Introduction to biology
This section of Introduction to Biology Fundamentals takes the form of an asynchronous learning trail or link maze which participants seeking knowledge of fundamentals can follow seeking information and enlightenment at their own pace. Participants are encouraged to edit boldly serene in the knowledge that other participants will soon erode away neophyte like errors with new misunderstandings and challenges for future participants. We also expect an occasional mentor or knowledgeable biological specialists to wander in and idly correct an occasional misunderstanding. If you are uncomfortable with this approach feel free to experiment with a sock puppet or custom persona to avoid credit for your efforts.
Current Participant List
- user:lazyquasar Have a reference text available: "Biological Science" by William T. Keeton. cp 67 by W. W. Norton & Company. A tad out of date probably but I hope useful for basics.
- user:MathGuy777 Using "Campbell Biology" by Reece, Urry, Cain, et al. An informative general biology textbook. "Raven's Biology" is somewhat similar.
- add your persona handle here
Lucid articles, tutorials, or presentations
Introduction to Biology I - Introduction to Biology and Science
Group Project Proposals
Introduction to Biology I
Biology, coming from the Greek bio (life) and logos (A principle originating in classical Greek thought which refers to a universal divine reasoning, knowledge or understanding), is the "study of life". Biology examines the structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, and distribution of all living things. It studies include the energy metabolism that underlies the activities of living organisms, and the genetic bases for inheritance in organisms. It's practice classifies and describes the various forms of organisms, how organisms function, how species come into existence, and the interactions they have with each other and the natural environment, the evolutionary relationships among organisms and the diversity on earth. Biology includes a broad spectrum of fields, from botany and zoology, the study of plants and animals, to genetics and ecology.
What is Life?
Biology is the study of life, but what, exactly, constitutes a living organism? There is not currently a universal definition, but it is generally agreed that living organisms exhibit several characteristics.
- Reproduction - A living thing has the ability to produce new organisms. Reproduction can be the division of one cell into two daughter cells or the production of a new individual, which can occur either sexually or asexually.
- Response to stimuli - The organism can react to its environment. A reaction can be anything from the contraction of a single celled organism when touched to complex reactions of higher animals. A leaf turning towards the sun or a predator chasing prey are examples.
- Organization - An organism is composed of one or more cells, which are the basic units of life.
- Homeostasis - The organism maintains a stable internal environment. Some mammals may sweat to reduce temperature, a reptile may bask to increase it.
- Metabolism - Living things require energy to maintain its internal environment and to reproduce. This may be the consumption of energy from abiotic (non-living) material, or from decomposing organic matter.
- Growth - An organism exhibits a higher rate of anabolism than catabolism indicating growth. A growing organism increases in size in all of its parts, rather than simply accumulating matter.
- Adaptation - The organism ability to change over a period of time in response to the environment as part of the process of evolution. This adapability is determined by the organism's heredity, the composition of metabolized substances and to external factors.
Levels of Organisation
- Molecules and macromolecules
- Organ systems
Science is all around us. Whenever we drink water, watch the sky, or do our math homework, science is involved. Most scientists can agree that science is basically a way of understanding or gaining knowledge. Science is an important part of our life, and in order to understand more advanced concepts in life, we must have a basic understanding of science.
Some fields in science include:
Biology - the study of life
Chemistry - the study of the composition, structure, and properties of matter.
Physics - the study of matter and motion through space and time.
... and much, much more!
Scientific method comprises the following steps:
1. Ask a question.
2. Do background research.
3. Construct a hypothesis.
4. Test the hypothesis by conducting an experiment.
5. Analyze the results obtained, and draw a conclusion.
6. Report the results. Is the hypothesis correct?
Fields of Biology
Fields dealing with animals:
- Comparative Anatomy-The scientific study of the similarities and differences in the bodily structures of distinct types of animals.
- Entomology-The study of insects.
- Herpetology-The study of reptiles and amphibians.
- Ichthyology-The study of fish.
- Mammalogy-The study of mammals.
- Ornithology-The study of birds.
- Primatology-The study of primates.
- Veterinary Science-Animal medicine.
- Zoology-The study of animals.
Branches refererring to the study of evolution.
- Biogeography-The study of the geographic distributions of living organisms.
- Developmental Biology-The study of the processes where an organism changes from a single cell into a mature,multi-cellular individual.
- Evolutionary Biology-The branch of biology concerned with the modes of origins of new forms of life.
- Ichnology-The study of fossilized traces of past animal activity, like footprints,burrows,trail and borings.
- Morphology-The study of the form and structure of living organisms.
- Paleontology-The study of prehistoric life using fossils.
Fields regarding the environment:
- Astrobiology-The branch of biology concerning the effects of outer space on living organisms and the search for extraterrestrial life.
- Bioclimatology-The study of the influence of climate on living organisms.
- Chronobiology-The study of time-dependent phenomena in living organisms.
- Conservation biology-The branches of biology concerned with the habitat preservation,the prevention of extinction,and conservation of biodiversity.
- Cryobiology-The study of the effects of low-temperatures on living organisms.
- Ecology-The study of the interaction between organisms and their environment.
- Geobiology-The science that combines geology and biology to study the interactions of organisms within their environment.
- Limnology-The study of physical and biological conditions of freshwater, especially lakes and ponds.
Chemistry based field of biology:
- Biochemistry-The study of life at the chemical level,in particular the chemistry of proteins,carbohydrates,and nucleic acids.
- Bioengineering-A hybrid field of scientific research that uses the principles of biology and the techniques of engineering to produce useful products.
- Molecular biology-The branch of biology which studies the formation,structure,and function of macromolecules found in living organisms,like nucleic acids and proteins. 
Reproduction and Development
Animals reproduce via germ cells, which differ from other cells in the body (somatic cells) in that each of them carries only half of the genetic information present in other cells of the body. Germ cells are the male sperm or female egg (ovum).
DNA is an acronym for deoxyribonucleic acid, which is a molecule capable of creating an exact copy of itself. The complex molecule is shaped like a double helix.
Heredity and Evolution
Prokaryotes and Viruses
Protista and Fungi
The Theory of Evolution
This chapter focuses on Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution.
Effects of Humans on Living Organisms