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Environment Influences the Body Plans of Organisms

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How the Environment Influences the Body Plans of Organisms

The Living Environment

"People have long been curious about living things--how many different species are there, what they are like, where they live, how they relate to each other, and how they behave" ("American Association," 1989, para. 1). Hence, scientists continue their search for the answer of these questions and many more about our earth habitants, consequently attempting to create concepts, principles, and theories to enable people to gain a better understanding of their living environment.

"Living organisms are made of the same components as all other matter; involve the same kind of transformations of energy, and move using the same basic kinds of forces" ("American Association," 1989, para. 2). Nonetheless, physical principles relevant to the earth and its solar system contribute to living organisms inherent characteristics better understood through the application of other principles.

Inevitably, addressing such relationships between environment and living organisms requires us to point our attention at six major topics: the diversity of life, the transfer of heritable characteristics between organisms, the cellular structures and its functions, the interdependence of all organisms and their environment; the flow of matter and energy through the various life cycles, and their biological evolution or the similarity and diversity of life.


"One of the most general distinctions among organisms is between plants, which get their energy directly from sunlight; and animals, which consume the energy-rich foods initially synthesized by plants" ("American Association," 1989, para. 4). Not all organisms can be clearly classified, example: single-celled organisms like bacteria lacking cellular organization.

Animals, plants, and their diverse body plans, contrast in their overall structures and arrangements of internal parts responsible in performing the basic operations of manufacturing or obtaining food, drawing energy and materials from it, synthesizing new sources, and reproducing. Normally, the basis for organisms' classification considers anatomic characteristics over those related to behavior or appearance. For instance, due to "features as milk-producing glands and brain structure, whales and bats are classified as being more nearly alike than are whales and fish or bats and birds" ("American Association," 1989, para. 5).

Preservation of different species is critical to humans and the complex interdependencies among them bring stability to their food webs. Diversity increases the chance of certain varieties displaying suitable characteristics to their survival under different or changing conditions.


"One long-familiar observation is that offspring



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