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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

 

Invertebrate Groups

Medusa icon

Jellyfish

Sea slug icon (photo by Paul Billiet)

Molluscs

Starfish icon

Starfish

Earthworm icon

Worms

 

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

Arthropod Phylum: Crustaceans: The shore crab

This is a very common animal which is found on all sea shores and even up river estuaries. The shore crab has a green body and it grows to about 10 cm across. The crab uses its claws mainly for defence or for picking up small pieces of food. It feeds by filtering the water or scavenging dead animals. The larvae of these crabs float in the ocean currents as part of the zooplankton but the adults are not very good swimmers they prefer to walk on the bottom.

 

Velvet swimming crab © Shirley Burchill

 

Arthropod Phylum: Millipedes: The iulid millipede

These are common millipedes with long cylindrical bodies. They burrow deep into the soil and feed on dead leaves and other decaying vegetable matter. The millipedes are not very fast so they cannot easily escape from predators. If they are attacked they roll themselves into a ball and produce a yellow liquid which repels predators.

 

Millipede © Paul Billiet

 

Arthropod Phylum: Centipedes: The red centipede

Like most centipedes this is a carnivore. The first pair of legs have become claws which inject poison into their prey. The red centipede moves quickly through the leaf litter in to top layer of the soil. It cannot burrow very well into the soil. It is a large European centipede which may grow to 25 mm but in tropical America there is a species which can grow to 260mm.

 

Centipede © Paul Billiet

 

Arthropod Phylum: Spiders: The argiope spider

This is a large European spider which can be found building its web in long grass during the summer months. It is an unusual web-spinning spider because the female (shown here) is much bigger and more colourful than the male. She can grow to 15 mm long with bright yellow white and black bands on her body. The male is only 4mm long and he has a brown body. The females often eat the males whilst they mate. The female lays her eggs in the autumn, wrapping 17 them in a protective layer of silk 18. The baby spiders hatch soon afterwards but they stay in their cocoon until winter is over.

 

An argiope spider © Paul Billiet

 

Arthropod Phylum: Insects: The Colorado beetle

Like all insects, the Colorado beetle has three parts to its body: a head, a thorax, and an abdomen. All insects also have three pairs of legs which distinguish them from spiders which have four pairs. Like many insects, the Colorado beetle has wings and can fly.

 

Colorada beetle © Paul Billiet

 

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