The Scope of Biology

By Adam J. Pearson

One of the many values of the science of biology is that it opens our eyes to the hidden connections that link human beings to all other living things. Humans/animals (Animalia), plants (Plantae), Protists, and Fungi all have something in common; we’re all made up of cells with nuclei. In the terminology of biology, we’re thus all ‘Eukaryotes” or members of the domain of life called Eukarya.

With prokaryotes (Bacteria and Archaea – living organisms whose cells do not contain nuclei), we share the commonality of having cells as a basic component of our makeup. In addition, all living beings from bacteria to Animalia have many other basic things in common as well, such as evolution, self-regulation, locomotion (through movement or growth), dependence on and embeddedness in an ecosystem. The number of commonalities that unite humans with all of the other lifeforms on our amazing planet is staggering and fascinating.

Part of what is most impressive about biology is its scope; the scope of biology is the scope of all life.  In other words, biology studies the whole scope of life at all ‘levels of organization‘ from molecules (e.g. DNA) to cells, tissues made up of cells, organs made up of tissues, physiological systems made up of organs, organisms made up of physiological systems, populations made up of organisms, and ecosystems made up of populations and the environments on which they depend. All of these levels of life fall within the scope of biological study and interdependence as a basic characteristic rules in, and links, all of them together into a seamless organic whole.

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