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all the parts of the planet that are inhabited by living things; sum of all Earth's ecosystems


community of living things plus the nonliving featured of the environment that support them


any living thing


basic unit of living matter; separated from its environment by a plasma membrane


molecule responsible for inheritance; nucleic acid that contains the sugar deoxyribose


unit of inherited information in DNA


distinct form of life


broadest category used to classify life forms


consisting of a single cell

prokaryotic cell

cell lacking a nucleus and most other organelles

eukaryotic cell

cell with a nucleus (surrounded by its own membrane) and other internal organelles


consisting of many cells


complex organization formed from a simpler combination of parts


process by which plants use the sun's energy to convert water and carbon dioxide into sugars


organism that makes its own food (autotroph) and produces organic molecules that serve as food for other organisms in its ecosystem


organism that obtains food by eating producers (autotrophs) or other consumers


internal stability or "steady state" maintained by the body


inherited characteristic that improves an organism's ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment


group of individuals of the same species living in a particular area at the same time

natural selection

process by which individuals with inherited characteristics well-suited to the environment leave more offspring than do other individuals


generation-to-generation change in the proportion of different inherited genes in a population that account for all of the changed that have transformed life over an immense time

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