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...
Sulu Archipelago rainforestsLast Updated on 2014-04-17 17:47:31Although these islands represent transitional stepping stones from the island of Borneo to Mindanao in the Philippines, they have evolved their own distinctive faunas. The Sulu Archipelago rainforests are a principal historical ecoregion of these islands, although most of their habitat has been destroyed. The islands themselves are the dividing feature between the Sulu Sea and the Celebes Sea.
Almost no forest remains on Sulu, and only the eastern portion of Tawitawi is forested; this outcome has resulted from slash-and-burn practises of indigenous peoples. Furthermore, the islands are extremely politically unstable, which exacerbates a difficult conservation situation.
This ecoregion includes the main islands of Jolo (Sulu) and Tawitawi and the surrounding smaller islands from Sibutu up to but not including Basilan Island. The climate of the ecoregion is tropical wet. There are... More »
Peninsular Malaysian lowland rainforestsLast Updated on 2014-04-17 14:22:36The Peninsular Malaysian lowland rainforests ecoregion, with 195 mammal species, has the second most mammal species in the Indo-Pacific, behind the Borneo lowland rainforests. Yet most of the wide-ranging or top carnivore species lead a tenuous existence within these biologically noteworthy forests. The tiger, Asian elephant, Sumatran rhinoceros, Malayan tapir, gaur, and clouded leopard all fall into this category. As in many other tropical forests in this region, habitat loss and poaching are the two primary reasons for the decline in these and other species.
This ecoregion is comprised of the lowland moist forests of Peninsular Malaysia and the extreme southern part of Thailand. There are no clear seasons in peninsular Malaysia, and rainfall is plentiful year-round. Two monsoons punctuate the region. From October to March a northeastern monsoon brings extra rain to the eastern... More »
Borneo montane rainforestsLast Updated on 2014-04-15 17:23:27
The Borneo montane rainforests can be likened to montane islands in a sea of lowland dipterocarp forests. This isolation has produced a unique and diverse set of montane species. Of Borneo's endemic bird species, twenty-three (73 percent) are montane. There are more than 150 mammal species in montane forests, making this ecoregion globally outstanding for mammal richness, and it is the most speciose montane rain forest found in the Indo-Pacific region. Despite this wealth of diversity, large tracts of Borneo's montane forests have not been explored to catalog the flora and fauna.
This ecoregion represents the montane forests in the central region of the island of Borneo and falls within the boundaries of all three nations with territory in Borneo: Malaysia, Indonesia, and Brunei. Montane forests are much cooler and moister than lowland forests. For every 1000 meters (m)... More »
Borneo lowland rainforestsLast Updated on 2014-04-15 16:43:28Borneo lowland rainforests are the richest rainforests in the world and rival the biodiversity of New Guinea and the Amazon. With 267 Dipterocarpaceae species (155 endemic to Borneo), Borneo is the center of the world's diversity for dipterocarps. These forests are home to the world's smallest squirrel, the eleven centimetre long pygmy squirrel, and the endangered orangutan. In northeast Borneo, populations of Sumatran rhinoceros and Asia's largest terrestrial mammal, the Asian elephant, still tenuously survive in the last pockets of forest. These forests contain the parasitic plant Rafflesia arnoldii, which produces the world's largest flower (up to one meter in diameter). These forests are globally outstanding for both bird and plant richness, with more than 380 birds and an estimated 10,000 plant species found within its boundaries. Unfortunately, these forests have... More »
Highveld grasslandsLast Updated on 2014-04-14 15:46:11Highveld grasslands cover a large portion of west-central South Africa. Grasslands all over the world have experienced dramatic habitat destruction as a result of anthropogenic changes. The Highveld Grassland is no exception, with agriculture severely fragmenting this once-expansive region. This ecoregion now provides the last remaining stronghold of a number of grassland species that have suffered major reductions in abundance in the grassland biome, and which are consequently threatened with extinction (e.g. the Blue Crane (Anthropoides paradisea). There is a relatively biodiverse vertebrate fauna, with 608 taxa recorded.
The ecoregion draws its name from the high interior plateau known as the Highveld, and the expansive cover of species-rich communities of grasses. The ecoregion is bordered by the Drakensberg in the east, the arid Karoo and Kalahari in the west, and the... More »
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