Biology Lecture Notes - Characteristics of Living Things

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Studying Life
Characteristics of Living Things
What are some characteristics of living things?

No single characteristic is enough to describe a living thing. Some nonliving things share one or more traits with living things.

Living things share the following characteristics:
made up of units called cells
based on a universal genetic code
grow and develop
obtain and use materials and energy
respond to their environment
maintain a stable internal environment
change over time

Characteristics of Living Things
Living things are made up of cells.
A cell is the smallest unit of an organism that can be considered alive.

Characteristics of Living Things
Living things reproduce.
In sexual reproduction, cells from two different parents unite to form the first cell of the new organism. In asexual reproduction, a single parent produces offspring that are identical to itself.

Characteristics of Living Things
Living things grow and develop.
During an organism’s development, cells differentiate, which means that the cells look different from one another and perform different functions.

Characteristics of Living Things
Living things are based on a universal genetic code.
Organisms store the information they need to live, grow, and reproduce in a genetic code in a molecule called DNA.

Characteristics of Living Things
Living things obtain materials and use energy.
The combination of chemical reactions through which an organism builds up or breaks down materials is called metabolism. Characteristics of Living Things
Living things respond to their environment.
A stimulus is a signal to which an organism responds.

Characteristics of Living Things
Living things maintain a stable internal environment.
Although conditions outside an organism may change, conditions inside an organism tend to remain constant. This process is called homeostasis.

Characteristics of Living Things
Taken as a group, livings things change over time. Over many generations, groups of organisms typically evolve.

Big Ideas in Biology
Science as a Way of Knowing
Science is not just a list of “facts.”
The job of science is to use observations, questions, and experiments to explain the natural world.

Interdependence in Nature
All forms of life on Earth are connected together into a biosphere, which literally means “living planet.” The relationship between organisms and their environment depends on both the flow of energy and the cycling of matter.

Matter and Energy
Life’s most basic requirements are matter that serves as nutrients to build body structure and energy to fuel the processes of life.

Cellular Basis of Life
Organisms are composed of one or more cells, which are the smallest units that can be considered fully alive.

Information and Heredity
Life’s processes are directed by information carried in a genetic code that is common, with minor variations, to every organism on Earth. That information, carried in DNA, is copied and passed from parents to offspring.

Unity and Diversity of Life
All living things are fundamentally alike at the molecular level, even though life takes an almost unbelievable variety of forms

In biology, evolution, or the change in living things through time, explains inherited similarities as well as the diversity of life. Structure and Function
Structures evolve in ways that make particular functions possible, allowing organisms to adapt to a wide range of environments.

An organism’s ability to maintain a relatively stable internal environment in the face of changing external conditions is vital to its survival.

Science, Technology, and Society
Science seeks to provide useful information, but only a public that truly understands science and how it works can determine how that information should be applied.

Branches of Biology
There a many branches of biology. For example:
Zoologists study animals.
Botanists study plants....
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