Thursday, February 13, 2014

Two Major Animal Groupings

             (Invertebrates / Vertebrates)


Invertebrates do not have backbones. Both groups are in the Kingdom Animalia, but their bodies are organized differently. What makes invertebrates different? All invertebrates share common traits. At the bottom of the invertebrate world are the sponges.Sometimes they don't fit in but they are still part of the group. Here's the nice and neat little list.
a) They are multicellular. It's more than being a colony of individual cells.The cells are working together for the survival of the organism. All of the cells have specific duties and responsibilities. 
b) No backbone. We already talked about this one. That's the whole definition of invertebrate.

c) No cell walls. When we talked about plants, we always mentioned cell walls. Invertebrates don't have them. Remember that even if none of them look like animals, they are. Being an animal means you have no cell wall. 

d) Here are a few that have the qualifier "most" attached. That means not all of them have the trait, but most do. Most of them have tissues (not sponges) that are specific organizations of cells. Most of them reproduce sexually (not asexually). That means two gametes combine to form a new organism. Those gametes come from separate organisms (male and female). 
Most invertebrates can move. Even sponges move when they are very young and very small. Once they settle down they don't move anymore.
Other invertebrates like lobsters and insects move around their whole lives. Most invertebrates are organized in a way called symmetrical. Symmetrical organization means when you can draw a line down the middle of the organism and the two sides look like mirror images. Draw a line down the middle of yourself and one side looks like the other side. If you draw a line down the middle of an octopus you would find two sides with equal parts. Remember we said most? Sponges and some coral are not symmetrical.

e) Invertebrates can't make their own food. Scientists use the word heterotrophic. Heterotrophs feed off other things to get their energy. Plants are autotrophic. They make their own food. Being heterotrophic is one of the main characteristics of being an animal. We eat things, whether it is plants or other animals. That's just the way the world works.


 Vertebrates are the most advanced organisms on Earth. The traits that make all of the animals in this section special are their spinal cords, vertebrae, and notochords. It's all about having a series of nerves along your back (dorsal side). If you are an organism, you can't just have the nerves sitting there. You need to give those nerves support and protection. That need brings us to the backbones and a rod of cartilage called the notochord. 

Fifty thousand species might seem like a lot. Compared to the invertebrates, there are not that many species of vertebrates. You might be asking why. One reason is that vertebrates are usually larger than invertebrates. They need more space. Another reason is that, even though they are more advanced, there are many limitations on the environments that are available to them. 
Think about it this way. If you are smart mammal, would you rather live near the ocean or in the frozen tundra of the arctic? Many land animals can make that decision and move to more desirable areas for living. Those nicer areas can only support so manyspecies of animals. 

*They’ve got the Brains

Vertebrates are smart. Some of them are very smart. We mean you. Most vertebrates have very advanced nervous systems. While a goldfish might not compare to your intelligence, when you compare a goldfish to a sea anemone, a goldfish is like Einstein. Octopi are probably the smartest invertebrates and may equal or be smarter than some vertebrates. Octopi are the exception in the invertebrate category. 

More cool traits about vertebrates are that they have muscles and skeletons. While the materials may vary, muscles allow vertebrates to move around very efficiently and perform complex moves. That ability to move and the intelligence to go with it gives vertebrates such as reptiles and birds
 an advantage in the natural world. 

5 Kingdoms of organisms

Clasification system;

Living organisms are subdivided into 5 major kingdoms, including the Monera, the Protista (Protoctista), the Fungi, the Plantae, and the Animalia. Each kingdom is further subdivided into separate phyla or divisions. Generally "animals" are subdivided into phyla, while "plants" are subdivided into divisions. These subdivisions are analogous to subdirectories or folders on your hard drive. The basic characteristics of each kingdom and approximate number of species are summarized in the following table:
*Prokaryotic Cells Without Nuclei And Membrane-Bound Organelles:
1. Kingdom Monera [10,000 species]: Unicellular and colonial-including the true bacteria (eubacteria) and cyanobacteria (blue-green algae).

*Eukaryotic Cells With Nuclei And Membrane-Bound Organelles:
Ø  Kingdom Protista (Protoctista) [250,000 species]: Unicellular protozoans and unicellular & multicellular (macroscopic) algae with 9 + 2 cilia and flagella (called undulipodia).
Ø  Kingdom Fungi [100,000 species]: Haploid and dikaryotic (binucleate) cells, multicellular, generally heterotrophic, without cilia and eukaryotic (9 + 2) flagella (undulipodia).
Ø  Kingdom Plantae [250,000 species]: Haplo-diploid life cycles, mostly autotrophic, retaining embryo within female sex organ on parent plant.
Ø  Kingdom Animalia [1,000,000 species]: Multicellular animals, without cell walls and without photosynthetic pigments, forming diploid blastula.



First, to start with a litle explanation what is the term "ecosystem" .An ecosystem is a community of living organisms (plants, animals and microbes) in conjunction with the nonliving components of their environment (things like air, water and mineral soil), interacting as a system. These biotic and abiotic components are regarded as linked together through nutrient cycles and energy flows. Energy, water, nitrogen and soil minerals are other essential abiotic components of an ecosystem.

  • Ecosystem ecology 

Ecosystem ecology studies "the flow of energy and materials through organisms and the physical environment". It seeks to understand the processes which govern the stocks of material and energy in ecosystems, and the flow of matter and energy through them. The study of ecosystems can cover 10 orders of magnitude, from the surface layers of rocks to the surface of the planet.
There is no single definition of what constitutes an ecosystem.German ecologist Ernst-Detlef Schulze and coauthors defined an ecosystem as an area which is "uniform regarding the biological turnover, and contains all the fluxes above and below the ground area under consideration." They explicitly reject Gene Likens' use of entire river catchments as "too wide a demarcation" to be a single ecosystem, given the level of heterogeneity within such an area.Other authors have suggested that an ecosystem can encompass a much larger area, even the whole planet.Schulze and coauthors also rejected the idea that a single rotting log could be studied as an ecosystem because the size of the flows between the log and its surroundings are too large, relative to the proportion cycles within the log.Philosopher of science Mark Sagoff considers the failure to define "the kind of object it studies" to be an obstacle to the development of theory in ecosystem ecology.


Classifying ecosystems into ecologically homogeneous units is an important step towards effective ecosystem management.A variety of systems exist, based on vegetation cover, remote sensing, and bioclimatic classification systems.

Anthropogenic threats

As human populations grow, so do the resource demands imposed on ecosystems and the impacts of the human ecological footprint. Natural resources are not invulnerable and infinitely available. The environmental impacts of anthropogenic actions, which are processes or materials derived from human activities, are becoming more apparent – air and water quality are increasingly compromised, oceans are being overfished, pests and diseases are extending beyond their historical boundaries, and deforestation is exacerbating flooding downstream. It has been reported that approximately 40-50% of Earth’s ice-free land surface has been heavily transformed or degraded by anthropogenic activities, 66% of marine fisheries are either overexploited or at their limit, atmospheric CO2 has increased more than 30% since the advent of industrialization, and nearly 25% of Earth’s bird species have gone extinct in the last two thousand years. Society is increasingly becoming aware that ecosystem services are not only limited, but also that they are threatened by human activities. The need to better consider long-term ecosystem health and its role in enabling human habitation and economic activity is urgent. To help inform decision-makers, many ecosystem services are being assigned economic values, often based on the cost of replacement with anthropogenic alternatives. The ongoing challenge of prescribing economic value to nature, for example through biodiversity banking, is prompting transdisciplinary shifts in how we recognize and manage the environment, social responsibility, business opportunities, and our future as a species.