Chapter 1 – Introduction: Themes in the Study of Life

EVOLUTION descent with modification; the idea that living species are descendants of ancestral species that were different from the present-day ones; also defined more narrowly as the change in the genetic composition of a population from generation to generation
BIOLOGY the scientific study of life
EMERGENT PROPERTIES new properties that arise with each step upward in the hierarchy of life, owing to the arrangement and interactions of parts as complexity increases
BIOSPHERE the entire portion of Earth inhabited by life; the sum of all the planet’s ecosystems
ECOSYSTEM all the organisms in a given area as well as the abiotic factors with which they interact; one or more communities and the physical environment around them
COMMUNITY all the organisms that inhabit a particular area; an assemblage of populations of different species living close enough together for potential interaction
POPULATION a localized group of individuals of the same species that can interbreed, producing fertile offspring
ORGANISM an individual living thing (that can react to stimuli, reproduce, grow, and maintain homeostasis)
ORGAN a specialized center of body function composed of several different types of tissues
ORGAN SYSTEM a group of organs that work together in performing vital body functions
TISSUE an integrated group of cells with a common function, structure, or both
CELL the fundamental structural, functional and biological unit of all organisms
ORGANELLE any of several membrane-enclosed structures with specialized functions, suspended in the cytosol of eukaryotic cells
MOLECULE a chemical structure consisting of two or more atoms (the smallest units of matter that retain the properties of an element)
SYSTEMS BIOLOGY an approach to studying biology that aims to model the dynamic behavior of whole biological systems
EUKARYOTIC CELL a type of cell with a membrane-enclosed nucleus and membrane-enclosed organelles (eukaryotes: organisms with eukaryotic cells (protists, plants, fungi, and animals))
PROKARYOTIC CELL a type of cell lacking a membrane-enclosed nucleus and membrane-enclosed organelles (prokaryotes: organisms with prokaryotic cells (bacteria and archaea))
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) a double-stranded, helical nucleic acid molecule consisting of nucleotide monomers with a deoxyribose sugar and nitrogenous bases; a cell’s genetic material
GENE a discrete unit of hereditary information consisting of a specific nucleotide sequence in DNA
GENOME the entire “library” of genetic instructions that an organism inherits
BIOINFORMATICS the use of computers, software, and mathematical models to process and integrate biological information from large data sets
NEGATIVE FEEDBACK the primary mechanism of homeostasis, whereby a change in a physiological variable triggers a response that counteracts the initial change (accumulation of an end product of a process slows that process)
POSITIVE FEEDBACK a physiological control mechanism in which a change in a variable triggers mechanisms that amplify the change (an end product SPEEDS UP its production)
DOMAIN BACTERIA one of two prokaryotic domains, the other being ARCHAEA
DOMAIN ARCHAEA one of two prokaryotic domains, the other being BACTERIA
DOMAIN EUKARYA the domain that includes all eukaryotic organisms
INQUIRY a search for information and explanation, often focused by specific questions
DISCOVERY SCIENCE (descriptive science) …DESCRIBING nature; process of scientific inquiry that focuses on describing nature as accurately as possible through careful observation/analysis of data
DATA recorded observation(s)
INDUCTIVE REASONING (induction) a type of logic in which generalizations are based on a large number of specific observations
HYPOTHESIS-BASED SCIENCE …EXPLAINING nature; observations/inductions of discovery science > natural causes/explanations for observations
HYPOTHESIS a tentative answer to a well-framed question, narrower in scope than a theory and subject to testing — explanation on trial
DEDUCTIVE REASONING (deduction) a type of logic in which specific results are predicted from a general premise [logic: general > specific]; built into hypothesis-based science
CONTROLLED EXPERIMENT an experiment in which an experimental group is compared with a control group that varies only in the factor being tested
(SCIENTIFIC) THEORY an explanation that is broad in scope, generates new hypotheses, and is supported by a large body of evidence
(SCIENTIFIC) MODEL a representation of a theory or process; can take many forms (i.e. diagrams, graphs, 3-D objects, computer programs, mathematical equations)
TECHNOLOGY the application of scientific knowledge for a specific purpose, often involving industry or commerce but also including uses in basic research

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