All animals and plants are part of an ecosystem

Charismatic animals – like giraffes, tigers, wolves and pandas – are animals that get a lot of attention in the media and in pop culture. Take a look around your bedroom or house. You may have something (or many things) that feature these animals – maybe you have a giraffe t-shirt or a notebook with a picture of a wolf on the front cover. Or, maybe you have a panda soft toy or a poster of a tiger on your wall. Stars of the animal world are often big or cute. Some charismatic animals remind us of our pet dog or cat. Some – such as elephants – have complex families like humans.

Stars of the plant world – like the sequoia and bamboo – are also often charismatic – they may be big, culturally significant, useful in our daily lives or beautiful to look at.

Yes, it is true that these stars are all important parts of the ecosystems where they are found. But so too are the other animals and plants that get less attention, for whatever reason.

Have you heard of a solenodon before? Solenodons are insect-eating, burrowing mammals that live on Cuba and Hispaniola in the Caribbean. Solenodons are one of only a few venomous mammal species. They have venomous spit!

Have you heard of seagrass? Seagrasses are a group of flowering plants that can live entirely underwater in marine environments. Seagrasses provide many benefits. They are habitat for marine creatures, they are food for dugongs and turtles, they prevent erosion and they store carbon. Wow, that is pretty amazing!

A healthy ecosystem contains many plants and animals – some are big and charismatic and others are small and sometimes go unnoticed.

We can each do a better job of noticing the many and varied plant and animal stars in the world around us.