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Natural Perspective

(Last modified: 13 May 2000; latest additions to site: 1 Oct 2007)

[logo:  4 Kingdoms+]
[Plantae] [Fungi] [Animalia] [Protoctista] [Biosphere]
Monthly Feature: The Plant Kingdom

This site is dedicated to the beauty and science of nature and to the joys nature brings to those who explore it. The joy of seeing "familiar faces" everywhere; the invigoration a nature walk brings to both body and soul; the beauty and diversity of our Earthly co-habitants; and the pleasure of eating something found along the way.

The material here is organized according to the biological principles of Taxonomy, or classification:

We live on a planet called Earth. Biologists call the Earth and its atmosphere -- the Biosphere. The Biosphere is composed of organic and inorganic matter. Organic matter (stuff containing carbon) is again divided into living and non-living objects.

All living beings are currently divided into five Kingdoms. Four of these Kingdoms are depicted above: Plantae, the plant kingdom, studied in the field of Botany; Fungi, the kingdom of fungus and molds, studied as Mycology; Animalia, the animal kingdom, the domain of Zoology; and Protoctista, a catch-all for all other "higher-order" organisms from single-celled microbes to large seaweeds (algae). The fifth kingdom, Monera, consists of bacteria -- small-celled microorganisms without true cell nuclei.

This Kingdoms of Life classification works well for people interested in larger life-forms. Those who study the microscopic side of life -- Microbiologists -- prefer to divide life into three domains: two domains -- Archaea and Bacteria -- are subdivisions of the Monera Kingdom, while all other living beings form the third domain, Eucaryota. The UC Museum of Paleontology at Berkeley provides a nice WWW exhibit on the microbiologist's perspective.

Where to go from here

In the spirit of hypertext, you get to choose how to navigate this site. You can: Naturally, each page also includes cross-links to other pages on this site.

As with so many sites on the World Wide Web, these pages will be continually upgraded. Come by every month or so to see what has been added since your last visit. The table of contents lists the last time each page on this site was modified.

Visit a Kingdom

Fungi:
These oft-overlooked members of our Biosphere are amazingly diverse in looks as well as function. Fungi are an essential part of the food chain. Their fruit, mushrooms, are as welcome outdoors for their whimsical variations in color and shape as they are indoors for their culinary contributions.
Plantae:
Wildflowers and trees often epitomize the beauty of nature. Plants are the mainstay of our nourishment as well as remedies for what ails us. Because of their prominence, some plants are used as the identifying markers for entire communities of living beings.
Animalia:
The Animal Kingdom may well be the most diverse kingdom of life: the insect family alone contains around 1 million identified species and perhaps 10-30 million species yet to be classified. And, of course, this is where we human beings (Homo sapiens) fit.
Protoctista:
Although the vast majority of the Protoctista kingdom is microscopic in size, some members, such as kelps and seaweeds, can be quite large.

Be Inspired

Read more about the joys of nature. Often simply knowing the names of what we see increases the pleasure of an outdoor experience. Perhaps some of our own experiences will inspire you as well.

Read about the World We Live in

If you are more technically inclined, you might enjoy this discussion of the sciences that examine our Biosphere. Taxonomy, or classification, is the most relevant to this site: much of this site is organized according to Taxonomic principles; in addition, closely related sciences such as Ecology, Geology, and Climatology provide other perspectives on the world we live in.

Participate in the Natural Perspective Odyssey

The best way to get your own perspective on nature is to go out and experience it yourself. We encourage you to do so, and we would be most grateful if you would share your perspective with us. Please feel free to send advice, comments, material, etc. to Ari Kornfeld (ari@perspective.com) or use our feedback form.

View an Annotated Bibliography

Some of our favorite nature texts.

Read about this Site

Technical notes on how this site was constructed, viewing problems, and general gripes, statistics on this site, etc.
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This site produced and maintained by Ari Kornfeld, email: (ari@perspective.com)
Copyright © 1996-2007 All rights reserved.

Please take a moment to provide your feedback on this site.

Credits:
Collaboration and inspiration thanks to Susan Kornfeld
Early PhotoCD scans by Alpha CD Imaging, Menlo Park, CA
Special thanks to Claire Doyle for scanning some early photos
Internet service by Pair Networks
Disclaimer:
I am not a biologist of any sort. Although prudent efforts were made to ensure accuracy, mistakes happen.