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What is Flora and Fauna – Definition, Importance, Examples

Carnivorous plant

The environment on planet Earth consists of a large variety of habitats where we can find a very large number of plants, trees and animals of all sizes.

Flora and Fauna Definition

Flora and fauna represent the trees, the plants and the animals specific to a geographical region of the planet.

Fauna refers to a collection of animals that can be found in a geographical area of the planet or are specific in a certain period of the year.

The flora and fauna that can be found in an area of the planet represent the ecosystem of the area, which is a biological community full of interacting organisms that live in a physical environment.

People are also part of the ecosystem because they interact with the environment, the plant and animal species that live there.

In an ecosystem we can find a large variety of beings, some measuring only a few microns in length, while others measuring several feet long.

All these beings are contributing to the ecological balance of the ecosystem in the area.

Due to the expansion of the human civilization that destroys habitats (deforestation) and pollutes the air, the water, and the soil, the number of plants, trees and animals on the planet is getting smaller from one year to another.

What is Flora?

Flora refers to the collection of trees, plants and other forms of life such as fungi and algae, that are common in a geographical area of the planet or have grown in an area during a certain time period.

Flora derive from the Latin name ‘Flora’, which represents the Roman goddess of plants, flowers, and fertility.

Due to the fact that flora refers to the entire collection of trees, plants and other forms of life (fungi, algae etc.) that can be found in a certain area of the planet, the term will include the native species of plants and trees, but also the new species of plants and trees that have been included there or have invaded the area due to human intervention.

Today, the flora covers about 9% of the Earth’s surface, which means that the trees and plants cover 30% the land area.

Flora Species Known Today

On planet Earth we have today more than 326,000 flora species (plants, trees, fungi and algae):

  • Dicotyledons 199,350 species;
  • Monocotyledons 59,300 species;
  • Mosses 15,000 species;
  • Ferns and allies 13,025 species;
  • Gymnosperms 980 species;
  • Red Algae 5.956 species;
  • Green Algae 3,715 species.

and others such as:

  • Mushrooms 16,000 species;
  • Lichens 10,000 species;
  • Brown Algae 2,849 species.

The truth is that nobody knows how many species of plants and animals we have on the planet today because in fact about 10,000 new species of animals and thousands of new species of plants are discovered every year.

The truth is that nobody knows how many species of plants and animals we have on the planet today because in fact about 10,000 new species of animals and thousands of new species of plants are discovered every year.

Sadly, a large number of flora species are at risk due to habitat changes, global warming and climate change, diseases, and pests of all kind.

All these things are seriously affecting the survival of the plants and trees around the world.

However, there are about 5,000 invasive species in the world that are damaging a very large number of flora species on the planet, and also the world economy.

The level of damage produced by the invasive species to the flora species on the planet and the cost of their removal represents about 5 percent of the world economy.

What is Fauna?

Fauna refers to the collection of animals that are located in a geographical area of the planet or can be found during a certain period of the year or have lived in a certain area of the planet at some point in the past.

Fauna derive from the Greek name ‘Fauna’, which represents one of the Roman goddesses of the earth and fertility.

Fauna is considered the wife, the sister, or the daughter of Faunus, which is the horned god of the forest, plains and fields, and they (Fauna and Faunus) are both related to the forest spirits called Fauns.

The number of animal species (vertebrates and invertebrates) on planet Earth is much higher than the number of flora species due to the fact that only the insects are represented by almost 1 million different species.

Let’s see the numbers that are defining the known animal species on the planet:


  • Mammals 5,416 known species;
  • Reptiles 8,240 known species;
  • Birds 9,956 known species;
  • Fish 30,000 known species;
  • Birds 9,956 known species;
  • Amphibians 6,199 known species.


  • Insects 950,000 known species;
  • Molluscs 81,000 known species;
  • Crustaceans about 40,000 species;
  • Corals 2,175 known species;
  • Others 130,200 species.

All these numbers will be changed soon or have been already changed to higher values due to the fact that every year about 10,000 new species of animals (vertebrates and invertebrates) are discovered.

Fauna Subdivisions

Fauna has many subdivisions created to describe in detail all the creatures known today and the creatures that will be discovered in the future (from the very big ones to the very tiny ones).


Cryofauna describes the animals that live very close or on the ice.

Here we have orcas, Rockhopper penguins, Emperor penguins, Adelie penguins, Crabeater seals, Weddell seals and the Black-browed Albatross.


Cryptofauna describes the animals that live in protected or concealed microhabitats.

We have here Polychaeta, Crustacea, Mollusca, Echinodermata and some tiny fishes.


Infauna represents the benthic organisms that live within the bottom substratum of a body of water, such as the bottom-most oceanic sediments.

We have here clams, snails, flatworms, polychaetes and small crustaceans.

Bacteria and microalgae can also be found within the bottom substratum of the oceans.


Epifauna represents the aquatic animals that live on the bottom substratum of the oceans and not within the stratum.

Here we have oysters, sea squirts, sponges, barnacles and sea stars.


Macrofauna are the benthic or soil organisms that are retained on a 0.5 mm sieve.

The deep sea studies are defining macrofauna as the animals that are retained on a 0.3 mm sieve.

Here we have potworms, centipedes, myriapods, slugs, millipedes, fly larvae, beetles, beetle larvae, and spiders.


Megafauna describes the large animals that live in a particular region or time.

We have here the Australian megafauna, the Pleistocene megafauna (extinct during the Quaternary extinction event) and many others.


Meiofauna describes the small benthic invertebrates that are specific to both marine and freshwater environments.

Meiofauna represents a group of organism that are larger in size than microfauna but smaller than macrofauna.


Mesofauna represents the macroscopic soil animals (arthropods and nematodes).

Mesofauna is very diverse, about 6,500 species have been already discovered.


Microfauna describes the microscopic or very tiny animals.

Here are usually included protozoans and very small animals such as rotifers.


Avifauna (birds) is describing a group of endothermic vertebrates that have feathers and toothless beaked jaws.

These are flying creatures that lay hard-shelled eggs, have a high metabolic rate, a four-chambered heart, and a pretty strong yet lightweight skeleton.


Piscifauna (Ichnyofauna) refers to all the fishes on the planet that live both in freshwater and in sea water.

The Importance of Flora and Fauna in the Planet’s Ecosystem

Flora and fauna keep the ecological balance on planet Earth and without them the human civilization would not have existed.

Flora is responsible for consuming carbon dioxide and generating oxygen, while fauna is consuming the oxygen and releases carbon dioxide that is used by flora in the photosynthesis process.

Humans consume the oxygen produced in the photosynthesis process and release carbon dioxide exactly like fauna does, but flora and fauna represent a natural resource of food and medicine for the human civilization here on planet Earth.

This is why is so important to keep flora and fauna in very good conditions because our life on the planet depends pretty much on them.

Flora and fauna have a functional role on the planet, but also an aesthetic role because with its natural beauty, the environment is helping us to get rid of stress and charge our bodies with healthy energy provided by the forest.

Flora and fauna also represent a great asset for the world tourism sector because many people on the entire planet are visiting distant places just to see and feel the natural beauties of those interesting places.

The largest Pacific Silver Fir in Oregon.

Flora and fauna are mostly affected by the reckless human activity on the planet that pollutes the air, the soil and water, by people leaving behind garbage in nature that could contaminate the soil and the water in the area and by people that are destroying habitats, plants and animals, even the endangered animal species.

Final thoughts

If we want to live a happy and healthy life here on the planet we all need to have more respect for nature because after all, nature is actually the cradle of our civilization.

Article written by:

I write about the renewable energy sector, electric cars and climate change issues. I love nature and good food, so I travel all over the world to see new places and meet new people. Magda Savin


  1. Warren Tal

    There are a number of definitions of what area is contained within the Arctic Circle.

    The area can be defined as north of the Arctic Circle (66° 33’N), the approximate southern limit of the midnight sun and the polar night.

    We can also use another definition for the Arctic region because the area has an average temperature for the warmest month (July) is below 10 °C (50 °F); the northern side roughly follows the isotherm at the boundary of this region.

  2. Gerard

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