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Expert-reviewed information about the Earth.  For everyone.

 

 

  • Frugivore Featured Article Frugivore Frugivore

    A frugivore is a type of herbivore (plant-eating animal) that eats a substantial portion of fruit.  A few frugivores species eat only fruit, but many also consume leaves... More »

  • Composting tips Featured Article Composting tips Composting tips

    Composting turns household wastes into valuable fertilizer and soil organic matter. All organic matter eventually decomposes. Composting speeds the process by providing an... More »

  • Gymnosperm Featured Article Gymnosperm Gymnosperm

    A gymnosperm is one of a number of non-flowering seed bearing vegetation species, including conifers, cycads, Ginkgo and Gnetales.  These species arose first in the... More »

  • Limestone Featured Article Limestone Limestone

      Limestone  is a sedimentary rock whose chief mineral component is calcite (calcium carbonate: CaCO3). Limestone can be formed by precipitation of calcite... More »

  • Dugong Featured Article Dugong Dugong

    The Dugong, often referred to as the sea cow, is actually more closely related to elephants than to the bovine namesake.  Throughout much of their range, the Dugong has... More »

  • Endangered species Featured Article Endangered species Endangered species

    An endangered species is a biological taxon that is at risk of becoming extinct in a proximate time frame much sooner than the long term horizon in which species typically... More »

  • Trinity Site, New Mexico Featured Article Trinity Site, New Mexico Trinity Site, New Mexico

    Trinity Site, Alamogordo Bombing Range, New Mexico ( 33°40'30.00"N, 106°28'30.00"W) was the site of the first atmospheric atomic bomb test which took... More »

  • Carpenter bee Featured Article Carpenter bee Carpenter bee

    This hexapod (six-legged) insect is a bee in the subfamily Xylocoinae of either the genus Ceratina or Xylocopa that makes its nest in wood or plant stems. Along... More »

Recently Updated
Arecaceae: The Majestic Family of Palms Last Updated on 2014-09-25 11:35:18 Arecaceae (Syn. Palmae) is a monocotyledonous plant family containing species of tropical climbers, shrubs and trees commonly known as Palm trees or simply Palms (Figs 1-3). The Arecaceae is a monotypic family in the order Arecales. The family contains several commercially important species such as coconuts, area nuts and date palms, as well as a large number of indoor and ornamental species. Palms are commonly cultivated and well known horticulturally across the planet. Palms are most conspicuous in coastal areas in tropical and sub-tropical ecological zones as well as in the Arabian deserts and throughout the continents of Africa, Latin America, South and South-East Asia, Oceania and coastal US and adjoining island groups. Palms are also common in tropical evergreen forests and in every available ecological habitat in the tropics and sub-tropics covering a... More »
Food Security Last Updated on 2014-09-24 23:01:45 A comprehensive definition of food security that is widely accepted today is that “food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life"1. It follows from this definition that individuals and families who are not food-secure are likely to be hungry, undernourished or malnourished, poor, and living in places that are distant from well-stocked and functional food markets. These characteristics can often be observed directly or assessed through household survey methods. While measures of nutritional status such as low height for age or low weight for height, average availability of food translated into calories available/day, per capita incomes, or distance from a market do not fully define food security, observations or... More »
Ecosystem Last Updated on 2014-09-24 22:46:28 An ecosystem is a community of organisms interacting with each other and with their environment such that energy is exchanged and system-level processes, such as the cycling of elements, emerge. The ecosystem is a core concept in Biology and Ecology, serving as the level of biological organization in which organisms interact simultaneously with each other and with their environment. As such, ecosystems are a level above that of the ecological community (organisms of different species interacting with each other) but are at a level below, or equal to, biomes and the biosphere. Essentially, biomes are regional ecosystems, and the biosphere is the largest of all possible ecosystems. Ecosystems include living organisms, the dead organic matter produced by them, the abiotic environment within which the organisms live and exchange elements (soils, water, atmosphere), and the interactions... More »
Astercaceae: The sunflower family Last Updated on 2014-09-24 21:50:45 Asteraceae, also called Compositae, is one of the largest angiospermic plant families among the dicotyledonous, based on the large number of species (1,620 genera and 23,600 species) that represent this plant family with cosmopolitan distribution (Funk et al.,2005). Constituting almost 10% of all flowering plants worldwide, Asteraceae is usually divided into 12 subfamilies (Funk et al., 2009). Except for Antarctica, the family is most abundant in the sub-tropical and temperate latitudes, occurring commonly across meadows, valleys, grassy plains, rolling plateaus, and mountainous slopes (Funk et al., 2005 ; Bayer et al., 2007). It includes edible, medicinal, noxious, invasive and endangered species (Heywood et al., 2007). The majority of plant members representing this family are herbaceous in nature, but shrubs and trees, as well as creepers and climbers, are also... More »
Biodiversity Last Updated on 2014-09-15 23:53:05 The word "biodiversity" is a contracted version of "biological diversity". The Convention on Biological Diversity defines biodiversity as:"the variability among living organisms from all sources including, inter alia, terrestrial, marine and other aquatic ecosystems and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; this includes diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems."  Thus, biodiversity includes genetic variation within species, the variety of species in an area, and the variety of habitat types within a landscape. Perhaps inevitably, such an all-encompassing definition, together with the strong emotive power of the concept, has led to somewhat cavalier use of the term biodiversity, in extreme cases to refer to life or biology itself. But biodiversity properly refers to the variety of living... More »