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54 55 aPPendix iii PLants The plant and animal kingdoms exist in dynamic equilibrium, relying on one another for their survival. Plants absorb carbon dioxide and produce oxygen, while animals do the exact opposite. Plants provide food at the base of the food chain for animals, while animals return the nutrients to the soil by way of excreta and decomposition. Plants also bring new stocks of nutrients into the equation by deriving them from minerals, water and air. This interdependency between organisms is a vital characteristic of life on Earth, which is why the planets ecosystem should be treated with respect. plantae, the plant kingdom, is divided primarily between vascular and non vascular plants. Vascular plants have the ability to transport fluids from roots to other parts of the organism, which means they can live on land and colonise areas where there is no surface water. Vascular plants include clubmosses, ferns, horsetails, conifers, cycads, ginkgos and flowering grasses, rushes, herbs, shrubs and all trees. There is a clear evolutionary progression from the production of spores to naked seeds and then to shelled seeds and nuts, which provide the germinating plant embryos with food and protection. Nonvascular plants are the most simple of landdwelling plants. Generally small and shadeloving, they have no roots, stems, or leaves.
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