What are ‘Flora and Fauna’?
The planet Earth is a beautiful place to live in. Life has flourished on the planet, thanks to the bountiful sun and vast oceans of water. No matter where we go on the planet, there are stunning plants, flowers and animals that catch are attention. They are two very important aspects of any eco-system. Of all the living organisms on the planet, the most commonly seen by us are the plant life and the animal life. Apart from these two, more forms of life abound in the earth, but are harder to see with the naked eye. This is why the flora and fauna i.e. plant and wildlife of the earth are fascinating to observe and study.
What is Flora?
Flora is the name given to the collective plant life that grows or once grew in a certain area or during a given time period. It usually refers to the native plant life present but does include new species that have been introduced as well. The flora and fauna of the earth have names derived from Latin.
In the language, ‘Flora’ was a goddess of flowers and plants. In the Roman mythology, she was the goddess of fertility. And so, the plant kingdom came to be known as Flora. The study of the plant life around the world is very interesting since is makes different classifications of the flora.
Plant life on the earth can be distinguished from each other in a number of ways. The simplest is to divide on the basis of region. Plants that grow specifically in the mountains will be very different from those that grow in the desert. Similarly, the plants that have adapted to living underwater are treated as a unique form of flora. Scientists can also study ‘Fossil Flora’, which comprises of plant life that was found in pre-historic times. The current flora and fauna of the earth is also divided on the basis of the environment in which it is grown or seen naturally.
When we talk about ‘Native Flora’, we are referring to the plant life that is indigenous to a particular region. Cacti are the native flora of deserts all over the world. They can grow in most weather conditions but are native to the sandy dunes of deserts. When we refer to ‘Agricultural Flora’, we are talking about plant life that has been grown by humans for a certain purpose.
They may or may not be native, but are used by humans for their own needs. Similarly there is ‘Garden Flora’ or ‘Horticultural Flora’, which are plants grown for decorative purposes. And then we have the ‘Weed Flora’, which are plants that are either undesirable in certain areas or invasive within the native plant life.
What is Fauna?
Fauna on the other hand, is the name given to collective animal life that lives or was once found in a certain area or time period. In Latin, Fauna is derived from three different sources. Fauna by itself was the name of a Roman goddess representing fertility and the earth and Faunus was another Roman god. And then there were Fauns, which were known to be forest spirits.
Both the flora and fauna of the earth have been given sub-divisions. Fauna is also distinguished in many different ways. However, these ways are much more complex than floral divisions because animal life has evolved into many different forms.
To begin with, the animal kingdom by itself is Fauna. However, within it we have the ‘Avifauna’ that refers to the birds and ‘Piscifauna’ referring to the fish. These are simpler classifications, since they do not cover small single celled organisms such as bacteria and virus. They also do not account for the microscopic organisms that abound in nature but cannot be seen by the human eye. Such animal life is known as ‘Microfauna’. Much of the flora and fauna of the earth can be seen, but there is a very large percentage that has yet to be named and even discovered.
This is why classifications such as ‘Cryptofauna’ arise, which refers to animals that are extremely rare and may even be mythological. There are also ‘Microfauna’, which refers to the extremely small animals and ‘Megafauna’, that talks about the large animals we usually see.
Planet earth has been blessed in more ways than one. We have complex ecological systems that not only provide us with resources, but make the world a more beautiful place to live in. Little of this would be possible without the varying flora and fauna of the earth.