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Biology 2008 Tutorial Review

Terms for Biology EOC review for my students.


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Variety. The multitude of different forms of living and nonliving things found on earth and in any given ecosystem.
Soil fertility
A measure of the amount of nutrients necessary for plant growth found in a particular area.
Photosynthetic organism
Green plants, algae, and other living things that are capable of using energy from the sun to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar (glucose), releasing oxygen as a waste product.
A chemical produced by specialized white blood cells that mark or otherwise help to destroy pathogens. Produced by immune system cells in response to a pathogen during initial exposure (infection), these chemicals then remain in the body after infection to fight future infections more effectively.
Protein building
The linking of amino acids into a chain. Instructions for it are coded in DNA. The process itself happens at ribosomes in the cytoplasm of a cell.
The diffusion of water across a semi-permeable membrane. The direction of the diffusion is from the side that has a high concentration of water to the side that has a low concentration of water (see image card).
adjective. Refers to the whole organism, especially in multicellular organisms, where it is contrasted with the cellular level (see respiration).
To look for already dead organisms and eat them. Generally the term only applies to animals that eat other, already dead animals, typically the parts that are left over after a predator has taken its fill, but also animals that have died as a result of accidents, disease, or intra-species combat.
"Self-feeding." Refers to organisms that can "feed themselves," that is, make their own food. Synonymous with "producer." Includes plants, algae, and a number of bacteria and other microscopic organisms. Sometimes used to describe a basic type of NUTRITION.
Any chemical that is designed to kill unwanted organisms. Most commonly refers to chemicals that kill insects and weed plants, but also some that kill other unwanted animals such as rats/mice, etc.
In general, the act of choosing one or more individuals over other individuals. In evolution, it refers to environmental factors (resources, predators, prey, etc.) that "choose" or determine which individuals are more likely to survive.
Mathematical expressions that we use to show relationships between variables and/or to determine the values of unknown variables. Example: Cardiac output = Heart Rate X Stroke Volume.
A thin sheet of tissue or other material that surrounds a substance or structure. Covers or surrounds organelles, cells, organs, and certain body cavities .
A temporary organ that develops during (mainly) mammalian pregnancy that is part mother and part embryo tissue. The site of materials exchange between mother and embryo/fetus, it connects the umbilical cord in the embryo with the uterus of the mother.
Groups of interdependent parts working together to perform particular functions.
An animal that gets food by hunting or otherwise capturing, killing, and eating other animals.
Corrective actions
The body's response to internal changes that bring the system back to the normal range. Example: When you are lying down and suddenly stand up, your blood pressure drops. The body responds by increasing heart rate to bring blood pressure back to a normal range.
Reproductive cell
Mainly refers to sperm and egg cells, or gametes. Also spores produced by some green plants, fungi, and some protists.
Over many generations the characteristics of a population change. Many species that existed in the past but are now extinct actually developed into species that exist today.
verb. To acquire a genetic trait (disease, hair color, eye color, etc.) from a parent or parents.
The product of a paper chromatography test. The filter paper, for example, that shows the color pattern obtained when the pigments in a mixture are separated (see paper chromatography image card).
Water cycle
The recycling of water on earth. Evaporation - condensation - precipitation - runoff and collection - evaporation and so on.
A, G, C, T
Abbreviations for the 4 molecular bases that make up the coding section of DNA. In the double stranded form of DNA: -A- always matches with -T- and -C- always matches with -G-.
In general: the state of being protected from disease-causing organisms (pathogens) and some cancers. More narrowly, in humans it refers to the presence of antibodies against the individual antigens produced by SPECIFIC pathogens.
The use of a curved lens to make objects viewed through it appear larger than they really are.
Statistical analysis
Looking at large amounts of data to find trends. patterns, cause & effect relationships, etc. Involves finding the mean, mode, median, and other trends.
Organic compounds
Compounds consisting of any number of both carbon and hydrogen atoms bonded together. Often contains other elements in addition to these two elements, including oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, phosphorus, etc.
Societal actions
In ecology, it refers to the choices made by a whole community of people, sometimes at the governmental level, sometimes just large numbers of people making similar individual choices, that have some impact, positive or negative, on the environment.
Cellular respiration
The process by which the energy in a glucose molecule is made available for cells to use, producing CO2 and H2O as byproducts: glucose + oxygen --> (energy) + carbon dioxide + water
noun. The act of inheriting something (a genetic trait).
Learned behavior
Response to changes in the environment or internal conditions that are acquired during one's lifetime, as opposed to instinctive or automatic responses.
A hormone released by the ovaries that is mainly responsible for regulating the menstrual cycle and pregnancy.
The relationships that exist between the various members of an ecosystem. Includes predator/prey relationships, mutualism and commensalism, parasitism, competition, cooperation, mating, etc.
The inference of basic rules or universal patterns based on (relatively) limited observations.
Asexually reproducing
Producing offspring without the production of gametes (sex cells). Includes binary fission, vegetative propagation, mitosis, etc. Offspring are genetically identical to parents and each other.
Molecular basis of heredity
The idea that traits are passed from parents to offspring through genes contained in DNA molecules.
The backbone of organic molecules. Because of its 4 valence electrons, it can bond with itself and other elements to form incredibly complex molecules made of thousands of atoms.
Natural selection
One of the mechanisms by which evolution can occur. 1) The inherited characteristics possessed by some members of a population, 2) give them a survival advantage over other individuals, 3) leading to greater reproductive success and, 4) causing their favorable characteristics to spread through the population. Sometimes summarized as "survival of the fittest" but make sure you understand what "fit" means.
Messenger RNA (mRNA)
A copy of a single gene found in DNA. The gene from a segment of DNA is copied as this molecule, using the rules of complimentary base pairing (see complimentary base sequence).
Life functions
All the activities an organism carries out to maintain life or reproduce. Includes reproduction at all levels, growth, development, repair, nutrition, response, locomotion, etc.
An animal that is hunted or otherwise captured, killed, and eaten by another animal.
Failure or inability to maintain the body's internal conditions or homeostasis. Can be caused by genetic disorders, viruses, bacteria, exposure to toxins, etc.
Mechanism of evolution
Any explanation of HOW species or populations change over time. Natural selection, sexual selection, random genetic drift, etc. are examples.
ANY unintended change in the DNA of an organism. Can be positive, negative, or neutral in terms of its effect on the individual.
Global stability
The balance of environmental factors that are important for the whole biosphere. When this balance is upset, all the ecosystems of the world can be affected. Global warming is an example of a condition that will affect the entire earth.
Temperature range
In ecology, the temperatures, from highest to lowest and in between, in which a particular species can exist over a long period of time.
Adaptive characteristics
Inherited characteristics that have evolved in a population because they give the individuals a survival advantage. The long neck of the giraffe is an example.
Nonliving. Refers to factors in an ecosystem such as temperature, light intensity, soil conditions, moisture, etc.
Staining technique
A method of using special dyes or pigments to allow the observation under magnification of structures that are difficult or impossible to see without those dyes. Methylene blue is an example of a dye used in this procedure.
Climatic change
The earth's major atmospheric conditions change periodically. The various ice ages are examples, as are numerous unusually warm periods of history. Today scientists are concerned that human activities are increasing average global temperature at an unhealthy rate.
"Living." Refers to those "living" factors in an ecosystem that affect an individual, including competition, cooperation, predation, disease, etc.
Mineral availability
A limiting factor in many ecosystems, it refers to the amount of inorganic nutrients in the soil, which can limit the amount of plant growth that is possible
The organisms that live in an ecosystem depend on each other. Any action or event that negatively affects one member of the community will negatively affect all members in the long run. For example, removing predators might at first seem good for the prey, but it actually leads to overpopulation of the prey species and all the problems associated with overpopulation (disease, food shortages, etc.).
Biological catalysts
A chemical, usually a protein, that speeds up the rate of a chemical reaction in living things. An enzyme.
The sum of the activities performed by an organism in an ecosystem (see niche).
A tool designed to measure the average thermal energy produced by an object or substance as its atoms or molecules vibrate or bump into one another. Simply: tells you how hot or cold something is.
A device for pouring liquids into small-mouthed containers such as bottles. It is roughly cone shaped, containing a wide opening at one end and a tapered, small opening at the other end (see image card).
Dynamic equilibrium
The constant adjustments of internal conditions within a narrow range of values. Example: Body temperature averages 98.6 in humans but naturally changes by a few degrees up or down depending on activity level and other conditions. Homeostasis.
To use a material over and over again, usually after it has been broken down into simpler components. Example: Carbon is an essential ingredient in the (organic) materials that make up living things and relatively rare, therefore carbon must constantly be broken down and reused to make new organic materials. The term also applies to the breakdown and re-use of human made products such as paper, glass, plastic, metals, etc.
Mathematical formulas, more or less, representations of one's ideas in mathematical form. Can also refer more generally to the way an idea is expressed, either mathematically or in words.
A liquid mixture of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and water produced by female mammals as a food source for their young offspring.
Control group
In an experiment, the group of samples or subjects that receives no treatment or standard treatment or a placebo.
A group of microscopic organisms that do not have a true nucleus. Some are important decomposers, some are disease-causing, some are used in food production, and more.
Test subjects
The individuals, human or otherwise, that are being tested in an experiment or study.
adjective. Referring to the cell. Compare with organismal.
The observations, usually numerical, collected during an experiment and typically organized in a table.
Internal environment
The materials and conditions INSIDE of a cell or organism. Compare with "external conditions."
Scientific inquiry
Asking and seeking answers to questions using the scientific method.
Normal state
The healthy range of a particular factor (temperature, blood sugar level, blood pressure, etc.) in an individual or cell when that cell or individual is not stressed or diseased or otherwise impaired.
A logical, informed statement about what might happen as a result of an experiment or test or at a particular time in the future.
Food chain
A model or diagram of how energy flows through one line in a food web. (see image card).
Building blocks
Small units that are combined to produce larger structures. Atoms, glucose, amino acids, and others are examples.
The energy currency of the cell. It drives most cellular activities. It is the product of respiration where is synthesized using the energy stored in glucose in the presence of O2.
Population growth
The increase in the number of humans living on earth. This increase has been happening at an alarming rate for the past 150 or so years. It also tends to make all other environmental problems even worse.
Subject to change. All scientific hypotheses, laws, and theories are accepted with the understanding that new evidence may be found that casts doubt on or even refutes a particular concept.
Carrying capacity
The maximum number of individuals of a particular species that an ecosystem can support over the long term. When a population goes over this limit, a population decline usually follows. When a population is below this limit, its size will generally increase.
To change from one form into another form. All metabolic processes change materials in the body from one form to another for various purposes.
Stable ecosystems
A mature ecosystem that is resistant to dramatic changes over long periods of time.
Refers to any chemical process that happens within (or sometimes outside of) a living organism. Involves the synthesis of complex molecules from simpler building blocks as well as the breakdown of complex molecules into simpler molecules. Examples include respiration, photosynthesis, digestion, protein synthesis, and many, many more.
A group of similar cells working together to perform a specific function. Muscle, nervous, epithelial, and connective are the main types.
Individual choice
In ecology, the decisions one person can make that affect the world around them. These decisions may be helpful or harmful to the environment. "Paper or plastic?" is a classic example.
The price we pay, either in terms of money or negative consequences, for the decisions we make to gain some benefit. In any decision concerning environmental issues, there are positive and negative consequences, and sometimes we accept the negatives because they are outweighed by the positives. Sometimes not.
External environment
Refers to the conditions that surround a cell or an organism. These conditions are always different from conditions INSIDE the cell or organism.
The change from a mainly rural, agricultural society to one in which factories, technology, and cities predominate. Associated with many environmental problems including pollution, global warming, etc.
The irreversible ending of life activities for a cell, tissue, organ, or organism.
Produced by human design. Refers to technology, both physical (tools, e.g.) and mental (procedures, e.g.).
In biology, the organelle in a eukaryotic cell that houses the DNA/chromosomes. The "control center" of the cell.
plural form. Predictions coupled with logical explanations that are tested by observation or experimentation. If the observations (results) match the predictions, then these are supported.
Reproductive success
A measure of how many offspring a particular individual produces. Individuals having favorable heritable characteristics are more likely to have more offspring, and their favorable genes will then become more common in a population.
Physical conditions
The nonliving aspects of an ecosystem that largely determine the types and numbers of living things that can be supported. Includes most importantly temperature and moisture, but also light intensity, rock/mineral type, elevation, etc. (see abiotic).
Genetically identical
Two or more individuals who have the exact same set of chromosomes, DNA, or other genetic material.
In agriculture, the many different types of a specific plant, such as corn, that exist. Some of these types are particularly good for one use (such as feeding livestock) while another type may be better suited for a different use (such as feeding humans).
A graphic representation of data. Usually refers to graphs, sometimes also tables, maps, etc.
A chemical substance that selectivel absorbs and reflects different wavelengths of light, giving it a particular color. A coloring agent. Chlorophyll in plants is an example.
Sexually reproducing
Specifically used for organisms that produce gametes. Since a gamete has half the necessary genetic information, it generally needs a "partner." In other words, two parents are required for sexual reproduction, and the offspring are similar to but not identical to their parents. Except in rare cases of identical twins, the offspring are also genetically different from each other.
Independent variable
The variable that is being tested in an experiment to determine how (or if) it affects another variable. It is the variable that the experimenter determines or manipulates.
A method of determining how the world works using logic combined with observations (evidence) gathered by the 5 senses and or tools designed to extend those 5 senses.
Contractile vacuole
A specialized organelle in some single-celled freshwater organisms that pumps out excess water that diffuses in by osmosis.
A process by which cells "swallow" or take in materials by surrounding and enclosing them within a portion of the cell membrane. (see image card).
A structure found in plant cells where photosynthesis occurs. They are green in color due to the presence of chlorophyll.
The fertilized egg. The egg united with the sperm. Ideally contains the full number of chromosomes necessary for normal development.
adjective. Relating to a particular group of people at a particular time in history (including the present). Commonly refers to norms, values, mores, conditions, needs, resources, capabilities, etc. of those groups.
The destruction of large wooded areas, by fire, cutting, sometimes disease, etc. Typically carried out intentionally by humans to grow crops, provide space for cattle, build housing, provide lumber, etc.
A piece of something that has been broken, cut, or otherwise separated into pieces.
Peer review
A process in which the work of a scientist (or group of scientists) is subjected to scrutiny (reviewed) by other scientists before their work is published in a scientific journal.
"Other eating." Refers to organisms that cannot make their own food and therefore must eat other organisms. Consumers. Also used to refer to a basic type of NUTRITION or way of getting nutrients.
Balanced internal environment
Having a set of internal bodily conditions maintained in a relatively narrow range necessary to maintain health. Homeostasis.
A tendency to see the world in a certain way even if the evidence does not support your views. It can be negative (prejudice, stereotypes) or positive (rose-colored lens). It can lead to experimental design flaws or faulty conclusions that incorrectly support the experimenter's pre-conceived view of the world.
Literally "surroundings." The living and nonliving things that surround an organism, affect the organism, and are in turn affected by the organism.
Usually applied to a condition of female mammals, covering the period of time between fertilization and birth of offspring. Some put the beginning at the moment of implantation in the uterus rather than the moment of fertilization.
Substituting DNA segment
Generally, a type of mutation in which one base is switched (accidentally) with another base. Of the three types of mutations, this one is least likely to cause a problem.
Initial state
The condition a system is in at the beginning of a period of time, usually at the beginning of some event or experimental test.
The active maintenance a set of internal conditions within in a relatively narrow range.
Global awareness
Being conscious of the fact that actions taken locally (in one particular part of the world) may have an impact on the entire earth (biosphere).
The role that a population or species plays in an ecosystem including its interactions with other species, its eating habits (when, where, what it eats), nesting and mating habits, the physical location it occupies (under a rock, in a tree) and so on.
One of several basic types of sugar. The product of photosynthesis. One of the building blocks of starch and other many other carbohydrates.
Fossil fuel
High energy organic materials derived from the remains of mostly plants that lived and died millions of years ago, whose remains underwent chemical changes that converted them into materials such as coal, oil, natural gas, and so on. A finite resource. Through human burning it also contributes greatly to global warming and other pollution problems.
A drug used to treat mainly bacterial infections. NOT effective against viruses but frequently over-prescribed for that purpose. Many bacteria have developed resistance to these medications due partly to misuse.
The average kinetic or thermal energy of the molecules in a material or substance. More loosely, how hot or cold something is.
Established ecosystem
A mature or stable ecosystem that is in a state of equilibrium over long periods of time. This occurs at the end of the process of ecological succession (see card).
The many different species of photosynthetic, mostly plant-like organisms that generally populate aquatic environments and produce the majority of the oxygen in our atmosphere.
Nuclear fuel
Most commonly, radioactive materials used in nuclear power plants to provide energy in the form of electricity. The most common of these materials are uranium and plutonium. The mining, processing, use, and disposal of these materials present a number of health and environmental challenges.
The process by which green plants and other organisms use the sun's energy to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar (glucose), releasing oxygen as a waste product. CO2 + H20 (sunlight) --> Glucose + O2
Function of protein
What a protein does. Includes contraction in muscle fibers, acting as an enzyme, forming channels in cell membranes, and a host of other jobs that proteins perform.
A disease of the immune system that destroys cells of the immune system that normally fight infections and cancers, leaving the body vulnerable to disease. Caused by the HIV virus.
A model, pattern, mold, or impression of a structure that can be used to make copies of that structure. Example: One strand of a DNA molecule is the "pattern" for building the other strand.
Light intensity
Used to describe the amount of light reaching an object, particularly green plants. It is affected by latitude, seasons, shading, cloud cover, etc. It is often a limiting factor in ecosystems.
The degree to which a membrane with pores allows materials to move in or out.
A way of treating living things, including humans, in an experiment or study that does minimal or no harm, physically, emotionally, financially. In humans this requires informed consent along with guidelines for what is acceptable research even with informed consent.
A metabolic process in living things that is controlled by biological catalysts that determine if and/or at what rate the process will occur.
Referring to traits that are acquired by offspring from parents through DNA.
A tube-shaped, usually glass or plastic device with a tiny opening at one end used for transferring small drops of liquid (see image card).
Chemical signals
Hormones and neurotransmitters that send "messages" from one cell to another. One message, for example, might tell cells to "divide." Another might tell them to "stop dividing."
A disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth that can spread throughout the body and lead to organ malfunction or failure and eventually death if not treated early and effectively.
The shuffling of parental genes during meiosis and fertilization, which leads to traits or combinations of traits found in neither parent. Example: father has black hair and brown eyes. Mother has blond hair and brown eyes. Offspring has brown hair and blue eyes. Review dominant/recessive inheritance.
Genetic variability
The different kinds of genetic information found in a particular group - family, population, species, etc.
In science, a well-supported explanation of some natural phenomenon. Subject to change and revision, but does not become a "law." The GOAL of science is to formulate these.
Chemical composition
What a substance is made up of at the basic chemical level.
One-celled organism
An individual living thing consisting entirely of a single cell capable of carrying out all life functions needed to survive and reproduce. Bacteria, many protists, yeast, are examples.
The process of getting metabolic waste out of the organism. Urination, sweating, breathing out (CO2) are examples.
The addition of body or cell mass. Multicellular organisms grow by increasing the number of cells. Single-celled organisms grow by the addition of cytoplasm (including cytoplasmic organelles).
Generally used as a synonym for a lipid, especially triglycerides. Sometimes used to mean triglycerides that are solid at room temperature (butter, lard, etc.), compared with oils, which are liquid at room temperature.
Technically, all the material outside the nucleus and inside the cell membrane. In some books it refers only to the gel-like material that other cell structures or organelles are embedded in.
Refers to a characteristic that increases an individual's chances of surviving in a given environment.
Refers to a substance, usually of biological origin, containing BOTH carbon AND hydrogen, and often other elements as well. Glucose, lipids, proteins, nucleic acids, vitamins, etc. (NOT minerals)
A positive consequence of human decisions regarding technology, the environment, medicine, etc. All such human decisions involve some good things as well as the costs associated with achieving those good things.
A trait that can be passed from parent to offspring through DNA.
Having a variety of conditions maintained in a relatively narrow range to maintain a healthy cell, organism, or ecosystem. When one condition is out of the normal range, it can affect other conditions.
A general agreement among scientists about the validity of a particular scientific concept. Does not imply universal agreement.
A light golden-brown color.
Foreign species
A species of plant, animal, etc., that is imported or migrates into an area that it does not normally inhabit. Also called "introduced" or "invasive" species. Frequently cause environmental problems because their populations tend to grow at an uncontrolled rate and crowd out or kill "native" species.
The union of the male and female sex cells, which creates a zygote with the full number of chromosomes needed for the offspring to develop.
adjective. Usually refers to an organ or tissue from one organism or individual that is placed into another organism or individual.
The process or state of keeping something going or alive. Reproduction assure this in a species or population.
A sex cell. In males, the sperm. In females, the egg.
A disease-causing particle (virus, e.g.) or organism (bacteria, fungi, etc.).
A dynamic state in which the net change in a system over a period of time is zero. In an ecosystem, an example would be the population of a particular species. A population may go above or below the carrying capacity from year to year, but in a stable ecosystem the carrying capacity does not change over time. In the human body, blood glucose level is an example. Although it fluctuates throughout the day, the average is maintained over time.
Any material that exists in the environment that can be mined, harvested, or otherwise collected and used for individual or societal needs. Examples: food, water, lumber, rocks/minerals, etc.
A measure of the acidity or alkalinity of a substance. Ranges in number from (mostly) 1-14 where 7.0 is neutral. Greater than 7 is alkaline (or "basic"). Less than 7 is acidic.
A nonliving factor in the environment, it determines many of the characteristics of soil, which influences the growth of producers, which in turn influences the number and variety of consumers in an ecosystem.
A group of tissues working together to perform a particular function. Heart, brain, kidney, lung, skin, etc., are examples.
Endangered species
A species that is in serious danger of becoming extinct.
A substance that is toxic or poisonous.
The waste or excess products of human activity that have a negative impact on the environment. Includes exhaust from cars and industrial processes, heavy metals (mercury, lead) released into the air and water, run-off of feces and fertilizers from farms, litter, and so on.
Long-term stability
The tendency of the conditions in an ecosystem to remain relatively unchanged for long periods of time.
Paper chromatography
A method of separating the colors in a mixture based on the different weights of the molecules that make up the different pigments in the mixture.
An uninterrupted sequence. See continuation for related term.
An animal that eats mostly or exclusively other animals for food. Includes insect eaters, worm eaters, etc.
Geological time
Relatively long periods of time in Earth's history in which geological events (mountain formation, for example) and evolution unfold.
Combinations of traits
The exact forms of different characteristics that an individual inherits (see recombination).
Environmental impact
The consequences for the environment of human actions (deforestation, oil spills, etc.) and natural occurrences (floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, etc.)
Internal development
The growth and development of offspring INSIDE the parent's body. Almost always occurs inside the female's body. Most common in mammals, but also occurring in some species from other classes (reptiles, fish, amphibians, insects, etc.).
Genetic information
The code found in DNA. The "blueprint" for producing an individual organism. Can also refer to RNA, chromosomes.
A female sex cell or gamete. Produced in ovaries. Always larger than the male sex cell.
A fancy word for "events" or simply "something that happens" in the world. Examples: Hurricanes. Migration. Etc.
Having a specific job to perform within in a system where there is a division of labor among the different parts. For example, in the human body the heart is an organ whose specific job is to pump blood. If the heart doesn't do its job, the rest of the body's systems will fail.
The struggle between two or more individuals for the same limited resource or resources. Can occur within a population or between two or more different populations.
Substances that are not derived from living things or do not contain carbon AND hydrogen. Examples that are important for living things include water, oxygen, carbon dioxide, and minerals (as in nutritional minerals). They are ultimately the SOURCE of organic compounds.
Sample size
The number of subjects used in an experiment or study. Generally, the larger the better.
Refers to the observable effects of a particular genetic code. It is a result of the genetic code itself as well as the environment of the cell or organism.
Pulse rate
Heart rate as measured by applying gentle pressure to an artery in the wrist, neck, etc.
To observe, literally or figuratively, to make sure that conditions remain within a particular range. In most cases, this is an unconscious, automatic process involving feedback mechanisms rather than conscious or even unconscious notice.
The products of reproduction, the new organisms created by reproduction to keep a population alive as individuals within the population die.
Electronic balance
A device for measuring the mass of an object that gives you a digital reading of the mass.
Genetic material
DNA or (in some viruses) RNA. The molecules in an organism that determine an individual's heritable traits. Sometimes also used to describe chromosomes, which contain the DNA.
Animals that only eat plants and their various parts (leaves, stems, fruits, seeds, roots, etc) or plant-like organisms (algae).
Combination of genes
In sexual reproduction, the offspring receive a mixture of genetic information from both parents, making them genetically different from either parent. This sometimes results in traits not found in either parent (see recombination).
Fair test
A controlled experiment where one variable is changed and all others (to the extent possible) are held constant.
Green plant
A term that lumps together the true plants and green algae. True plants evolved from green algae, but all algae are traditionally considered a part of the Protista kingdom, and not the Plant kingdom. They all contain chlorophyll and produce glucose via photosynthesis.
adjective. Refers to a message written in code form. (DNA, e.g.)
adjective. Describes an imagined thing, situation, or event that is normally used as a tool for understanding a real phenomenon or deciding on a course of action where ethical concerns are being considered.
The instinctive or learned actions that an organism takes in response to internal and external stimuli.
Level of organization
In ecology, one of the hierarchical groups into which the parts are ordered: individual, population, community, ecosystem, and finally the biosphere.
Evolutionary change
The change in the genetic make-up of a population that occurs over generations. May result from natural selection, random genetic drift, etc.
Genetic engineering
A method of changing DNA in an organism to achieve some desired effect. Generally involves the insertion of segments of DNA from one individual or species into another individual or species. Desired effects include disease treatment (humans, still experimental), disease resistance (in plants, domesticated animals, etc.), and others, and the insertion of human genes into bacteria to produce some human product such as insulin.
Global warming
The increase in earth's average temperature. It is undisputed that earth's average temperature is increasing. There is little debate about the cause (human activity). There is much debate about how we should respond to it.
Inheritable characteristic
A trait that can be passed from parent to offspring through DNA. Includes obvious examples (disease, hair color, eye color, etc.) as well as more subtle differences in internal structures and metabolic chemicals (enzymes).
The presence of one (usually) disease-causing organisms in or on another organism. Does not always cause disease or symptoms of disease.
A complex carbohydrate consisting of a chain of glucose molecules linked together. Primary means of energy storage in plants. Also present in animal cells.
Selectively permeable
A membrane that allows some particles to enter or exit while keeping other particles from entering or exiting. Frequently, it is the size of the particle that determines whether the particle can enter or exit, but there are other determining factors as well.
The sum of all the ecosystems on earth, or the "sphere" around earth in which life naturally exists. Includes parts of the land, the waters, and even the atmosphere .
Respiratory rate
The number of times an organism breathes or otherwise actively takes in oxygen and lets out carbon dioxide.
Biological evolution
Basically, the theory that present days species developed from earlier, very different species over the course of earth's history.
Respiration (Formula)
Words: glucose + oxygen --> (energy) + carbon dioxide + water Symbols: C6H12O6 + O2 --> (ATP) + CO2 + H2O
Carbon dioxide
An atmospheric gas that is one of the basic ingredients in the production of glucose via photosynthesis and a waste product of respiration. Also a greenhouse gas.
The potential negative consequences of a proposed action. The chance that negative consequences will result.
Ecological community
All the combined and interdependent populations of different species that live in a particular area.
The thin layer of broken down rocks and minerals plus decaying organic matter, that covers most of the land areas of earth to varying degrees. Serves to anchor plants and provide them with minerals and water, also serves as a habitat for a host of organisms including bacteria, protists, fungi, worms, insects, small vertebrates, and so on.
A hormone that is primarily responsible for female sexual development, regulating the menstrual cycle, and maintaining pregnancy (it also plays a role in males).
Expressed data
The data presented from an experiment or observations. Also refers to how data are presented, in what format, quantitative, qualitative, as percentages, as raw measurements, etc.
The breaking down of complex food materials into simpler forms that can be absorbed, transported, and used for cellular activities.
Biochemical process
A metabolic process in living things. Involves the transformation of one chemical substance into another, for growth, repair, energy, etc. Examples include respiration, photosynthesis, protein synthesis, digestion, and so on.
Ecologically, it refers to human use of natural resources. At today's high levels, it has a significant and negative impact on the environment.
Altered gene
A section of DNA that codes for a particular protein that has been changed in some way. A mutation.
The reading of the genetic code in mRNA that results in the production of a protein at the ribosomes.
Any microscopic organism. Mainly bacteria, protists, some fungi, and even some tiny multi-cellular organisms.
A process by which sex cells (gametes) are produced. Reduces the chromosome number by half, which is then restored (the full chromosome number) during fertilization.
The ways that the various members of an ecosystem affect one another. Includes predator/prey relationships, mutualism and commensalism, parasitism, competition/cooperation, mating, etc.
White blood cells
Blood cells that help fight infection in a number of ways. Some produce antibodies, some engulf pathogens, some mark pathogens for destruction by other cells.
A substance made of two or more atoms of different elements bonded together by covalent or ionic bonds. H2O, CO2, NaCl, for example.
To make a logical statement about a phenomenon - can be a statement about the cause of the phenomenon, a prediction about the effect, or future occurrences, etc.
In science, ideas or models of how some aspect of the world is structured or how it functions. Theories, laws, hypotheses are examples.
An injection of a dead or weakened pathogen that triggers an immune response. The body then produced antibodies against the dead or weakened pathogen, giving the person immunity to the disease cause by the pathogen.
A substance (other than O2 and CO2) that is manufactured, absorbed, or otherwise taken in from the environment that is essential for life. Includes carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and water.
Tiny, often microscopic openings through which small particles or small quantities of a substance can enter or exit a cell, tissue, etc.
The early stages in the development of offspring in sexually reproducing organisms.
To contradict, to provide evidence against a particular hypothesis or statement.
Selective breeding
AKA artificial selection. The human act of choosing the offspring of domesticated animals or crops that have some desirable trait and the mating the offspring in such a way as to maintain that desirable trait.
Shape of protein
The 3 dimensional form of a protein that determines its function.
A measure of the amount of one substance that is dissolved in another substance. Example - a 1% saline solution would be 1% salt and 99% water.
The boundaries of what a particular experiment can reasonably conclude. No single experiment can provide absolute, definitive answers to a question.
A hormone that is released in response to elevated blood sugar levels that causes target cells (mostly in the liver and skeletal muscles) to take in glucose, thereby lowering blood sugar level.
The control and regulation of the multitude of life activities carried out by living things. Higher orders of animals have a nervous system that largely performs this task.
Molecular evidence
The observations of the chemical make up of different organisms that support a hypothesis about their degree of relatedness. For example, the DNA of more closely related organisms is more similar than the DNA in distantly related organisms.
A long chain of amino acids having a complex 3 dimensional structure that largely determines its function.
The purpose or job of a structure or substance. What a thing is used for or what it does.
"Little organs." The (mostly) membrane-bound structures within eukaryotic cells that carry out specialized functions. Mitochondria, nucleus, ribosomes, vacuoles, chloroplasts, etc.
An element that makes up about 21% of the atmosphere. A key element in all the major biological molecules (carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, nucleic acids). An essential part of respiration where it reacts with glucose to release the energy stored in glucose molecules.
The process by which identical cells (in the early embryo) specialize to take on different shapes and functions in a developing organism - for example nerve cells, muscle cells, skin cells, etc.
Muscle fatigue
The decreased ability of a muscle to continue to contract and do work as a result of repeated or prolonged use. Frequently accompanied by a burning sensation that is caused by the build-up of waste materials in the muscle cells under these conditions.
Molecular bases (DNA)
Abbreviated A,T,C,G, (in DNA) and AUCG (in RNA). These are the components of DNA & RNA that actually make up the genetic CODE.
Feedback mechanism
A self-regulating system in which a condition is 1) maintained within a narrow range (negative) or 2) elevated beyond normal conditions (positive). A negative example would be the glucose/insulin system for maintaining blood sugar levels. A positive example is uterine contractions during labor: the contractions cause a hormone to be released that increases contractions, which again increases the release of the hormone, which increases contractions, and so on.
Sometimes described as the physical "address" in which an organism or population lives. Typically the word describes a more specific place than an "ecosystem."
Body cells
All the cells that make up an organism EXCEPT for the sex cells themselves. With some exceptions, body cells that have DNA are genetically identical to each other. In contrast, each sex cell is unique.
Environmental change
The conditions in which an organism finds itself today may be different in the future and are different today than they were in the past. Populations that cannot adapt to differing conditions become extinct. Humans are responsible for a great deal of these differences today.
Energy pyramid
A model or diagram of how energy is transferred through the various energy levels in an ecosystem, where producers contain the greatest amount of energy and high-level consumers the least amount of energy.
Guard cells
Specialized cells in the leaves of plants that form an opening, which opens and closes to allow gas exchange (CO2 in, O2 out), and to regulate water level in the plant. When the plant allows CO2 to enter, it automatically allows water to exit, therefore the plant must balance the need for CO2 for photosynthesis with the need to conserve water during hot/dry conditions.
Cycling of materials
The stuff that living things are made of - carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, etc. - are available in limited quantities on earth and must be constantly re-used as organisms die, decompose, and their basic materials are again taken up and used in living organisms.
Photosynthesis (Formula)
Words: carbon dioxide + water (in the presence of sunlight) --> glucose + oxygen Symbols: CO2 + H20 (sunlight) --> C6H12O6 + O2
The act of replicating. Making a copy if DNA, virus, etc.
Distilled water
Water that has been purified, traditionally by evaporation, which leaves behind any solids that might be dissolved in the water. When the evaporated water condenses it is free of dissolved solids and virtually "100%" water. Normal tap water has impurities that can sometimes affect an experiment or chemical process.
Organ malfunction
When an organ, such as the heart, brain, kidneys, etc., stops working properly. Can be a cause or symptom of a disease. Can range from a minor inconvenience to a major health problem to fatal, depending on the organ and what exactly goes wrong with it.
Steady state
Synonymous with dynamic equilibrium or homeostasis - maintaining internal conditions within a relatively narrow range.
Struggle for survival
The effort individuals exert to stay alive in the face of limited resources, disease, and predators.
A cylindrical container with a beak-like spout that makes pouring liquids easier (see image card).
Ecological succession
The process by which an ecosystem naturally changes over time. Involves the gradual replacement of one dominant community by another dominant community until stability or "maturity" is reached. The dominant community at each stage of development alters the environment in such a way as to make it more suitable for the next stage.
Genetic manipulation
The changing of DNA in an individual. Involves inserting or deleting segments of DNA.
Branching tree
A diagram that shows the proposed evolutionary relationships among a group of organisms. Also called a cladogram.
Data table
A chart with columns and rows for collecting and organizing observations, measurements, etc.
The organ in the female reproductive system where the embryo is implanted, nourished, and where it develops until birth. The placenta forms here.
Triple-beam balance
A tool for measuring the mass of an object or substance by comparing the unknown mass to a known mass.
A linear sequence of chemical building blocks linked together. In biology, starch, proteins, nucleic acids, are examples.
Chemical reaction
A process in which one or more reactants is changed into 1 or more new products. Involves the rearrangement of atoms, not the creation or destruction of them. Burning paper, for example.
Nerve cell
A specialized cell designed to transmit messages, both electrical and chemical, from one part of the body to another or to make decisions about a course of action in response to a message from another part of the body.
Technological fix
One of the possible ways to solve an environmental problem that involves using new machines, chemicals, processes, treatments, etc. An alternative to behavioral changes to solve such problems that some people promote.
An organism that lives in or on a host, usually for a prolonged period of time, and gets its nutrition from the host. Generally the term is reserved for protists, fungi, some plants, and invertebrates, but sometimes used loosely for bacteria as well.
Adaptive value
The extent to which a particular inherited trait makes an organism more suited to its environment. Can be high or low.
Graduated cylinder
A long thin vertical tube with regularly-spaced markings for measuring volume, usually of a liquid.
The primary female sex organ where eggs are produced and matured.
Final state
The condition a system is in at the end of a period of time, usually at the end of some event or experimental test.
Chemical energy
The energy stored in chemical bonds. Food provides this for living things. Food is converted to ATP, which is the "energy currency" of the cell.
Viral disease
The common cold, flu, AIDS, etc. (Caused by viruses.)
The basic units of structure and function in all living things. All living things are made of these.
The disappearance forever of a species or population. A species may simply die (an evolutionary "dead end") out or it may evolve into other species
Generally a molecule (protein or carbohydrate embedded in cell wall or membrane of a pathogen) that causes the body to launch an immune response. It is the molecule that antibodies bind with (see antibody).
One of the major areas of science, including Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Earth Science, and others.
A detailed plan or suggestion for a study or for the use of a particular strategy or technology to solve a problem.
The variation in life forms that exist in a particular location. We can look at this variation on many different levels but the term is mostly used to refer to the number of varieties of living things at the ecosystem and biosphere levels.
An expression of the likelihood that something otherwise unpredictable will happen. Example - flipping a coin. The nature of the coin determines the likelihood of getting heads (50%) or tails (50%).
The resistance of an organism or ecosystem to dramatic change over a period of time.
The study of how traits are passed from parent to offspring.
A form of asexual reproduction in which the DNA/chromosomes in the nucleus are replicated and then distributed to two daughter cells, which are then genetically identical to each other and to the parent cell.
One of the many organisms that ultimately break down the remains of once living organisms into inorganic forms such as carbon dioxide, water, oxygen, & nitrogen, thereby recycling the materials of which they were originally composed. Includes mainly bacteria and fungi.
A single molecule of DNA and (usually) proteins. They are the units of DNA that are passed on to offspring. In sexually reproducing organisms, they come in pairs. Prokaryotes (bacteria) generally have a single, circular one without proteins.
Segment of DNA
A section of the genetic code of an individual. A chromosome, a gene, a single base, etc.
Total ecosystem
The sum of all the components, living and nonliving, in a particular area.
Dichotomous key
A guide for identifying or organizing a things. An initial group is split into 2 new groups based on some characteristic that distinguishes them. For example, in a group of students we might split into a male and female grouping. The each group could then be split again based on height, for example. And so on.
Personal behavior
What you as an individual do, and how it affects the world around you.
A kingdom of organisms that function as decomposers, among other things. Includes single-celled yeasts, mushrooms, molds, mildew, etc.
Variations among offspring
The differences that exist among the offspring of individuals that make them different from each other and their parents. This is the raw material that natural selection acts on.
Sex cells
Gametes. In males, sperm. In females, eggs.
Genetic makeup
The precise information found on the DNA of an individual or population.
Movement of a condition or state away from a set point or range. Example: Normal body temperature is around 37.0 degrees Celsius. A change to 36.0 degrees or 38.0 degrees would be a movement away from the set range.
Allergic reaction
An immune response to an otherwise harmless substance. Symptoms include local or systemic inflammation and, itching, sneezing, and/or other problems depending on the type of substance and the areas of the body affected. Can be life-threatening. For example, when eating a certain food is the cause, the effect will be different than when breathing pollen is the cause.
Renew (resources)
To replace natural resources (trees, for example) that have been taken from the environment and used for human needs. Many resources can only be replaced over very long periods of time or not at all.
Homeostatic feedback mechanism
A self regulating system in which a condition is maintained within a narrow range. An example would be the glucose/insulin system for maintaining blood sugar levels. When blood sugar is high, insulin is released by the pancreas, which lowers blood sugar levels, which in turn causes the pancreas to stop releasing insulin (see image card).
Technological development
The creation of new products of human invention. Includes everything from simple hand tools to complex modern machinery. In today's world they frequently require the use of complex manufacturing processes and produce much waste material and pollution.
A state in which one or more conditions in a cell, organ, organism, or ecosystem is outside the "normal," healthy range.
Internal structures
The organs and organ systems inside an organism. Also the organelles found inside cells
Selecting agent
The condition or conditions in an ecosystem that determine which individuals (ones best suited to take advantage of the conditions) are more likely to survive.
In animals, a form of asexual reproduction in which the nucleus of a body cell of an adult individual is inserted into the egg of a female, which then develops into an offspring that is identical, genetically, to the adult donor of the nucleus.
Infectious agent
A potentially disease-causing organism or particle. Includes viruses, bacteria, protists, small invertebrates such as worms, head lice, etc.
Physical traits
The observable characteristics or features of an organism excluding behavior, emotions, etc. Includes the chemical make-up, the cellular characteristics, and the presence and arrangement of different body parts (internal and external internal limbs, organs, tissues, etc.
The process by which a parent or parents produce offspring. Parent can mean a single cell or an individual multicellular organism.
Cellular communication
When cells send and receive "messages" to and from each other. These messages are in the form of chemicals such as hormones and neurotransmitters.
Eliminate waste
To rid the body of unwanted materials produced by cellular metabolism or digestion.
The period of time, different for each species, required for the offspring of a population to progress to the adult (reproductive) stage.
adjective. Refers to the body's mechanisms for maintaining homeostasis.
The process of getting older. Generally refers to developmental changes that occur as we approach the later years of our life expectancy.
1. The manner in which a particular organism gets it food. Can be autotrophic or heterotrophic. 2. The study of the types and portions of foods that are necessary for good health.
A whole, complete individual capable of carrying out most or all life functions on its own (understanding that no living thing is entirely independent of other living things).
The parts of a system or complex structure, living or otherwise.
A community of living things plus the physical conditions in which that community lives.
The male sex cell or gamete. Typically smaller than the female sex cell, capable of movement, and produced in much larger quantities.
To make an exact copy of DNA. (Also what viruses do, after infecting a host cell - make a copy of the virus).
Finite resources
Natural materials that exist in limited quantities and will be gone forever once they are used, unless they can be recycled. See "renew."
Manipulation of genes
Changing the genetic code of an individual by adding or deleting segments of the DNA.
A class of animals that includes humans. The majority have hair or fur, give live birth to their young, and produce milk for nursing new-borns.
The basic underlying principles that we accept as being true when testing a hypothesis. Can be other hypotheses, laws, or theories that are NOT being tested directly. Example: All experiments accept as true that the fundamental laws of nature are always the same regardless of time or place.
The largest group of species in the animal kingdom, they have segmented bodies, an exoskeleton, and 6 legs.
When a relatively large material is made into smaller parts or when a complex molecule is reduced to simpler molecules. Digestion and respiration, for example.
To take action when confronted with information or sensation. For example, in the face of danger we may run or fight ("fight or flight").
Fossil record
The story told in the preserved remains of extinct or ancient organisms, usually found in geological formations.
A measurement of the size of an object in 3 dimensions of space - length, width, & height, for example Often defined as the total amount of space an object or substance occupies.
Base, molecular (DNA)
One of the components of a DNA or RNA molecule that makes up the genetic code. There are 4 different ones in DNA (ATCG) and an alternate one in RNA (AUCG).
"In the vein." A method of delivering nutrients and medicines by inserting a needle directly into a vein.
A collection of people living together as a group in a particular place at a particular time in history, including the present.
A stage of development after the embryo has all of its organs and systems in place. In humans that happens at around 8 weeks.
The nucleic acid found in all living things that largely determine the physical characteristics of that organism. The coded instructions for producing proteins. The carrier of the genetic code.
A measurement of the size of an object in one dimension of space - head-to-tail, for example. Compare with volume.
The total number of individuals of a particular species living in a particular place.
Amino acids
The basic building blocks of proteins. A protein is a chain of these linked together in a particular order.
A chemical solution that can be used as a starch indicator. Turns from amber color to dark blue/black in the presence of starch.
A biological catalyst. A chemical that speeds up chemical reactions. Almost all metabolic processes in living organisms require them.
Altered ecosystem
An ecosystem that has been relatively stable for a period of time that is suddenly changed and becomes unbalanced, either through natural events or human activities.
Microtip dropper
A pipette with a very small tip for producing small drops of a solution (see image card).
A change of location or position. Describes materials within a cell, structure, organism, (circulation, for example) or entire cells and organism as they go from place to place (locomotion, migration, etc.).
Immune system
The system that protects the organism against disease caused by pathogens or (sometimes) cancers.
The components or parts of a thing. Can be described at any level of organization, from the atom to cells to organism and in between and beyond.
Chemical Indicators
Most commonly, substances that change color to show the presence or absence of a target chemical. Other ways they "show" the presence of other substances are by producing gases (bubbles), or turning cloudy (forming a precipitate). Example: Iodine shows the presence of starch by changing color.
The major groups into which living thing are classified. Animal, Plant, Fungi, Protists, Bacteria, Archaea. There is currently much debate about the validity of the traditional classification groups in light of new evidence of evolutionary relationships.
A pigment found in plants and algae and other photosynthetic organisms. It absorbs the wavelengths of light needed for photosynthesis to occur.
Inorganic elements found in the soil or water that are essential for living things. In general they are taken in by plants or other producers directly from the soil or water. Consumers then eat the producers (or other consumers that ate plants) and take these elements in from their food. Examples include iron, calcium, potassium, etc.
Biotechnological methods
Usually refers to techniques for modifying or manipulating living things in order to get desirable traits or products. Selective breeding, gene splicing, and cloning are examples.
The measurement of the amount of "stuff" a thing is made of. Usually measured on an electronic or triple beam balance. Determines the weight of an object and often confused with this term.
Using logic to figure out an answer, solve a problem, or plan an action
Wet-mount slide
A thin transparent specimen prepared for viewing under a microscope with a slide, drop of water, cover slip, and often a stain, following a standard procedure.
Refers to chemical molecules that have a relatively large amount of energy stored in the chemical bonds that can then be readily used for cellular activities. Includes glucose, ATP.
To move from one place to another. Some animals do this on a seasonal basis, others do it in response unfavorable environmental conditions (lack of food, water, etc) and still others do it by "accident" such as being carried by the wind, or drifting on a log, etc.
An element that makes up about 78% of the atmosphere. A key component of proteins and nucleic acids. Producers get it in the form of nitrates or ammonia from the soil or water in which they live. Consumers get it from producers.
Direct harvesting
When humans go into a natural habitat, such as a forest, a lake, an ocean, etc., and remove living resources from that habitat. Trees, fishes, wildlife, etc.
Gel Electrophoresis
A method of analyzing DNA (and other compounds) from different sources to look for similarities. DNA is first cut into segments by enzymes, placed in a gelatin plate and subjected to electrical current, which then separates the pieces by size. They are then stained, and viewed for banding patterns. More closely related individuals or species will have more similar banding patterns (see image card).
A microscope with two eyepieces that allows us to see fine detail in 3 dimensional objects and specimens. Specimen does not have to be transparent or microscopic. Insects and other small animals or animal parts, flowers, leaves, etc. are good subjects. Subjects can be lit from above, below, or both. Compare with compound microscope.
Cancerous cell
A cell that has begun dividing in an uncontrolled way. Often destroyed by the immune system, but diseases that affect the immune system can leave the body unable to effectively deal with these types of cells.
Energy that travels in the form of waves. For example, light as we know it, and heat. In terms of genetics, high energy waves (X-rays, ultra violet rays, etc.) are known to cause mutations in DNA leading to cancers and other problems.
The event in which a more or less fully developed offspring is delivered or expelled from the body of a parent (almost always the female parent).
A cell organelle, prominent in plant cells but also found in animal cells, where water, food, waste, and other materials can be stored.
In terms of reproduction, the opposite-sex partner of an individual.
The producer of one or more offspring. In asexual reproduction, only one parent is required. In sexual reproduction, generally 2 parents are required.
adjective. Refers to an organism that has inherited characteristics that make it suited to its environment. Often used to describe a specific characteristic, such as a polar bear's white fur.
Control mechanisms
A method for maintaining a narrow range of conditions in an organism (see feedback mechanism).
A disease causing particle. They are not considered living things but they do contain either DNA or RNA, and are capable of replicating (reproducing) ONLY inside a host cell.
A group of individuals that generally only interbreed with other members of the same group due to physical, behavioral, or geographical differences
A living thing that gets its food by eating other living things or the remains of once living things. Heterotrophs. Includes all species of animals, decomposers, many microorganisms, etc.
The act of staying alive
The organism that is infected by a pathogen. Most commonly used in conjunction with "parasite."
Experimental Group
In an experiment, the group of subjects or samples that are treated with a range of non-standard conditions to see how they respond to those conditions.
Controlled experiment
One way of testing a hypothesis. Involves setting up a situation where only one variable is manipulated to observe how it affects another variable.
Food web
A model or diagram of the interactions of many different food chains in an ecosystem. It shows the intricate balance that exists in an ecosystem and how each member of the ecosystem affects other members, directly or indirectly. (see image card).
An inorganic compound essential for life. A limiting factor in many land ecosystems. A fluid in which the chemical activities necessary for life occur. H2O.
One of the possible variations that can exist in a gene for a single trait. For example in pea plants we might find an allele for green seeds and an allele for yellow seeds. The trait is seed color, the alleles are green or yellow. One allele may be dominant, the other may be recessive. Other possibilities exist.
Primary male sex hormone, responsible for male sexual development among other functions.
Flow of energy
The transfer of energy through an ecosystem from the sun (usually) to producers, to herbivores, to carnivores, and ultimately to decomposers. In the end, all of the energy that originally reached earth from the sun dissipates into the atmosphere and outer space as heat. Energy cannot be recycled, and life on earth depends on constant influx of energy from the sun to replace what is lost.
Mitochondria (Singular: Mitochondrion)
Cell organelles that are the site of cellular respiration (extracting energy from nutrients). Sometimes called the "powerhouse" of the cell.
verb. "to give" or produce, as in a chemical reaction. In reading the equation for a chemical reaction, this word is represented by an arrow. Example: glucose + O2 --> (ATP) + CO2 + H20.
Organ system
A group of organs working together to perform a particular function. Example - The digestive system includes a number of organs (mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, liver, gall bladder, pancreas, large intestine) all dedicated to breaking down food, absorbing the nutrients, and getting rid of the indigestible waste.
The transfer of thermal energy between two objects or substances with different temperatures. This transfer is never 100% efficient so some of that thermal energy always escapes into the environment and eventually to outer space.
Active transport
A cellular process for transferring materials into or out of the cell against the concentration gradient (from low concentration to high concentration) and requiring the expenditure of cellular energy, usually ATP.
Circulation. The movement of materials, particularly the movement of materials across a membrane in cells.
An organism that consists of more than one cell. In order to be considered "multicellular," the cells that make up the organism must be differentiated - that is, they must have 2 or more different types of cells with different functions.
Inserting DNA segment
Changing the DNA of an individual by adding a one or more bases or entire sections of DNA. Can refer to a kind of mutation (usually a single base) or genetic engineering (usually an entire gene).
Dialysis Tubing
An flexible, tubular sheet of artificial membrane made of a selectively permeable material, used in the treatment of individuals with kidney failure to filter waste products from the blood. Also used to demonstrate the qualities of a cell membrane because of its permeability (see image card).
Cell membrane
A thin double layer of phospholipids and other structures (proteins, etc.) that surrounds and encloses a cell and determines what materials enter or leave the cell.
When two or more objects or particles (atoms, molecules) crash into one another, as constantly occurs in liquids and gases.
Natural disaster
A catastrophic event not caused by human activity that can upset the balance in an ecosystem. Includes weather events such as hurricanes, floods, etc., earthquakes, volcanoes, etc.
The primary male sex cell, where sperm are produced. Also produces primary male sex hormone, testosterone.
Ozone shield
A layer of the atmosphere in which there is a relatively high concentration of O3 that absorbs ultraviolet radiation from the sun. When this layer is reduced by pollutants such as CFC's, UV radiation increases at ground level, skin cancer among humans increases, and photosynthetic activity among plants, algae, etc. decreases (which means more CO2 in the atmosphere, so it indirectly affects global warming.).
One way of testing a hypothesis. Involves setting up a controlled situation where a single variable can be manipulated to observe how it affects another variable.
Unifying theme
A big idea that allows us to make sense of a large and seemingly unrelated number of phenomena. In biology the biggest of these ideas is evolution.
In ecology, a single organism capable of carrying out most or all life functions. Compare with population.
Solar energy
The light of the sun harnessed to produce heat or electricity for human needs.
Base sequence
The linear order of bases found on a DNA or RNA molecule.
Visual representations. Usually 2-dimensional. Drawings, flow-charts, etc.
Overproduction of offspring
One of the basic laws of natural selection, it states that each generation produces far more offspring than can possibly survive.
An element that is an essential component of living things and "organic" compounds when combined with carbon.
To differ or to be different. Also to change something, such as the conditions in an experiment.
Chemical substances made of two or more atoms that are bonded together by covalent bonds. H20, O2, CO2, H2, N2, etc, are naturally occurring examples. Compare with ions, which are NOT held together by covalent bonds.
Reproductive technology
Recent developments that enhance or facilitate attempts to produce offspring or enhance the chances of producing healthy offspring. Particularly important for individuals who are having difficulty having children or who are at risk of having children with certain hereditary diseases.
An organ located just behind the stomach that produces both hormones (insulin, e.g.), which are secreted into the blood stream, and digestive enzymes, which are secreted into the small intestine.
Coded instructions
Generally, the information found in DNA that determines how a protein is to be made.
A graph, typically with bars, that shows the frequency of the occurrence of a phenomenon or a "frequency distribution" (see image card).
Gene mutation
Any change in the sequence of base pairs found on a DNA molecule. Can occur from inserting an extra base, deleting a base, or substituting one base for another. When these occur in sex cells, the changed DNA can be passed on to offspring. It is the source of genetic variation in living things.
The process by which molecules in a fluid solution spontaneously move from an area of higher concentration to an area of lower concentration. A major method by which materials move about within cells and between cells and their environment.
Internal fertilization
The union of sperm and egg INSIDE the female's body.
The production or building up of complex structures from simpler materials. Building proteins (complex) from amino acids (simpler) is an example. Compare with digestion or breaking down.
A type of organism that is capable of producing its own food from inorganic raw materials. The majority of them are photosynthetic organisms such as plants and algae.
Environmental factors
The conditions and materials present in an ecosystem that influence an individual and its chances of surviving. Includes biotic conditions (competition, food, etc.) and abiotic conditions (air, water, soil, etc.).
Environmentally literate
Having a sufficient understanding of ecological principles to make informed decisions regarding public policy and personal decisions on environmental issues.
In modern genetics, a section of DNA that codes for a specific protein. Also used to refer to a code for a particular "trait" such as tall plants or short plants, green peas or yellow peas, etc.
Heart rate
The number of times the heart beats in one minute. It changes in response to activity, stress, illness, etc.
Can be either cellular or organismal. Cellular refers to the extraction of energy from glucose molecules (see separate card). Organismal refers to how an organism takes in oxygen from its environment and gets rid of carbon dioxide waste. In humans and other animals this is called "breathing."
A substances that is dissolved in water. In a saltwater solution it would be the salt.
Cyclic changes
Changes that occur in an ecosystem as it goes above and below certain "balance points." Predator/prey populations are a prime example (see image card).
The products of human invention. Includes everything from simple hand tools to complex modern machinery. In today's world they frequently require the use of complex manufacturing processes and produce much waste material and pollution.
A chemical messenger produced in one part of the body and released into the blood where it travels to specific "target cells" and causes the target cells to take some kind of action. Insulin is a hormone. When it binds with target cells, it causes the target cells to take in glucose from the blood.
A cellular organelle that produces (synthesizes) proteins from amino acids using information encoded in DNA.
Refers to the movement of materials within cells or an organism. Can occur by simple diffusion or by complex organ systems.
A visual representation of the major trend or trends in a set of data. Has an X and Y axis on which the independent and dependent variables are plotted.
Structural evidence
The observations of an organisms features that support a hypothesis about relationships. For example, the similarity in leaf shapes found among oak trees supports their relatedness.
Poisonous or causing damage to cells, tissues, organs, when taken in by an organism.
Molecules on the surface of a cell that bind with specific chemicals from another cell. An important part of how cells communicate with each other. The chemicals that bind to receptors may be hormones, or chemicals produced by nerve cells (neurotransmitters), etc.
adjective. Refers to a system of standard measuring units divided by powers of 10. Basic units include the meter and the gram.
Plant extract
A chemical mixture taken from some part of a plant. Usually produced by liquefying the plant parts in a blender and mixing with water, alcohol, or some other solvent and then filtering.
Complimentary bases
In double stranded DNA and in DNA replication, A matches with T, C matches with G. In copying DNA --> mRNA: A-->U, T-->A, C-->G, G-->C.
Complex organism
Generally, living things that are made up of numerous organ systems that require a high degree of regulation and control in the form of a nervous system.
Generally, the ability to perform work. Living things require a constant supply of it to carry out life functions and activities.
Ecosystem stability
The resistance of an ecosystem to dramatic change over long periods of time.
Compound microscope
A device consisting of an eyepiece lens and an objective lens used to magnify object too small to be seen with the naked eye. Standard models require very thin transparent specimens and are lit from below.
An object of study. In biology usually refers to a living thing being studied in a laboratory setting, as opposed to a living thing being studied in the field. Also usually a dead and/or preserved organism or sample of tissue from an organism.
Embryonic development
The changes that occur in offspring after the formation of a zygote and before birth or hatching.
When the dormant embryonic plant within a seed begins to grow and emerge from the seed.
Dependent variable
The variable that is expected to change IN RESPONSE to another variable. The experimenter has no direct control over this variable, it changes "automatically" if at all.
A feature or quality of an organism or group of organisms that defines them.
The logical interpretation of the results of a test or experiment - In science, it expresses either support or rejection of the hypothesis.
The layer of gases ("air") that surrounds the earth. Contains molecules that are essential for most life on earth today. In turn, living things produce and consume chemicals that affect its composition.
Artificial membrane
A thin sheet of material that is selectively permeable (see dialysis tubing).
Controlled variables
All the variables, other than the independent variable, that might affect the outcome of the experiment and are therefore kept the same among the different groups in the experiment. Also known as "constants."
The study of how living things interact with other living things and the physical conditions of their environment.
Occurring at an irregular or unpredictable frequency.
Strategies for carrying out a scientific study. A detailed description of how an investigation will be set up and what data will be collected.
Standard, typical, or customary methods or tools. In contrast to "alternative" or "experimental" approaches.
Our experiences of the world that register with our 5 senses or tools designed to magnify those 5 senses (microscopes, chemical indicators, etc.).
The process by which the features of an organism - tissues, organs, organ systems, mature into fully functional systems (from zygote to adulthood) and then begin to decay (adulthood to death).
Response to stimuli
Actions we take when faced with information or sensations. For example, hunger causes us to seek food. The amount of light we are exposed to causes the pupils of our eyes get smaller (contract) or larger (dilate). Etc.
The basic unit of matter. Two or more of these join together to form molecules, compounds, etc.
Deleting DNA segment
An often catastrophic type of mutation in which one or more bases is removed from a piece of DNA, altering the coded message at all points after the removal.
The forces that hold molecules together. Can be covalent, ionic, hydrogen, etc.
The negative consequences of our decisions to exploit natural resources or apply technologies, etc. These negative consequences must be weighed against potential benefits in making public policy decisions. Compare with "benefits."
"Salty." Refers to a solution that has some concentration of salt (NaCl) in it.
A characteristic or feature of an organism. Can be inherited or acquired.
adjective. Referring to genes, DNA, etc. (See other cards for specific usage.)
Chemical change
A chemical reaction. When chemical substances are transformed into different chemical substances. Example - photosynthesis, where CO2 and H2O are transformed into glucose and oxygen.
Reproductive cycle
The sometimes complex series developmental stages that lead to the continuous generation of offspring that mature to adults who then produce new offspring and so on. Similar to "life cycle."
Examining a problem or illness and determining the most likely cause.
The behaviors, beliefs, and attitudes that are considered important by an individual or society. In science they can be a driving force for research, discourage particular kinds of research, or influence the manner in which research is conducted.
Conducting tissue
The specialized structures found in certain kinds of plants that carry water from the roots to other parts of the plant and carry food from the leaves to other parts of the plant.
Simple sugars
Mainly glucose. Can be joined together to form more complex carbohydrates such as starches, cellulose, etc.

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