Five Kingdoms of Life (Monera)

Currently, the system for the classification of living entities that is most widely accepted by biologists is that devised by Robert Whittaker in 1968. Whittaker’s classification scheme recognizes five kingdoms: Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Protista, and Monera.

The fifth kingdom, Monera, includes the bacteria and the cyanobacteria. These one-celled organisms are prokaryotic. Prokaryotic organisms have neither nucleus nor organelles in their cytoplasm, possess only a single chromosome, have small ribosomes, and reproduce by simple fission. Many of the organisms (called autotrophic) can synthesize their own foods, and some (called heterotrophic) digest preformed organic matter.

Bacteria are so small that they appear as mere specks under a light microscope. Cyanobacteria, however, are the giants of the Monera Kingdom and can be seen quite well.

Cyanobacteria - Genus: Anabaena
Cyanobacteria – Genus: Anabaena
Cyanobacteria - Genus: Spirulina
Cyanobacteria – Genus: Spirulina
Chain of Cyanobacteria - Genus: Oscillatoria
Chain of Cyanobacteria – Genus: Oscillatoria

Five Kingdoms of Life (Protista)

Currently, the system for the classification of living entities that is most widely accepted by biologists is that devised by Robert Whittaker in 1968. Whittaker’s classification scheme recognizes five kingdoms: Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Protista, and Monera.

The fourth kingdom, Protista, includes the protozoa, one-celled algae, diatoms, and slime molds. The cells of these organisms are eukaryotic. They are unicellular, and they may be autotrophic or heterotrophic. Eukaryotic organisms have a nucleus and organelles in their cytoplasm, possess multiple chromosomes, have large ribosomes, and reproduce by mitosis.

Diatom - Genus: Surirella
Diatom – Genus: Surirella
Protozoan – Genus: Euplotes

 

Five Kingdoms of Life (Fungi)

Currently, the system for the classification of living entities that is most widely accepted by biologists is that devised by Robert Whittaker in 1968. Whittaker’s classification scheme recognizes five kingdoms: Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Protista, and Monera.

The third kingdom, Fungi, includes the yeasts, molds, mildews, mushrooms, and lichens. The cells of this kingdom are eukaryotic and heterotrophic (obtain their food by taking in organic substances from the external environment). Some fungal species are unicellular, whereas other species form long chains of cells and are called filamentous fungi. A cell wall containing chitin or cellulose is found in most members.

Yellow Morel Mushroom (Morchella esculenta)
Yellow Morel Mushroom (Morchella esculenta)
Bread Mold (Genus: Rhizopus)
Bread Mold (Genus: Rhizopus)
Foliose Lichen (Flavoparmelia caperata)
Foliose Lichen (Flavoparmelia caperata)

Five Kingdoms of Life (Plantae)

Currently, the system for the classification of living entities that is most widely accepted by biologists is that devised by Robert Whittaker in 1968. Whittaker’s classification scheme recognizes five kingdoms: Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Protista, and Monera.

The second kingdom is Plantae. Classified here are the mosses, ferns, and seed-producing plants. All plant cells are eukaryotic and autotrophic (they synthesize their own foods) and their cell walls contain cellulose. All plants are multicellular; algae are unicellular and, therefore, not plants.

White Birch Tree  (Betula papyrifera)
White Birch Tree (Betula papyrifera)
White Trillium  (Trillium grandiflorum)
White Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)
Royal Fern  (Osmunda regalis)
Royal Fern (Osmunda regalis)

Five Kingdoms of Life (Animalia)

Currently, the system for the classification of living entities that is most widely accepted by biologists is that devised by Robert Whittaker in 1968. Whittaker’s classification scheme recognizes five kingdoms: Animalia, Plantae, Fungi, Protista, and Monera.

The first kingdom, Animalia, includes animals. Animals without backbones (invertebrates) and with backbones (vertebrates) are included here. The cells are eukaryotic (having a nucleus); the organisms are heterotrophic (digesting organic matter). All animals are multicellular, and none have cell walls. In the kingdom Animalia, biologists classify such organisms as sponges, hydras, worms, insects, starfish, fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, and mammals. The feeding form is one in which large molecules from the external environment are consumed then broken down into usable parts in the animal body.

Vertebrate - Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
Vertebrate – Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
Invertebrate - Gray Garden Slug (Deroceras reticulatum)
Invertebrate – Gray Garden Slug (Deroceras reticulatum)

Exploding Protozoan

If the liquid inside a protozoan is more concentrated than that outside, water will diffuse into the cell through osmosis and eventually cause it to burst. An organelle called a contractile vacuole prevents it from bursting by pumping water back out.

Something obviously has gone wrong with this protozoan, perhaps its contractile vacuole. As I observed it swimming in a drop of water taken from a clump of moss, it suddenly exploded. You will notice by the pattern of detritus in both images that the field of view has not changed. Where the protozoan once existed there is now only a disassociated mass of protoplasm.

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Raccoon Tracks

During the winter season nature observing slows down considerably. It can, however, open up new opportunities that are not possible at other times of the year. For example, animal tracks are easier to detect in the snow than on bare ground. It is far from an even trade off with all of the fair weather aspects that are no longer available, but it is better than nothing.

Track of a Raccoon – Procyon lotor
Track of a Raccoon – Procyon lotor

Diatom (Genus: Hantzschia)

Exploring a drop of “living” water is always an adventure; you never know what you will find. Some micro-critters are immediately identifiable, especially as your experience grows. Others take extended research to identify. One factor that can complicate the process is the angle of view one gets of the organism. When normally seen from the top, an organism that is seen from the side can look quite different. In fact, one can sometimes think that it is a completely different species. Fortunately this diatom, Genus: Hantzschia, was observed as it slowly rotated so there is no doubt that it is the same critter.

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