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The phosphorus cycle

Phosphorus is a chemical element found on Earth in numerous compound forms, such as the phosphate ion (PO43-), located in water, soil and sediments. The quantities of phosphorus in soil are ...

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Seed dispersal

Plants make seeds that can grow into new plants, but if the seeds just fall to the ground under the parent plant, they might not get enough sun, water or nutrients from the soil. Because plants ...

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Marine food webs

Feeding relationships are often shown as simple food chains – in reality, these relationships are much more complex, and the term ‘food web’ more accurately shows the links between producers ...

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Human impacts on marine environments

Throughout human existence we have relied on the oceans – for food, as a waste dump, for recreation, for economic opportunities and so on. However, it’s not only our activities in the marine ...

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Pollination and fertilisation

Sexual reproduction is a way of making a new individual by joining two special sex cells, called gametes. In the sexual reproduction of animals and plants, the male and female gametes join to ...

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The ocean and the carbon cycle

The ocean plays an important role in the global carbon cycle. Carbon moves in and out of the ocean daily, but it is also stored there for thousands of years. The carbon cycle Carbon is a chemical ...

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Adaptations of marine organisms

Adaptation is an evolutionary process whereby an organism becomes increasingly well suited to living in a particular habitat. It is not a quick process! Natural selection over many generations ...

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Flowering plant life cycles

The flowers and fruit of flowering plants come and go as part of their life cycle. Some flowering plants don’t even have stems and leaves all the time. The fruit and vegetables we eat come from ...

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Plant reproduction without seeds

Not every plant grows from a seed. Some plants, like ferns and mosses, grow from spores. Other plants use asexual vegetative reproduction and grow new plants from rhizomes or tubers. We can also ...

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Attracting pollinators

Flowering plants need to get pollen from one flower to another, either within a plant for self-pollination or between plants of the same species for cross-pollination to occur. However, pollen ...

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Plant reproduction

Scientists divide plants into two main groups depending on whether they reproduce by seeds or spores. Plants that reproduce by seeds Seed plants have special structures on them where male and ...

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Poisonous animals in New Zealand

New Zealand has a very small number of poisonous animals. These animals are also called ‘venomous’ as their toxins (venoms) need to be injected by a bite (for example, spiders) or sting (for ...

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Methods of pollination

Flowering plants need to get pollen from one flower to another, either within a plant for self-pollination or between plants of the same species for cross-pollination to occur. However, pollen ...

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Poisons and toxins

Poisons are substances that cause harm to organisms when sufficient quantities are absorbed, inhaled or ingested. A toxin is a poisonous substance produced within living cells or organisms ...

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Toxins and food webs

All living things depend on one another to live. Animals eat plants and/or animals to survive. Food webs describe the feeding connections between organisms in an ecosystem. The three main groups ...

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Native bird adaptations

New Zealand separated from Gondwana around 65 million years ago. Due to the geographical isolation and a lack of ground-dwelling predators, our birds evolved unique characteristics. Flight was ...

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Environmental conditions affecting the sea

On land, the most important environmental conditions affecting organisms are rainfall and temperature. In our oceans, there are a number of environmental conditions that affect the growth ...

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Classifying marine organisms

Classification is an important tool used by scientists to show how organisms are related to each other and to group them by their characteristics, but this can be difficult for some marine ...

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Adapting to marine habitats

Being able to adapt is a matter of life or death. In a perfect world, organisms would not need to adapt. However, changes to the environment and food web mean that organisms need to move, if they ...

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Measuring toxicity

Toxicity can be measured by the effect the substance has on an organism, a tissue or a cell. We know that individuals will respond differently to the same dose of a substance because of a number ...

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Birds’ roles in ecosystems

An ecosystem consists of all of the flora and fauna living within an area and the interactions between them. All ecosystems, whether they are marine, freshwater or located in native bush, involve ...

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