Biology is the science that deals with the study of living things. The word Biology is derived from two Greek words, Bios which means Life, and logos which means study of. Thus biology is a study of life and living organisms.
The Meaning of Basic Biological Concepts and Terminologies
Explain the meaning of basic biological concepts and terminologies
Biology is derived from two Greek words, that is, bios which means life and logos or logia which means study or knowledge.
biology can be defined as a branch of science which deals with the
study of life. The term biology can also be defined as a branch of
science which deals with the study of living things or organisms.
A person specialized in the study of biology
means being alive or existing. Something is alive or existing if it
possesses life processes. The life processes are growth, movement or
locomotion, respiration, excretion, reproduction, sensitivity and
Organism is anything which has life. It is the other name of a living thing.Organisms are made up of cells.
A cell is a basic unit of living things. The cell has three main parts, cell membranecytoplasm and nucleus. Cells which make up plants are called plant cells and those which make up animals are called animal cells.
organisms are made up of one cell. They are called unicellular or
single-celled organisms e.g. amoeba, euglena and yeast. Some organisms
are made up of many cells, they are called multi cellular organisms e.g.
animals, plants, and most fungi.
The Characteristics of Living Things
Outline the characteristics of living things
living organisms are capable of movement. Movement is the change of
position of the whole organism or just part of an organism. For animals
and unicellular organisms the movement is of the whole body. This is
known as locomotion. Most animals move about using legs, wings
or fins. Unicellular organisms such as amoeba, paramecium and euglena
use the locomotory structures pseudopodia, cilia and flagella
plants only part of it may move towards different factors such as
light, water, gravity etc. They move by growing. Their roots grow down
in the soil and their shoots grow up into the air or towards a source of
Irritability (sensitivity)
is the ability of an organism to respond to a stimulus. Stimulus
(plural; stimuli) is anything that causes a response in an organism.
Examples of stimuli include: an alarm clock, a smell of breakfast cooking and a fly landing on your skin.
living things are sensitive to certain changes in their surroundings,
that is, they are aware of what is happening around them. This is
possible because they have special organs known as sense organs by which
they detect these changes.
Examples of sense organs include: eyes for vision (sight); skin for temperature, touch, pressure detection; tongue for tasting; nose for smelling; and ears for hearing and body balance.
Plants do not have sense organs but are still able to detect and respond to things like gravity, water and light.
Feeding (Nutrition)
All living things need food to provide energy for such activities such as growth, repair and health.
get their food by eating other living things or food materials that
were once living things. Herbivores (e.g. rabbits) eat plants,
carnivores (e.g. lions) eat other animals, and omnivores (e.g. humans)
eat animals and plants. Plants make their own food through the process
called photosynthesis.
The process of taking in food, synthesizing it, digesting and oxidizing it to release energy or build the body is called nutrition.
Respiration is the breaking down of food materials within cells to release energy.
usually involves the use of oxygen. All living things need energy for
movement, growth and development, and functioning of body organs.
living things produce wastes such as carbon dioxide, water, urea,
ammonia etc.. Some of these chemicals if left to accumulate in the cells
would seriously poison the living organism hence they need to be
removed. The process of removing metabolic waste products from the body
of living organisms is called excretion.
Waste products are removed from the body by excretory organs such skin, kidneys, lungs and liver.
is the process by which living things produce new individuals of their
kind. All living things reproduce, to replace organisms lost by death.
If a group of organisms does not reproduce fast enough to replace those
which die, the group becomes extinct. Reproduction ensures continuation
of life when parent generation dies.
beings bear babies; birds hatch chicks; and plants produce seedlings as
new organisms, which eventually grow to mature organisms to replace
those lost by deaths.
is defined as an irreversible (permanent) increase in size and dry
weight of an organism involving differentiation. All living things need
food in order to grow and build up their bodies.
Animals grow until they reach certain adult size, but most plants can grow continuously throughout their lives.
Examples of growth in living things
Example 1
Examples of living things
Fucus (bladderwrack)
Grass snake
Flagellate bacilli
Male fern
Fucus (bladderwrack)
Dog fish
A table of differences between living things and non-living things
Living things Non-living things
They respire Do not respire
They grow Do not grow
They respond to stimuli Do not respond to stimuli
They reproduce Do not reproduce
They excrete Do not excrete
They feed Do not feed
They move Do not move
Branches of biology
Biology is a subject and it has many branches. The main branches are botany and zoology Botany is a branch of biology which deals with the study of plants. A person who studies botany is called a botanist Zoology is a branch of biology which deals with the study of animals. A person who studies zoology is called a Zoologist
Other branches of biology
Mycology: this is the study of fungi. A person who studies mycology is called a mycologist
Bacteriology: this is the study of bacteria. A person who studies bacteriology is called a bacteriologist.
Virology: this branch of biology deals with the study of viruses. A person who studies virology is called a virologist.
Immunology: is concerned with body defense against diseases and foreign substances. A person who studies immunology is called an immunologist.
Entomology: refers to the study of insects A person who studies entomology is called an entomologist.
Parasitology:this branch deals with study of parasites and their effects on living organisms. A person who studies parasitology is called a parasitologist.
Dermatology: It is concerned with medical study of skin and its diseases. A person who studies dermatology is called a dermatologist
Ecology: Is
a branch of biology that deals with relationship among living things
and between organisms and their surroundings. A person who studies
ecology is called an ecologist
Anatomy:Is the study which deals with structure of living things. A person who studies anatomy is called anatomist
Diagram representing branches of Biology
This is the study of structure of endocrine glands and the hormones
associated by them. A person who studies endocrinology is called an endocrinologist.
Histology: Is the study of structure of tissues A person who studies histology is called an histologist
Cytology: Is the study of structure, composition and function of cells. A person who studies cytology is called a cytologist.
Is devoted to the study of organisms that can be seen only with a
microscope e.g. bacteria, viruses, some fungi and some protoctists. A
person who studies microbiology is called a microbiologist.
Taxonomy: Is the scientific classification of organisms. A person who studies taxonomy is called a taxonomist.
Genetics: Study of heredity and variation in organisms. A person who studies genetics is called geneticist.
The Importance of Studying Biology
Explain the importance of studying biology
The study of biology is very important to man.
The following is an outlines of why the study of biology is important:
  1. It helps us to understand ourselves better since we are living things.
  2. Skills
    and knowledge of biology can be applied to other scientific fields such
    as agriculture, forestry medicine, nutrition, pharmacy and veterinary
  3. It helps us to understand our environment better and principles of conserving it.
  4. Biology
    helps to answer some important questions such as, what do living things
    need, why do we resemble with a monkey, why do frogs lay many eggs but
    only few become adults?
  5. Knowledge of biology helps us to improve
    our health since causes, symptoms, transmission and treatment are of
    various diseases are studied in biology.
  6. Knowledge of biology helps us to avoid our selves from magical beliefs, superstitions and other traditional taboos.
  7. Knowledge
    of genetics helps us to clear some common doubts about certain
    inherited characteristics e.g. albinism, sickle cell anaemia,
    haemophilia, etc.
  8. Knowledge of the structure and chemical composition of the organisms enable us to acquire food, clothes and shelter from them.
Relationship between Biological Science with other Related Fields
Relate biological science with other related fields
Veterinary science (Veterinary medicine)
Veterinary medicine is the branch of medicine that deals with the diseases of animals. Doctors that treat animals are called Veterinarians.
Veterinarians are trained to prevent, diagnose and treat illness in
large and small animals. Their work is valuable because many animal
diseases can be transmitted to human beings e.g. rabies, tuberculosis,
tularemia (rabbit fever) anthrax etc. Basic knowledge of biology is
required for successful study of veterinary science.
is concerned with production of useful plants and animals through
farming system. Agriculture provides us with almost all our food. It
provides materials for clothing and shelter. It provides materials used
for making many industrial products such as paints and medicines.
Agriculture uses knowledge of biology to improve plant and animal
breeding. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) ensure better quality,
early maturity and high yield products. Crop and animal diseases and
pests can only be overcome by applying biological knowledge.
A forest
is a large area of land covered with trees. It is much more than just
trees. It also includes smaller plants such as mosses, shrubs and wild
flowers. Forestry is the science of managing forest resources for human
benefit. The practice of forestry helps maintain an adequate supply of
timber and management of such valuable forest resources such as water,
wildlife, grazing areas and recreational areas.
helps in improving the qualities of the trees through manipulating the
genetic constitution of the particular plant species.
soil and water determine the type of plants to be grown which entirely
applies biological knowledge. Use of biological control to combat tree
pests applies biological principles.
Pharmacy is the profession concerned with the preparation, distribution and use of drugs. Members of this profession are called pharmacists or druggists.
Pharmacy also refers to a place where drugs are prepared or sold The
drugs are made depending on the chemical composition of the body of an
organism and how they can react with such medicines. Knowledge of
biology also helps to know the effects of drugs on living things
(pharmacology) and possible remedies to be taken.
is the science and art of preserving health and treating illness.
Medicine is a science because it is based on knowledge gained through
careful study and experimentation. It is an art because its success
depends on how skilfully medical practitioners apply their knowledge in
dealing with patients. The goal of medicine include saving lives,
relieving suffering and maintaining the dignity of sick people.
Biological knowledge helps the doctors, surgeons and nurses to diagnose,
treat and prescribe the right medicine to cure the disease.
knowledge will also help them to offer education to the patients on how
to prevent themselves from the diseases e.g. purifying drinking water,
vaccination against polio, measles and other diseases.
is the science which deals with food and how the body uses it. People,
like all living things need food to live. Food provides substances that
the body needs to build and repair its tissues and to regulate its
organs and systems. Food also supplies energy for every action we
perform. Knowledge of biology helps to identify the type of food
required by an individual based on its quality and quantity.
A table showing differences between plants and animals
(i)They are autotrophic, i.e. they can make their own food They are heterotrophic i.e. they feed on complex organic compounds
(ii)Contain chlorophyll, can undergo photosynthesis. No chlorophyll, cannot undergo photosynthesis
(iii)Growth occurs in some parts only i.e. root and shoot tips. Growth occurs in all parts of the body.
(iv)They have branched bodies They have compact bodies
(v)No nerves, muscles, blood system or special sensory cells. Have nerves, muscles, blood system and special sensory cells.
(vi)Usually rooted in the ground and do not move from place to place. Not rooted in the ground, move to get food and escape enemies.
(vii)Have no digestive system Have digestive system needed to break down food
(viii)Cells of plants have cell walls Cells of animals have no cell walls
Activity 1
Living and non-living things
Aim: to explore living and non-living things around the school
Procedure:Go around the school surroundings. Identify varieties of living and non living things you see.
Make a list of living and non – living things in a tabular form as shown below.
List of living things List of non-living things
Exercise 1
Self test questions
1. Biology is derived from two Greek words namely,
  1. Logos and Lagos
  2. Logos and phyla
  3. Bios and logos
  4. Bios and phyla
2. The following are characteristics of living things except
  1. Nutrition
  2. Reproduction
  3. Growth
  4. Dancing
3. A branch of biology which deals with the study of plants is called
  1. Botany
  2. Dermatology
  3. Ecology
  4. Zoology
4. A person who studies zoology is called
  1. Botanist
  2. Virologist
  3. Zoologist
  4. Ecologist
5. All of the following are living things except
  1. Bean plant
  2. Sand
  3. Lizard
  4. Rat
6. Which of the following is the most important basic difference between plants and animals?
  1. Growth
  2. Reproduction
  3. Nutrition
  4. Movement
7. Which of the following is out of place?
  1. Excretion
  2. Virology
  3. Endocrinology
  4. Zoology
8. The following is the best description about irritability
  1. Removal of waste products
  2. Ability to move from one place to another
  3. Increase in size of an organism
  4. Ability to respond to environmental changes
9. The picture below best represents
  1. Reproduction
  2. Movement
  3. Nutrition
  4. Sensitivity
A person picks up a telephone after hearing it ringing. Which
characteristics of living things is the person showing by this action?
  1. Excretion and reproduction
  2. Respiration and nutrition
  3. Irritability and movement
  4. Respiration and growth
11. For each of the following write TRUE if the statement is true and FALSE if the statement is not true.
  1. Biology is a branch of science which deals with the study of living things__________________
  2. Dancing is one of the characteristics of living things _________________
  3. A person who studies ecology is called mycologist _________________
  4. Knowledge of biology can help us to improve our health ________________
  5. Living things normally increase in size. The process of increasing in size is called growth ________________
12 (a). What do you understand by the following terms?
  1. Biology
  2. Cell
  3. Bacteriology
(b) List down seven (7) characteristics of living things.
13. Give seven differences between living things and non living things.
  1. Outline the importance of studying biology
  2. Why are a mosquito and a dog considered to be living things?
14. Give four differences between plants and animals.
  1. A
    motor car moves from place to place, obtains energy by combining petrol
    with oxygen and produces waste gases. Does this mean cars are alive?
    Look through the seven features, of living things and list those which
    do not apply to cars.
15. (a) What do you understand by the following terms?
  1. Pharmacy
  2. Forestry
  3. Veterinary medicine.
(b) State how biology is related to the following science fields
  1. Pharmacy
  2. Veterinary medicine
  3. Agriculture
  4. Forestry
  5. Nutrition
  6. Medicine


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