Question-   What is Biology ?


What is Biology ?

Greek: Bio= “life”, logos= “study”
= study of life

The cellàbasic unit of life
à  basic unit of heredity

Evolutionàprocess that causes origins and extinction species  

“...logy” or “logia” not “...ology” (e.g. Parasitology - parasitosGreek = parasites)

Biology =scientific study of life
Also requires knowledge of other fields within the Natural Sciences

Geology & archaeology Mathematics

and knowledge of different disciplines or fields in biology, e.g.,

Genetics, Evolution
Zoology, Taxonomy, Molecular biology, Physiology

Theevolutionary process?(= living things change gradually from one form into another over the course of time)

Why are therevery fewmuseums of biology?

Natural history museums


  • Scientific institutions with natural history collections that include present and historical records of animals, plants, fungi, ecosystems, geology etc.
  • Primary role: to provide scientific community with speciments for research to improve understanding


  • The study of natural historyàHistoria naturalis
  • Systematic study of any category of organisms/natural objects
  • Description of the natural world
  • In addition to animals and plants also included minerology and other non biological fields


Smithsonian Institute

Natural History Museum (London)

Primary goals:

  • The development of the collection and preservation of herbarium specimens and associated data according to international standards.
  • To serve as a facility hosting a repository of permanent voucher specimens and promote the conservation of the province’s natural plant resources.
  • To act as a repository for unique, rare and threatened plant species of Saskatchewan.

In addition to animals and plants also included mineralogy and other non-biological fields (geography, astronomy, etc.)

Source: 1728 Cyclopaedia, Vol. 2

18/19th centuries: replacement of natural history

  • Zoology - animals [G: zoon = ‘animal’]
  • Botany - plants [G: botanae = ‘grass’]
    • à?

Biology = scientific study of life

Who defined the term “Biology”?

  • Jean Baptiste Lamarck 

Personalia in Science


Carolus Linneaus -1707-1778

  • father of taxonomy

Charles Darwin- 1769-1832

  • father of evolutionary ideas


Georges Cuvier -1769-1832

  • father of paleontology

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck -1744-1829

  • naturalist
  • living things should be studied as a whole (zoology & botany combined)
  • defined biology


Charles Darwin- 1809-1882

Gregor Mendel- 1822-1884


Ernst Mayr- 1904-2005

  • father of evolutionary synthesis

Aristotle circa 300 B.C.

  • father of biology
    • one of first to classify the relationships among living things
    • (Scala naturae)
      • scale of more complex to less
    • first person to apply empirical techniques & a rudimentary scientific method to study of living things (animals)
      • empirical method = collection of data on which to base a scientific theory or derive a conclusion in science
      • dissected anumals & examined the development of chicken eggsàpattern of embryonic development
  • formed questions based on observations to learn ‘truths’ about the universe
    • used inductive reasoning
      • but believed that both observation and experimentation needed




Antonie van Leeuwenhoek1632-1723

  • invented microscope
  • discovered cell


Carolus Linneaus



Georges Cuvier


Jean-Baptiste Lamarck



Charles Darwin

Alfred Russel Wallace

Ernst Mayr


Edward O. Wilson1929 -


  • father of biodiversity & why it should be preserved

Inductive reasoning àgeneral conclusions are drawn from specific observations.For example:


bee                                                         wasp

-hymenopteran                                - hymenopteran               

fire ant


The pattern:All hymenopterans have stingers(inductive reasoning/inference!)

potential pitfall: an “inductive leap”

  • (my generalization might not be correct every time)
  • many hymenopterans (stingless bees and ants, male honeybees)do nothave stingers

Deductive versus Inductive Reasoning

Deductive reasoning:specific observations are predicted from a general premise

    • all wasps have stingers (general idea we inductively reached before) = specific observations


Inductive reasoning:general conclusions are drawn from specific observations

Observationsàpatternàtentative hypothesisàtheory

Purple pages of textbook pp. F2-F5

The Scientific Method

The scientific method consists of:

  1. producing ahypothesis
  2. designing & performing controlledexperimentsor making observations that allow data relevant to the hypothesis to be collected;
  3. analyzing the datain an objective way against the background of existing knowledge; and,
  4. drawingconclusions that support or rejectthe hypothesis;

Example of Hypothesis Development and Testing

QuestionA friend fertilizes a plant growing on her windowsill, and it flowers. After she gives you the plant, you put it on your windowsill, but you do not give it any fertilizer and it does not flower. Will giving the plant fertilizer induce it to flower?

ExperimentEstablish six replicates of an experimental treatment (identical plants grown with fertilizer) and six replicates of a control treatment (identical plants grown without fertilizer). Put on the same window sill to control for sun exposure.

Example of Hypothesis Development and Testing - continued

Possible Result 1

Neither experimental nor control plants flower.

ConclusionFertilizer alone does not cause the plants to flower.Consider alternative hypotheses and conduct additional experiments, each testing a different experimental treatment, such as the amount of water or sunlight the plant receives or the temperature to which it is exposed.

Possible Result 2

Plants in the experimental group flower, but plants in the control group do not.

ConclusionThe application offertilizer induces flowering in this type of plant, supportingyour original hypothesis. Pat yourself on the back and apply to graduate school in plant biology.

Main steps of the scientific method are:

Hypothesis, observations, analysis, conclusions


1.- hypothesis

 2.- experimental phase

 3.- data analysis

 4.- conclusions

  • Accept or reject

25 representative organisms

what do they have in common?

  • 7 characteristics of life
  • what is life?


  • structural levels of complexity & organizationàmovement, instinctsàchemical cellular reactions
  • all life is made of cellsàfundamental unit

Friday 2 pm lab tutorial of microscope in lab room


Living things divided into eukaryotes and prokaryotes


  • Unicellular


  • Multicellular

Natural history museums

  • i.e. royal tyrell, geology building


Classification of organisms

à Concept of biological species

à Variation within species

à Microevolution (changes within species




à Concept of biological species

à Differences between species

à Macroevolution (homology = same origin)


= biodiversity

  • Organisms at the bottom of the tree are more primitive



Changes in biodiversity

  • Geological time
    • Fossil record
    • Pangea
    • Many of fossils are lost through movement of Pangea
      • Movement of land masses
  • Changing environments
    • Adaptions = colonization of land (marine, freshwater, terrestrial)
  • Evolutionary history of our representative organisms
  • Extinctions

à Present day

    • 25 representative organisms (that will be studied)
    • where do they live?
    • How do they cope?


Why are there so many different species of living organisms?


Canada is not a good place to do fieldwork because of weather and limited amount of people in the field

  • In Canada fungi and insects are the most diverse groups
  • Present day
    • Interactions between representative species
      • à symbiosis
      • à energy transfer (basic food webs)
  • Changes in Biodiversity over time
    • Human (anthropogenic) influences
      • Habitat destruction
      • Invasive species
      • Changes on the prairies, forests
      • Value of preserving biodiversity
  • Future


What is biology?

  • The scientific study of life
  • Bio (life)
  • Logos (study of)


  • Eco (house, environment)
  • Logos (study of)


The cell à basic unit of life

Genes à basic unit of heredity

Evolution à process that causes origins and extinction species


            The unifying principle of biology is evolution

    • Nothing stays static


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