Encyclopedia of Biology
by Don Rittner and Timothy McCabe
Publisher: Facts on File
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines. Among the most important topics are five unifying principles that can be said to be the fundamental axioms of modern biology:
- Cells are the basic unit of life
- New species and inherited traits are the product of evolution
- Genes are the basic unit of heredity
- An organism regulates its internal environment to maintain a stable and constant condition
- Living organisms consume and transform energy.
Subdisciplines of biology are recognized on the basis of the scale at which organisms are studied and the methods used to study them: biochemistry examines the rudimentary chemistry of life; molecular biology studies the complex interactions of systems of biological molecules; cellular biology examines the basic building block of all life, the cell; physiology examines the physical and chemical functions of the tissues, organs, and organ systems of an organism; and ecology examines how various organisms interact and associate with their environment.