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Plants

You might not think it, but the existence of plant life is important to the continuity and development of most ecosystems. The term "plant" may include everything from small blades of grass to the biggest and oldest trees in the forest. The environment is made up of two kinds of matter: organic, and inorganic, and plants are the only link on the food chain that are capable of transferring inorganic chemicals into organic compounds for the consumption of other living things in the ecosystem. This is big time important! These nutrients are passed on through trophic levels in food webs. If plants did not transfer these materials, animals would not be able to gain the nutrients they need to survive. Plants do this by sucking up nutrients from the ground and from the rays of the sun - nutrients that other organisms are not able to consume directly from the source. Who would have guessed that plants are that busy?

Organisms that rely directly on inorganic material to gain their energy are called autotrophs, and the major autotrophs in most ecosystems are plants. The beings that rely on autotrophs to in turn to gain these organic nutrients are called heterotrophs. During the decay stage of any living being, the organic compounds are transferred back into inorganic chemicals, and can be processed again by plants.

Plants also provide the world with much-needed oxygen through a process called photosynthesis. Life on earth depends on oxygen, and without it, the majority of living things (humans included) would not be able to breathe! Remember that the next time you see some Brainiac pulling healthy plants out of the ground for fun!

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