Biology is designed for multi-semester biology courses for science majors. This version has been adapted by faculty at Austin Community College. It is grounded on an evolutionary basis and includes exciting features that highlight careers in the biological sciences and everyday applications of the concepts at hand. To meet the needs of today’s instructors and students, some content has been strategically condensed while maintaining the overall scope and coverage of traditional texts for this course. Instructors can customize the book, adapting it to the approach that works best in their classroom. Biology also includes an innovative art program that incorporates critical thinking and clicker questions to help students understand—and apply—key concepts.
Life is all around us, both as multicellular organisms such as the iguana and bamboo above, as well as the unicellular microorganisms such as bacteria. Life is present on every continent, in the air and in the waters of the world. There is life even in the Mariana Trench, seven miles below the surface of the ocean. As of 2010 biologists have described and classified 1.7 million plants and animals, and estimate that there are till over five million species still undiscovered.This chapter will introduce the ways we study the science of Biology in the twenty-first century, the characteristics of living organisms and their classification.
Biologists study the living world by posing questions about it and seeking science-based responses. This approach is common to other sciences as well and is often referred to as the scientific method. The scientific method was used even in ancient times, but it was first documented by England’s Sir Francis Bacon (1561–1626) (Figure 1.5), who set up inductive methods for scientific inquiry. The scientific method is not exclusively used by biologists but can be applied to almost all fields of study as a logical, rational problem-solving method.