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The Plant Kingdom (Plantae). Classification of plants is mainly based on reproductive characteristics. Classification by tissue structure plants are classified into non-vascular (this is mosses) and vascular plants (this includes all others). Plants are classified by “˜seed’ structure into those that reproduce through covered seeds, naked seeds, or those that reproduce by means of spores. Plants are also classified by stature into ferns, mosses, shrubs and trees, vines, and herbs (Milani, et. al. 1987).

Mosses and Allies (Bryophyta and allies). These are non-vascular. This means that there is no transport of fluids in their bodies and therefore rely on the moisture environment to transport fluids through their bodies. Although they are small in stature these plants are very crucial members of the ecosystem.

  • They are the ones that lay foundation for other plants to grow.
  • They prevent soil erosion.
  • They are ones responsible for the flourishing greenish look of most forested areas.

There are 24,000 species of bryophyte and they are sometimes assembled in there phyla. These are Mosses (Bryophyta), Hornworts (Anthoceraphyta) and Liverworts (Hepatophyta). Their reproduction is by means of spores, they never flower and their growth takes place mostly on rocks, on other plants and on the ground.

Ferns and Allies (Pteridophyta and allies). These are vascular plants. This means that they able to transport fluids in their bodies by their vascular system. Their reproduction is by means of spores and not seeds. The major phylum is the ferns (Filicinophyta = Pteridophyta) which has approximately 12,000 species. Other phyla are incorporated as allies of the fern. These comprise of the Horsetails (Sphenophyta = Equisetophyta) which has approximately 40 species, Club mosses (Lycopodophyta, which has 1000 species) and the whisk ferns (Psilophyta which has 3 species).

Conifers and Allies (Gymnosperms = Coniferophyta and allies). These add a level of complexity to the evolution of plants. Their means of reproduction is by seeds instead of spores. Their seeds are “naked”-they are not under cover of the ovary. Typically, their seeds are produced in a structure that is cone-like like a pine cone and hence their name “confers.” Some of confers such as Ginko and Yew have their seeds produced in a structure that is berry-like. These plants are easily identified for their cones, scale-like, awl-like, needle-like leaves and they never flower.

Confers species are approximately 600 and they comprise of the pines, spruces, cedars, junipers, yew and firs. The species that fall under the confer ranks are source of pine nuts which is a pesto’s magic ingredient and also they are source for the juniper for gins. Confer allies comprise of there small phyla which together have less than 200 species; palm-like Cycads (Cycadophyta), Ginko (Ginkophyta) which has a single species, the Maidenhair Tree (Ginko biloba), and cone-bearing herb-like plants (Gnetophyta) such as Ephedra.

Flowering Dicot Plants (Angiospermophyta, Class Dicotyledoneae)

Angiosperms finish the revolution of reproduction in plants. Their seeds grow in an ovary that is implanted in a flower. After fertilization, the flower falls off and the ovary enlarges to become a fruit. Angiosperms grow two cotyledons or seed-leaves. This takes place only in those of class Dicotyledoneae. To add to this, foliage leaves have one branching, a main vein originating from the base of the leaf blade or it might have more veins that extend from the base of the blade (Margulis, Lynn, Karlene 1988).

Most of the plants are Dicots and most shrubs, trees, flowers and vines belong in this group comprising of approximately 200,000 species. Many of the vegetables, legumes and fruits belong to this class. (Angiospermophyta is also referred to as Anthophyta or Magnoliophyta).

Flowering Monocot Plants (Angiospermophyta, Class Monocotyledoneae)

Monocots develop one leaf to begin with. Foliage leaves main veins are typically not branched and they are almost parallel to one another. Approximately 30,000 plants are classified as monocots and this includes most of the prettiest constituents of the kingdom Plantae: orchids, irises, lilies, palms and also the Bird-of-Paradise plant.

  • Grass that is used in carpeting of lawns is also monocots.
  • Monocots are a major source of nutrition, providing both human beings and the animals that human feed on with various grains such as oats, wheat, and corn and well as fruits such as bananas and dates (Margulis, Lynn 1992).

Kingdom Animalia

Kingdom Animalia constitutes of all living, breathing animal on earth. Animals are multicellular and have cell structures called tissues although some don’t have. Each tissue is for a specific function in the body. Digestion of food is in a stomach-like structure. Digestion takes place so that animals can get energy to run the body. Animals have got two different sexes and replicate sexually, although some have both sex organs and can replicate asexually. (Jessop, 1988). Phyla within Kingdom Animalia include:

Porifera (sponges)

These are multi-cellular animals that spend better part of their lives anchored in rocks or at the bottom of an ocean. Some species however live in fresh water. Sponges have radial symmetry, cylindrical irregular body with an internal skeleton. Surface of their bodies has many pores that connect to chambers and canals that are lined by flagellated collar cells. This phylum contains approximately 10,000 species that comprise among them Corals, Sea Anemones, Jellyfish, and Hydras. Sponges are then divided into three classes Calcarea (chalk sponges) that has calcareous spicules; Class Hexactinellida (glass sponges) that has siliceous spicules; and Class Demospongiae (horn sponges) that has a skeleton of spongin or none

Phylum Coelenterata (Cnidaria) Corals & Jellyfish

These are the fresh water and marine animals. This phylum has got two forms of body: a solitary or colonial polyp and a bell-shaped and they have a free swimming medusa. This phylum is divided into three classes: Class Hydrozoa (hydroids) which includes Hydra, Obelia and colonial Physalia, Class Scyphozoa (jellyfishes) and Class Anthozoa which includes sea anemones and corals. This phylum has approximately 10,000 species (Barnes, 1980).

  • Coral polyps form calcareous reefs that support other animals that depend on the photosynthetic action of unicellular zooxanthellae

Phylum Platyhelminthes (Flatworms)

These are animals with flattened bodies, ribbon-like, bilaterally symmetrical and have a digestive tract that is branched and has no anus, or it is not there in parasitic forms. This phylum is divided into three classes which are Class Cestoda (tapeworms), Class Turbellaria (free-living flatworms) and Class Trematoda (flukes).

Phylum Nematoda (Nematodes)

This is a large phylum of worms mostly round worms or thread worms that live freely in soil or water and many parasitic forms living in plants and animals and they include hookworms (Necator & Ancylostoma), pinworms (Enterobius), Ascaris lumbricoides and Trichinella. There are approximately 20,000 species in the phylum.

  • Disease trichinosis is as a result of undercooked meat that has tiny cysts of larval Trichinella spiralis. When ingested the cysts migrate to skeletal muscles.
  • Microscopic filarial worms of the genus Wuchereria cause Elephantiasis when they attack lymphatic vessels.

Phylum Mollusca (Mollusks)

Animals in this phylum have soft bodies covered by a mantle that secrets calcareous shell which has a frontal head and ventral muscular foot for movement. It is divided into five classes which include Class Gastropoda (univalve mollusks including snails & limpets) Class Amphineura (chitons), Class Scaphopoda (tooth shells), Class Cephalopoda (octopus & squid), and Class Pelecypoda (bivalve mollusks). This phylum has about 100,000 species.

  • Mucus of the snail is used in making a cream that is used in treating damaged skin and as a moisturizer of skin.
  • Helix aspersa which is a common garden snail is used as food.

Phylum Annelida (Segmented Worms)

They have elongated bodies with many segments. Each segment has a bristle like setae for movement. The phylum is divided into three classes which are Class Oligochaeta (earthworms), Class Polychaeta (clamworms) and Class Hirudinea (leeches). This phylum has about 15,000 species mainly composed of segmented worms.

Phylum Arthropoda (Arthropods)

These animals have their bodies with head, thorax and abdomen and they have three or more pairs of jointed legs, a chitinous exoskeleton that covers all parts of the body, and intervals that are molted. They are divided into seven classes. Major seven are Class Insecta (insects), Class Onychophora (walking worms), Class Chilopoda (centipedes), Class Diplopoda (millipedes), Class Crustacea (shrimp, crabs & barnacles), Class Arachnida (spiders & ticks), and Class Merostomata (horseshoe crabs) (Barnes, 1980).

Phylum Echinodermata (Echinoderms)

They are radially symmetrical, have five parts around an oral-aboral axis, body wall has calcareous plates, external spines, and coelom that has water vascular system and outer tube feet movement. They are into five classes which are Class Crinoidea (sea lilies), Class Asteroidea (starfish), Class Ophiuroidea (brittle stars), Class Echinoidea (sea urchins & sand dollars) and Class Holothuroidea (sea cucumbers).

Phylum Hemichordata (Acorn Worms)

This is a small group of marine invertebrates with short notochord; the helpful axial rod has characteristics of phylum Chordata. They also have gill slits or pharygeal sane as chordates.

Phylum Chordata (Chordates)

These are animals with a single dorsal tube-like nerve cord, matching gill slits flanked by the pharynx and exterior, and a tail at the back of the anus. They are in major subphyla: Subphylum Cephalochordata (lancelets), Subphylum Urochordata (tunicates), and Subphylum Vertebrata (vertebrates) (Barnes, 1980).

Vertebrates: Subphylum Vertebrata

They have a cranium (skull) and spinal column with segmented vertebrae, skeleton with cartilage or calcareous bones. It is in eight major classes and they are Class Placoderms (armored fishes), Class Agnatha (jawless fishes), Class Aves (birds), Class Osteichthyes (bony fishes), Class Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fishes including sharks and rays); Class Amphibia (amphibians), Class Mammalia (mammals) and Class Reptilia (reptiles) (Jessop, 1988).

  • Garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus), a brilliant orange fish found in waters of California been chosen to be the state’s official marine fish.
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