23 Introduction

Module 12 – Diversity of Life II


In this module, we will explore the diversity within the plant and animal kingdoms. For each kingdom, begin with the basic concept of “What is a plant?” and “What is an animal?” What traits define these categories of life?

Begin by defining animal. While there is a lot of diversity within this category of life, and you will read about the nine phyla that fall under this category and the unique characteristics for each phyla, you should start by identifying what these organisms have in common. What must each have to remain under the classification “animal”. As you work through the nine phyla, think about the progression of characteristics from one organism to the next. Compare their mode of reproduction, the way they obtain nutrients, and how they expel waste.

One concept that links this module to the last (Diversity of Life I) is the idea that all cells/ organisms need nutrients and make waste. Let’s look at two types of heterotrophs, one from this module (animals) and one from last module (fungi). Both organisms must obtain their food from another source and cannot make their own food. Animals will consume/ take food into the body where digestive enzymes will break down the organic macromolecules which make up the food source into monomers inside the body and then transport the breakdown products to nourish the cells of the body (monomers that we have discussed: sugar, amino acids, etc.).

Fungi are also heterotrophs and unable to make their own food. Rather than ingest complex food molecules and digest within the body, they release digestive enzymes outside of the body and then absorb the broken down products. In both cases, the multicellular organism is breaking down a polymer and obtaining the nutrients (monomers) of the breakdown process. In one case, this is happening within the body and in the other outside of the body .

Learning Outcomes

This module addresses the following Course Learning Outcomes listed in the Syllabus for this course:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of biological principles.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of scientific method.
  • Communicate scientific ideas through oral or written assignments.
  • Interpret scientific models such as formulas, graphs and tables.
  • Demonstrate problem solving methods in situations that are encountered outside of the classroom .

Module Objectives

Upon completion of this module, the student will be able to:

  • Define animal .
  • Define each phyla under this category and describe several unique traits for each.
  • Describe how animals reproduce: sexual vs. asexual methods that are found within these nine phyla
  • Please describe what is meant by this statement: In animals, there is a level of protection for the egg following fertilization.
  • Compare vertebrates and invertebrates. Which are we?
  • Define circulation and organs. What benefit does our circulatory system provide us? What kind of things travel through our cardiovascular system?
  • Define sessile .
  • Compare the life cycles of animals to plants. What are the similar processes? What is different between the two life cycles?
  • Describe the different types of land plants: nonvascular, vascular, seeded, nonseeded, gymnosperm and angiosperm
  • What benefit does vascular tissue provide plants that contain it?
  • Compare the vasculature of the plant to the cardiovascular system in animals. What similar functions do these systems provide the organisim?
  • Name the parts of the flower and seed. Describe reproduction as it occurs in angiosperms and the floral structures they are involved.
  • Describe the ways that plants can adapt to a changing environment and why this is important to plant survival .


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Life in its Biological Environment Copyright © by Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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