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Exam 1 Study Guide - Chapter 1 An Introduction to Life on...

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Chapter 1 An Introduction to Life on Earth Vocabulary Adaptation : a trait that increases the ability of an individual to survive and reproduce compared to individuals without the trait. autotrophy: self-feeder; normally, a photosynthetic organism; a producer. biodiversity: the total number of species within an ecosystem and the resulting complexity of interactions among them. biosphere: that part of Earth inhabited by living organisms; includes both living and nonliving components. cell: the smallest unit of life, consisting, at a minimum, of an outer membrane that encloses a watery medium containing organic molecules, including genetic material composed of DNA. conclusion: the final operation in the scientific method; a decision made about the validity of a hypothesis on the basis of experimental evidence. control: that portion of an experiment in which all possible variables are held constant; in contrast to the experimental portion, in which a particular variable is altered. eukaryotic: referring to cells of organisms of the domain Eukarya (plants, animals, fungi, and protists). Eukaryotic cells have genetic material enclosed within a membrane- bound nucleus and contain other membrane-bound organelles. evolution: the descent of modern organisms with modification from preexisting life- forms; strictly speaking, any change in the proportions of different genotypes in a population from one generation to the next. experiment: the third operation in the scientific method; the testing of a hypothesis by further observations, leading to a conclusion. heterotroph: literally, other-feeder; an organism that eats other organisms; a consumer. homeostasis: the maintenance of a relatively constant environment required for the optimal functioning of cells, maintained by the coordinated activity of numerous regulatory mechanisms, including the respiratory, endocrine, circulatory, and excretory systems. hypothesis: the second operation in the scientific method; a supposition based on previous observations that is offered as an explanation for the observed phenomenon and is used as the basis for further observations, or experiments. metabolism: the sum of all chemical reactions that occur within a single cell or within all the cells of a multicellular organism. multicellular: many-celled; most members of the kingdoms Fungi, Plantae, and Animalia are multicellular, with intimate cooperation among cells. natural selection: the unequal survival and reproduction of organisms due to environmental forces, resulting in the preservation of favorable adaptations. Usually, natural selection refers specifically to differential survival and reproduction on the basis of genetic differences among individuals. nucleus: the membrane-bound organelle of eukaryotic cells that contains the cell's genetic material.
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