Portal:Biology
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Portal:Biology

The Biology Portal

Introduction

A panoramic view from a ridge located between Segla and Hesten mountain summits in the island of Senja, Troms, Norway in 2014
A panoramic view from a ridge located between Segla and Hesten mountain summits in the island of Senja, Troms, Norway in 2014
Darlingtonia californica.jpg
Harvestman opilio canestrinii male.jpg

Biology is the scientific study of life. It is a natural science with a broad scope but has several unifying themes that tie it together as a single, coherent field. For instance, all organisms are made up of cells that process hereditary information encoded in genes, which can be transmitted to future generations. Another major theme is evolution, which explains the unity and diversity of life. Finally, all organisms require energy to move, grow, and reproduce, as well as to regulate their own internal environment.

Biologists are able to study life at multiple levels of organization. From the molecular biology of a cell to the anatomy and physiology of plants and animals, and evolution of populations. Hence, there are multiple subdisciplines within biology, each defined by the nature of their research questions and the tools that they use. Like other scientists, biologists use the scientific method to make observations, pose questions, generate hypotheses, perform experiments, and form conclusions about the world around them.

Life on Earth, which emerged more than 3.7 billion years ago, is immensely diverse. Biologists have sought to study and classify the various forms of life, from prokaryotic organisms such as archaea and bacteria to eukaryotic organisms such as protists, fungi, plants, and animals. These various organisms contribute to the biodiversity of an ecosystem, where they play specialized roles in the cycling of nutrients and energy. (Full article...)

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The frontispiece to Erasmus Darwin's evolution-themed poem The Temple of Nature shows a goddess pulling back the veil from nature (in the person of Artemis). Allegory and metaphor have often played an important role in the history of biology.

The history of biology traces the study of the living world from ancient to modern times. Although the concept of biology as a single coherent field arose in the 19th century, the biological sciences emerged from traditions of medicine and natural history reaching back to ayurveda, ancient Egyptian medicine and the works of Aristotle and Galen in the ancient Greco-Roman world. This ancient work was further developed in the Middle Ages by Muslim physicians and scholars such as Avicenna. During the European Renaissance and early modern period, biological thought was revolutionized in Europe by a renewed interest in empiricism and the discovery of many novel organisms. Prominent in this movement were Vesalius and Harvey, who used experimentation and careful observation in physiology, and naturalists such as Linnaeus and Buffon who began to classify the diversity of life and the fossil record, as well as the development and behavior of organisms. Antonie van Leeuwenhoek revealed by means of microscopy the previously unknown world of microorganisms, laying the groundwork for cell theory. The growing importance of natural theology, partly a response to the rise of mechanical philosophy, encouraged the growth of natural history (although it entrenched the argument from design).

Over the 18th and 19th centuries, biological sciences such as botany and zoology became increasingly professional scientific disciplines. Lavoisier and other physical scientists began to connect the animate and inanimate worlds through physics and chemistry. Explorer-naturalists such as Alexander von Humboldt investigated the interaction between organisms and their environment, and the ways this relationship depends on geography--laying the foundations for biogeography, ecology and ethology. Naturalists began to reject essentialism and consider the importance of extinction and the mutability of species. Cell theory provided a new perspective on the fundamental basis of life. These developments, as well as the results from embryology and paleontology, were synthesized in Charles Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. The end of the 19th century saw the fall of spontaneous generation and the rise of the germ theory of disease, though the mechanism of inheritance remained a mystery. (Full article...)

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A furry bumblebee gathers pollen.

Major topics

History History of biology | timeline of biology and organic chemistry | history of ecology | history of evolutionary thought | history of geology | history of model organisms | history of molecular biology | history of paleontology
Overview Biology | science | life | properties (adaptationenergy processinggrowthorderregulationreproduction, and response to environment) | hierarchy of life (atommoleculeorganellecelltissuearganargan systemorganismpopulationcommunityecosystembiosphere) | reductionistic | emergent property | mechanistic | scientific method | theory | law | peer review | biology journals
Chemical basis Matter | elements | compounds | atoms | molecules | chemical bonds | carbon | organic compounds | macromolecules | carbohydrate | protein | protein structure | protein folding | lipid | DNA | RNA
Cells Prokaryote | eukaryote | cell wall | cell membrane | cytoskeleton | mitochondrion | chloroplast | nucleus | endoplasmic reticulum | Golgi apparatus | cell cycle | mitosis | metabolism | cell signaling | protein targeting | metabolism | enzyme | glycolysis | citric acid cycle | electron transport chain | oxidative phosphorylation |photosynthesis |meiosis  | mitosis
Genetics (Intro) Classical genetics | mendelian inheritance | gene | phenotype | genotype | ploidy | alternation of generations | molecular genetics | genome | karyotype | DNA replication | transcription | translation | recombination | chromosome | epigenetics | splicing | mutation | genetic fingerprint | chromatin | ecological genetics | population genetics | quantitative genetics
Evolution (Intro)  | omne vivum ex ovo | Natural selection | genetic drift | sexual selection | speciation | mutation | gene flow | evolution of sex | biogeography | cladistics | species | extinction | tree of life | phylogenies | three-domain system
Diversity Bacteria | archaea | plants | angiosperms | fungi | protists | Animals | deuterostome | insects | molluscs | nematodes | parasitism | Primate | mammal | vertebrate | craniata | chordate | viruses
Plant form and function Epidermis | flower | ground tissue  | leaf | phloem | plant stem | root | shoot | vascular plant | vascular tissue | xylem
Animal form and function Tissues | fertilization | embryogenesis | gastrulation | neurulation | organogenesis | differentiation | morphogenesis | metamorphosis | ontogeny  | Development | senescence  | reproduction | oogenesis | spermatogenesis
Ecology Ecosystem | biomass | food chain | indicator species | habitat | species distribution | Gaia theory | metapopulation  | life cycle | Life history | altricial - precocial | sex ratio | altruism | cooperation - foraging | learning | parental care | sexual conflict | territoriality | biosphere | climate change | conservation | biodiversity | nature reserve | edge effect | allee effect | corridor | fragmentation | pollution | invasive species | in situ - ex situ | seedbank
Research methods Laboratory techniques | Genetic engineering | transformation | gel electrophoresis | chromatography | centrifugation | cell culture | DNA sequencing | DNA microarray | green fluorescent protein | vector | enzyme assay | protein purification | Western blot | Northern blot | Southern blot | restriction enzyme | polymerase chain reaction | two-hybrid screening | in vivo - in vitro - in silico | Field techniques | Belt transect | mark and recapture | species discovery curve
Branches Anatomy | biotechnology | botany | cell biology | ecology | evolutionary biology | genetics | marine biology | microbiology | molecular biology | mycology | neuroscience | paleontology | phycology | physiology | protistology | virology | zoology
Awards Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine
See also Template:History of biology

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Gregor Mendel 2.jpg

Gregor Johann Mendel (; Czech: ?eho? Jan Mendel; 20 July 1822 - 6 January 1884) was a meteorologist, mathematician, biologist, Augustinian friar and abbot of St. Thomas' Abbey in Brno, Margraviate of Moravia. Mendel was born in a German-speaking family in the Silesian part of the Austrian Empire (today's Czech Republic) and gained posthumous recognition as the founder of the modern science of genetics. Though farmers had known for millennia that crossbreeding of animals and plants could favor certain desirable traits, Mendel's pea plant experiments conducted between 1856 and 1863 established many of the rules of heredity, now referred to as the laws of Mendelian inheritance.

Mendel worked with seven characteristics of pea plants: plant height, pod shape and color, seed shape and color, and flower position and color. Taking seed color as an example, Mendel showed that when a true-breeding yellow pea and a true-breeding green pea were cross-bred their offspring always produced yellow seeds. However, in the next generation, the green peas reappeared at a ratio of 1 green to 3 yellow. To explain this phenomenon, Mendel coined the terms "recessive" and "dominant" in reference to certain traits. In the preceding example, the green trait, which seems to have vanished in the first filial generation, is recessive and the yellow is dominant. He published his work in 1866, demonstrating the actions of invisible "factors"--now called genes--in predictably determining the traits of an organism. (Full article...)

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