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Branches of Biology

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BY EUGENE M. MCCARTHY, PHD GENETICS Google Plus Profile


The following is a list of the branches of biology, with definitions, pronunciations, and links to related topics. Note, however, that there are so many subfields within the general field of biology that they cannot be fully listed here. There are many named branches of the discipline that can be found in dictionaries, but that are little known and have few practitioners. The following list, then, attempts to name and define only the major fields:
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Fields dealing with animals:


Branches of biology relevant to the study of evolution:

  • Biogeography (pronunciation) — The study of the geographic distributions of living organisms.
  • Developmental biology — The study of the processes by which an organism changes from a single cell into a mature, multicellular individual.
  • Evolutionary biology — The branch of biology concerned with the modes of origin of new forms of life.
  • Ichnology (pronunciation) — The scientific study of the fossilized traces of past animal activity, such as footprints, burrows, trails, and borings.
  • Morphology (pronunciation) — The branch of biology concerned with the form and structure of living organisms.
  • Paleontology (pronunciation) — The study of prehistoric life by means of fossils.

Fields relating to the environment:

  • Astrobiology (pronunciation) — The branch of biology concerned with the effects of outer space on living organisms and with the search for extraterrestrial life.
  • Bioclimatology (pronunciation) — The study of the influence of climate on living organisms.
  • Chronobiology (pronunciation) — The study of time-dependent phenomena in living organisms.
  • Conservation biology — The branches of biology concerned with habitat preservation, the prevention of extinction, and conservation of biodiversity.
  • Cryobiology (pronunciation) — The study of the effects of low temperatures on living organisms.
  • Ecology (pronunciation) — The study of the interaction of organisms with each other and with their environment.
  • Geobiology (pronunciation) — A science that combines geology and biology to study the interactions of organisms with their environment.
  • Limnology (pronunciation) — The study of the physical and biological conditions of freshwater, particularly of lakes and ponds.

Chemistry-based branches of biology:

  • Biochemistry (pronunciation) — The study of life at the chemical level, in particular the chemistry of proteins, carbohydrates, and nucleic acids.
  • Bioengineering (pronunciation) — A hybrid field of scientific research that uses the principles of biology and the techniques of engineering to produce useful products.
  • Molecular biology — The branch of biology that studies the formation, structure, and function of macromolecules found in living organisms, particularly nucleic acids and proteins.
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