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Stuyvesant H.S.

SBS43X-01, 7YY

Chen, David
HW#1, 9/5/14

1. Write a brief description of the following levels of biological organization.


a. Biosphere Consisting of all the life on Earth as well as anywhere else life may exist, the
biosphere is the broadest category of living things. Habitable regions include many parts of
the land, bodies of water, below the surfaces of both land and water, and, to a certain extent,
throughout the atmosphere.
b. Ecosystem An ecosystem includes both the living things within a particular area as well as
the nonliving parts of the environment where life interacts with. The nonliving components
may include but not limited to the soil, water, and light. Examples of ecosystems would be
forests, grasslands, deserts, and coral reefs. The combined ecosystems of Earth make up the
biosphere.
c. Community In a biological sense, a community includes the entire body of organisms that
inhabit a particular ecosystem. In many instances, the makeup of these various organisms are
what makes that particular ecosystem unique. In a forest, for example, a community may be
comprised of several types of trees and other plants, various species of animals, and a diverse
array of fungi and microorganisms.
d. Population Any specific form of life is called a species. All the individuals of a particular
species living within a specified area would make up a population. For example, within a
particular ecosystem, all the oak trees or eastern box turtles would make up a population.
Thus, the set of populations that inhabit a particular area would be more accurately defined as
a community.
e. Organism Organisms are individual living things. This could be any single tree, mushroom,
or frog, and they would all be deemed as organisms.
f. Organs and organ systems If the organism is further dissected, it would be found that it is
made up of many organs. These are simply parts of the body of an organism that carries out a
particular function. In trees, an organ would be a leaf. In humans, an organ would be a heart.
For these and many other complex organisms, these organs may be grouped as organ systems,
or many organs working together in order to achieve a larger role or function.
g. Tissues Many tissues make up an organ. Tissues themselves however are composed of
groups of similar cells cooperating to perform a specialized function. Human skin tissues are
made up of many cells that work together, as one example, to decide what enters and leaves
the body.
h. Cells The structure and function of cells make up the fundamental unit of life. Distinct cells
make up the tissues of complex organisms. Unicellular organisms are single-celled organisms
such as bacteria. These single cells are capable of performing all the functions of life. More
complex organisms are usually multicellular such as plants and animals. With many cells,
different roles can be divided such that different groups of cells can specialize to perform a
specific function. For example, in humans, specialized cells would include nerve cells
designed to receive and transmit information.
i. Organelles Within cells, there exists various functional components that all have specific
roles working together. These organelles include ribosomes, vacuoles, and much more.
j. Molecules At the molecular level, life consists of small molecules, or chemical structures,
made up of smaller atoms combined into chemical units. The organelles chloroplasts are
made up of many small molecules called chlorophyll. These pigment molecules are what give

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the plants their color, and help plants with the absorption of sunlight in order to begin the
process of photosynthesis. It is down at this molecular level that chemical changes occur to,
for instance, provide food for the plant.
Describe the pathway from DNA to nucleotides to proteins.
The Central Dogma is the term used to describe the pathway in which DNA, or
deoxyribonucleic acid, nucleotides is transcribed into RNA, or ribonucleic acid, and then
finally into the numerous proteins essential to life. DNA is the genetic material of genes,
or the units of inheritance used to transit information from the parent to the offspring.
Within the nucleus of a cell, DNA is constantly being replicated. In addition, DNA
molecules also direct the synthesis of a type of RNA called messenger RNA (mRNA)
through the process of transcription. It is this mRNA that acts as an intermediary to
interact with the cells machinery to produce polypeptides, which eventually folds into
proteins. This machinery consists of specific types of ribosomes that are located outside
of the nucleus and within the cytoplasm. Thus, mRNA acts to bring the genetic code to
the ribosomes in order to allow the ribosome to translate the code into proteins.
Compare the movement of chemical nutrients and energy in an ecosystem.
All living things must be able to make use of energy in order to carry out life functions
such as movement, growth, reproduction, etc. These organisms derive their energy from
the Sun. However, the form of energy the sun provides is not directly useful to all living
things, and they must acquire it by transforming that energy from one form to another.
Plants contain chlorophyll molecules that allow it to take in the suns energy to drive the
process of photosynthesis. This process converts light energy into usable chemical energy
within sugar, which is eventually passed down to consumers. Consumers are organisms
that must feed on other living things to obtain energy. For instance, animals can use the
sugar to fuel their muscle cells and power movement. Plants may use this sugar to help
them grow their leaves. In all cases however, some energy is always lost to the
surroundings as heat, or thermal energy. While chemical nutrients are constantly being
recycled within an ecosystem, energy is only able to flow as it is converted from light to
chemical to heat energy.
What is a commonly used criterion for placing plants, fungi, and animals into separate kingdoms?
A commonly used criterion would be their modes of obtaining nutrition. For plants, they
are able to produce their own food using photosynthesis. Fungi, however, feed off of their
surroundings. They will usually decompose dead organisms and other organic wastes,
and absorb the dissolved nutrients from them. With animals, ingesting food is the primary
mode of nutrient absorption. Ingestion is process of eating and digesting other organisms,
and breaking them down into usable energy.
Describe in your own words Darwins theory of natural selection as the mechanism of
evolutionary adaptation and the origin of new species.
Natural selection is a mechanism of evolutionary adaptation by which certain traits
among the naturally occurring traits of a species are advantageous for its survival in its
environment. Thus, the organisms who have these traits are more likely to survive and
pass on the traits to their offspring. The organisms who were born with the inherited traits
are often best suited, or adapted, to the environment. Over time, more individuals within
the population will obtain the trait as the species reproduce while its competitors fail to
stay alive. Thus, this results in what is known as evolution, or the reproductive success of
individuals who are able to adapt to their environment through selected traits, and
eventually give rise to new species.
a. Identify the control and experimental groups in the mouse camouflage experiment.

The control groups were the mice whose coloration matched their habitat. The
experimental groups were the mice whose coloration did not match their habitat.
b. Why were the results of this study presented as the proportion of attacks on camouflaged and
non-camouflaged mice in each area rather than as the total number of attacks on non-camouflaged
mice?
The results of the study needed to be presented such that the results of each area needed
to be independent of one another. The one variable that the study was supposed to test for was
whether or not mouse coloration in respect to their habitat would increase predation. If the results
of each area were combined together as one large total, this would introduce a second variable:
the setting. By having another variable, it would be difficult to tell whether increased predation
for mouse coloration who did not match their habitat was a result of their color or a result of some
other variable due to the setting itself.
7. a. Compare hypotheses and theories.
Hypotheses are only statements devised to attempt to explain an observation or answer a
question. It takes in background research and thus is more of an educated prediction that
can be tested for through an experiment.
Theories look at science much broader than hypotheses. In fact, it is able to generate its
own specific hypotheses to attempt to explain and test for the theory. A theory is much
more than a groundless statement; it is backed up by a large amount of evidence.
However, theories may be modified or rejected depending on new results.
b. Compare science and technology
Science is driven by inquiry. It is a search for information to understand the natural world
in form of questions and the quest to finding the answers. The basis of scientific inquiry is the
observation and analysis of concrete data because scientists rely on evidence to back up claims.
Technology applies the information that is generated by science to achieve specific
purposes. The more that is understood about the natural world, the better able human are at
extending the scientific knowledge to figuring out ways to modify it to fit our needs or to come
up with new inventions that aid further progress.

Structure Your Knowledge


1. Briefly describe in your own words each of the five unifying themes of biology presented in this
chapter:
a. Emergent properties and levels of biological organization
From the microscopic molecules to the scale of the entire planet, there exists a biological
organization that exists used to divide up this vast range of life. At successive levels of
biological organization, there are always new properties emerging that were not present at its
preceding level. As parts of ecosystems become more complex, the arrangement and
interactions between those parts help to create the emergent properties.
b. Expression and transmission of genetic information
The expression and transmission of genetic information is an integral part of lifes processes.
Organisms who express certain advantageous traits are coded for within DNA and are able to
outcompete and survive in their environment. These parents can then transmit this genetic
information to their offspring to ensure their survival.
c. The transfer and transformation of energy and matter
All living things on earth require energy, forms of which must be transformed as well as
transferred. Energy taken from the sun is not readily usable. Thus, plants and other
photosynthetic organisms, or producers, must be able to convert this sunlight energy into
chemical energy in the form of food such as sugars. Both the producers and consumers can

then utilize this transformed energy and convert it to another form of usable energy which is
ultimately lost as thermal energy.
d. Interaction with other organisms and the physical environment
A combination of various components cooperating can be named a system. However, there
are many things in biology which can be designated as a system. Systems biology is a way to
model the behavior of a biological system in order to study the interactions that occur
between its organisms as well as between the organisms and the environment. A question
commonly posed is how a single change can affect the function of the entire system.
e. Evolution
Evolution is what accounts for the unity and diversity of life. It not only describes the
complexity of organisms but also their ability to survive and reproduce under the theory of
natural selection. It helps to produce new species of organisms that have acquired
advantageous traits from its predecessors. Thus, this creates a diverse array of organisms,
each in some way well adapted to their environment. However, it also shows that because
new species must descend from a parent, or a previous species, that all organisms share a
unity, or commonality between their traits and genetic information.

Test Your Knowledge


1. The core idea that makes sense of the unity and the diversity of life is
d. evolution
2. Suppose that, in an experiment similar to the mice study described in this chapter, a researcher
found that more total predator attacks occurred on model beach mice placed in a beach habitat
than in a mainland habitat. From this the researcher concluded that
d. the data that should be compared to draw a conclusion must include a controla
comparison with the number of attacks on model mainland mice in both habitats.
3. Why can a hypothesis never be proven to be true?
e. Science evolves; hypotheses and even theories are always changing
4. In a pond sample, you find a unicellular organism that has number chloroplasts and a whip-like
flagellum. In which of the following groups do you think it should be classified?
d. One of the proposed kingdoms of protists
5. What is DNA?
e. all of the above
6. Which of the following sequences correctly lists lifes hierarchical levels from lowest to highest?
c. molecule, organelle, cell, tissue, organ, organism
7. Which of the following themes of biology is most related to the goals and practices of systems
biology?
b. Organisms interact with other organisms and the physical environment.