ALBATROSS COLONY Every year, black-browed albatrosses return to the Falkland Islands in the Atlantic Ocean to breed. This albatross colony is one of the largest in the world, with more than 500,000 birds. Each pair produces a single egg
All green plants use the energy of sunlight to make sugary carbohydrate food from water and carbon dioxide in the air. This is why they grow well only in sunlit, moist places. The food fuels growth and is used to make cellulose—the tough, fibrous tissue that helps support all the various parts of the plant, from its stems and leaves to its flowers.
The leaves are the plant’s food factories. They act like solar panels, as the green chlorophyll enables the plant to absorb the energy of sunlight and use it for photosynthesis
the process in which the plant takes carbon dioxide from the air and combines it with water drawn up by the roots to make sugar. Oxygen is also produced in the process and released into the air.
As sunlight warms a plant, water in the leaves is lost as water vapor, through pores called stomata. The leaves then take in water from the stem, which in turn draws more water up into the plant from the roots. The water carries nutrients from the soil with it.
FLOWERS Many plants produce beautiful flowers, often vividly colored and fragrant. These intricate structures form the reproductive parts of plants and have evolved so that they attract insects and birds to sip the sugary nectar at the flower’s center.
While feeding, the insect or bird is dusted with pollen, which is produced by the stamens and contain the male sex cells. The pollen is deposited on the sticky stigma of another flower. This is pollination. A pollen tube then grows down the style to the ovary and fertilizes an ovule. This is fertilization.
Some plants, such as grasses and many types of trees, rely on the wind to carry their pollen, and their flowers do not need showy petals or fragrant nectar to attract animals. Since this is a less efficient system, they must produce far more pollen, which can fill the air and cause hay fever.
FRUITS All plants produce fruits that contain their seeds. Some fruits are dry husks, but others are juicy and tasty. These attract animals, which eat them and carry the seeds in their stomachs.
The tough-skinned seeds are not digested but are scattered far away from the parent plant in the animals’ droppings and grow into new plants. The fruits shown here are cultivated types that have been specially bred for their size and flavor.
PLANKTON The sunlit surface waters of many oceans teem with life, most of it microscopic, that drifts with the currents. The whole drifting community is called the plankton.
It is made up of plantlike phytoplankton, which use the energy of sunlight to make food from carbon dioxide and water, and zooplankton— animals that feed on both the phytoplankton and each other. This image shows the plankton in a splash of seawater, magnified more than 25 times.
INSECTS Insects are the most successful creatures on Earth. Beetles alone account for almost a third of all known animal species.
Many insects are tiny, but others are big enough for us to see the amazing intricacy of their structure. Some may bite or sting, and a few are real pests, but most are harmless, fascinating, and beautiful.
FISH Fish were the first animals with backbones to appear on Earth, more than 500 million years ago. They have since evolved into a wonderful variety of forms.
From powerful sharks to delicate seahorses, fish now make up more than half of all vertebrate species. Most fish live in the salty oceans, like those shown below, but many—including the fish on the opposite page—live in freshwater lakes and rivers. A few, such as salmon, are able to live in both.
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