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How Can Biology Be Studied At Different Scales

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The Many Branches Of Biology

The Biology Major – Careers, Courses, and Concentrations

Although there are only four unifying principles, biology covers a broad range of topics that are ;broken into many disciplines and subdisciplines.

On a high level, the different fields of biology can each be thought of as the study of one type of organism, according to “Blackie’s Dictionary of Biology” . For example, zoology is the study of animals, botany is the study of plants and microbiology is the study of microorganisms.

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Within those broader fields, many biologists specialize in researching a specific topic or problem. For example, a scientist may study behavior of a certain fish species, while another scientist may research the neurological and chemical mechanisms behind the behavior.

There are numerous branches and subdisciplines of biology, but here is a short list of some of the more broad fields that fall under the umbrella of biology:;

Towards Fair Peer Review

Peer review by journals or funding agencies also involves estimating the impact of the study. Since the ultimate value of any study is established through follow up work by the community at large, any estimate of potential impact made during peer review is at best an educated guess influenced by prevailing paradigms . Furthermore, despite agreeing upon a common level of support for claims, there can be disagreements because of subjective interpretations . This subjectivity is underscored by studies on grant review that document low agreement when different panels judge the same proposal . Given all this, being more specific about the paradigms involved in a paper or grant application â both in the paper or application itself, and during the review and assessment of the paper or application â should lead to better decisions being made.

The Diversity Of Life

The science of biology is very broad in scope because there is a tremendous diversity of life on Earth. The source of this diversity is evolution, the process of gradual change during which new species arise from older species. Evolutionary biologists study the evolution of living things in everything from the microscopic world to ecosystems.

In the 18th century, a scientist named Carl Linnaeus first proposed organizing the known species of organisms into a hierarchical taxonomy. In this system, species that are most similar to each other are put together within a grouping known as a genus. Furthermore, similar genera are put together within a family. This grouping continues until all organisms are collected together into groups at the highest level. The current taxonomic system now has eight levels in its hierarchy, from lowest to highest, they are: species, genus, family, order, class, phylum, kingdom, and domain. Thus species are grouped within genera, genera are grouped within families, families are grouped within orders, and so on.

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Modeling Biology Spanning Different Scales: An Open Challenge

Filippo Castiglione

1Institute for Applied Mathematics, National Research Council of Italy, Rome, Italy

2Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Catania, Catania, Italy

3Theoretical Physics of Condensed Matter, Sorbonne Universities, UPMC Univ Paris 6, 75252 Paris Cedex 05, France

4UMR 7600 LPTMC, CNRS, 75252 Paris Cedex 05, France

5Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Catania, 95125 Catania, Italy


It is coming nowadays more clear that in order to obtain a unified description of the different mechanisms governing the behavior and causality relations among the various parts of a living system, the development of comprehensive computational and mathematical models at different space and time scales is required. This is one of the most formidable challenges of modern biology characterized by the availability of huge amount of high throughput measurements. In this paper we draw attention to the importance of multiscale modeling in the framework of studies of biological systems in general and of the immune system in particular.

1. Introduction

The language of mathematics has been extensively used to describe natural phenomena of the physical sciences in terms of models based on equations. The mathematical language allows logical reasoning over a representation of the physical entities involved in the phenomenon and makes possible to account for the observations made through experimentation.

2.1. Single-Level Models

The Basic Principles Of Modern Biology

mapping arbovirus vector interactions at different

Four principles unify modern biology, according to the book “Managing Science” :;

  • Cell theory is the principle that all living things are made of fundamental units called cells, and all cells come from preexisting cells.
  • Gene theory is the principle that all living things have DNA, molecules that code the structures and functions of cells and get passed to offspring.
  • Homeostasis is the principle that all living things maintain a state of balance that enables organisms to survive in their environment.
  • Evolution is the principle that describes how all living things can change to have traits that enable them to survive better in their environments. These traits result from random mutations in the organism’s genes that are “selected” via a process called natural selection. During natural selection, organisms that have traits better-suited for their environment have higher rates of survival, and then pass those traits to their offspring.
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    What Do Biologists Do

    Biologists can work in many different fields, including research, healthcare, environmental conservation and art, according to the American Institute of Biological Sciences. Here are a few examples:

    Additional resources:;

    Sampling And Detection Scale

    At the smallest temporal scales , the assemblage being sampled at time A and time B is essentially the same assemblage any differences are due to sampling and detection errors of the survey methods. This is not a particularly biologically interesting scale or process, but it does present a baseline for the amount of turnover due to sampling noise that can then be used to demonstrate that larger amounts of turnover at longer time scales must be due to more interesting biological processes. Obviously the amount of noise at this scale depends on the organism and the survey methods. Stem-mapped tree plots will have almost no noise and turnover at this scale, while birds identified by sight and sound in quick point counts could show significant turnover due to sampling and detection errors.

    Marco Vilela, … Gaudenz Danuser, in, 2013

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    Scales Of Habitat Fragmentation

    PhytotelmataSmall Aquatic Worlds in a Highly Fragmented Landscape

    Phytotelmata are small water bodies within plants that exist as aquatic refugia within a much larger terrestrial ecosystem. Examples include tree holes, bamboo internodes, pitcher plants, tank bromeliads and water-retaining plant axils . Phytotelmata have been intensively studied as they represent naturally replicated systems containing discrete communities and food webs within individual plants . The macrofaunal assemblages they contain can range from 2 to 20 species and are often dominated by arthropods, although annelids, frog tadpoles and molluscs have also been recorded . In addition, they contain a diverse range of microscopic life, including rotifers, protozoa and bacteria .

    Phytotelmata can be regarded as insular systems , and they have been useful models for testing island biogeography theory . An investigation of the macrofaunal diversity in epiphytic bromeliads shows that species richness increases with phytotelma size and physical habitat complexity . Phytotelmata are extremely isolated as the surrounding matrix is hostile. There is no connectance between phytotelmata via corridors, so the aquaticterrestrial boundary presents a discrete hard edge between fragments. This can only be overcome in the adult phases of phytotelma-inhabiting species, for example, as winged phase of aquatic insects or after metamorphosis in tadpoles.

    J. Matias Palva, Satu Palva, in, 2011

    The Scales Training Approach

    Acids, Bases, and pH

    Synthetic biology aims to understand and harness the rules of life across multiple scales. Life presents an enormous diversity of biological function that spans multiple spatiotemporal scales. These functionsfrom the abilities of cells to synthesize small molecules, remediate environmental contaminants, build and maintain ecosystems, and differentiate to protect our immune systemshave great potential to become components of sustainable solutions for meeting pressing global challenges. For example, synthetic biology research has led to engineered biological systems that can synthesize fuels, pharmaceuticals, and foods from sustainable feedstocks, act as smart therapeutics to cure diseases, and help balance the global carbon cycle.Even the seemingly simple example of cellular synthesis of products from sustainable feedstocks requires understanding and synthesis of diverse phenomena, including the underlying reaction chemical kinetics , enzyme biophysics and substrate transport , genetic regulation of enzymes and cellular physiology , reactor vessel scale-up , and technoeconomic analyses . Synthetic biologists of the future will need training that allows them to traverse and integrate these disciplines and scales to be successful.;

    The Synthetic Biology Along Scales training approach.

    In this way the scales framework is the focal point of the;SynBAS;NRT program, and drives the training and research across the Northwestern Center for Synthetic Biology.;

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    Philosophical Accounts Of Levels Of Organization

    A recurring motif in the literature on levels of organization is tolament the haphazard or unreflective way in which terms such ashierarchy or levels are applied, and tocall for more precise analyses . However, surprisingly fewphilosophers or scientists have taken up the challenge of developing asubstantial theory or account of levels of organization. In thissection, we discuss three major accounts put forward in philosophy ofscience to clarify or posit what exactly levels of organization are.These are Paul Oppenheim and Hilary Putnamslayer-cake account, the mechanist account developed andadvocated by Carl Craver and William Bechtel, and William Wimsatts local maximaaccount . Afterthese, we also go through recent skeptical approaches to the idea oflevels of organization.

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    Biology is studied at a wide variety of scales, although not to the same degree as physics and chemistry. Biology is, in a sense, “downstream” from physics and chemistry, insofar as biology is limited by the laws of chemistry and physics, but they are not limited by biology. In a simpler perspective, biology is the study of life, and is therefore limited to the scale of life itself.

    Several of these realms overlap and merge depending upon what is being studied; for example, molecular evolution combines molecular biology with evolution in order to study exactly how certain molecules may have changed over time in order to lead to the physiological structures studied in cell biology or anatomy.

    Multiscale Modeling In Biology

    mapping arbovirus vector interactions at different

    The 1966 science-fiction film Fantastic Voyage captured the public imagination with a clever idea: What fantastic things might we see and do if we could miniaturize ourselves and travel through the bloodstream as corpuscles do?

    Figure 1. Fantastic Voyage, the 1966 science-fiction film whose protagonists were miniaturized for a mission inside a human body, offered an imaginary close-up of life at the cellular scale. In the film, the team and their tiny submarine travel through blood vessels, racing to break up a clot while evading their patient’s immune system. Today’s technology allows full-sized scientists to quantify the activity of cells and their components to validate models of life at each scale, from the smallest to the largest. Models are increasingly used to test plausible biological hypotheses, develop intuition and address multiscale disease processes such as cancer.

    20th Century Fox/The Kobal Collection

    But that’s the problem with biology. Life has so many scales, each rich and complex, that progress has required the field to be sliced up. Some scientists are molecular biologists, others cellular, organismic or population biologists; still others study broad issues emerging from the perspectives of evolution, ecology or bioinformatics. Biology at each level incorporates information from strata above and below. With tools and resources ample enough to parse whole genomes, our view of life is no longer limited by our instruments.

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    Levels Of Organization Of Living Things

    Living things are highly organized and structured, following a hierarchy that can be examined on a scale from small to large. The atom is the smallest and most fundamental unit of matter. It consists of a nucleus surrounded by electrons. Atoms form molecules which are chemical structures consisting of at least two atoms held together by one or more chemical bonds. Many molecules that are biologically important are macromolecules, large molecules that are typically formed by polymerization . An example of a macromolecule is deoxyribonucleic acid , which contains the instructions for the structure and functioning of all living organisms.

    DNA: All molecules, including this DNA molecule, are composed of atoms.

    Six Approaches For Analyzing Living Systems On Multiple Scales

    One feature that many experimental techniques have in common, no matter how powerful they are, is that they are only useful over a limited range of length and time scales. Yet, the integration of information across different length and time scales is necessary to understand living systems because the outcome of events that occur at the level of molecules within nanoseconds and that unfold in populations over millions of years can depend on each other. For example, a mutation in DNA that disrupts molecular interactions could alter the cell, the tissue, the organism, and even populations. Conversely, mechanisms that have been honed over evolutionary time in populations can repair the mutation in DNA or compensate for its consequence.

    Six approaches for the analysis of living systems.

    In this schematic diagram, a living system is represented as an abstract network , with the colored nodes representing the different parts of the system, and the grey edges representing the interactions between the parts. Four of the six approaches described in this article involve doing something to one part of the system ; the fifth approach involves combining multiple parts; and the sixth approach involves simulating some or all of the parts.

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    Levels Of Organization In Biology

    Levels of organization are structures in nature, usually defined bypart-whole relationships, with things at higher levels being composedof things at the next lower level. Typical levels of organization thatone finds in the literature include the atomic, molecular, cellular,tissue, organ, organismal, group, population, community, ecosystem,landscape, and biosphere levels. References to levels of organizationand related hierarchical depictions of nature are prominent in thelife sciences and their philosophical study, and appear not only inintroductory textbooks and lectures, but also in cutting-edge researcharticles and reviews. In philosophy, perennial debates such asreduction, emergence, mechanistic explanation, interdisciplinaryrelations, natural selection, and many other topics, also relysubstantially on the notion.

    Yet, in spite of the ubiquity of the notion, levels of organizationhave received little explicit attention in biology or its philosophy.Usually they appear in the background as an implicit conceptualframework that is associated with vague intuitions. Attempts atproviding general and broadly applicable definitions of levels oforganization have not met wide acceptance. In recent years, severalauthors have put forward localized and minimalistic accounts oflevels, and others have raised doubts about the usefulness of thenotion as a whole.

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    Evolution: It’s a Thing – Crash Course Biology #20

    How Can Biology Be Studied At Different Scales. Describe how dna was shown to be the genetic material and how dna is copied. Biology, study of living things and their vital processes that deals with all the physicochemical aspects of life.

    One of the three main scientific disciplines, biology can be divided into numerous specialised. It is a subject that builds upon itself, so it’s essential to understand the basic biology can be complicated, but it is also very interesting if you take a step back to think about what you’re studying. Among the speakers, olivier hamant will give the conference on. To understand how regeneration works across the different scales of living systems, we first need at first, regeneration was studied at the level of single organisms, but in the 1970s, ecologists also with these three competing interpretations in mind, thomas hunt morgan, the american biologist. Magnification can be calculated using a scale bar.

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    Why Does Mastery Of Biology Depend On Studies At Different Scales From The Small To The Very Large


    This is because biological life is very diverse from the very minute organisms such as microscopic bacteria to the very big organisms lie the elephant and human. They are all made of the basic unit of life called cells. Nonetheless, these cells work differently at these different levels even though the basics and molecules of life remain the same. Understanding biology at small and large scale is significant in understanding life and devising ways of improving life such as in medicine.


    The biology mastery depend on studies at different scales, from the small to the very large because organisms that we study from micro scale micro-organisms to very large organisms such as elephants and whales.

    When we talk about the subject biology it deals with all organisms that are present in this atmosphere, there are very diverse types and numbers of organisms ranging from a small microbe to a large mammal, hence mastering biology involves mastering all these organisms from micro to macro.

    Wimsatts Local Maxima Account

    Both the layer-cake and the mechanistic approach to levels aim atdefining levels in the sense of giving at least necessary conditionsfor what constitutes a level. William Wimsatt takes a different approachand sets out to characterize the key features that levels oforganization typically exhibit across differentinstances. His aim is to delineate major structural or organizationalfeatures of nature, of which levels of organization are the mostsalient ones. First, levels are compositional and form nestedhierarchical structures, so that wholes at lower levels function asparts at higher levels. Second, levels of organization are a

    deep, non-arbitrary, and extremely important feature of theontological architecture of our natural world, and almost certainly ofany world which could produce, and be inhabited or understood by,intelligent beings.

    In other words, Wimsatt considers levels to be units that cutnature at its joints .

    A further feature of levels of organization is that they are

    constituted by families of entities usually of comparable size anddynamical properties, which characteristically interact primarily withone another.

    Finally, and perhaps most importantly,

    evels of organization can be thought of as local maxima ofregularity and predictability in the phase space of alternative modesof organization of matter.

    Figure. Wimsatt, created in 1973; usedwith permission.

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