Biology

Biology focuses on a single living organism at a time, examining the life stages, reproduction, morphology and range. In the case of fauna, there is considerable attention to the motor and social behavior of each species. For both animals and plants, biologists examine carefully the relationship of organisms to nutrient sources. Subject species may be microscopic as small as bacteria, or include the largest creatures ever known, such as present day cetaceans or extinct dinosaurs. Some biology studies focus on the reconstruction of events deep back into prehistory, while other research is preoccupied with events that are happening today and forward into the future.

  • Urushiol Featured Article Urushiol Urushiol

    Introduction Urushiol is an oily toxin produced by plants in the cashew family (anacardiaceae).  These plants include poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, and... More »

  • Flora of Napa County, California Featured Article Flora of Napa County, California Flora of Napa County, California

    Napa County is a rural county in northern California encompassing nearly 500,000 acres (200,000 hectares), about 0.5 % of the landmass of the state. It is located 25 miles (40... More »

  • Geophony, Biophony, and Anthrophony Featured Article Geophony, Biophony, and Anthrophony Geophony, Biophony, and Anthrophony

    What do these words mean? Biophony is the melodic sound created by such organisms as frogs and birds; geophony, the composition of non-biological sounds like wind, rain and... More »

  • Invasive Plant Abundance Featured Article Invasive Plant Abundance Invasive Plant Abundance

    Home and Away: Are Invasive Plant Species Really That Special? Invasive plants are a major environmental problem--but how abundant are they? Invasive plant species... More »

  • Benthos Featured Article Benthos Benthos

    Benthos is one of three major ecological groups into which marine organisms are divided, the other two being the nekton and the plankton. The benthos are organisms and... More »

  • Virus Featured Article Virus Virus

    A virus is a microscopic organism that can replicate only inside the cells of a host organism. Most viruses are so tiny they are only observable with at least a conventional... More »

  • Algae Featured Article Algae Algae

    Algae comprise a diverse group of typically autotrophic organisms, ranging from unicellular to multicellular forms. The largest and most complex marine forms are generally... More »

  • Mutation Featured Article Mutation Mutation

    A mutation is an alteration of the genomic sequence of DNA molecules. Mutations may cause altered function in the affected organism, or may cause alteration of inherited traits of... More »

  • Wind turbine bird mortality Featured Article Wind turbine bird mortality Wind turbine bird mortality

    Wind turbine bird mortality is a by-product of large scale wind farms, which are increasingly promoted as an alternative to fossil fuel derived energy production. To adequately... More »

Recently Updated
Apiaceae or Umbelliferae: The carrot and parsley family Last Updated on 2014-08-22 14:29:26 The Apiaceae (Umbelliferae) family is comprised of over 280 genera and nearly 3,000 species, distributed over the sub-tropical, sub-temperate and temperate regions. Plants of the family are predominantly herbaceous and typcially are used commercially as aromatic medicinal plants and spices around the globe. Physical Description Leaves are alternating and either pinnately or palmately compound and exstipulate. Flowers are small, predominantly bisexual (hermaphrodite) and regular, with some variations observed across different genera. Calyx is characterized by 5 sepals, corolla consists of 5 inflexed petals (often absent in some genera). The androecium consists of 5 stamens and the gynoecium is comprised of a compound pistil produced due to fusion of the two carpels and characterized by the presence of a pair of styles staged on a broad platform (stylopodium). The ovary is of... More »
Amaranthaceae: The pigweed family Last Updated on 2014-08-22 14:28:24 Amaranthaceae is a plant family in the order Caryophyllales that is native to tropical America and Africa, ranging between tropics and sub-tropics to more temperate regions. The family is believed to have originated in either the southwestern region of the United States, Latin America, or Africa. The Amaranthaceae family is dominated by herbs but also includes vines, shrubs and trees, and is comprised of approximately 800 species represented by 60 plus genera and broadly divided into two sub families (Amaranthoideae and Gomphrenoideae). Physical Description Leaves are mostly simple and entire, non-stipulate, phyllotaxy is alternate/opposite. Flowers are regular, cyclic, tiny, and characterized by spiny perianth with conspicuous bracts and bractlets and are either unisexual/bisexual (hermaphrodite), solitary/aggregated into inflorescence (spikes/cymes/heads) (Fig 1). Calyx... More »
Cucurbitaceae: The amazing world of cucurbits Last Updated on 2014-08-22 14:26:25 The Cucurbitaceae family represents over 90 genera and approximately 960 species. The distribution is predominantly tropical and subtropical, with only a few species occurring in the temperate regions.  Plants are monoecious/dioecious and have tendrils (usually one per node), are either annual or perennial, and are typically herbaceous/woody/vines/climbers/trailers/lianas, or sometimes trees. Shoots are angular, herbaceous/woody/succulent with stem anatomy showing conspicuous bicollateral vascular bundles that are easy to identify even without staining. Leaves are alternate, spiral, petiolate, membranaceous/succulent, without stipules. They can be simple or compound (ternate/palmate), have margins with small glandular teeth (hydathodes), are hairy (glandular/eglandular), and have cystolith (crystals) present. Flowers are solitary or aggregated into inflorescences... More »
Cactaceae: The cactus family Last Updated on 2014-08-22 14:21:37 The Cactaceae is a family belonging to the order Caryophyllales.  Cacti typically are found in  dry and arid desert or semi-desert regions  with high average daytime temperatures and cold nights, and high evaporation rates.  Cacti range from Canada to Argentina, predominantly occurring in the warm and arid reaches of the continents of both North and South America across a wide range of different habitats like deserts, sandy coastal stretches, scrublands, dry deciduous forests, high alpine steppes and tropical rain forests (Barthlott and Hunt, 1993; Gibson and Nobel, 1986; Nyffeler, 2001). The main diversity centers are Mexico and south-west USA, central Andes, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Argentina with Mexico being the richest and most endemic region (Boyle and Anderson, 2002; Ortega-Baes and Godínez-Alvarez, 2006). The family is... More »
Solanaceae: The nightshade family Last Updated on 2014-08-05 15:20:04 The Solanaceae family represents around 85 genera of floweing plants consisting of over 2800 species globally (D’Arcy, 1986; Albuquerque et al., 2006). Its cosmopolitan distribution is best represented in tropical and temperate regions, with Australia and Latin America as major dispersal centers (Barroso et al., 1991). The greatest species diversity is reported in tropical South America and is considered to be the origin of Solanaceae (Hunziker, 1979). Physical Description Plant members are typically trees, shrubs and herbs, though there are some climbers, vines and epiphytes (Barroso et al. 1991). Leaves are usually simple; sometimes they are greatly lobed, petiolate/sub-sessile or phyllotaxy-alternate/alternate to opposed. Leaves are herbaceous, leathery or modified spines. Inflorescences are mostly cymose and axillary, but may be reduced to a single flower. Flowers are... More »