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Biodiversity : The Variety of Life on Earth Index

Biodiversity
Collecting, Describing and Classifying
How Biologists Classify Species : Similarities and Differences
Putting Things into Groups

Topic Chapters Index

 

The images hyperlink to more information about each group

Bacteria Kingdom

Bacteria icon

Bacteria

Protoctista Kingdom

Protoctista icon

Protoctista

Fungi Kingdom

Fungi icon

Fungi

 

The Plant Kingdom

Moss icon

Mosses and Liverworts

Fern icon

Ferns

Conifer icon

Conifers

Flowering Plant icon

Flowering Plants

 

The Animal Kingdom

Vertebrate Groups

Lionfish icon

Fish

Frog icon (photo by Paul Billiet)

Amphibians

Snake icon

Reptiles

Falcon icon

Birds

Lion icon

Mammals

 

Arthropods

Swimming crab icon

Crustaceans

Beetle icon (photo by Paul Billiet)

Insects

Giant millipede icon

Myriapods

Tarantula icon

Spiders

 

BIODIVERSITY : PUTTING THINGS INTO GROUPS

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The Animal Kingdom

The animal kingdom can be divided into many phyla. There are eight phyla shown: jellyfish, flat worms, round worms, ringed worms, starfish, molluscs, arthropods and the chordate phylum. All but the last phylum, are referred to as invertebrates because they have no skeleton. The last one, the chordate phylum, is made up of animals which have a skeleton. Such animals are called vertebrates.

It is possible to divide a phylum into smaller groups. The arthropod phylum can be divided into groups such as crustaceans and insects. The chordate phylum can be divided up into groups such as fish, reptiles, and mammals

Invertebrate Groups

Jellyfish Phylum: The beadlet anemone

The beadlet anemone is a common sea anemone along the coasts of Europe. It lives on rocks low down the sea shore. It grows to about 7 cm high and its mouth can be surrounded by 200 stinging tentacles. When it is uncovered at low tide it pulls in its tentacles and it looks like a lump of red jelly attached to a rock. When the tide comes back in again it extends and it starts to feed again on small animals which drift too close to the deadly tentacles.

 

Beadlet Anemone © Paul Billiet

 

Flatworm Phylum: The tapeworm

There are over 15,000 species of these very simple animals. The one in the drawing below, the tapeworm, can reach a length of 30 meters but other species are almost microscopic. The tapeworm lives inside the intestines of other animals. Such an organism which depends on another for food and shelter is called a parasite.

 

A Tapeworm © Shirley Burchill

 

Roundworm Phylum: Trichinella

Some roundworms live in water but others are parasites. One of the parasites which can live inside pigs and inside humans is called trichinella. This roundworm is responsible for a disease called trichinosis, which comes from eating pieces of pork in which the worms live. This is one reason why it is important to cook pork thoroughly.

 

Drawing of Acaris, a parasitic roundworm © Shirley Burchill

 

Ringed Worm Phylum: The earthworm

Earthworms live in soil all over the world. In Europe the biggest earthworms grow to 30 cm and a square meter of soil may be hiding 100,000 earthworms but most of these will only be a few millimetres long. The worms feed on the surface of the soil at night, eating dead and decaying leaves. They never let their tails leave their burrows so that they can quickly find their way home if a predator should arrive. As the earthworm makes its burrow it deposits the soil at the surface. In this way earthworms turn the soil over, improve the drainage of the soil and let air into the soil. Charles Darwin in 1881 estimated that earthworms make up to 5,5cm of new top soil per year.

 

An Earthworm © Shirley Burchill

 

Mollusc Phylum: The edible snail

The edible snail or Roman snail is the biggest snail in Europe. It lives in open woodlands. Like all snails, they are most active when the weather is warm and humid. They feed on green leaves which they scrape into their mouths using their tongue. Snails have a pair of eyes on the end of the large tentacles which grow out of their heads. They cannot see very well with these eyes but the can also touch, smell and taste with the smaller tentacles on the front of their heads. When the weather is very dry or very cold snails will hide away, pull their bodies into their shells and sleep.

 

The edible snail © Paul Billiet

 

Starfish Phylum: The common starfish

These starfish are common on rocky coasts where they feed on molluscs. They glide over the sea bottom on small tentacles projecting from their five arms. When they find a mollusc, such as an oyster or a mussel, they force it open with their arms and push their stomach inside the shell. The starfish digests its prey and moves on to find its next victim. In this way the common starfish has become a pest in oyster beds and mussel beds all along the Atlantic and North Sea coasts.

 

The common starfish © Shirley Burchill

 

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