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Some Basics of Biology

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Castro−Huber: Marine
Biology, Fourth Edition

II. Life in the Marine
Environment

4. Some Basics of Biology

© The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2003

c h a p t e r

Some Basics of Biology

4

N

ow that we have discussed
some of the major features of
the marine environment, we
can turn our attention to life in the sea.
Perhaps the most basic question we
could ask is, What is life? Most people
have a pretty good feel for what the
word living means, but it is difficult to
come up with a precise definition.
About the best we can do is to describe
the properties that living things have in
common.
All living things use energy, the
ability to do work, to maintain themselves and grow. This is accomplished
by means of a vast number of chemical
reactions that together are called
metabolism. Living things also use energy to regulate their internal environments, that is, to maintain livable conditions inside themselves no matter what
their surroundings are like. They are
able to sense and react to the external
environment. In addition, all life forms
reproduce to perpetuate their kind, and
they pass their characteristics on to their
offspring.

•

All living things grow, metabolize, react to the
external environment, and reproduce.

•
The most basic features of living
things are shared by all organisms, not
just those that live in the sea. Here, however, we will pay particular attention to
the lives of marine organisms.

Flatworms (Pseudoceros bifurcus) joust in a mating ritual known as penis fencing.

THE INGREDIENTS
OF LIFE
The process of life involves an intricate series of interactions among an immense variety of chemicals. The most important of
these chemicals is also one of the simplest:
water. As the universal solvent, water provides the medium in which all the other
molecules dissolve and interact. Water is
the base of a complex “chemical soup” inside all organisms where the chemical reactions of metabolism take place.

The Building Blocks
The processes that make life possible involve an enormous number of chemicals
in addition to water. Most of these chemicals are organic compounds, molecules
that contain atoms of carbon, hydrogen,

Water is called the universal solvent
because it can dissolve more different
substances than any other liquid.
Chapter 3, p. 46

69

Castro−Huber: Marine
Biology, Fourth Edition

70

II. Life in the Marine
Environment

4. Some Basics of Biology

Part Two Life in the Marine Environment

www.mhhe.com/marinebiology

High-energy

Energy
r...
Castro−Huber: Marine
Biology, Fourth Edition
II. Life in the Marine
Environment
4. Some Basics of Biology © The McGraw−Hill
Companies, 2003
69
N
ow that we have discussed
some of the major features of
the marine environment, we
can turn our attention to life in the sea.
Perhaps the most basic question we
could ask is, What is life? Most people
have a pretty good feel for what the
word living means, but it is difficult to
come up with a precise definition.
About the best we can do is to describe
the properties that living things have in
common.
All living things use energy, the
ability to do work, to maintain them-
selves and grow. This is accomplished
by means of a vast number of chemical
reactions that together are called
metabolism. Living things also use en-
ergy to regulate their internal environ-
ments, that is, to maintain livable con-
ditions inside themselves no matter what
their surroundings are like. They are
able to sense and react to the external
environment. In addition, all life forms
reproduce to perpetuate their kind, and
they pass their characteristics on to their
offspring.
All living things grow, metabolize, react to the
external environment, and reproduce.
The most basic features of living
things are shared by all organisms, not
just those that live in the sea. Here, how-
ever, we will pay particular attention to
the lives of marine organisms.
THE INGREDIENTS
OF LIFE
The process of life involves an intricate se-
ries of interactions among an immense va-
riety of chemicals. The most important of
these chemicals is also one of the simplest:
water. As the universal solvent, water pro-
vides the medium in which all the other
molecules dissolve and interact. Water is
the base of a complex “chemical soup” in-
side all organisms where the chemical re-
actions of metabolism take place.
The Building Blocks
The processes that make life possible in-
volve an enormous number of chemicals
in addition to water. Most of these chem-
icals are organic compounds, molecules
that contain atoms of carbon, hydrogen,
Flatworms (Pseudoceros bifurcus) joust in a mating ritual known as penis fencing.
Some Basics of Biology
chapter
4
N
Water is called the universal solvent
because it can dissolve more different
substances than any other liquid.
Chapter 3, p. 46
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