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1.1: Introduction

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    Biology is the scientific study of living organisms and their interactions with one another and their environments. This is a very broad definition because the scope of biology is vast. Biologists may study small organisms, such as the microscopic blue-green algae that give us clues about the evolution of plants, or biomes such as the Mojave desert, shown here with a Joshua Tree in the foreground (Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\)). Plant biology is the study of plants and their interactions with their environment.

    Round colonies of blue-green algae. Each algae cell is about 5 microns across.
    Joshua Tree standing in the Mojave desert
    Figure \(\PageIndex{1}\): (a) Cyanobacteria, shown here at 300x magnification under a light microscope, are some of Earth’s oldest life forms. (b) A Joshua Tree in the Mojave Desert. Credit a: modification of work by NASA; Credit b: Kammy Algiers (CC-BY).

    Science (from the Latin scientia, meaning “knowledge”) can be defined as knowledge of the physical or natural world through observation or experimentation. Scientists seek to understand the world and the way it operates. To do this, they use two methods of logical thinking: inductive reasoning and deductive reasoning. Biologists study the living world by posing questions about it and seeking science-based responses. The scientific method is a method of research with defined steps that include experiments and careful observation.


    Curated and authored by Kammy Algiers using 1.2 (The Process of Science) from Biology 2e by OpenStax (licensed CC-BY).

    • 1.1.1: The Scientific Method
      In simple terms, biology is the study of living organisms and their interactions with one another and their environments. This is a very broad definition because the scope of biology is vast. Biologists may study anything from the microscopic or submicroscopic view of a cell to ecosystems and the whole living planet.
    • 1.1.2: Organisms Studied in Botany
      Plants are so vitally important to the world. Plants start the majority of food and energy chains, they provide us with oxygen, food and medicine. Most plants are what you typically think of: multicellular eukaryotic organisms that are ancestrally terrestrial and photosynthesize. In addition to plants, fungi, photosynthetic prokaryotes, algae, and some heterotrophic "protists" are typically included in the study of botany.
    • 1.1.3: Intro to Evolution
      The history of life on Earth goes back more than three and a half billion years. A unifying theme throughout this course is the theory of evolution. Evolution explains both the diversity and unity of life. Natural selection, the most dominant evolutionary force, is a main mechanisms that is responsible for the diversity of species on Earth today.
    • 1.1.4: Life Cycles
      Plants display an alternations of generations life cycle. The haploid multicellular life stage is called the gametophyte as it produces gametes, which, after fertilization, develop into a mature diploid sporophyte. The sporophyte produces spores by meiosis, and the spores eventually develop into mature multicellular gametophytes.
    • 1.1.5: Subfields and Applications in Plant Biology
      Botany, or plant biology, is the study of plants. However, the discipline can further be divided into many subdisciplines. These subdisciplines can blend with other disciplines such as agriculture, chemistry, genetics, molecular biology, physiology, systematics, paleontology, and various branches of ecology.
    • 1.1.6: Chapter Summary

    Thumbnail: Malva assurgentiflora under UV light. Photo by Alan Rockefeller, CC-BY-NC

    This page titled 1.1: Introduction is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Melissa Ha, Maria Morrow, & Kammy Algiers (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative) .