Botany is the field of basic biological science that focuses on the study and inquiry into the growth, form, structure and function, development, diversity, reproduction, evolution, and uses of plants; and their interactions within the biosphere. The term botany derives from the Latin botanicus and the Greek botane, both meaning plant or herb. The field is known also as plant science, phytology, or plant biology. Additional foci include plant physiology and metabolism, diseases, phycology and mycology, chemical properties, taxonomy and systematics, molecular biology, and paleobotany.
Botany traces its beginnings to human activity designed to identify edible, medicinal and poisonous plants. It is one of the earliest sciences.
Poor indoor air quality has been linked to health problems. This article, written by Dr. Luz Claudio*, appeared first in Environmental Health Perspectives—the...
GrassesLast Updated on 2013-12-12 15:24:09
The grass family Poaceae (also known as Gramineae) contains approximately 10,000 distinct species and 650 to 900 genera. Only the sunflower (Asteraceae, or Compositae), legume (Fabaceae, or Leguminosae), and orchid (Orchidaceae) families are larger in terms of number of taxa. The grass family has more individual plants and a wider environmental range than does any other family, occupying the geographic limits of vegetation in polar regions and on mountaintops, enduring extremes of cold, sunlight, heat, and drought, while dominating various landscapes worldwide. Grasses are the most successful monocots (seed-bearing plants with single seed leaves), and the most beneficial plants for humankind, providing highly nutritional grains and livestock forage, and preventing soil erosion. Of the five crops that provide almost two-thirds of the food caloric intake that mankind consumes,... More »
Southern Pacific dry forestsLast Updated on 2013-11-23 13:16:48The Southern Pacific dry forests ecoregion is situated along the southeastern versant of the Sierra Madre del Sur Mountains including the Pacific Ocean coastal plain. These forests are a key locus of endemism for butterflies, and has the greatest diversity of scorpions and spiders in the entirety of Mexico. This ecoregion is classified in the Tropical and Subtropical Dry Broadleaf Forests biome. The Southern Pacific dry forests exhibit a moderate to high faunal species richness; for example, there are a total of 744 vertebrate taxa recorded in the ecoregion, with a particularly large number of endemic reptiles.
However, little of the original habitat is extant, since agriculture development for fruit and coffee plantations has occurred on a broad scale. Also, overgrazing by sheep has severely degraded vegetation and produced widespread soil erosion.
The Southern Pacific dry... More »
Chilean matorralLast Updated on 2013-11-19 15:26:47The Chilean matorral is an ecoregion in western central Chile that covers an area of approximately 57,300 square miles. This ecoregion is classified within the Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub biome. Exhibiting high plant and vertebrate endemism, the entire ecoregion is classified as critically endangered due to intensive deforestation and persistent high air pollution due to pressures of a burgeoning human population. The reptilian endemism is particularly notable, especially with respect to the tree iguanas; moreover, there are numerous reptiles, birds and mammals of threatened conservation status that can be found in the Chilean matorral.
Significant invasion of herbs has taken place from species introduced from the Mediterranean Basin during the Spanish settlement period beginning in the sixteenth century; these effects have been exacerbated by the inherent low... More »
Admiralty Islands lowland rainforestsLast Updated on 2013-11-05 14:31:57The Admiralty Islands Lowland rainforests contain several endemic species, yet the biodiversity of these islands is still poorly known. Intensive commercial logging and conversion of forests to agriculture are the greatest threats to the ecoregion.
The Admiralty Islands are located slightly north of Papua New Guinea (PNG) in the southwest Pacific Ocean and are often grouped together with New Britain and New Ireland to make up the Bismarck Archipelago. The Admiralty Islands form the political unit of Manus Province, PNG. Manus Province is the smallest province of PNG in both land area and population (32,713). The temperature of the Admiralty Islands varies little throughout the year, reaching daily highs of 30-32° Celsius and 20-24°C at night. Average annual rainfall is 3382 millimeters (mm) and is somewhat seasonal, with June through August being the wettest... More »
Panamanian dry forestsLast Updated on 2013-11-04 17:59:07The Panamanian dry forests ecoregion occupies approximately 2000 square miles of coastal and near-coastal areas on the Pacific side of Panama, around portions of the Gulf of Panama.
Originally, the Panama dry forests were distributed exclusively in the lower and premontane portions of the Pacific versanta region of land sloping in one general direction (0-800 metres in elevation), around the Gulf of Panama;. This ecoregion has a dry climate and intermediate flora diversity, which is distributed in distinct areas, such as small residual deciduous and semi-deciduous forests and gallery forests along the rivers.
Habitat destruction of this ecoregion has been extensive, with overgrazing, agricultural conversion and urbanization and resultant fragmentation, strong pressure for cattle ranching, burning, and hunting.This process of habitat destruction began in earnest with the Spanish... More »
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