While plants have intrigued and delighted people for thousands of years, the importance of plants to society and the functioning of ecosystems is often underappreciated. However, we recognize connections between plants and our basic needs for food, shelter, clothing, and energy. Plants are like other organisms in many ways, but are unique in their role of providing the foundation of food webs on the planet and interconnecting organisms and their environment. Consequently, interest and understanding of plants is growing as we face changes and strive for more sustainable communities. During the last few decades we have seen an increase in the appreciation of plants as the foundation for human life. Worldwide, people are becoming increasingly aware of the role plants play in our general health and nutrition, as well as food stability. As the popularity of ethnic cuisines has grown, the variety of plants and plant products available in our markets has dramatically increased. We now appreciate plants as reservoirs of untold numbers of pharmaceuticals important in our war on disease. These interests are stimulating our collective concerns about understanding the past, present, and future uses of plants.
The loss of habitat and biodiversity has led to increased attention surrounding the role of plants in ecosystem functioning and stability. Plants interact with both aboveground and belowground biodiversity to influence ecological processes that humans depend upon. Habitat loss, overexploitation, and global climate change pose serious threats to plant biodiversity. Threats to plant biodiversity, and subsequently ecosystem processes necessary for human survival, have led to increased interest in understanding relationships between plants and other organisms and the conservation of plant species. Botany is the study of all aspects of plants, including systematics, morphology, diversity, metabolism, and ecology. Through a study of plants, students gain an understanding and an appreciation of life at the cellular, organismal, population, community, and ecosystem levels of organization. The study of Botany can lead to professional careers in a variety of disciplines, including but not limited to conservation, soil science, sustainability, natural resource management, forestry, range management, biotechnology, plant breeding, agriculture, horticulture, environmental science, natural medicine, and teaching.
Dr. Sue Harley
Weber State University
1415 Edvalson St., Dept. 2504
Tracy Hall, Rm 417