This episode examines how plants either share environments harmoniously or compete for dominance within them. It looks at the ways in which plants have to fight to survive, using any means available, be it excessive growth, capitalizing on disaster or even courting.
1995 • Nature
The fifth programme explores the alliances formed between the animal and plant worlds. It examines the ways in which plants live together and rely on each other. Whether living together in harmony, relying on each other for homes, protection or food, or living off each other, by strangling or otherwise destroying each other in a bid to survive.
1995 • Nature
We look at the ways in which plants have adapted to survive in the harshest climates on Earth. Whether in the driest, hottest deserts or the coldest Arctic wastes, plants have come up with some ingenious ways of surviving, including eating animals and actually caring for their offspring.
1995 • Nature
The journey begins on the Galapagos' west side at the youngest and most volcanically active islands in the archipelago, Isabela and Fernandina, which are home to a richly diverse wildlife scene. Here, Liz and the team journey into the clouds above Wolf, the tallest volcano in the Galapagos, where they join a group of biologists hunting for the elusive pink iguana, which teeters on the edge of extinction. But how and why did it come to live on the top of a volcano? Back on the research vessel, Liz boards Alucia's Triton submersible to descend a kilometre into the ocean abyss in search of a new species hiding in the darkness. Liz also travels to one of the most remote locations in the Galapagos, Alcedo Volcano, in search of the largest population of giant tortoises. Plagued by drought in recent months, scientists are keen to find out how this prehistoric species has fared. Finally, Liz helps out with a groundbreaking science experiment to x-ray marine iguanas that have so far stunned the scientific community with a new mutation. As with all life on these remote islands, the key to survival is adaptation.
Making of David Attenborough’s Galapagos, which is aired first, offers an unrivalled and actually far more interesting view of the dramas that went into capturing all that footage. The way all the shots have been so calmly edited together makes the process look so effortless, but nothing could be further from the truth. There are broken helicopters and broken camera cables that threaten the whole enterprise and the grunting of mating tortoises that threaten to drown out Attenborough’s pieces to camera. This making of programme also includes the discovery of a previously unknown species of pink iguana, as well as the final television appearance of the last-remaining member of another species – the iconic long-necked tortoise known as Lonesome George. “He’s about 80 years old and he’s getting a bit creaky in his joints,” whispers Attenborough. “As indeed am I.”
Life and Death explores the impact of Darwin’s ideas on our understanding of the meaning of extinction and the interconnections between all life on earth and the environment. Darwin learned many lessons from the giant fossils of extinct animals he found in Argentina and Chile. He eventually revealed to us the unpalatable truth that the logical conclusion to evolution is not perfection but extinction. The extinction of one species creates an environmental niche for new species to fill. Darwin’s theory also gives us vital knowledge we can use to help prolong the existence of our species by respecting the interconnections between all elements of the natural world and the environment. It’s a story in which Darwin’s ideas are taken up with great enthusiasm by his followers throughout the 20th century. But humanity misses one opportunity after another to acknowledge and reduce its destructive impact on the planet. As a result we have set in motion the sixth mass extinction of life on earth. And we are running out of time to do something about it by preserving ecological "hotspots" like certain rainforests which are some of the most productive cradles of evolution. This programme is a warning, but also a celebration, of the knowledge Charles Darwin gave us in his theory of evolution. It confirms that Darwin’s theory continues to inform our understanding of ourselves, our planet and the intricate interconnections between all life on earth.