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Flora & Fauna: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:04 What Is Flora and Fauna?
  • 0:35 Flora
  • 2:57 Fauna
  • 5:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Amanda Robb

Amanda holds a Masters in Science from Tufts Medical School in Cellular and Molecular Physiology. She has taught high school Biology and Physics for 8 years.

In this lesson, we'll explain what flora and fauna are. We'll be looking at some examples from different habitats around the earth and how different adaptations allow them to survive.

What Is Flora and Fauna?

Take a look outside. Even if you live in the city, chances are you see some plants and maybe even an animal or two. Blades of grass creep out through cracks in the sidewalk, and you might see a squirrel darting over electrical lines between the trees. Despite the intense urbanization happening, flora and fauna, or the plants and animals in an ecosystem, still find a way to break through. Today, we're going to look at some interesting examples of flora and fauna that live all over the earth, in slightly more wild environments than the city.

Flora

Flora is the plant life in an ecosystem. Flora is the foundation for all other life in an area. They make their own food from sunlight and provide energy for the rest of the ecosystem. No animals would be able to exist without flora. This is so true in fact, that flora thrive in even the most harsh environments in the world. Let's take a look at some examples.

Giant Redwood Trees

Although so far we looked at grass growing in the city, some flora can actually grow to monstrous heights. Giant redwood trees are some of the largest trees on Earth, with specimens recorded over 350 feet tall.

These trees are local to the northern coast of California, where rainy, humid weather allows for such growth. These trees get so big, that roads in Sequoia National Park run right through some of them, which span over 20 feet in diameter. Birds make the canopy of these trees home, and many land-dwelling animals live in the forest below.

Welwitschia Mirabilis

Not all plants like the rain, though. Growing in the Namib desert, the Welwitschia Mirabilis lives in some of the driest conditions on Earth. Strangely, it's a plant that only has one or two large leaves that wrap around itself, appearing to be wilted and dry. However, don't be fooled by its less-than-attractive appearance, this plant can live over 1,500 years. It's deep root system allows it to tap into groundwater stores in even the driest conditions.

Nepenthes

So far, we've looked at two types of flora that are photosynthetic, meaning they make their own food from sunlight. However, some plants take a more active approach to getting food. Nepenthes is a family of pitcher plants native to the jungles of Borneo. These plants have adapted leaves that form a large pitcher structure. The pitcher is filled with sweet smelling liquid designed to trap insects and even small frogs in some species. The animals drop into the pitcher, but soon find that the smooth sides make it impossible to climb back out. The pitcher is filled with digestive juices that break down the animal, allowing the plant to absorb nutrients not found in native soil. Some species of pitcher plants live in other rainforests, and even in the Southern United States. However, Nepenthes is one of the largest pitcher plants on Earth.

Fauna

Fauna are all the animals in an ecosystem. You might be surprised to learn that fauna aren't just the furry animals we're familiar with, like bears, but also include aquatic species, like jellyfish, coral, and a host of insects on land. Let's look at a sampling of these fauna next.

Coral

The beautiful, colored landscape under the sea are coral reefs. Although these structures resemble plants, you might be surprised to know that they are actually animals and part of the fauna of the ocean. Coral is a sessile animal, meaning it does not move on its own. In a hard calcium matrix, tiny individual polyps peek out from holes in the skeleton. The polyps reach out and grab microscopic prey swimming by, like zooplankton.

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