Biodiversity: A Beginner's Guide (Beginner's Guides) by John Spicer

By John Spicer

During this steadfast and but witty advisor, biologist John Spicer examines biodiversity, giving the reader an perception into the myriad of organisms that encompass us.

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No. www#12 These are the mosses, the ferns and other spore- and seed-bearing plants. There are examples of all of these skirting Wembury Bay, well above the highest tide level. On Wembury beach itself there are very few plants; remember, seaweeds are not plants. Just around the corner in the Yealm estuary, below the low water mark, is a bright green ‘meadow’ of one of the only marine flowering plants, Zostera, the sea grass or eel grass. But there is no Zostera in Wembury Bay. Around the high water mark, though, it is possible to find salt-tolerant flowering plants such as Sea Rocket or the Yellow-horned Poppy.

In fact, about a dozen countries are estimated to contain one-half to three-quarters of the world’s species. Most of these countries are in tropical regions and are among the poorest on earth, an observation that we will return to. I said we think that most countries contain few species; this is because there are very few countries with anything near a good, never mind complete, list of their resident species. latitude for life? Alexander von Humboldt (1769–1859) carried out some detailed investigations on the relationship between plants and their environment in tropical South America.

But still, the rate of description is comparatively low. Indeed we may be facing a situation where some groups of species are becoming extinct faster than they can be described. 073 15/06/2006 1:42 PM Page 31 all creatures that on earth do dwell 31 is not hampered just by the rate of species description but also by the fact that sometimes different species are given the same names, and sometimes the same species is given different names in different locations. Although these two activities are bound to cause problems we still do not know the extent to which each is a significant problem.

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