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Pages from Biology_(Campbell)

Pages from Biology_(Campbell) - Introductio Themes in the...

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Introductio Themes in the Study of Life KEY CONCEPTS 1.1 Themes connect the concepts of biology 1.2 The Core Theme: Evolution accounts for the unity and diversity of life 1.3 Scientists use two main forms of inquiry in their study of nature About the World of Life T he flower featured on the cover of this book and in Figure 1.1 is from a magnolia, atree ofancient lineage that is native to Asian and American forests. The mag- nolia blossom is asign ofthe plant's status as a living organism, for flowers contain organs of sexual reproduction, and repro- duction is a key property oCHfe, as you will learn later. Like all organisms, the magnolia tree in Figure 1.2 is living in close association with other organisms, though it is a lone specimen far from its ancestral forest. For example, it depends on beetles to carry pollen from one flower to another, and the beetles, in turn, eat from its flowers. The flowers are adapted to the beetles in several ways: Their bowl shape allows easy ac- cess, and their multiple reproductive organs and tough petals (see Figure 1.1) help ensure that some survive the voracious beetles. Such adaptations are the result of evolution, the process of change that has transformed life on Earth from its earliest beginnings to the diversity of organisms living today. As discussed later in this chapter, evolution is the fundamental or- ganizing principle of biology and the main theme ofthis book. Although biologists know a great deal about magnolias and other plants, many mysteries remain. For instance, what ex- actly led to the origin of flowering plants? Posing questions about the living world and seeking science-based answers- scientific inquiry-are the central activities ofbiology, the sci- ... Figure 1.1 What properties of life are demonstrated by this flower? entific study of life. Biologists' questions can be ambitious. They may ask how a single tiny cen becomes a tree or a dog, how the human mind works, or how the different forms of life in a forest interact. Can you think of some questions about liv- ing organisms that interest you? When you do, you are already starting to think like a biologist. More than anything else, bi- ology is a quest, an ongoing inquiry about the nature of life. Perhaps some ofyour questions relate to health or to soci- etal or environmental issues. Biology is woven into the fabric of our culture more than ever before and can help answer many questions that affect our lives. Research breakthroughs in genetics and cell biology are transforming medicine and agriculture. Neuroscience and evolutionary biology are re- shaping psychology and sociology. New models in ecology are helping societies evaluate environmental issues, such as global warming. There has never been a more important time to em· bark on a study of life.
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