What kind of scientist studies dolphins?
Dolphins are living organisms, so studying them is part of the life sciences. The life sciences, however, are broken down into many fields. Scientists that study dolphins and other life in the ocean are called marine biologists.
Fields in the Life Sciences
The life sciences are the study of living organisms. They deal with every aspect of living organisms, from the biology of cells to the biology of individual organisms to how these organisms interact with other organisms and their environment.
The life sciences are so complex that most scientists focus on just one or two subspecialties. If you want to study insects, what would you be called? An entomologist. If you want to study the tiny things that give us the flu, then you need to enter the field of virology, the study of viruses. If you want to study the nervous system, what life sciences field is right for you (Table below, Table below, and Table below)?
|Marine Biology||organisms living in oceans||Fresh Water Biology||organisms living in and around freshwater lakes, streams, rivers, ponds, etc.|
|Taxonomy||the classification of organisms|
|Life Science||What it Examines||Life Science||What it Examines|
|Cell Biology||cells and their structures||Anatomy||the structures of animals|
|Morphology||the form and structure of living organisms||Physiology||the physical and chemical functions of tissues and organs|
|Immunology||the mechanisms inside organisms that protect them from disease and infection||Neuroscience||the nervous system|
|Developmental Biology and Embryology||the growth and development of plants and animals||Genetics||the genetic make up of all living organisms (heredity)|
|Biochemistry||the chemistry of living organisms||Molecular Biology||nucleic acids and proteins|
|Epidemiology||how diseases arise and spread||Evolution||the changing of species over time|
|Life Science||What it Examines|
|Ecology||how various organisms interact with their environments|
|Biogeography||the distribution of living organisms|
|Population Biology||the biodiversity, evolution, and environmental biology of populations of organisms|
During the study of the life sciences, you will study cell biology, genetics, molecular biology, botany, microbiology, zoology, evolution, ecology, and physiology. Cell biology is the study of cellular structure and function (Figure below). Genetics is the study of heredity, which is the passing of traits from one generation to the next. Molecular biology is the study of molecules, such as DNA and proteins. What will you study with the other subspecialties?
This drawing shows red blood cells and viruses.
Other life science subspecialties include biogeography, which is the study of where organisms live and at what abundance.
- botany: The study of plants.
- cell: The basic unit of structure and function of a living organism; the basic unit of life.
- cell biology: The study of cells and their functions.
- ecology: The study of how various organisms interact with each other and with their environments.
- evolution: The change in species over time.
- genetics: The study of heredity.
- heredity: The passing of traits from one generation to the next.
- life sciences: The study of living organisms.
- microbiology: The study of microorganisms.
- molecular biology: The study of molecules, such as DNA and proteins.
- physiology: The study of the physical and chemical functions of tissues and organs.
- virology: The study of viruses.
- zoology: The study of animals.
- There are several subspecialties within the life sciences that focus on one type of organism, such as virology and bacteriology.
- There are several fields of biology that examine interactions between organisms and their environments, such as ecology.
Use the resource below to answer the questions that follow.
- Branches of Biology at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrlOOJ0Tm_E (3:28)
- What is the study of reptiles and amphibians?
- What is study of prehistoric life by means of fossils?
- What is the study of mollusks?
- What is the study of cells?
- What is the study of fungi?