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Glossary of Principles of Biology 1

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Created by jbowde11

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Fact
A measured property of the surrounding world. A measured observation.
Law
A regular pattern of occurrence in Nature.
Theory
A general idea that aids in conceptually unifying, hence explaining, many and diverse phenomena of nature.
Inertia
The tendency for the velocity of any object to stay the same if unaffected by outside forces
Field Force – the push or pull that an object experiences as the result of colliding with another object.


Potential Energy (PE)
The energy associated with the potential – due to the presence of an unequal distribution of forces – of an object to increase its velocity, or accelerate, in the future.
1st Law of Thermodynamics
energy can neither be created nor destroyed, only transformed from one type of energy to another. (PE to KE or KE to PE)
Heat
Random molecular motion
Self-assembly
The tendency of certain objects, due to field force interactions, to take on and/or stay in a nonrandom arrangement.
Ordered arrangement
When parts of system are arranged in a pattern – that is, they have a non random arrangement.
Self-organization
A system’s parts interact in a way that results in these parts taking on a nonrandom arrangement.
Process
that which occurs when something (a processor) alters inputs, such that outputs are different than inputs.
Performance
that which results from two or more proceses being linked together by regulatory connections.
Sensor
device that adjusts a processors rate as a response to detecting some change in conditions
Input-based regulation
Whenever one processor is input limited, and the actions of another processor influences the supply of the limiting input.
Counter-acting response
when a sensor that detects some trend of change initiates rate adjustments that act to reverse the trend.
Co-acting response
When a sensor that detects some trend of change initiates rate adjustments that act to maintain or even accelerate the trend.
Homeostasis
the act of maintaining similar conditions despite constant disruptive fluctuations.
Information
What any arrangement that can code for some activity has. (Something that has information can be interpreted, where the interpretation is the conversion of the coded activity into the activity.)
Genome
a set of information that, in total, has sufficient information to guide the development of a reproductively competent organism.
Gene
A single instruction within a genome.
Genotype
an organism’s specific constitution of genetic information.
Phenotype
the performing (active) part of an individual organism, which is generally thought of as the organism’s body. (Geneticists commonly use the term phenotype to refer to specific features of an individual’s body.)
Shape-performance tradeoff
the notion that because an organism has a particular shape (at any point during its life) it cannot be great at doing everything. Any shape makes certain activities possible, but at the cost of not being the best shape to perform well in other ways.
Asexual reproduction
the production of offspring by a single parent, where, in the absence of errors, the parent’s genotype is passed intact to each offspring.
Sex
when genetic information from more than one individual is combined into a single individual.
Gamete
a haploid cell capable of fusing with another gamete – typically of the opposite sex – to form a diploid cell.
Anisogamy
when a sexual population produces two distinct types of gametes – generally a small mobile gamete (male) and a larger nutrient-laden gamete (female).
Ploidy level
number of genomes contained within a cell.
Biological species concept
two individual organisms of the opposite sex are members of the same species, if and only if, they recognize each other as potential mates (hence may attempt to mate), and if they do mate they can produce viable offspring; the largest unit of populations within which the mixing of genetic information through sexual reproduction occurs or could occur.
Trophic level
a species’ position in an energy food chain. First trophic level, for example, are species able to use the sun as an energy source, second trophic level species acquire their needed supply of usable energy by feeding on first trophic level species, and so on.
Gross production efficiency
the efficiency with which biomass consumed from one trophic level is converted into biomass at the next trophic level.
Niche
the set of conditions (based on each species’ set of requirements) under which a species can maintain a viable population.
Carrying capacity
the maximum sustainable population size for each species within a community.
Gene pool
The entire genetic constitution of a sexual population. (In other words, it is all the genetic information contained all the genotypes of the individuals that make up the population)
Mutation
a modification of the genotype within an individual cell. (In multicellular organisms such modification could occur in either a somatic cell – somatic mutation – or in its germ cells – germ-line mutation)
Biological Evolution
the two-step process of descent with modification followed by persistence across generations.
Natural selection
whenever a modified type is caught in a reproductive race with an ancestral type, and the outcome of the race is affected by differences in performance ability.
Genetic drift
Whenever a modified type is caught in a reproductive race with an ancestral type, and the outcome of the race is affected by chance occurrences.
Phylogeny
The pattern of relatedness among different species, where any two species relatedness depends on how recently they branched from a common ancestor. (For example, if among three species –A, B, and C—A and B share a more recent common ancestor than A and C or B and C, then A and B are the most closely related species among the three.)

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