The theme of this webpage is that composition, structure, and evolutionary history of plants are products of their relationships with animals, fungus, algae, bacteria, and the entire geobiosphere itself. Forces beyond Earth have factored into the story as well: the influence of the Sun, the Moon, previous generations of stars that enriched the molecular clouds from which our solar system formed, and our entire galaxy that was massive enough to retain Periodic Table elements synthesized and dispersed by exploding stars thanks to the presence of massive amounts of dark matter.
The best place to start the story is to follow the plants. At Cal Poly, plants are everywhere, but the new plant conservatory that will be built next year will be a great place to start. The Leaning Pine Arboretum is another great venue. Hopefully this webpage will prove to be a great place to follow up on the story in more depth.
This webpage is under construction.
Earth harbors plants that are diverse and that are nearly everywhere
Plants influenced the evolution of animals whose ancestors swung from trees, roamed savannahs, and eventually built dwellings where plants could live indoors in a world with artificial light and water and nutrients provided by animals devoted to their well being. The biogeochemical cycles of the seismically active interior of Earth in concert with its oceans, atmosphere, solar irradiance, and biological activity have fostered billions of years of evolving lifeforms.
The Sun is essential to the lives of planets and plants
Earth is well positioned in the solar system to maintain liquid oceans as the Sun's luminosity has increased steadily for billions of years. Early in its history, the carbon dioxide filled atmosphere trapped enough heat to keep oceans liquid. As the Sun grew brighter, photosynthetic organisms removed enough carbon dioxide to maintain liquid oceans. There were extended periods when Earth cooled and oceans froze, but there were enough biogeochemical processes to preserve life over more than three billion years.
Seasonal change is essential to life on Earth
The Moon affected the origin and evolution of life
Tides continue to influence life on Earth
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Plant cells fix carbon from CO2 in the air but cannot fix nitrogen from N2 in the air
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animations and illustrations
simulations and models