Expeditionary groups have been formed to undertake an initial survey of "plant" life on Nearer and Farther. Their goal is to try and determine the number of different kinds of plant life on each planet without prior presumptions that categories of plant life on Nearer and Farther are necessarily similar to those on Earth.
You are a member of one such expeditionary group. Your group must return with a scheme for categorizing plant life on the planet assigned that is clearly described and yields a definite quantitative result for numbers of kinds of plants on that planet. You may also want to consider why the planet contains the particular number of different plants you describe. Your findings will be presented at a conference on "Diversity in BioSystems: New Findings From Additional Cases", focused on the question of whether "diversity" is or is not a fundamental characteristic of living systems.
Some related readings:
-Comes to a point
-Grows close to ground
-Have dark colored bark
-Have a trunk
-The largest group found
-Found five types
-Half a knee to stomach height (5'8 ft. person)
-Had 3 to 49 leaves
-Had 2 to 12 parting branches
-No flowers or buds
-Either oval or pointed extremeties
-Some have holes
-Different shapes and sizes
-Mostly close to trees
I. Ground Coverings (3) - direct ground coverage that varied in terms of color and texture
II. Low Proximity to Ground (9) - thick, diverse populations of low growing plants
a) Blade (1)
i) Singular (1)
1) Smooth edged (5)
2) Jagged edged (2)
III. Medium Proximity to Groud (3) - branched entities greater than a foot from the ground
a) Spiked (1)
b) Elliptical (1)
c) Waxed (1)
IV. High Elevation (2) - vegetation greater than six feet from the ground
a) Smooth base/vertical branching (1)
b) Ridged base/horizontal branching (1)
Total Plant Types Found: 17
Again, while we recognize that this is not an all-inclusive list, this scheme provides a basis for the categorization of vegetation found in Nearer.
This system, the Planet Nearer, offered an example of the diversity which can be found in a given area in terms of energy sources and stage of growth. Both aspects are elements which attribute to the diversity and variation among the vegatation of the same type.
GROUP NEARER: Justine Patrick, Shafiqah Berry, Latoya Lavita, Vanessa Herrera
Criteria for plant description
Premise: All specimens observed are living plants.
Shape, texture, and shape distinguished our observations.
Specimen # 1: Has attachments that are green star-shaped. There are two cylindrical shaped objects, they appear to be the same shape and size, indicating that they may be of the same species, but texture variations indicate possible reproduction, that is duplication without exact replication.
Specimen # 2: Amorphous cube, smooth top, rough and jagged sides, pattern of uniform discoloration, appears to be another specimen in and of itself. There is a possibility of it being an older version of specimen # 1, perhaps a fossilization of the cylindrical shapes.
Specimen # 2a: Green rug-like texture gets less green as the shape declines.
Specimen # 3: Broad brown surface has two parts interwoven with specimen # 1 into a symbiotic relationship.
Specimen # 4: Presented in an upright position, it's green, crisp, and easiest to break of all the specimens so far.
Specimen # 5: Similar to specimen # 1, but shape is not cylindrical. The shorter attachments are closer together and there are more of them. The extensions have pricklier attachments.
Specimen # 6: Appear to be from the same family, characteristic of having similar organisms growing on them, which may indicate an eco-system within an eco-system within the greater hierarchy of different systems.
What we have gathered from our overall findings is that plot of"land" we observed is a symbiotic eco- system supporting various life forms while itsef being supported.
Lab expedition to "Farther"
I. Small (1 ft. and under) –
a. Rooted vs. Unrooted
b. Clustered vs. Unclustered
c. Green vs. Brown vs. Yellow vs. Red
d. Long, pointy, broad, branched
a. tear shaped
b. jagged tear shaped
c. heart shaped.
2. No Leaves
e. Long, pointy, skinny
b. reverse heart
c. jagged tear shaped
d. tear shaped
2. No Leaves
II. Medium (1-5 ft.)
a. Pliant vs. Non-pliant
b. Lowlying vs. Tall
d. Rough vs. Smooth bark
e. Number of branches/types of branches
f. Leaf Shape
g. Appendages: berries/none
h. Thorns/no thorns
III. Big (over 5 ft)
a. 1 person to hug vs. 1+ persons to hug
b. numerous branches vs. minimal branches vs. one big black metal branch
c. tear shaped vs. rigid tear shaped leaves vs. glove shaped
There are approximately 37 species of plant life in the area we studied. There was a wide range in the size of plants. The reason for this diversity is to allow the different plants to take advantage of limited resources in different ways. The vertical occupation of space, as well as horizontal, allows plants to compete for light, air and space. The sizes cannot be assumed to follow a plant's time line (juvenile, adult, old) as that would be basing our judgments on the case on Earth. Because the period during which we studied these samples is an insufficient timescale to study growth, this remains an unacceptable assumption and thus, we must receive the grant for further observation.
The "Low-to-the-Ground" categorization describes vegetation that was less than six inches tall and it generally covered a large area of ground space. We broke this category into two sub-categories "leafed" and "leafless" based on the presence or absence of leaves. The leafed sub-category includes further sub-groups based on leaf quantity and shape. The leafless category is further divided into subcategories based on texture and size.
The "Low Branched" category refers to plant life with stems and branches that expand horizontally starting at ground level. On the stems were either leaves or needles. The leafed sub-group of low branched plant life was divided into Shiny, and Mat refering to the texture of the leaves and Tiny, refering to the relative small size of one variaty of Low branched plant life.
The "Extended Trunk" category refers to plant life with a thick tall trunk, whose branches expand horizontally. The extended trunk types are further subcategorized by the types of leaves which grow on their branches. They are star shaped leaf and tear drop shaped leaf.
The "Fuzzy Stuff" category refers to a unique type of plant life that spread out over a diverse array of surfaces includingother plant life and inanimate objects in the environment. The sub-groups were categorized onthe basis of color and texture.
The "Nasty Stuff" category refers to t he plant life that grows from other oragisms and is also less than 6 inches tall. The Nasty Stuff types are further subcategorized by its physical appearance. These types are "puffy", "shell like", "orange". A unique characteristic of this plant life is that one could see the immature and mature state of this particular organism.
The expeditionary force discovered five major groups of plant life and twenty-two minor ones in total.
-groundcovering thinned as light diminished
-common disturbance of ground seems to coincide with a lack of ground covering
1) Long, thin, fibrous, green leaves:
-pigmentation lessens near the roots
-variation within stalks (either 1 stalk or multiple)
-variation of height, but average of Romina's hand length
2) Single stalk with 3 round/oval leaves:
-symmetrical discoloration and veins
-grow in clusters
-edges are ridged
1) Groups of branches with thicker stems and more leaves:
-only grew in 3rd (smallest) area
-leaves are almond shaped
-leaves have shiny, waxy texture on one side
-backside of leaves is lighter, duller, and has prominent stem through middle
-branches were thicker, brown, and sturdy
1) 5-Point Leaf:
-found on 3 of 4 above eye-level organisms in open area
-base of plant was brown, thick, with textured, apparently protective covering
-irregular breaks in covering on one of specimens, which seemed suggestive of an unidentifiable, external force
2) Oval Leaf:
-only specimen with branches lacking foliage
-covering of stem was rougher and more textured than 5-point variety
-many branches were without foliage and were discolored
I. Ground Coverage
a. Plants that grow off of ground
-grows in patches in dark areas
-grows more plentifully in sunny areas
2. Branches and Leaves
-Stem with one leaf
a. small heartshaped leaves
b. large elongated leaves
c. medium oval shaped leaves with stems growing out of middle of
d. medium elongated and serrated leaves
-Stem with multiple leaves
a. stems with a few larger leaves
b. stems with many smaller leaves
c. stems with many smaller speckled leaves
d. stems with many leaves and fruit
b. Plants growing on the ground
1. Hairy looking
a. fuzzy and darker colored
b. granular-looking and lighter colored
3. Leaf-like with red hairs
II. Plants taller than 4 feet
a. Shorter Plants - plants that branch closer to the ground
-smaller oval leaves with more leaves on each branch, darker color
-larger oval leaves with less leaves on each branch, lighter color
2. needles and fruit
b. Taller Plants - plants that branch farther away from the ground
1.star shaped leaves with spiney geometric pods
2.oval shaped leaves
Bladelike structure, no stem or trunk, vertical, grounded (3 sub categories)
Free-floating, elongated round and flat. (5 sub categories)
We arrived at Planet Far and were overwhelmed by the diversity of life. In order to make sense of it all, we developed broad categories into which we grouped the subjects of our observations.
Realizing the magnitude of our task, we focused on distinguishing the different kinds of life close to the ground. The criteria for classifying our subjects as plant life include the implicated growth found in the various sizes and stages of life that particular subjects exhibited. They also were rooted in the ground signifying permanancy within their life cycle, thus exposing themselves to the elements.
We noted a variety of texture, shapes, sizes, and colors.
We divided the subjects into:
We found three different forms of strands: wide, narrow, and circular. Within these groups there were green and brown specimens, the green more moist and the brown more brittle.
We had eight different varieties of stems with colorful appendages.
We had a group of five different longer stemmed, rounded/oval large and flat shaped samples.
We had six samples with stemmed extensions off of their main shoot.
Bring it on! :)
We classifed plant life on Planet Farther based on four categories: number of leaf prongs, length to width ratio,
Upon discovering a new plant, we first counted the number of leaf prongs, categorizing these in groups of 1, 2-3, and 4 or more. After that, we looked at:
- # of leaves
- leaf shape (lobes and notches)
- leaf size ratios (length to width)
- leaf vein structure
- general plant shape and size (length to width/depth ratio)
- patterns of change in size and shape (tendency to get wider or narrower as height or length increases)
- # of branches, and branching tendency (# of branching nodes)
- Texture and changes in texture
Other criteria that we did not get to measure include:
-Root structure or what happens where plant connects to ground
- proximity to other plants like it
- # of plants per given distance (10 sq. yards)
- flexibility or rigidity, stability
- average size
- leaf thickness
- presence of seeds/flowers/fruit/spores/etc
For example, one plant we loooked at had one prong on each leaf, oval-shaped leaves with no notches or lobes, one central vein in each leaf with smaller veins branching from the central one, a total plant height of about 2.5 feet and width of about 3.5 feet, and about 30 main branches coming from the ground.
Non-leaved plants: 1
2-3 prong: 3
4 or more: 5
Total plant species observed: 20
Discerning life on Planet Nearer was a difficult task indeed. We were able to uncover what we believe to be 22 different species of plant life, with several other objects which classified as inanimate.
Ground Growth [1-17 types]
Specimens 1-4: grew closest to the ground, like a blanket over the dirt.
1.looked and felt like felt and was a deep green color. next was an even 2.darker green with tiny ball shapes composing the covering.
3.light green and string-like.
4.light green and found in the far corner of the planet. felt like shag carpet.
Specimens 5-9: all specimens were less than two inches from the ground, and had visible stems, leaves, and were all green.
5.ovular leaf shape, and grew in clusters across the planet.
6.round leaf shape
7.spade shaped leaves
8.ridged shaped leaves, with five leaves per sprout, was also a darker hue of green than the other specimens.
9.ridged and covered with fuzz, three sections per leaf.
Specimens 10-11: blade like leaves protruding from the ground in clumps. Both types of clumps were green. In the far corner of the planet these clumps grew in a darker green and thicker, perhaps because of the favorable conditions in this portion of the planet.
10.this type of growth sprouted from the ground, and separated above ground.
11.this type of growth sprouted and separated below ground.
Specimens 12-17: ranged in height from 4-6.5 inches off the ground, most were a light green hue.
12.very thin with no visible leaves but perhaps seedlings sprouting from the weed.
13.growing close to the ground, with thin leaves.
14.taller than most weeds, with large leaves.
15.long, bottom, with leaves on top.
16.low growing, with many clustered leaves and visible seeds growing on the stalk.
17.long bottom, with spade shaped leaves on top. the leaves were shades of white, green, and purple.
Bushes [18-20 types]
18.thin, sharp leaves like pine needles. some berries spotted sprouting from the tips of some of these needles. they appeared to be underdeveloped. branch separated below ground.
19.shiny, ovular leaves. branches separated below ground, and were a ligher color.
20.light green matte finish leaves. there was a knotted, twisted trunk, with branches sprouting above ground.
Very Tall Bushes [2 types]
Specimens 21-22: About twenty foot tall, cylandrical base, branching out over the entire planet. Extensions of this species were noted to be growing both above and below ground surrounding the tree. Two types of this species were observed.
21.The base appeared dark brown and chunky, with leaves of a light to dark green hue. These leaves were five pointed. One section of the tree had brown leaves.
22.The base was smooth and a lighter brown. The leaves were tear drop shaped and of a medium green hue.
-Maple (?) tree
-Big bush # 1 (smooth surfaced leaves)
-Big bush # 2 (x-mas, needle leaves), bush appeared 4 times
-Big bush # 3 (penny-sized, oval leaves), bush appeared 3 times
-Long-stalked w/stacked leaves
-Uni-leafed "weed" with rigid edges
-5-leafed with serated edges
-Uni-leaf, teardrop shape
-Three leaved clover
-Long, seeded, corn-like plant
-Tiny, muliple-leafed weed
-Plant with one, fan-shaped leaf
-Tri-leafed plant with serated edges
Our group was surprised to find the extent to which the plant life on "planet nearer" varied. With ground coverings, in particular, the number of different species of plant life found was extremely surprising.
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