animal is bilaterally symmetrical if there is a single plane that divides it into two mirror images. This contrasts with radial symmetry, which apparently had evolved before bilateral symmetry evolved. An organism has radial symmetry if there are many planes that divide it into two mirror images (19).
Germ Layers: Germ layers are the primary tissue layers in an animal, defined as groups of cells. The three germ layers are the ectoderm (outer layer), mesoderm (middle layer), and endoderm (inside layer) (20).
Animal Development: Cleavage--Since the goal of development is the production of a multicellular organisms, many cells must be produced from the single-celled zygote. This task is accomplished by cleavage, a series of consecutive cell divisions (21). Blastula--An early stage of embryonic development in animals. It is also called blastosphere. It is produced by cleavage of a fertilized ovum and consists of a spherical layer of around 128 cells with a large fluid filled space called the blastocoel in the animal pole of the embryo (22). Gastrulation--Gastrulation is a phase early in the development of most animal embryos, during which the morphology of the embryo is dramatically restructured by cell migration (23). Gastrula--Early embryo with 3 tissue layers. All cells have the same DNA; however, different cells now begin to "turn on" (or "express") different genes to become different organs (24). Larva is a free-living, sexually immature form in some animal life cycles that may differ from the adult in morphology, nutrition, and habitat.
Cephalization: An evolutionary trend toward the concentration of sensory equipment on the anterior end of the body.
Body Cavity: The body cavity is also known as coelum. Coelomates have a coelum formed from the tissues derived from the mesoderm. Pseudocoelmates have a a coelum formed from the blastocoel, instead of the mesoderm. Acoelomates lack a coelum.


Subkingdom Parazoa

Phylum Porifera

Characteristics: Simple, immobile animals that lack true tissues, live as suspension feeders by trapping particles that pass through the internal channels of their bodies, hermaphrodites.
Examples: Sponges


Subkingdom Eumetazoa

Radial Symmetry

Phylum Cnideria

Characteristics: Gastrovascular cavity with a single opening that is both the mouth and the anus, carnivores that use tentacles arranged in a ring around their mouth to capture prey and to push the food into their gastrovascular cavity.
Examples: Corals, Jellies, and Hydras


Bilateral Symmetry


Phylum Platyhelminthes

Characteristics: Bilateral symmetry, dorsalventrally flattened, central nervous system that possesses information from eyes and other sensory structures, no body cavity or circulatory organs, live in marine, fresh water, and damp environments
Examples: Flatworms (Tapeworms, Planarians, and Flukes)



Phylum Nematoda

Characteristics: Enormously abundant and diverse in soil and aquatic habitats, many species are parasites to plants and animals, tough cuticle that coats the body, not segmented, taper to a fine tip at the posterior end and to a more blunt tip at the anterior end, lack a circulatory system
Examples: Roundworms, Pinworms, Hookworms


Phylum Rotifera

Characteristics: Microscopic size, specialized organ systems with an alimentary canal, feed on microorganisms suspended in water, jaws in pharynx, head with ciliated crown
Examples: Rotifers


Coelomates / Protostome Development

Phylum Mollusca

Characteristics: Soft body, usually protected by a hard shell, body contains three main parts: foot, visceral mass, and mantle, feed by using a radula to scrape up food
Examples: Mollusks (Snails, Clams, Squids,and Octopuses)


Phylum Annelida

Characteristics: Segmented body wall and internal organs, live in the sea, most freshwater habitats, and damp soil, range from 1 mm to 3 m
Examples: Earthworms


Phylum Arthropda

Characteristics: Segmented exoskeleton, jointed appendages, open circulatory system, shed the exoskeleton to form a larger one
Examples: Insects, Crustaceans, Arachnids


Coelomates / Deuterostome Development

Phylum Echinodermata

Characteristics: Aquatic, display radial symmetry as adults, move and feed by using a network of internals canals to pump water to different parts of the body, slow-moving or sessile animals
Examples: Sand Dollars, Sea Stars, Sea Urchins


Phylum Chordata

Characteristics: Most have backbones, although it also includes invertebrates, have notochord, pharyngeal slits, post-anal tail
Examples: Tunicates, Lancelets, Hagfishes


Subphylum Urochordata

Characteristics: Resemble other chordates during their larval stage, reabsorbs tail and notochord in adulthood, nervous system degenerates in adulthood, remaining organs rotate 90 degrees in adulthood, water enters the body though an incurrent siphon, shoot a jet of water through their excurrent siphon when attacked
Examples: Tunicates


Subphylum Cephalochordata

Characteristics: Blade-like shape, segmented muscles, can be up to 5 cm long, a mucous net secreted across the pharyngeal slits removes tiny food particles from seawater drawn into the mouth by ciliary pumping
Examples: Lancelets


Subphylum Vertebrata

Characteristics: Complex nervous system, more elaborate skeleton, became active predators
Examples: Mammals, Reptiles, Amphibians, Sharks, Rays


Gnathostomes -- Members of the vertebrate subgroup possessing jaws

Class Chondrichthyes

Characteristics: Skeleton composed predominantly of cartilage, traces of bone can be found in scales, the bases of teeth, and in a thin layer on the surface of the vertebrae
Examples: Sharks, Rays


Class Osteichthyes

Characteristics: Bony endoskeleton with a hard matrix of calcium phosphate, breath by drawing water over 4 or 5 pairs of gills, control their buoyancy with a swim bladder, have a lateral line system
Examples: Fishes (Bass, Trout, Tuna, Herring, etc.)


Tetrapoda -- A vertebrate with two pairs of limbs

Class Amphibia

Characteristics: "Two lives," aquatic larval stage as a herbivore, crawl to shore and terrestrial hunters in adulthood, found in damp environments, rely heavily on their thick skin for gas exchange, external fertilization
Examples: Salamanders, Frogs, Caecilians


Class Sauropsida (Reptiles)

Characteristics: Scales that contain the protein keratin, rely on their lungs alone for gas exchange, lay shelled eggs on land, ectothermic (with the exception of birds which are endothermic)
Examples: Birds, Tuatara, Lizards, Snakes, Turtles


Class Aves

Characteristics: Have wings and feathers, lack a urinary bladder, females have one ovary, toothless, lightweight skull, endothermic, possess acute vision and fine muscle control
Examples: Birds


Class Mammalia

Characteristics: Mammary glands, hair and a fat layer which help to retain heat, endothermic, most have a high metabolic rate, efficient respiratory and circulatory systems, generally have a larger brain than other vertebrates, teeth come in a variety of shapes and sizes to accommodate chewing many different kinds of foods
Examples: Humans, Monotremes, Marsupials, Eutherians



Characteristics: Lay eggs, found only in Australia and New Guinea, have hair and produce milk, lack nipples, milk is secreted by glands on the belly of the mother
Examples: Platypus, Echidnas



Characteristics: Have a higher metabolic rate, have nipples, give birth to live young, embryo develops inside the uterus and a placenta provides the embryo with nourishment, born very early in development and complete development inside the mother's pouch (marsupium)
Examples: Kangaroos, Opossums, Koalas


Placental Mammals (Eutharians)

Characteristics: Have more complex placentas than Marsupials, longer period of pregnancy, complete embryonic development in the uterus
Examples: Flying Squirrel, Mole, Wolverine, Woodchuck (3)


Why is biodiversity so important on Earth?

Biodiversity is important, because the variation in the environment allows the needs of various organisms to be met. For example, the presence of E Coli in the intestines of mammals aids in digestion.

"We find ourselves ethically destitute just when, for the first time, we are faced with ultimacy, the irreversible closing down of the earth's functioning in its major life systems. Our ethical traditions know how to deal with suicide, homicide and even genocide, but these traditions collapse entirely when confronted by biocide, the killing of life systems of the earth, and geocide, the the devastation of the earth itself."
-Father Thomas Berry

Does the quote mean anything different now? What can you add?
People generally don't have ethics when it comes to the environment, because they don't understand that all organisms truly are connected and the alteration of one species affects the rest.


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