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Welcome to 'Biodiversity Reference'.

The original versions of many of these pages were hosted on the Biological Sciences teaching server at the University of Paisley (now the University of the West of Scotland, Paisley Campus). Their initial reason for existence was to provide supplementary photographs and information to support our taught modules, in a setting that demonstrated organismal classification.

The teaching server previously hosting this material (at has not continued operation beyond September 2009, so further development of the site is transfered and continued here at Some materials on the original site are not my own copyright and have not been moved, but the intentions are to maintain this present site as a teaching resource, for the UWS and for any other individuals and institutions that continue to find them useful, and to expand the site to provide a much greater range of pages than could be justified purely by teaching need on a shared server. All expressed opinions are my own and do not represent the UWS in any way.

The pages will never be a comprehensive summary of Life, the Universe and Everything, and will not substitute for the treatment in any good biology textbook. Subjects will reflect my own interests at any particular time. Text accounts accompanying photographs vary in scope, but should not be taken to represent fully researched articles. Cited sources very often are simply those that were to hand when the account was written. The site will be updated and extended when spare time (hah!) permits.

Anyone is welcome to browse here. If users wish to do any more than browse, I do, however, ask that they read the site Conditions of Use. Please note that I do NOT offer an identification service for organisms that are featured on these pages. Help with identification from photographs may be available through

For information on the University of the West of Scotland and the courses we offer, go to the University's official website at

A display of 1024 × 768 or higher is required for viewing these pages and they may not display properly at lower resolution. Internet Explorer is the preferred browser, giving superior display and text rendition on some monitors, but all pages should be compatible with other modern browsers. Emphasis is on illustrations at reasonably good resolution, which makes this site more suitable for those with broadband connections, but speed of page loading should be much faster here than has been the case on the old site.

Scope and contents.

'Biodiversity' is a word much in vogue just now. Many will or should be aware of the 1992 'Earth Summit' held at Rio de Janeiro and the signing, by over 150 countries including the UK, of the 'Convention on Biological Diversity'. There is a tendency to think of biodiversity as referring simply to the multiplicity of the Earth's species and to the variability within and between their habitats and ecosystems, but the Convention also stresses the importance of biodiversity within species. Genetic variability and, in principle, biodiversity even at the molecular level must be included. This present site concentrates on British biodiversity at the organism and habitat level, but genetic diversity is illustrated when the opportunity arises.

Go here for short, illustrated summary accounts.

The diversity of living organisms is organised into seven kingdoms here. This may be a different number from what the user has read in textbooks or been 'told' (hopefully not too dogmatically) in lecture courses. Don't worry about it. Some people recognise just three kingdoms, and there is more than one way to do that, while five is a popular number in American textbooks; seven is considered the best approach here, and some people recognise even more. The curious, the baffled, and those who just want to know where the Protista went, should go to classification.

    Kingdom ANIMALIA
    The higher (multicellular) animals.

    Kingdom PLANTAE
    The green plants (including both multicellular and unicellular green algae) and the red algae.

    Kingdom FUNGI
    Eukaryotic, heterotrophic, non-phagotrophic, absorptive organisms. Some functional "fungi" are known to be better placed in the kingdoms Chromista or Protozoa but are referenced here also.

    Kingdom PROTOZOA
    Predominantly unicellular, eukaryotic, plasmodial or colonial, phagotrophic "animals", but currently with minimal content. Concept outdated but retained at the present time for convenience.

    Kingdom CHROMISTA
    Includes the eukaryotic algal groups other than the green and red algae, plus some related filamentous, absorptive organisms.

    Kingdom EUBACTERIA (or domain BACTERIA)
    Virtually all prokaryotic organisms, including the "blue-green algae" (Cyanobacteria) and the Actinomycetes.

    Kingdom ARCHAEBACTERIA (or domain ARCHAEA)
    A very ancient lineage of prokaryotes surviving in extreme environments. Outline page only.

LINKS    (page currently being redeveloped)
Other, especially British, web sites relating to conservation and biodiversity.

Questions or comments about these pages should be addressed to:
Dr. Alan J. Silverside, University of the West of Scotland,
School of Science, Paisley Campus,
Paisley, Renfrewshire, PA1 2BE, Scotland.

Text, photographs and graphics © A.J. Silverside or as stated on individual pages.
For further copyright information, see Conditions of Use.
Uploaded August 2009, last May April 2014
(first hosted at, September 1998) home page