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Biology

Biology focuses on a single living organism at a time, examining the life stages, reproduction, morphology and range. In the case of fauna, there is considerable attention to the motor and social behavior of each species. For both animals and plants, biologists examine carefully the relationship of organisms to nutrient sources. Subject species may be microscopic as small as bacteria, or include the largest creatures ever known, such as present day cetaceans or extinct dinosaurs. Some biology studies focus on the reconstruction of events deep back into prehistory, while other research is preoccupied with events that are happening today and forward into the future.

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Borneo lowland rainforests Last Updated on 2014-04-15 16:43:28 Borneo 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 »
Eastern Miombo woodlands Last Updated on 2014-04-11 18:01:56 Confined to the lower elevations of the Central African Plateau, the Eastern Miombo woodland ecoregion ranges from southern Tanzania to northern Mozambique and Malawi. Only low-nutrient vegetation grows in the dry climate and poor soil. However, the combination of smaller ecotonal habitats allows the area to support a variety of mammals, including possibly the largest populations of African Elephant (Loxodonta africana) and Painted Hunting Dog (Lycaon pictus) on the continent. Although the presence of the tsetse fly and the lengthy civil war in Mozambique has left the area sparsely populated, human populations and natural resource use are increasing in the area. In addition, the Mozambican conflict has left a series of national parks and game reserves in urgent need of rehabilitation. The Eastern Miombo Woodland ecoregion consists of a relatively unbroken area covering the... More »
Northern Vietnam lowland rainforests Last Updated on 2014-04-07 18:51:20 The Northern Vietnam lowland rainforests are in a dismal state. Less than ten percent of the native vegetation of the ecoregion remains, and very little of that is protected. The remaining patches of habitat are small and scattered throughout the ecoregion, so that any natural ecological processes that once occurred have been lost. This ecoregion has lost most of its outstanding biodiversity, although the White-cheeked gibbon and Francois's leaf monkey can still be found locally in these forests. The Northern Vietnam Lowland Rain Forests ecoregion extends from the freshwater swamp forests of the Red River Valley south along the north-central coast of Vietnam to the region south of Tam Ky. Geological formations are varied, but there are extensive limestone substrates. The north-central coastal area of Vietnam typifies the tropical monsoon climate, with high temperatures and... More »
New Caledonia rainforests Last Updated on 2014-04-04 19:52:29 The islands of New Caledonia contain some of the most distinctive plants in the world, with a large number of species, endemics, and an ancient character to much of the flora. The New Caledonia rainforests are the richest part of the French territory, but they have suffered large losses of native habitat. New Caledonia is located in the southwest Pacific Ocean about 1200 kilometres (km) east of Australia and 1500 km northeast of New Zealand. The main island of Grande Terre runs in a north-south orientation and is 16,372 square kilometers (km2). Unlike the much smaller neighboring islands, which are volcanic and relatively recent in origin, Grand Terre is an original piece of Gondwanaland. It separated from Australia 85 million years ago and has maintained its current isolation from other landmasses for more than 55 million years. Isolation and an ancient source of plant... More »
Cnidaria Last Updated on 2014-04-02 16:00:25 Cnidaria (corals, jellyfish, and Hydra) are incredibly diverse in form, as evidenced by colonial siphonophores, massive medusae and corals, feathery hydroids, and box jellies with complex eyes. Yet, these diverse animals are all armed with stinging cells called nematocysts. Cnidarians are united based on the presumption that their nematocysts have been inherited from a single common ancestor. The name Cnidaria comes from the Greek word cnidos, which means stinging nettle. Casually touching many cnidarians will make it clear how they got their name when their nematocysts eject barbed threads tipped with poison. Many thousands of cnidarian species live in the world's oceans, from the tropics to the poles, from the surface to the bottom. Some even burrow. A smaller number of species are found in rivers and freshwater lakes. There are four major groups of cnidarians: Anthozoa,... More »