Multiple Authors, OpenStax
Pub Date: 2013
ISBN 13: 978-1-9381680-9-3
Conditions of Use
I am reviewing this textbook not for a first year course in introductory biology, but for a second-year one-semester course on the integrative read more
I am reviewing this textbook not for a first year course in introductory biology, but for a second-year one-semester course on the integrative biology of animals. For “Integrative Biology: Animals”, I need a biology textbook with three types of content: (1) the ‘toolkit’ of genes, proteins, structures, and pathways used by animals for the processes of life, (2) a biodiversity section that covers motile protists and about 10 major phyla of animals: Porifera, Cnidaria, Ctenophora, Platyhelminthes, Nematoda, Annelida, Mollusca, Arthropoda, Echinodermata, and Chordata, and (3) physiology and anatomy covering the basic structure and function of animals. For my purposes, the text covers these topics at the right breadth and depth. For my purposes, the weakest section is on phylogenetics, but I always need to supplement that section of any text. The second-weakest section for my course is on developmental biology, and there are some other texts that offer more (e.g., on polarity genes, segmentation genes, and hox genes). I offer more details on comprehensiveness and other topics in my additional comments at the end of this review.
Generally, this text meets the level of accuracy I find in other texts. During my review, I noticed some things i would correct. For example, the link on text page 149 to “the process of diffusion” links to a video showing dispersion (not diffusion) of a dye in water, with the dispersion clearly due to turbulence created by adding the dye to a beaker of water. The short video is correctly labeled as dispersion in Wikipedia rather than as diffusion. I may notice more such problems when I adopt the text for my course.
The text is relevant, and it should remain so for some time. Details from recent discoveries are always additions I make to the course, and I do not need the most recent findings in my textbook.
The book reads clearly to me. But I'll need student feedback to assess whether it reads clearly to students.
In the sections I plan to use, there is consistency. I may discover more inconsistency when I am using it with my students.
The books modularity is what makes it helpful. I can focus on the sections I need, and they seem to stand alone without needing references to others.
The topics are presented in a format that is typical and logical for a large introductory biology text.
Many figures are not readable until viewing at 200% or even 300%. That should be fine on a laptop or desktop computer.
I noticed no problems. But I confess that I was not look closely at the grammar.
I did not perceive any problems.
For my course, "Integrative Biology: Animals" at the sophomore level, this book should be a useful resource for students. There is no open source zoology textbook available, and in any case, the published texts tend to be too heavy on facts and too weak on what I present as the ‘logic of zoology’ – the evolutionary reasons or biochemical constraints that are common drivers of the structure and function of animals. (Examples include: why do we use action potentials for internal communication instead of direct current or signaling using photons; why are our skeletons made of calcium and phosphate rather than other minerals, and why do mammals use an inefficient tidal lung while birds use an efficient one-way flow that can extract more oxygen than mammals?) None of the existing textbooks for zoology cover this material well enough to be worth the cost to students. In the sections of my review below, I discuss the information my students need in relation to the content of this text. 1. The ‘Toolkit’. Students will have seen much of the necessary content in a year-long introductory sequence, but nonetheless will need reference and reminders on the chemistry of life (Ch 2), biological molecules (Ch 3), cell structure (Ch 4), and membrane function (Ch 5). Most of the descriptions and illustrations in these chapters and those below are useful ones that are equivalent to those in most other textbooks. In addition, students need to refer to some of the background on cell metabolism and cellular respiration (Ch 6 and Ch 7, respectively). A quibble I have with this and most other textbooks is that the energy of a phosphate bond is described solely in terms of the chemistry. Nowhere does the text point out that attaching a phosphate with its -2 charge will necessarily cause a change in the conformation of the protein, and taking that phosphate back off will cause a change back to the original conformation: that cycle causes the protein to do physiologically useful activity, from powering the movement of sodium and potassium across membranes to the movement of a myosin head. I wish that any textbooks would explain what actually happens to proteins when phosphorylated and dephosphorylated, rather than solely referring to changes in energy state. Chapter 9, on signaling, provides a good explanation of the basics of cell-cell communication, a central element of what makes animals different from unicellular eukaryotes. Finally, the sections on eukaryotic transcription, translation, and gene regulation (Ch 15 & 16) provide sufficient background for students to understand why all cells in an animal can have all the same genes but nonetheless have very different patterns of gene expression and function. 2. Single-celled eukaryotes and the major phyla of animals. In order to understand animal function, students must understand that the fundamental molecular tool kit of animals is largely present in single-celled eukaryotes. The chapter on protists (23) provides a good summary of structure and some aspects of function. I would prefer more detail on, for example, the similarity of the molecular basis of movement in protists and in animals. However, no zoology textbook I’ve found since R. MacNeil Alexander’s “Animals” of the 1990’s has attempted to fully integrate these molecular details of function with protist structure. Chapter 23 provides a foundation. Chapters 28 and 29 on invertebrates and vertebrates, respectively, provide an overview of the major phyla. For each of these phyla, there is at least one illustration of major structural elements and a discussion of characteristic features, along with images of typical forms. These chapters provide sufficient background, though they will be best if supplemented with a laboratory text that provides more details and images. 3. Physiology and anatomy covering the basic structure and function of animals. Unit 7, Chapters 33 – 41, covers the major systems of animals, including digestive, nervous, sensory, endocrine, musculoskeletal, respiratory, circulatory, excretory, immune, and reproductive systems. In approximately 280 pages these offer a solid introduction to structure and physiological function. Images of structures and processes are clear and useful, and this section is limited mostly by the comparatively strong focus on mammalian and human physiology. It would be helpful for my objectives to have a stronger treatment of invertebrates. 4. Links. The video links I checked were generally good, although a few include misconceptions. One misconception is in the link on text page 149 to “the process of diffusion” as it actually links to a video showing dispersion of a dye in water due to turbulent currents created by adding the dye to a beaker of water (and is correctly labeled as dispersion in Wikipedia), rather than diffusion. Some of the links would not open, such as a video link illustrating the fluidity of membranes. In another case, for videos on enzyme function, the web page opened, but the enzyme videos were not visible on my old MacBook Pro running Safari 9.0.3. Overall, I felt that the authors made wise choices in balancing clarity of illustrations against complexity of an illustration. I will be comfortable adding information and details on the logic of structure and function. 5. End of chapter problems. I did not read these in any depth because I write my own problems for students. The problems I read through struck me as sensible and mostly straightforward. Most require that students explain or apply a concept from the textbook. Students who did these problems would gain in understanding, but I think the questions are not especially strong with respect to developing new skills at applying the concepts, doing broader analysis, or synthesizing ideas. 6. Conclusion. I plan to adopt Biology OpenStax in place of a (highly-priced) standard zoology or integrative biology of animals text. Even if this text was not free, I suspect it would be a better choice because the page-count is more manageable. My students have always struggled with the ever-higher page count zoology or integrative biology textbooks. They hold far more fine details than students can absorb (or need), and there’s no easy way to tell students to read only selected pages or sections from those books. When using Biology OpenStax, I can direct students approximately 160 pages on the molecular toolkit of animals (most of which will be review from introductory biology), much of the approximately 110 pages on protists, invertebrates, and vertebrates, and most of the approximately 200 pages from Unit 7 on structure and function. In other words, the new content will be a much more manageable 300 pages that will complement short videos I prepare. I predict that this text will serve my students as well as my previous texts for this course.
Biology (OpenStax) is as comprehensive as, and follows the general topical format of a commercially available introductory biology textbook designed read more
Biology (OpenStax) is as comprehensive as, and follows the general topical format of a commercially available introductory biology textbook designed for life science majors. Comprehensiveness in an introductory biology textbook is a daunting issue: A text needs to be sufficiently comprehensive to meet the needs of adopters in courses of widely varying organization and focus, without at the same time becoming so massive as to be unwieldy. For my purposes this text does an adequate job of achieving that balance, and any deficiencies in content coverage can be made up by supplementary materials supplied by individual instructors. In the survey of the major groups of organisms (Protists, Fungi, etc.) there is little use of graphical phylogenetic hypotheses (“trees”) to illustrate evolutionary relationships and to identify the hypothesized origins of key evolutionary and clade-defining characteristics. This is the major shortcoming of the text from my perspective; but I can supplement as needed.
I have not identified any specific errors in the text. However, I have found some points of disagreement that are perhaps matters of emphasis, philosophy or omission. The most distressing to me comes early, in the first chapter. In the section discussing “The Process of Science” the author writes: “The scientific method is a method of research with defined steps that include experiments and careful observation.” This is followed by a more in-depth treatment of “the scientific method.” Unfortunately this treatment perpetuates a misconception that most of our students arrive with: that the practice of science consists of a series of formalized sequential steps that lead to knowledge that we can be put on the shelf and move on (although the “Art Connection” graphic does point out the iterative nature of hypothesis-based science). Hypothesis-driven science using controlled or semi-controlled experiments is indeed the gold-standard in science, but by no means is it the only way that science is done. No small amount of science is discovery science, research that while firmly embedded in existing theories, questions, and hypotheses, is not driven by a particular specific hypothesis. And in the discussion of hypothesis testing only controlled experiments are addressed. There is no discussion of hypotheses that cannot be directly tested by controlled experiment, for ethical reasons or reasons of temporal or spatial scale. No mention is made of other ways of testing hypotheses such as with new observations (as predicted by a hypothesis), by comparative studies or natural, inadvertent, or unfortunate experiments, or by mathematical modeling. From my perspective this is the weakest part of the text, and unfortunately early on, one that I must rectify in my teaching. I did not examine all of the review questions in the 26 chapters I engaged, but I came across one that to my mind rises to the level of error (Section 19.1 “Population Evolution” Population genetics is the study of: a. how selective forces change the allele frequencies in a population over time b. the genetic basis of population-wide traits c. whether traits have a genetic basis d. the degree of inbreeding in a population The correct answer was identified as “A.” While that answer is obviously “more correct” than the others, it is certainly incomplete and misleading. I suggest that instructors pay close attention to review and end-of-chapter questions in this and all textbooks!
The text is relatively up-to-date, certainly adequately so. In any case it is an instructor’s responsibility to supplement with the latest understanding and findings as they may pertain to a course. The organization of the text will allow for easy updating and revision by authors and users. Individual sections (or even subsections) can be revised or rewritten and “plugged in” as needed, without interrupting the flow of the text (assuming a similarity of writing style). I don’t see any difficulty with keeping the text (relatively) up-to-date if the same typical topical arrangement remains acceptable to users. Of course other organizing principles are possible, and perhaps desirable; for example the AAAS Vision and Change core concepts in biology. This would necessitate a rewriting.
The text is lucid and concise in use of language, and overall well written. I think, well, hope, that this attention to clarity of language will allow students to more readily grasp the concepts without becoming mired in the weeds of jargon. For example, in Chapter 7 (Cellular Respiration) the section “ATP in Living Systems” begins with: “A living cell cannot store significant amounts of free energy.” That’s a great set-up for a paragraph, with the key concept laid bare in clear language! There are numerous areas that could be improved, but none that I have seen that stand out as warranting complaint. Necessary and appropriate disciplinary terminology is employed well, and definitions in context are supplemented by end-of-chapter lists of key terms, with definitions.
The text is structurally and terminologically consistent as is the writing style. One inconsistency of note is the use, or lack of use, of graphical phylogenetic hypotheses. The importance of phylogeny, and the basic elements of phylogeny construction and interpretation are fairly well presented in Chapter 20, but they are sparsely employed in the remainder of the text. Again, the instructor can supplement.
The topical treatment by chapter and the sections within chapters allow for modular assignment of material. This is especially important at my institution where our introductory sequence for life science majors consists of two free-standing semester-long courses: “Organismal and Ecological Biology”; and “Cellular and Molecular Biology.” This is a strength of the text, considerably easier to use in that way that most texts I have examined.
The organization and flow of the text is logical and straightforward. I encountered no glaring examples of concepts being presented in a sequence that would hinder student comprehension. Numerous other ways of logically organizing chapters are certainly possible, but that employed in this text flow nicely.
I encountered no interface issues other than that of slowness of loading. No internal links were dead or misdirected, and figures were clear.
No errors of grammar noted.
I encountered nothing that could be construed as culturally insensitive of offensive in any way. And I do keep an eye out for that sort of thing. I wouldn’t call the text “culturally relevant” but it is certainly not culturally insensitive or offensive.
This review is based on close examination and reading of all or sections of 27 chapters (1,4, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 32, 33, 43, 44, 45, 46, and 47). I would like to see greater use made of graphical phylogenetic hypotheses ("phylogenetic trees") in the diversity overview sections, and in other areas where the evolution of key characteristics is discussed. I advise reviewing and using review questions with caution so that students are not conceptually mislead, or think the questions are isomorphic with your own assessment questions. Of course this applies to any textbook. I have adopted OpenStax Biology for my life science majors introductory course "Organismal and Ecological Biology."
The book is nicely comprehensive in its overall selection of units and chapters—all the basic components of any standard semester-long or year-long read more
The book is nicely comprehensive in its overall selection of units and chapters—all the basic components of any standard semester-long or year-long general biology course for majors or a mixed nonmajors/majors audience. All topics are covered appropriately. It seems clear that different chapters are written by different people—some of the chapters (for example, on the immune system) are exceptionally detailed, whereas others (e.g., on evolution and speciation) are a bit more bare-bones, but all the bases are covered. I especially like the individual glossaries for each chapter rather than a single glossary at the end.
There are a few errors or misstatements in this book, but they are few and far between. For example, the large aquatic reptiles of the Mesozoic Era were not in fact dinosaurs; they were just contemporaries of dinosaurs. But given the abundance of information in this text, I am quite pleased at the factual accuracy.
In a very few places this book might need to be updated—for example, some of the taxonomic diversity of prokaryotic and eukaryotic groups, and some other statements (for example, there is a lot of life near deep sea vents that does not depend in any way on photosynthesis). However, any such statements could easily be clarified or amended, so I think this book will have good longevity. Any possible problems can be easily fixed or updated.
Some amount of jargon is inescapable in a general biology text, where students are hit with as much new terminology as in an introductory course in a foreign language, but this book is refreshingly free of unnecessary jargon. Also, all terms that might be unfamiliar to students are used simply and properly, then defined in each chapter-end glossary. Descriptions of complex processes (especially of genetics and physiology) are also clear and easy to understand.
Terms and concepts are used consistently throughout the book; there are no problems in that regard, even if this book was written by a big team of authors. The chapter-end questions, the opening outlines, and other such framing devices are used consistently throughout the book.
I am especially keen to look for modularity of basic biology books because my school has long used a “top-down” approach in which we first focus on whole-organism concepts in evolution and ecology before zooming down to reductionist areas in biochemistry, genetics, and so on. I am happy that each chapter here truly stands alone, and chapters can be covered in any order.
As noted above, the chapters can be covered in any order as instructors prefer, but the overall outline of the units and chapters fits perfectly with any standard biology course taught over one or two terms. Material flows logically both between and within chapters.
The online interface is clear, easy to use, and free of problems. I liked being able to click on a link in the index or table of contents, which takes the reader directly to a specific page within the book.
There are very few grammatical or typographical errors, and these can easily be fixed in subsequent versions. In a book of this size, I would expect there to be lots of mistakes, so I was pleased at how mistake-free this is.
This book is perfectly appropriate for all readers. There are no problems regarding cultural insensitivity. In fact, not only are there no such problems, but many of the examples used demonstrate a clear commitment to human (and other biological) diversity.
I I have been teaching general biology for 25 years, during which time I have used traditionally published texts. In other words, I am unfamiliar with open source, online texts. I must admit that at first glance this book looked to me to be much less glitzy than traditionally published books, without all the bells and whistles, the fancy graphics and human interest stories. However, I actually find this quite refreshing, in that there is more of an emphasis on essential information. I worry a bit that students used to traditional science books will initially find this open source book dry and unappealing, but I think they will soon be won over by the “just-the-facts” approach (and I truly mean that in a good way). This book focuses on proper concepts and details, not extraneous stuff. I am optimistic that this book will be quite useful for me and my students.
The textbook covers all of the major topics that I address in a year of non-majors biology. read more
The textbook covers all of the major topics that I address in a year of non-majors biology.
The content is accurate and unbiased.
Additional content should be added regarding topics such as pseudoscience and the influence of social media and politics on science. The rest of the content is current and relevant.
The clarity of the text is very well done.
The text is very consistent in terms of terminology and framework.
The authors did a good job of organizing the textbook with appropriate headings and subheadings.
The topics are presented in a logical, clear fashion, with minimal searching for an area of interest. The underlying theme of evolution is throughout the book and unifies the theme.
The website was easy to use and search. The search feature worked well, and the table of contents was easy to navigate. The additional content of animations was well done and accessible.
I couldn't find any errors.
The text was not culturally insensitive or offensive but the inclusion of races and ethnicities was lacking. For example, the section on global climate change could include information on rising sea levels and how island nations and their culture will be eliminated. There were also areas where American Indian culture could have been included but were not. However, the authors did an excellent job of looking at a global perspective when reviewing conservation issues and biodiversity on other continents.
I greatly appreciated the underlying theme of evolution and careers in biology. There were also many resources for both the instructor and the students that make the use of this book ideal. It is a complete package!
This text book is as comprehensive as the McGraw Hill and Pearson texts that we have been using. It includes both the cell biology and organismal read more
This text book is as comprehensive as the McGraw Hill and Pearson texts that we have been using. It includes both the cell biology and organismal biology required of a 2-semester biology post-secondary sequence.
I have found no inaccuracies. The level of depth of material is consistent enough as well that the information covered is "accurate" to the level required for the text book. For instance "anabolic pathways require an input of energy to synthesize complex........ is accurate. On the other hand if the authors wanted to dwell on minutia they could say that catabolic reactions also require input of energy to overcome the energy of activation. The authors have done an excellent job in this regard.
This text book shows relevance. It shows biology in light of evolution and in light of molecular biology. It includes video embedded that will be updated as needed. The video looks current. Bar codes are used in many places for easy conversion as media changes. As is typical, some of the video does not have captioning so every video does not allow full accessibility. I did also have trouble opening one barcode.
The text book uses accessible prose while at the same time expecting the student to remain current with the material learned in previous chapters. The sections (chapters) are quite small, which helps the compartmentalization of the material but at times feels a bit choppy.
The chapters are edited consistently; a great improvement from the first versions of open materials. The language skills needed are consistent throughout the text and the organization of the material is consistent.
This text book has taken modularity to new heights. Each section is very short. It will be interesting to try to adapt these sections to a lecture format. It should work very well with logical breaks for interactive materials or group work.
This text book follows the usual pattern of chapters in covering the subject of general biology. I prefer to have more evolution covered in the first 2 chapters but it is just as easy to jump to chapter 19 to harvest enough info to inform the rest of the cell biology chapters.
The interface is simple. It is linear, without unnecessary bifurcations. I did not find instructional resources, but I assume that if I had purchased the text I would have been granted access to them.
The grammar in this text is excellent. I am a Midwesterner so I have my own colloquialisms and idiosyncrasies. I found no grammatical errors, nor did I find distracting terms.
This text avoids the use of ethnocentric names and concepts as far as I can see. Of course, my lens is a bit foggy with bias. I was disappointing to see that Dr. Rosalind Franklin did not get a little more ink and perhaps a photo. My classes are full of women. This is a great chance to show the accomplishments of a brilliant woman. Our young women need more role models in the STEM fields.
This text book is an excellent teaching tool. If the instructor resources, including test bank, projectable images/slides and interactive tools are of the same quality as the text book itself, I fully endorse it.
After having used the book for major’s biology course for the last 4 semester, I have pleased to say that I content is simple yet efficient and read more
After having used the book for major’s biology course for the last 4 semester, I have pleased to say that I content is simple yet efficient and effective. It is provides a baseline for the essential content for a Biology course. However to meet the learning outcomes for each and individual institution extra supplement must be provided. After chapter questions give a start to learning to take the assessment but various levels of blooms taxonomy questions can be added to promote / advance the critical thinking skills. Also- for the physiology section- inclusion of various disorders based on different races and genders can be beneficial to the students. Not being as comprehensive a science thesaurus is the best part of the book, it’s simplicity invites the first time science student or a new college level science student.
Book content is accurate and reliable. For my own satisfaction- I would have liked to see the citations but lack of it does not make the book any less effective.
Text Book is relevant to the western standards. Mention of the various topics relating to the globalization of science may benefit the students coming from outside of US. Ex-Chinese use of various techniques to treat physical ailments, Syrian environmental migrants and disease they may endure as a result of their conditions.
Content is laid out in a clear and concise manner. Colored images work better for the students since I emphasize that is publisher is paying more for the color – it must be important.
Content is consistent with any basic entrance level Biology course. Due to its ease of use- chapters can be assigned out of order to tailor the individual needs. Occasionally a link to a video is not available but that is the nature of any online content and instructor should prepare to handle it accordingly.
First half of the book fits seamlessly with any generalized schedule. Second half an easily be taught out of order while keeping the integrity of the textbook order. If assigning page number it is important to remember that view online page number may not match with PDF version.
As stated in the previous sections, book is well laid out to fit the needs of any entrance level biology course.
There are no issues with the download at any time and website does reminder the reader to use the chrome or any other web browser than IE.
Book reads like an easy nonfiction science read. My audience rate it highly.
Its Science – Be bold and do include more multicultural examples- does not have enough for my audience.
This textbook is mostly suitable for 100 level introductory biology for non-majors. While not in detail, most of the material covered gives the read more
This textbook is mostly suitable for 100 level introductory biology for non-majors. While not in detail, most of the material covered gives the reader a basic understanding of various biological processes. Non-major students who dislike biology because of the very intricate details of glycolysis or the steps in DNA replication would be the best sort of market this book could reach. Nursing students, business majors and arts students would like the easy to read and brief descriptions in this book.
Seeing that is a very basic biology text, the material discussed here is at an introductory level. While the authors have consistently kept descriptions to the minimum, it would be unfair to expect great explanations for the various topics in biology some of which we have entire courses designed for them. For example the authors point out the differences between T-helper cells such as TH1, Th2 and Regulatory T-cells. In this reviewer's opinion, this amount of detail is sufficient for the level of students being targeted. Granted that the texbook is "inaccurate" with respect to T cell subpopulations (at this detail level), but if one wants to know more about T-cells, then perhaps an Immunology textbook would be more appropriate! For the level of students being targeted, there is sufficient focus.
Many of the areas of biology are constantly changing with the ever increasing research being performed. While the authors are currently relevant and up to date. Since this is an online publication, this reviewer envisions that there should be a mechanism to be able to add new information or updates current information on a periodic basis.
The writing style is easy to read and is well written for the freshman/sophomore level. Since several authors are involved in this authorship, the differences in style are perceivable from chapter to chapter. But this is no different than reading a popular magazine that has different articles authored by various writers. It is refreshing to hear from experts in their areas of expertise. It is the opinion of this reviewer that these differences in writing styles are not a hindrance to learning rather an opportunity to prepare students for the real world. In the real world students will not have the luxury of being exposed to monolithic writing styles therefore what better place to prepare students for life than the introductory Biology textbook!
For the most part this textbook is consistent in use of terminology. This reviewer did not notice any jargon being used.
In this reviewer's opinion the modularity followed in this text is very helpful for the intented target student audience ...students who are freshman non-majors. The paragraphs are small enough to be viewed effortlessly on a mobile device such as a phone or tablet with ease. The lengths of the paragraphs are rightly tailored for mobile devices such that continued reading interest is sustained.
The flow and organization is comparable to other texts in the market. Since this is an introductory biology textbook, the topics are rather standardized across textbooks in this market. There is really no other way to deal with this material. The chemistry of life and macromolecules in biology have to be discussed before gene regulation which itself has to precede the various organ systems. In this regard, there is very little room for innovation or variation from standard practice. It is this reviewers opinion that the organization and flow of material is traditional and well served.
There are no issues with images or charts. However, this reviewer feels that there are too few images/charts to explain concepts. The target audience is of a generation that grew up with the internet, Youtube and social media. All of these interfaces are image heavy. Therefore in order to reach this audience effectively (to help them retain material), it is better to have a few more images. Difficult concepts can be presented in image form as supplemental material.
The reviewer has no issues with the grammar used in this textbook.
The major complaint from the students who are non-majors in biology is that the material (at least a large portion of it) has no relevance to their field of study. For example, why does a business major need to know about RNA transcription or the different parts of the translation machinery. In order to overcome this obstacle this reviewer seeks out examples from daily living in order to reinforce biological concepts. This textbook has some such examples which is commendable. However, in order to sustain student interest, it maybe useful to add a few more examples where biological concepts are applied to daily living making this subject more interesting to the reader.
Very good easy to read book. I would definitely consider adopting this textbook for a non-majors introductory class at the freshman level.
This book is on par in scope with the commonly used Campbell Biology. The table of contents and index are useful, and the PDF is searchable. My read more
This book is on par in scope with the commonly used Campbell Biology. The table of contents and index are useful, and the PDF is searchable. My students who use the PDF and iBook versions report that they like being able to search for topics.
As with any textbook, minor errors have made their way into the book. However, unlike most textbooks, it is simple for anyone to submit a correction, so these errors are corrected more efficiently than can be done for most textbooks. To submit a correction, 1. Navigate to openstax.org/subjects, 2. Click on the cover of the book for which you would like to submit a correction., 3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click the "Suggest a correction" link., 4. Complete the following page as thoroughly as possible. It is possible to see the resolution of every correction suggested over the entire history of the book when it was initially published in 2012 at: https://www.openstaxcollege.org/textbooks/biology/errata. Every summer, a new PDF of Biology is released and print stock is updated for the following Fall. Release notes, available to instructors only, indicates all changes and corrections from the most recent release.
This book covers the fundamental concepts of biology well and asks appropriate questions at the ends of chapters, and therefore has staying power. It also is relatively current, and includes some relatively recent knowledge, but the time for a major update is approaching. For example, at the time of this review in December 2016, statistics and citations in the book date primarily to 2012 and earlier, and some recently hot topics like CRISPR are not yet covered. The book takes a historical approach to dealing with protists and is, in that respect, in need of modernization. While other recent textbooks also have taken this approach, it is important that we move forward and write textbooks that are consistent with what is well known now about evolutionary history. Certainly from the perspective of an instructor, maintaining some consistency from one semester to another is helpful, but I am hoping that future updates will not be limited to errata.
This book is written at a level that is very accessible to my college freshmen and sophomores.
The text is clear and illustrations are helpful.
Sections are numbered within chapters, which makes it easier to assign parts of chapters.
Organization is logical and clear.
This textbook is available in a variety of formats, and each is easy to use.
The text contains few grammatical errors. It was initially well-written, and has benefitted from additional suggestions and corrections by users.
The book is perfectly appropriate and not offensive. It is as culturally relevant as would be expected for an introductory biology textbook.
The answer guide available to verified instructors (verification is simple and takes about a day or two) is useful. The PowerPoint presentations are attractive and well organized.
Spanning 47 chapters, the OpenStax "Biology" production is as comprehensive as its competitors. The contents list expands readily, and the names of read more
Spanning 47 chapters, the OpenStax "Biology" production is as comprehensive as its competitors. The contents list expands readily, and the names of the chapters mirrors those in the competitor texts. Each chapter has a number of small photographs, and the artwork varies considerably from one chapter to the next,
The topics that travel into an introductory biology text are topics that are rarely controversial or inadequately supported by scientific vetting.
The questions that are offered for student review of what they've learned are generally shallow and do not offer much access to ways that a student might learn more about the topics.
As an older reader, the small artwork was a challenge for me to work out, but expanding the magnification of what I see on the screen certainly helped. The written text is straightforward and easy to read, albeit sometimes disjointed, like more than one author wrote the chapter.
As noted earlier, the many authors involved in this effort makes it challenging to recognize the same "voice" presenting the background and logic of a biological concept.
With the thorough index, it should be easy for instructors and students to track sections and subsections.
The text follows the many models of material sequence available in this market.
The questions offered for students to self-test were few and under-developed. The graphics were small and not at all rich. Many more instructor resources are offered with just about any text on the market.
Easy to read. Scientists are not ones to dress up language, aiming instead to say things as precisely as possible. Some of the language is loose: "Need for osmoregulation" implies that osmoregulation happens because it needs to happen, instead of correctly stating that "osmoregulation happens" because of all the partnering proteins, the membranes, the solutes, the pumps, etc. are responsible for osmoregulation happening.,
Science is usually pretty straightforward in attempting to describe phenomena without too much interpretation or cultural "spin," and this text meets expectations in that regard.
The major textbooks in Biology offer numerous, diverse learning resources, including audience response programs, test banks, adaptive learning software, etc. This market is challenging to break into, in spite of the appeal of a "free" text. It is likely that an instructor adopting this text, seeking the best possible learning environment for her students, will use many resources from other publishers, in effect, shifting the financial backing for resources to publishers who charge considerably prices to access their products.
The text is comprehensive in its coverage of the typical materials for a non-majors introductory biology course at the 100 level. It has a good read more
The text is comprehensive in its coverage of the typical materials for a non-majors introductory biology course at the 100 level. It has a good online index that is searchable.
The content of the text does have some inaccurate sections. For example, the terrestrial biomes section on temperate forests has some information that is omitted and therefore is misleading.
The content appears up to date, especially in the genetics section which changes so rapidly. It does not however include the latest information on gene editing. The online format should make it easy to update.There are no peer reviewed references for each chapter so there is no way to know that the material is scientifically accurate. The student can use references to look up additional material. Also, the glossary has terms that are not fully defined.
The text is written well, but covers some of the more complex topics too quickly and with too few examples for the introductory student. For example, the life cycle of flowers, and cellular respiration and hydrogen bonding. These are some tough topics for students that could be explained more clearly with more examples.
The text is mostly consistent however, they have provided the square for accessing videos, and also provide a link to videos, but sometimes the link to the videos is not available on a pc computer. Also, some of the links to learning don’t work, such as for the second part of glycolysis link. Finally, some chapters have abstracts and other chapter don’t. The abstracts are a good concise summary of what the chapter intends
The text is easily divisible into smaller reading sections just by including the link to the text in a syllabus and specifiying which sections need to be read. The only issue is that the chapter numbers and pages differ between the pdf and the read online versions.
The book is very well organized, with all of the typical topics for non-majors biology classes present. There is consistency with the presentation in each of the chapters with the art inserts and the glossary and test questions.
The book downloads easily, and can be viewed and searched online easily. The art is well done and has clear images that are well labeled. The figures have a hyperlink in the text that the student can click on. Some of the videos for the pc computer, cannot be accessed however. Sometimes a link will bring the reader to a website, and not directly to the learning video or animation. That is confusing.
The book's grammar seems to be good. I did not detect any major errors.
The only part of the text that could be offensive are in the links to the advertisements that are part of the videos links to concepts covered in the text. Some of these are laced with ads that might indicate endorsement by a school or faculty and could be offensive to a student. There could be more cultural references in the examples of careers sections.
Yes, my other comments are as follows: 1. There are no citations within the text to reference where the facts in the text were researched. 2. There is no list of references at the end of each chapter to the literature. 3. Their art connections have good diagrams 4. It is good to be able to search the documents easily because they are online. 5. The links to learning videos are often from utube with no evidence that they come from scientific peer reviewed sources. Also, many of the videos are laced with advertisements that a faculty or a student could find offensive. The ads might indicate endorsement by a faculty or school for certain corporations for example. 6. Some of the figures credit the authors, yet the authors are not listed in the reference section of the text, so there is no way to confirm their credibility or to look them up. 7. The career connections are good sections that help students relate what they are learning to the job market. 8. Good to have a glossary at the end of each chapter but the definitions could have more depth and research. 9. The chemistry chapter and many others have animations to help teach concepts that are better learned through visualizations, but some chapters do not have interactive animations that are very helpful in learning tough concepts like chemical bonding, building a molecule or diffusion and osmosis. These concepts are best taught with interactive animations that allow the student to try different responses and then get immediate feedback on whether they were correct or not. Also, some of these basic concepts are essential to build upon as the student reads through the text. 10. They have provided the square for accessing videos, and also provide a link to videos, but sometimes the link to the videos is not available on a pc computer. 11. Some of the links to learning don’t work, such as for the second part of glycolysis link. 12. Some chapters have abstracts and other chapter don’t. The abstracts are a good concise summary of what the chapter intends. 13. Some of the sources for the videos are Wikimedia which may not be produced or edited by scientifically credible authors or creators. 14. The section on the terrestrial biomes discusses only the temperate forests of the eastern part of the U.S. There is no discussion of the temperate forests on the west coast. The section on temperate forests is actually inaccurate in spots, stating that deciduous trees are dominant in this biome, and omitting the fact that coniferous forest are also dominant in these forests.
Content Depth: A- The depth of content is largely appropriate for a 200-level Biology class. All texts tend to emphasize some areas over others, read more
Content Depth: A- The depth of content is largely appropriate for a 200-level Biology class. All texts tend to emphasize some areas over others, and this is no exception. Joint and body movement illustrations and descriptions are very detailed while important concepts like “trophic cascade” are not included at all. Fick’s Law is missing, but pgs. 1171-2 are covered with weakly explained equations and values in mm Hg. I would like to see that section on gas pressure and respiration simplified to its principles with some better (and correctly labeled) graphics. Ecosystem concepts range from excellent to shallow (or none). Nitrogen fixation and plant defenses are not well explained, and “deamination” and “cation exchange” don’t come up in a search. But most other areas well-done -- but i will be looking for supplemental material for those concepts.
Accuracy: A- Only issues I've found are in the accuracy of illustrations -- several are mis-labeled.
Relevance: A- "Connection" sections (except for "Art") were for the most part excellent and bridged concepts with real-world issues.
Clarity: B Mostly written in a clear efficient style, but some chapters had organizational problems (see above).
I never noticed any obvious inconsistencies in terminology that affected understanding.
Continuity: B Many authors contributed, so terms were often used before they had been explained in any depth, and some connections were missed or redundantly discussed. For example the term “collagen” appears well before it is described in any detail, and viruses were presented before chapters on molecular genetics. This is inevitable to some extent in any text, but the editors have some smoothing out to do.
Organization: B+ This text was broken into subjects similar to other textbooks, so converting my study guides to match OpenStax was usually fairly straightforward. I’m used to seeing A&P chapters laid out from an evolutionary perspective (e.g. organisms with simple diffusion through countercurrent flow) and then using human systems as examples. Some chapters were confusing when there were brief intros to some clades, then human A&P, and then more animal systems. Ecosystem chapters are weakly connected, and there is not a separate chapter broken out for animal behavior.
Graphics: C Fairly clunky art program. My students do a lot of Google image searching to supplement graphics. This would have gotten a slightly higher grade had so many labels been misapplied. I’m sure labeling will get fixed in the next revision that will be available soon. Art program is adequate but not inspiring. Ease of Use: A+ Any student who can download Acrobat can search for vocabulary terms I assign. This is a boon to both students looking for a term I've assigned, and to me when I'm re-working my concept study guides. In my first year of using this OER, I regret to report that I didn’t have time to explore the links embedded in the text. But I applaud the effort and appreciate that they are there to use as I settle in to the new text.
I didn't notice any glaring problems.
Cultural Relevance: A I never came across anything that looked culturally offensive to this white guy. I appreciated the occasional career connection boxes.
Overall Grade: B+ This is a laudable grade for the first iteration of an enormous community project. I used this text for my 3-term majors' sequence, and although one class does not make a trend, my students turned in the highest grades of any class I've taught in my 29 year career.
This books covers the minimal basics, but not in great detail and isn't comprehensive by any means. There is no theme of how science works or is read more
This books covers the minimal basics, but not in great detail and isn't comprehensive by any means. There is no theme of how science works or is done. It is mostly a long long list of descriptive paragraphs. I reviewed the book for use in the "Plant Form and Function" aspect of Majors introductory biology and concluded I could not use this book. I was going to also review it for "Animal Form and Function" but the quality was so poor I decided not to spend my time. I did look at the OpenStax A&P book and it looked like it would do for the "Animal Form and Function" aspects of introductory biology. Topic completely missing from the book or coverage is so poor it is unusable, in my analysis were: From photosynthesis: cyclic reaction in photosynthesis, CAM and C4 photosynthetic adaptations, Fate of triose-P after Calvin Cycle, Any regulation of photosynthesis From nutrient and water uptake transport: root absorption, cation exchange, active transport into root hair From Plant Sensory: Pathogen defense, Herbivory defense, Electrical signalling, Auxin transport, Acid growth hypothesis, Auxin regulated gene expression From Flowering: Circadian rhythm biology, Photoperiod detection, ABC model
The examples do not seem modern. Climate change was not well covered. AAAS's Vision and Change concepts and competencies were not a theme in the book.
Seemed good. Very easy to browse and assign in pcs.
Was very standard but very little in the way of main themes
Good, easy to navigate and use Ctrl-F to search a page.
I really like the model of open and free materials and admire the work, but the quality is really low.
The text covers essential content in sufficient detail for an introductory and/or non-majors biology survey type course. Many topics are covered at a read more
The text covers essential content in sufficient detail for an introductory and/or non-majors biology survey type course. Many topics are covered at a moderate level of depth with additional links provided to content from other sections of the text in the 'connections' sections. There is coverage of all levels of organization and no bias is evident in coverage of molecular versus ecological topics. A typical concern with introductory texts is a lack of coverage in ecological concepts and this text does well in representing all aspects well. The authors cover the basics of each subject well within each section and unit. Section headings and learning objectives are useful in breaking up the material into smaller, more digestible components. I would not suggest adding more subjects and I appreciate the depth of coverage in the text giving the instructor the option to choose which sections to focus on in their courses. Glossary terms, chapter summaries, and chapter reading questions are a welcome study tool for students. The index is comprehensive yet lists multiple links to many terms in the pdf version. It would be better to list these after a single entry for each term. Also, capitalization of terms is not uniform throughout the index.
Topic coverage on was accurate for the majority of subjects presented. Few minor errors are present in some materials. Sections should be revised to ensure figures link closely to text content and do well in demonstrating important concepts.
Overall, a timely discussion of modern issues is demonstrated well throughout the text. The authors did well in presenting multiple controversial topics within numerous sections throughout the book. These are helpful in linking the topics covered to real world issues. These are presented well with all sides considered. Discussion of modern genetics is appropriate in detail. It is refreshing to see a discussion of epigenetics in detail as this is often missing from upper level genetics text books. Formatting issues are numerous throughout and a uniform layout would be a welcomed addition to each section and should include a link to current events in biology.
The descriptions explanations are well-written at an appropriate level for lower level biology and non-majors courses. The text does a great job of discussing important terms in sufficient detail and avoids extensive jargon. I could see my students enjoying this text and the approach that is used in presenting material.
Chapter and section content is consistent throughout. The sections and chapter headings are well organized throughout and set up an easy to follow format for students. Some minor formatting issues would help in the visual presentation but the framework is easy to follow and constant in each section.
I really enjoy that the learning objectives are broken down by section to facilitate the discussion of one or more sections at a time rather than the entire chapter content. I think students will appreciate this breakdown and it will help to avoid overwhelming them with new material. The information in each unit is well organized and follows the levels of biological organization well. I appreciate the approach in using multiple, short chapters instead of fewer, longer chapters as I find students (particularly in non-majors) courses tend to get overwhelmed with longer reading assignments.
The flow of the text as it begins at lower levels of biological organization and moves up to the highest levels follows a typical format of many introductory texts. This is well done and contributes to student learning as concepts will build upon one another as higher levels of organization are discussed. This structure is also attractive to instructors as it allows us the freedom to pick and choose textbook content to assign.
Images and figures need revision as many are displaying with poor resolution in the pdf version. Figures should be introduced after text throughout each section. The 'Link to Learning' sections would better flow at the end of the section or in a sidebar. Additional colors in the background and/or headings would help break up the material. In the pdf version there were also many blank sections and pages. The format od each section should be consistent across reading platforms.
The text reads well with no blatant grammatical errors.
No culturally insensitive or offensive material was encountered. I appreciate the discussion of controversial topics as well as the career links that introduce students to multiple facets of biology. I enjoyed the broad presentation of biologists of numerous backgrounds as well as inclusion of multiple female scientists.
- Many figures appear blurry in the pdf version of the text. This is distracting in trying to tie the figure into the associated text. - The color scheme throughout should be softened and include different colors for major and minor headings. - Figures (in the pdf version at least) should not be placed directly under new title headings but should be introduced after the reference text has been presented (i.e., figures 1.13 and 1.14). - The 'Link to Learning' sections should be in a footnote or sidebar as they are distracting in the main body of the text. - Figures should not cross multiple pages (i.e., figure 1.16 in pdf version). - Biological levels should begin at the atomic level (Figure 1.16).
This text is fairly comprehensive. There are a few areas that I am pleasantly surprised by the detail included, but other areas where I am a little read more
This text is fairly comprehensive. There are a few areas that I am pleasantly surprised by the detail included, but other areas where I am a little surprised to see detail lacking.
I didn't see any major flaws.
All of the websites mentioned in the text do make me a little nervous. The basic content doesn't seem to be at any more risk of becoming dated that a traditional text.
Better written than some, but I can tell they haven't spent large sums of money on editing. I like that the chapters are fairly short.
This is one of the more consistent open ed resources I've seen.
Modularity is good! Clear subtitles and logically arranged chapters.
I think most reasonably flexible instructors would not find the organization to clash with the organization of their course.
I haven't had issues using the interface. I primarily used PDF copies, but did spend one day using the online version without issues.
I did not find issues.
I didn't see anything that made this book more or less culturally relevant than other texts. I was pleased that key female scientists were mentioned.
Overall, I think it is a good text. The major limitation I see is that there are fewer and lower quality images than with other texts I've used. I could see having to recreate a few key figures to use this textbook.
Biology was very comprehensive in its covering of general biology topics and the "Link to Learning" feature allows the learner to expand the concept. read more
Biology was very comprehensive in its covering of general biology topics and the "Link to Learning" feature allows the learner to expand the concept. Often these links provide cutting edge insight into both the research and application to make the concept interesting and plausible to the viewer.
My review of the text found no errors and it appeared in every since to follow the standard for a quality general biology text.
With an online text the capability of providing updates in a timely fashion would appear to be easily accomplished. Often in printed textbooks the material can be outdated by several years.
The text is easy to read and flows nicely. Definitions and examples for terminology are provided by several means; within the body of the text, key terms, tables, examples and through Link to Learning.
The text itself is consistent from chapter to chapter, utilizing the Link to Learning feature within the text however opens up a portal to knowledge that could easily draw the learner off task.
The information of the text is nicely proportioned into manageable sections with allows the reader to pause and contemplate the material just presented.
The topics follow the fairly standard structure of a inclusive general biology text.
I did have a few issues getting back to my starting point when using the Link to Learning feature but after downloading the text as a PDF I could bounce back and forth easily. I found no problems with the links within in the text and I was surprised by this since I myself often have issues year to year with broken links. A few images had some distortion of text.
I did not find any errors with the text.
The text wast not culturally insensitive of offensive and when used examples where cultural diverse throughout the text.
With failing vision reading from a standard text book requires good lighting and magnification. Having a downloadable online text allows me and others the ability to adjust light intensity and size easily on the monitor. For me this could not have come at a better time in my life. I loved the Link to Learning, I have used a number of the linked sites in my courses however it did open up a world of other valuable sites.
This textbook is extremely comprehensive, almost too comprehensive. However, I now realize that instructors are encouraged to cut irrelevant material read more
This textbook is extremely comprehensive, almost too comprehensive. However, I now realize that instructors are encouraged to cut irrelevant material and use relevant material to their coursework. Biology is an extremely broad subject area to cover and the authors do a great job of covering topics as diverse as general chemistry to biodiversity conservation. Furthermore, for students who will only be taking one year of biology, I am confident that using this textbook will give them a broad overview of the field and introduce them to more specific topics that could help them in any major or career.
I thought that the authors did a great job of providing unbiased scientifically based information in this textbook. Furthermore, authors did not avoid controversial topics, but instead try to present all sides of scientific debates or discussions, distilling information in a way that is easy to understand for students just starting college. I did not find any inaccuracies or errors in my review of this textbook.
This textbook did a great job of presenting seminal, historical research as well as using examples and illustrations from today to explain biological concepts and theories. It's hard to say how quickly these current examples will become obsolete, but this would be a problem with any textbook that uses current examples. Most of the current research examples just serve to further elaborate or explain a concept and thus many examples would still be relevant even if the theories or studies became outdated.
I had absolutely no problem understanding the content in this textbook. Reading this textbook was remarkably easy and smooth which is much different than the textbooks I remember reading for general biology when I was an undergraduate. Authors also do a great job of explaining complex ideas through case studies, diagrams, and videos. I think this question would be more appropriate to ask students after they use this textbook for class.
Each chapter and subsections within each chapter are set up similarly with chapter glossaries, summaries, and questions occurring at the end of each chapter. I did not notice any inconsistencies in this set-up or within terms.
Each chapter and sections within chapters can easily stand alone and be assigned at any point within the semester without much problem. However, the textbook is set up to explain the subject of biology starting from broad (chemistry/building blocks of life) to specific (organ systems) and going from simple (cells) to complex (ecology) and therefore could easily be assigned sequentially as well. I encountered almost no places in the textbook that reference previous or later sections of the textbook. For the most part, large blocks of text are broken up with a plethora of photos, graphs, diagrams, and inset boxes.
The textbook is broadly set-up to explain the subject of biology starting from broad (chemistry/building blocks of life) to specific (organ systems) and going from simple (cells) to complex (ecology) and therefore is structured in a way that inherently builds off of the concepts from previous chapters. Many biology textbooks seem to be set up this way and I think this organization makes the material flow well. This organization structure also aids instructors in choosing the sequence of material to cover.
I had a few problems with the textbook interface while reading it on Adobe Acrobat reader. Some of the charts and photos were a bit pixelated, but it didn't detract too much to the meaning of these photos/charts. Furthermore, some of the links that take readers to additional multimedia features do not work. To fix this, I would recommend that authors periodically check and change these links accordingly. I also found many random blank pages and some font size/style inconsistencies. Further, some comprehension questions at the end of chapters would continue on the next page making it hard to understand what the answer choices were. I would also recommend reminding readers where the answers to the comprehension questions can be found (i.e. at the end of the book). Specifically stating which pages the specific answers could be found would be even better.
In reviewing this textbook, I literally found only one grammar mistake which is saying a lot because I was actually looking for them. This single grammar mistake was found on pg. 1443, after the 2nd word of the last paragraph. There is a second, random "s" after the word success.
I commend authors on their inclusion of the political and cultural issues and ramifications of certain biological concepts such as biodiversity conservation and eugenics. There is even a mention of the importance of integrating social science research into biological research and authors mention how traditional ecological knowledge was used to help biologists understand the sin nombre hantavirus discovery. Authors also mention many ways that biological studies can help society. On a more negative note, a reference was made to "hard" and "soft" sciences with biology being called a "hard" or quantitative science which was identified as different from the more qualitative or "soft" social sciences. Using the terms soft and hard to differentiate between biological and social sciences simply furthers the divide between the two and also imparts a value judgment where "soft" sciences are not viewed as rigorous or quantitative as biological sciences. In truth, both fields are equally rigorous and important, they just study different parts of our world.
I was pleasantly surprised at how interesting and easy this book was to read. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I learned quite a bit myself from reading it, and I look forward to teaching courses where I can use this book's material to help explain concepts in biology.
This is a very comprehensive textbook that provides an appropriate balance between the different fields of biology. The textbook explains very read more
This is a very comprehensive textbook that provides an appropriate balance between the different fields of biology. The textbook explains very complex topics in a comprehensive manner and appears to be designed for early term biology and associated science majors. The book is well organized and the table of contents is through to allow students the ability to quickly view each topic covered. Overall, this textbook is more comprehensive than other books by the same authors, covers each topic well, and expands upon topics not covered in the “Concepts of Biology” textbook. However, while more topics are covered in the “Biology” textbook, the amount of comprehensiveness for each Chapter is only minimally expanded from the “Concepts of Biology” textbook. The key terms and review questions for each chapter are excellent and the answers to the review questions are provided. However, the answers are difficult to quickly locate as they are listed in paragraph format, rather than organized as a list. The textbook also offers access to a variety of “Learning Resources” and various real world “Connection” sub-topics that are highly useful and complemented the material provided in each chapter.
Overall, the text is accurate. There are several instances of subtle inaccuracies, which is expected in any textbook. Thus, this textbook is comparable to the majority of its peer “traditional” books. In many cases, the book is written in very simplistic terms, which is likely designed to hold the readers interest. In some cases, the inconsistencies appear to be associated with oversimplification. The Figures in the textbook are also generally accurate. However, some have low resolution, which makes their interpretation difficult.
The textbook contains current information and up-dated material. As with any science textbook, periodic revisions will be necessary for many of the units. The textbook also has an assortment of web links that will need to be maintained.
The writing is well done, with minimal jargon. When jargon is used, it is well defined and the meaning is clear. The material is presented in an engaging manner and should hold the student’s attention. There is a nice, seamless transition between sections contributed by different authors. This is commonly a distraction that is minimized in this textbook.
The textbook is quite consistent from Chapter-to-Chapter. In general, the terminology and nomenclature is consistent throughout the book.
The format of the Textbook is highly modular. In general, each Unit/Chapter could stand alone is independent from the textbook as a whole.
The textbook is well organized and flows in a logical manner. The unit and chapter breakdown was very well done and organized appropriately.
The interfaces were either excellent or poor. The bar codes associated with each “Link to Learning” were fantastic and an excellent addition to the textbook to add additional information. Likewise, the inclusion of the Chapter Summaries and Key Word definitions were highly beneficial. The Review Questions and Critical Thinking questions were excellent and very useful to reinforce the content. However, the “Art Connection” figures, in general, were very low resolution and many appeared blurry and difficult to read. The coloration of these figures should also be improved for contrast.
In general, I did not locate any grammatical errors.
No cultural issues were noted in the textbook.
Overall, this is a well assembled textbook that would be highly appropriate for an introductory biology course for majors. There are a few issues with image resolution; however, this was only a minor concern. This is a very nice textbook.
The 8 units this textbook, chemistry through ecology, sufficiently cover the range of topics that would be covered in an Introductory Biology series read more
The 8 units this textbook, chemistry through ecology, sufficiently cover the range of topics that would be covered in an Introductory Biology series of courses.The order in which topics are addressed follows the common approach of building from the simplest level of organization up to the highest level. Within each chapter, the fundamental concepts and principles are addressed in a factual manner. At times, it seems too little effort is devoted to explaining the relevance, context, or complexity of the concepts and principles. Having said that, I need to add that a major complaint I have of the most widely used introductory textbooks for Biology majors is that too much attention is focused on trying to provide that context, which makes the essential facts more difficult for some students to grasp. Whereas those books provide too much information, which can overwhelm, I wonder if this book could be a little too scant, which may make the facts feel irrelevant. That being said, a knowledgeable instructor should be able to provide that context and, not having the authors' context in the text, may make the naive students' path through the material less overwhelming.
I found the information presented in this book to be accurate, up-to-date, and consistent with the most widely held scientific opinions on the topics. This was especially noteworthy in the diversity of life chapters, where contemporary taxonomic titles are used rather than the more widely recognized historical names and groups that are currently outdated.
This book is written in a manner that it's content will remain relevant long into the future, although I suspect motivated instructors who adopt this book will quickly adapt it to fit their viewpoint on the relevance of topics. The fact that it is open source textbook, allows it to be readily modified or updated by individual instructors. So long as those instructors follow the expectations of the Creative Commons license of the text, their is great potential for this book or instructor-modified versions of it, to remain relevant indefinitely. The facts that are presented are unlikely to change to an extent that would require a major revision any time soon.
As I mentioned earlier, I have concerns about the "facts only" approach that is used in some of the sections I reviewed. For instance, in the cell reproduction chapter, the metaphase, anaphase, and telophase sections are each described using just 3 sentences. Everything in those sentences is accurate and easy to comprehend, but what seems lacking to me is an explanation of the relevance of the processes that are being described. Reading those sections alone would seem to reinforce memorization of the details rather than an understanding of the relevance process.
Although this book had 6 Senior Contributors and a large number of Faculty Contributors, the editing was done in a manner that kept the framework and terminology consistent throughout the book.
This book has a degree of modularity that should readily accommodate a variety of approaches for covering its topics
This book follow the traditional, and most widely used, manner of organization for the sequence of chapters and topics, which allows for a logical flow of content.
The interface is trouble-free. The links that I clicked to external sites all worked well. Navigation within the digital book was problem-free. Images, tables, and boxes were all presented well and without distortion.
The sentence structure and paragraph flow and logical and easy to follow. The factual context of the writing made for very quick reading.
I found no evidence of cultural insensitivity. In fact in the first chapter, the second image that contained a person, showed researchers excavating a paleontological site in Spain.
I found the illustrations to be very instructive and easy to interpret. They are a strength of this text and, in many places, serve as the focus for the author's discussion of the topic. They aren't just in the book, they are incorporated into the discussion. I also found the external links to be extremely beneficial and well selected. The capacity to have external links embedded within a digital textbook can be a real strength for reinforcing content. Overall, I found this to be an exceptional textbook option for the cost. That being said, I am still on the fence about whether I am ready to adopt this textbook for my introductory biology course base on the brevity of their discussion and strict factual manner in which some key concepts are presented.
This textbook was comprehensively organized and populated with topics. It covered all of the subject areas that my current General Biology textbook read more
This textbook was comprehensively organized and populated with topics. It covered all of the subject areas that my current General Biology textbook covers. Some current topics, such as epigenetics and biotechnology, were covered very well and will be easily updateable. In some instances, I felt that certain topics, such as stem cell research, were not given much coverage, but the overall coverage was excellent. It would be easy for the instructor to build off the foundation that was laid out in the text. The online version has additional organizational features that connect glossary terms with each subsection, rather than an entire chapter or even at the end of the book. With the downloaded pdf or (I am assuming) the printed text version, the glossary comes at the end of the chapter. I personally prefer the section-by-section glossary, as students can immediately look up terms, rather than flipping back and forth. Additionally, with the online version, students could see what unit, chapter, and subsection they were within, as it becomes highlighted in the table of contents at the top. One aspect of this book that I feel was done very well was the coverage of the scientific method and the manner in which this was tied into subsequent chapters again and again. I don't think that can be stressed enough; science is a way of thinking and approaching problems. The small text-box presentations of examples of the scientific method throughout the book were well executed.
There were a variety of small errors in content matter, which included some small mislabeling and repetition of images. Some terms were utilized in strange ways, and I felt some of the definitions could be altered a little to be more precise. I did not notice any bias towards or against historical studies, current topics, research, or ideas made apparent. Some other errors included some minor semantics issues within a few of the chapters, including the genetics and immune system chapters. I personally do not find those to be too distracting since this book would be utilized in a beginning course, although I do feel they should be addressed to avoid misinformation.
Content is very up-to-date, and I did check out how frequently the content was altered (it mentions this at the bottom of the online version). The content is changed very frequently- my one concern would be if these changes were major, how would that influence the ease-of-use for those students that download and print or order a text copy? I also think that the links to external resources may be difficult to maintain, although I did spot-check those and the links were all good. These included sites such as Khan Academy. Small changes to update the Evolution Connection and Everyday Connection sections would be simple enough to do, and these small boxed-in sections contain some of the current events and applications to each chapter. The Career Connections sections are a nice addition that students will be able to explore when considering career possibilities in science.
This text was written in a more straight-forward manner than my current text that I am using. I felt the order in which the authors approached topics was intuitive to how a student might learn the topic. Much of the time, the text took on a more conversational tone than I was expecting, which I feel will appeal to readers. There was also links to videos and tutorials which more fully explained some of the more difficult topics in a visual and/or audio dimension. These were accessible with a QR reader for the offline versions. The online version also linked the figures to the text itself, so students could click the referenced figure and have it appear as they were reading. I only felt that the jargon got to be a little technical in some of the genetics unit, especially within Genes and Proteins and Gene Expression. That is where students struggle anyway, and it would have been nice to have a little more clarity at that point. The terms sometimes can be used before they are fully defined, and some of the figures appeared before the text, which can be confusing to students as they pace through the book.
The tone of the book seems fairly consistent across chapters. There is not a clear transition of voice from author to author, which is good. There is little consistency in the images- some ar every nicely edited and some are difficult to see. If you enter into a new tab, you can see the images better in some cases, but this may not be the case for those that print out the book.
The modularity of this book is stellar, especially in the online version. Each unit contains chapters that have subsections that are easy to find and pull apart. The instructor will easily be able to present topics in the order in which they prefer. The text is very self-definitive, and it would be easy to read a section on its own, save for perhaps the genetics sections, which are a little trickier. However, the likelihood of an instructor assigning those subsections at random is very low, so I don't think it would be a problem. Intermittently, the text refers to itself, which could be an issue if one has not read the previous information, but this is not frequent.
In general, the topics in the text are presented in a logical order, with more basic ideas coming before more complex ones. Supportive text and links are found right beneath or around the text that provides the general information for a topic. There were a few times that a figure came before some of the text that would have explained certain aspects of that figure a little more, but this was infrequent. At the end of the text, it would have been nice to pair Plant Structure and Function with the plant diversity chapters in the previous unit, and likewise for the Animal Structure and Function. This is fairly common in most textbooks, but many General Biology courses will cover the plant unit and the animal unit in two distinct parts of the course.
The links within the text are all good, as well as the images, which can by sized-up for ease of reading. Some of the online-version images seemed small at first, so they did need to be opened in a new tab, but that was easily accomplished and did not disrupt or confuse me as the reader. As I have mentioned in a previous section, the online version has a table of contents above the text that highlights where you are in the book: by unit, chapter, and subsection. Links are clearly visible yet subtle, and the small Evolution Connection boxes and the like are small enough to not disrupt the flow of the regular text. The images themselves could use some work, in a few instances. There were also some chapters that were sparse of images, including the genetics unit - in particular the information about cancer. I would have liked to see more surrounding that topic in the way of images, and even information.
The book did not contain blatant grammatical errors, although sometimes there were words that were defined that perhaps did not need to be. For instance, serendipity is defined right away on page 22, which I thought was odd to define that in a Biology text.
Images in the text included a variety of people from different races and backgrounds. When talking about inherited disorders and conditions, the authors were straight-forward and sensitive with jargon related to those topics, which can read as offensive if done thoughtlessly. Within the evolution section, no outwardly offensive material was presented that would make conversations difficult with students of a variety of belief systems.
I was surprised by how easy-to-use and thorough this text was. I am seriously considering transitioning to this text from my much more expensive versions that I currently require. This text will get a General Biology student through just fine, and I think that students will appreciate how accessible the links and external content is.
If you are looking for a majors level textbook that covers all the content covered in the vast majority of first semester biology course, this will read more
If you are looking for a majors level textbook that covers all the content covered in the vast majority of first semester biology course, this will work for you. The content, as least in the chapters I cover, is extremely similar to my current majors level text (Campbell Biology 10th Ed., Reece et. al.). A few differences I would like to highlight. One, the figures are sometimes bare-bones. While the content is there, they are not as “elegant” as one would find from a mainstream publisher (for example, the illustrations of the cell are 2-dimensional). This may actually help students, as the “elegant” figures are sometimes distracting for students anyhow. Two, some chapters simplify explanations. In some cases this is good. For example, in the photosynthesis chapter, the explanation of the light reactions is much more straightforward than in my book. I think students would grasp the concept better. But, in the case of mitosis, the lack of a good figure of the mitotic spindle is notable.
I know that several other reviewers commented on errors they found in this textbook. I will not argue with them, as those errors may be within their field of expertise. However, I firmly believe that these small errors are mainly in sections that would not be covered in most one-semester courses, and could easily be clarified by the professor if they were covered. I read the chapters I would cover quite carefully, and did not find any errors of note.
Most of the material taught in introductory biology courses has not changed in the last 15-20 years and this book is certainly up to date. I liked that current research examples were used, such as HPV infected cells in the cell division chapter, and neurons from Huntington’s patients in the Mendelian genetics chapter. I thought the biotechnology chapter was particularly good, and better that my current textbook, which is not the most up to date, even in the newest edition. Plus, the book could easily be updated in this open source format.
As a longtime user of a textbook that is well-respected by biologists and other colleges, but a struggle for many introductory science students to read, this book was a breath of fresh air! I think students will find it easy and straightforward to read. The sentence structure and vocabulary beyond the scientific terms are simple enough that even ESL college students should be able to glean information.
Mostly, the internal text seems consistent. However, they are inconsistent in the quality of the website links. One aspect I really like of the text is all of the website links built right into the chapters. After each section, you can click the link and it brings you to a relevant video, activity, etc. Some are terrific, and worth a student spending time there to better understand the material. Others are not as worthwhile, and may even solidify commonly believed biological myths. (For example, a link to the genetics of human eye-color exercise inaccurately depicts human eye color as a two-gene character).
There is not much to say here. The book is perfectly fine in its modularity and is similar to most other biology textbooks.
I have no special comments for this metric. The organization is on par with other majors level biology texts.
I did not find any issues with the interface, and especially liked the option of reading it online. I think students would also like this option. Any issues present must be pretty minor.
There is no reason to dwell on this metric, as the grammar and English were fine in all the chapters I read.
This is a science textbook, so there are very few places to talk about other cultures and ethnicities. I did not find any obvious examples of insensitive or offensive language.
After comparing this text to my current majors-level textbook, I would strongly recommend this text with a 4 star rating. I do have one other caveat: I had difficulty finding and accessing instructor resources. If you are a competent instructor who tends to use the textbook as a supplemental resource for your students, rather than the main way of obtaining information, this will meet your needs. I tried several times to access the “Instructor Power Points” that are supposedly available, and I could not get the website to work. Before I adopt this text, I would really like to see the quality of these resources. Also, a new professor may find the lack of a test bank of questions tough, as they will end up shouldering the majority of the test-writing job.
The text covers all areas of biology appropriate for first year biology students. Key terms are defined at the end of each chapter. A comprehensive read more
The text covers all areas of biology appropriate for first year biology students. Key terms are defined at the end of each chapter. A comprehensive index is provided at the end of the text. Answers to text and chapter questions are also provided.
The content of the text is generally accurate but not uniformly. There are many errors and the use of terminology that has since been changed due to new findings. Also newer information is missing in some of the chapters. I have cited a few examples In fig 2.19, human blood should be included in the pH scale. In Fig 3.12 "Hydrophobic lipids" is redundant. In Fig 5.4 a new illustration of bilayer is needed because the current diagram is not very clear. In Fig 5.11 the diagram depicting osmosis is misleading due to the depiction of the height of water following its movement across the membrane. On pg. 91 indicate that majority of enzymes are proteins and also include a discussion of ribozymes; specify that enzymes are biological catalysts and affect the rate of reactions by increasing the rate of reaction. In chapter 42, both B and T cells play significant roles in immune responses. The concept of T suppressor subsets has been changed and regulatory T, B, DC and NK populations have been described and shown to have immune suppressive and regulatory functions. It is not clear what the authors mean by the subheading "Cytokine Release Affect". Chemokines are not discussed. They should be discussed along with cytokines. In the complement pathway, the lectin pathway is missing. In chapter 34, there is no discussion of phytonutrients. The majority of "Art Connection Figures" throughout the text are difficult to read, labeling is poor and the font used either has shadows or is extremely blurry. The relevance of the opening figures to the chapter content is not always obvious. Among the three domains, the archaea are not given adequate treatment. There is very little discussion of this domain in the text. These and many more errors and omissions can be corrected by a revision of the text and replacement of figures.
The text content is generally relevant and up-to-date. Material is presented in an engaging way with practical examples that students can easily relate to. However, because of the errors and the use of terms that no longer apply, students may become easily confused and this could affect the longevity of the text. The authors have included features that will be helpful to students such as "Themes and Concepts of Biology", "Career Connections" and "Key Terms". The lay out of the text may not allow easy updates. Sections will need to be fully revised to provide updates of text and figures. Inclusion of new landmark scientific discoveries will be useful.
Overall the writing is clear. However, each of the chapters could use a clearer transition from the opening of the chapter to the main chapter content. There is unevenness in accessibility across chapters. The units on evolutionary processes (unit 4), biological diversity (unit 5) and ecology (unit 8), are hard to follow and may confuse students. Chapter introductions need to be specific on what will be covered. The introductory material needs to provide recall or review of previously covered material so that students are not constantly referring back to previous chapters in order to comprehend the new material. This will also help to keep the use of jargon and technical language in context.
Terminology and organization is consistent. More review and recall of key terminology and concepts should be provided in each chapter. Also the writing style needs to be kept the same throughout the text.
Text modularity is good. Sections can be used individually. However, as the text reads currently, some "self-referencing" will be necessary to maintain connections among chapters and between sections within chapters.
Overall the topics are presented logically and students can follow. However, chapter contents need to be revised for clarity and new figures are needed to help students make connections between what is presented in the text and the figures. Due to the challenging nature of the subject, figures can help students understand concepts better when the figures are clear and unambiguous. The structure of the text is similar to most text books for this level of biology and the units are divided appropriately.
Majority of the figures and charts in the "Art Connection Figures" are very difficult to read. The labeling is not clear in many figures, the font type is distracting, labels have shadows, and they are distorted or blurry. Also, some figures are too crowded, the choice of colors is distracting and the figures have no depth. For example, Figs. 4.8, 5.4, 5.19, 33.21, 33.23, 34.19, 40.17, 38.38, 41.13, 41,13, 42.11, 43.15, 43.17, 46.6, 46.10; there are many more examples like these.
The text reads well and has no grammatical errors. There are typographical errors that can be easily corrected during a revision.
There are no cultural insensitivities or biases in the text.
The text covers most necessary areas, but not always with clarity or accuracy. The index and glossary are fine. In Chapter 18, the text only read more
The text covers most necessary areas, but not always with clarity or accuracy. The index and glossary are fine. In Chapter 18, the text only includes the biological species concept, with no discussion of its weaknesses or limitations. Other species concepts should be included and the pros and cons of each should be discussed.
I noted many errors in the text and I’m sure there are many more. • On page 65, the text states, “Hydrogen bonds are also involved in various recognition processes, such as DNA complementary base pairing and the binding of an enzyme to its substrate, as illustrated in Figure 2.28.” The figure illustrates the former, but not the latter. Plus the right hand side of the drawing is labeled as Cytosine bonded to adenine. Why are two base pairs (T-A and incorrectly labeled C-G) shown? Students will be confused and uncertain how the two strands are represented. Although the text states that H-bonds create the double-helix structure, this is not shown in the Figure. • On page 90, the text states, “Being the outermost structure in animal cells, the plasma membrane is responsible for the transport of materials and cellular recognition and it is involved in cell-to-cell communication.” Why only animal cells? • On page 96, the text states, “The structural difference between a normal hemoglobin molecule and a sickle cell molecule—which dramatically decreases life expectancy—is a single amino acid of the 600.” No, the sickle cell hemoglobin only decreases life expectancy in homozygous individuals. • There are two errors on page 125: “Have you ever noticed that when you bite into a raw vegetable, like celery, it crunches? That’s because you are tearing the rigid cell walls of the celery cells with your teeth.” No, it’s not the cell walls. It’s the lignified schlerenchyma cells. “Fungal and protistan cells also have cell walls.” No, not all protists have cell walls. • On page 159, crenation does not mean shrinkage but refers to the effect of shrinkage on the cell membrane. • On page 186, the text states, “ATP is a highly unstable molecule.” No, not at the range of pH in most cells. If this statement were true, the energy of ATP could not be used to supply energy to reactions within cells. • In Chapter 8, the text states, “The energy extracted today by the burning of coal and petroleum products represents sunlight energy captured and stored by photosynthesis almost 200 million years ago.” No, fossil fuels formed in the Paleozoic, which ended 252 mya. • On page 243, the text states, “Every single atom of matter and energy is conserved, recycling over and over infinitely.” No, this is not so. Energy is conserved, but does not recycle, as energy is lost as heat in each chemical reaction. • In Chapter 11, the text states, “Spores are haploid cells that can produce a haploid organism or can fuse with another spore to form a diploid cell.” Spores never fuse with other spores to form diploid cells. It also states, “Some plants produce spores.” No, all plants produce spores. • This statement on page 488 is not necessarily true: “A geographically continuous population has a gene pool that is relatively homogeneous. Gene flow, the movement of alleles across the range of the species, is relatively free because individuals can move and then mate with individuals in their new location. Thus, the frequency of an allele at one end of a distribution will be similar to the frequency of the allele at the other end.” It’s inaccurate to claim that allele frequencies do not change over the range of a species. • On page 503, the text states, “Evolutionary theory states that humans, beetles, plants, and bacteria all share a common ancestor, but that millions of years of evolution have shaped each of these organisms into the forms seen today.” No, billions of years. • In Figure 45.10, there is no such thing as “the carrying capacity of seals”. Carrying capacity is a feature of a population’s environment, not of the population. • The text uses the terms primitive and advanced for extant taxa. This terminology is out-of-date and reinforces student misconceptions of evolutionary change as goal-directed and progressive. There are a number of concepts or topics that are very poorly explained. In some cases, it appears that the authors do not fully understand them. Here are some examples; I’m sure there are many more. • On page 52, the text states, “Like hydrogen bonds, van der Waals interactions are weak attractions or interactions between molecules. Van der Waals attractions can occur between any two or more molecules and are dependent on slight fluctuations of the electron densities, which are not always symmetrical around an atom. For these attractions to happen, the molecules need to be very close to one another. These bonds, along with hydrogen bonds, help form the three-dimensional structure of the proteins in our cells that is necessary for their proper function.” In fact, interactions between R-groups on amino acids are more important than Van der Waals attractions in stabilizing 3D structure in proteins. • In Figure 5.12 and throughout the text and chapter questions, the terms hypertonic, isotonic, and hypotonic are used to describe single solutions. You cannot refer to solutions as hypertonic, isotonic, and hypotonic except in comparison to other solutions. The text and figure reinforce a common and significant student error that prevents clear understanding of this key concept. • On page 749, the text says, “In the following Cenozoic Era, mammals radiated into terrestrial and aquatic niches once occupied by dinosaurs.” No, the aquatic reptiles of the Mesozoic were not dinosaurs. Many seven-year-olds could correct the authors on this one. • On page 1304, the text states, “Animals faced with temperature fluctuations may respond with adaptations, such as migration, in order to survive.” This reinforces a common and deeply rooted student misconception that organisms adapt in order to survive. Frankly, I was surprised and appalled to see this sentence in a university level textbook. • On page 1360, the explanation of keystone species is very weak and insufficient to answer the critical thinking question at the end of the chapter. • The very brief discussion of sociobiology on page 1372 is biased, sketchy, and inaccurate: “Sociobiology also links genes with behaviors and has been associated with biological determinism, the belief that all behaviors are hardwired into our genes.” • The text generally takes a traditional approach to behavior, with insufficient discussion of behavioral ecology.
I noted quite a few examples of out of date terminology and concepts. I’m sure there are many more. • Archaea get very short shrift in this textbook. On page 30, the text says, “Many organisms belonging to the Archaea domain live under extreme conditions and are called extremophiles.” This would be fine if the text then went on to explain that we now realize that Archaea are far more widespread than previously thought, but the discussion ends there. In fact, throughout the textbook, bacteria are mentioned in contexts where bacteria and archaea should both be included. Students are generally not familiar with archaea and it seems the authors of this textbook share this lack of understanding. • On page 479, the text states that “Natural selection [is] also known as “survival of the fittest.” This outdated phrase is not challenged or revised. • The terms “warm-blooded” and “cold-blooded” are used throughout the text, e.g., page 749: “The mostly cold-blooded dinosaurs ceded their dominance of the landscape to more warm-blooded mammals.” These terms are highly inaccurate. Terrestrial vertebrates differ in the source of body heat and in the variation in temperature they experience and can tolerate, not in the temperature of their blood. The biologically accurate terms are ectothermic and endothermic. Again, this seems to reflect a lack of understanding on the part of the authors, as the inaccurate terms are used consistently. • The terms higher and lower organisms are used throughout the text. This is outdated terminology that has no place in a general biology textbook. • There are many cases in which the authors refer to plants and animals, rather than including all relevant taxa. Again, this reinforces student misconceptions and lack of familiarity with fungi, protists, and prokaryotes. Examples are found on page 27: “A community is the sum of populations inhabiting a particular area. For instance, all of the trees, flowers, insects, and other populations in a forest form the forest’s community;” in Figure 6.3: “Both plants and animals use cellular respiration to derive energy from the organic molecules originally produced by plants;” and on page 228: “Photosynthesis is essential to all life on earth; both plants and animals depend on it.” • On page 804, the text states, “The notochord, however, is not found in the postnatal stage of vertebrates.” On page 807, it says, “In adult vertebrates, the vertebral column replaces the notochord, which is only seen in the embryonic stage.” Not so! Consider extinct vertebrate taxa (e.g., ostracoderms and Placoderms) and extant taxa (e.g., lungfishes) that have unconstricted notochords. • On page 807, the text states, “Based on molecular analysis, vertebrates appear to be more closely related to lancelets (cephalochordates) than to tunicates (urochordates) among the invertebrate chordates. This evidence suggests that the cephalochordates diverged from Urochordata and the vertebrates subsequently diverged from the cephalochordates.” Nope, that’s out of date. More recent genomic analysis has identified cephalochordates as the most basal chordates. Tunicates and vertebrates are sister taxa that diverged more recently. Urochordate and vertebrate embryos share a novel embryonic tissue layer: migratory neural crest cells. • On page 808, the text states, “We will consider hagfishes and lampreys together as jawless fishes, the agnathans, although emerging classification schemes separate them into chordate jawless fishes (the hagfishes) and vertebrate jawless fishes (the lampreys).” This is incorrect and out-of-date. In fact, recent genomic evidence shows that hagfishes and lampreys form a clade, the cyclostomes: Hagfishes and lampreys share four unique miDNA families. The term Agnatha was abandoned long ago, as jawless fishes include cyclostomes and ostracoderms and are not a clade.
There are a number of examples of complex terms or concepts that are not clearly explained. Here are some examples: • In Chapter 3, the Evolution Connection on cytochrome C is not well explained: “When human and rhesus monkey sequences were compared, the single difference found was in one amino acid. In another comparison, human to yeast sequencing shows a difference in the 44th position.” This suggests that humans and yeast are as closely related as humans and rhesus monkeys. And why specify the position of the one change? The significance of these comparisons is not explained. • On page 94, the term homology is used but not clearly defined or explained. • Figure 3.32 is not helpful and does not show H-bonding or antiparallel arrangement clearly. • Unless I missed it, the R in Figure 2.27 is undefined. • On page 54, this sentence requires a fuller explanation: “Cells can only survive freezing if the water in them is temporarily replaced by another liquid like glycerol.” • This explanation on page 58 is overly simplified: “So how do the cells of the stomach survive in such an acidic environment? How do they homeostatically maintain the near neutral pH inside them? The answer is that they cannot do it and are constantly dying. New stomach cells are constantly produced to replace dead ones, which are digested by the stomach acids.” • On page 154, the text states, “For example, think about someone opening a bottle of ammonia in a room filled with people. The ammonia gas is at its highest concentration in the bottle; its lowest concentration is at the edges of the room. The ammonia vapor will diffuse, or spread away, from the bottle, and gradually, more and more people will smell the ammonia as it spreads.” No! This is an example of convection, NOT diffusion. Diffusion plays a key role in the movement of molecules across plasma membranes, which are only 8 nm thick. Many students imagine that diffusion explains the spread of molecules of dye in a beaker of water or the movement of molecules of scent in a room and this example feeds this misconception. It is also important to emphasize to students that diffusion is an effective and important process for transport of molecules over small distances but is completely irrelevant at macrocopic scales. See Vogel (1994) Dealing honestly with diffusion. American Biology Teacher 56:7, 405-407. • On page 242, the discussion of CAM and C4 photosynthesis is far too brief. • On page 285, the text states, “Cells in G0 phase are not actively preparing to divide. The cell is in a quiescent (inactive) stage that occurs when cells exit the cell cycle.” A G0 cell is far from quiescent metabolically and this term will mislead students. • On page 313, the explanation of The Red Queen Hypothesis in the Evolution Connection is very weak and unclear. • On page 481, the text fails to explain why a mutation may be neutral. • On page 496, the explanation of punctuated equilibrium is very weak. • On page 518, the term linkage disequilibrium is very poorly explained. • In Chapter 19, the discussion of some evolutionary mechanisms, e.g., nonrandom and assortative mating, is very sketchy. Chapter 20 shows a very weak understanding of a key topic: phylogeny. Students struggle with “tree-thinking”, a necessary skill for anyone who plans to continue in biology. Phylogenetic trees are poorly explained in this chapter and the discussion on how to construct them is confusing. I honestly do not think that the author has a clear understanding of this important topic. Some examples: • On page 524, phylogeny is very poorly defined: “Phylogeny describes the relationships of an organism, such as from which organisms it is thought to have evolved, to which species it is most closely related, and so forth.” Ouch! • On the same page, “ Scientists consider phylogenetic trees to be a hypothesis of the evolutionary past since one cannot go back to confirm the proposed relationships.” Yes, phylogenetic trees represent hypotheses about evolutionary relationships, but not because these hypotheses cannot be tested! • In Figure 20.7: “For example, the bones in the wings of bats and birds have homologous structures.” This is a poor example, since these wings are both homologous as vertebrate forelimbs and analogous as wings. Later, the text (page 530) says, “Some structures are both analogous and homologous: the wings of a bird and the wings of a bat are both homologous and analogous.” True, but the author does not explain why these structures are both homologous and analogous! • The chapter appears confused about how time is represented in phylogenetic trees, saying both that trees do and do not have a time axis. • On page 534, the text states, “The vertebrate in Figure 20.10 is a shared ancestral character.” Huh? • The discussion of horizontal gene transfer is very lengthy but very poorly written. For example, the discussion of Lake’s work would not be accessible to general biology students. It’s not clear that the author understands it, frankly.
Many terms are used before they are defined. I noted several examples and I am sure that there are many more. • On page 24, the term “germline cells” is used but is not clearly defined. • In Figure 1.16, just before three domains are introduced, many tax
The text is fine in this regard.
I noted several examples in which material is explained clearly in one part of the text, with inaccurate or inconsistent information in other places. I’m sure there were many others. • On page 188, the text states, “Due to this jigsaw puzzle-like match between an enzyme and its substrates (which adapts to find the best fit between the transition state and the active site), enzymes are known for their specificity.” No, it’s not like a jigsaw puzzle. This will confuse students, many of whom have trouble grasping induced fit, which is introduced on the next page. • On page 482, the text states, “Although natural selection may work in a single generation on an individual, it can take thousands or even millions of years for the genotype of an entire species to evolve.” The idea that evolution and speciation require millennia is included as a misconception later in the chapter! • On page 676, the text confounds green algae and charophytes, referring to all green algae as charophytes. The distinction between charophytes and the other taxon within the green algae was made clearly in Chapter 23. The distinction is also clear on page 682.
I did not note any problems with the interface.
The text contains few grammatical and spelling errors. Here are a few errors that I noted: • On page 54: Unites States • In Figure 4.6: “Relatives sizes on a log scale” • On page 123: “… proteins synthesis is an essential function of all cells” • On page 176, this sentence is very poorly written, with a full and confusing sentence in brackets: “Photosynthesis is the primary pathway in which photosynthetic organisms like plants (the majority of global synthesis is done by planktonic algae) harvest the sun’s energy and convert it into carbohydrates.” • Gene and allele names/letters and variables in equations should be italicized, but are not. This is a problem throughout the text. • On page 486, this sentence is incomplete: “Define species and describe how species are identified as different”
The text is not culturally insensitive and uses a wide variety of examples.
There are many examples (e.g., government regulations such as the FDA, examples of careers) that are American and explicitly not Canadian. American spelling is used throughout, which is fine with me. The text has some good features. • Learning outcomes are specified throughout and are clear and complete. • The Career Connection sections are good, although they are definitely American and not Canadian. • The critical thinking questions are generally pretty good. Do students have access to answers to these questions and to the others included in some figures? If so, how? • One of the best features is the Everyday Connection sections, which are imaginative and will be interesting to students. • The introduction to scientific approach and the culture of science is generally good. One very serious weakness of this text is the art: the figures, the animations, and the Art Connection features. They are very basic and do little to help students visualize biological concepts and structures. Some of them (Figure 5.11, Figure 18.6) are truly awful. Currently available textbooks have made huge strides in producing carefully rendered and accurate illustrations and animations that are produced by talented teams of artists and animators. I realize that it is impossible to provide this quality of artwork in an open source textbook, but I think it is also important to recognize how important such features are for students attempting to visualize complex structures and to master difficult concepts. It is a false savings to provide a free textbook that lacks features that are crucial and necessary to student understanding of what is, frankly, very challenging material.
• The text appears to be very comprehensive. The index at the start of the text is very useful for navigation. • The glossary appears comprehensive, read more
• The text appears to be very comprehensive. The index at the start of the text is very useful for navigation. • The glossary appears comprehensive, however, many duplicates (ie. hydrophobic and Hydrophobic) were noted in the index. Furthermore, these duplicates appear to reference different pages. • The listing of key words with definitions at the end of each chapter is a useful feature, since students can reference key words for that specific chapter easily and quickly. • Yes it is but a lack of internal referencing is evident.
• Diagrams and written content both appeared to be accurate. • One exception: it appears that there is an error on page 150 in the image labeling frontal and transverse planes in the goat (at least the image doesn’t seem to match the description in the text). • The reviewers did not notice any bias in the text. Any ethical issues (for example, reproductive technologies) were handled carefully but with technical accuracy. • Error page 371. Paternal leakage means that not every mitochondrial DNA is from the female. • Error p. 322 color is spelled with the American spelling. • Error p.375 I was unaware that Rosalyn Franklin was considered for the Nobel prize…should have been. • Typo in bicarbonate image in Ch.2 • p.214 error (again) in the equations/arrows.
• Content seemed very up-to-date. • The reviewers noticed that care was taken to include recent findings (for example, neurogenesis and BrdU labeling; epigenetics; personalized medicine). • The basics / foundations were covered in an appropriate manner so that the text will not become out of date very quickly. • The sections on anatomy and physiology of the human body had a nice mix of explaining structures and functions, and linking these with disorders to make the content more relevant and interesting. • I have no impression that it will be quickly out of date.
• Text was written clearly and was fairly engaging to read. Overall text was a good mix between technical / scientific jargon and everyday language. • Many examples and connections were included to help students stay interested (for example, links in the macromolecules section to “low carb” diets and Celiac disease). • Learning objectives presented at the start of each section are also very useful for students to focus their reading. Learning objectives were phrased in a clear way using verbs to help students understand exactly what is expected of them. • End of chapter questions are also a nice addition for students to practice (especially since answers are provided at end of text). • The depth at which material is covered seems appropriate for a first year majors biology course. • I found real problems with chapters 12-15 and 17. I found them very densely written. Concepts did not flow one into another. Lack references to previous text sections to review basic concepts, like meiosis. • P.375 PCR is introduced before it is explained. • P. 451 How can student “get” cDNA in one sentence? • P.451 Probes must be explained much more completely. • P.459 I think linkage maps belong elsewhere. • P.464 I think a microarray image is very important here. • I think the entire first paragraph of chapter 7 needs a do over.
• Overall most of the text reads as if a single author were involved; no major differences in writing style were noted between chapters. • The layout and flow of the text (intro paragraph, learning objectives, text, etc) was consistent throughout. • I fe
• Use of bolded key words helps readers pick out important terms. • The number and placement of headings and sub-headings seemed appropriate – not too many that the flow of text was disrupted, but not too few that readers would have to stretch on and on with simple text. • Headings and subheadings are clearly labeled so sections can be found easily. • Text didn’t self-reference too much, which is very useful for classes that only cover part of the text. • I thought this was very poor. I could not image how to part of a chapter to cover the basics of a topic. Very evident in Cellular respiration chapter • p.401 A very odd experiment to throw in. • Jumping to the electron transport system is an odd way to start in 7.1.
• Overall, topics seem to flow nicely within individual chapters and also are appropriately ordered within the larger Units. • Complex topics are built up slowly and in a logical way. • Rather good in Chapters 1,2,16,18 and 19. • Rather poor in 7, 12-15 and 17.
• Interface is overall clearly laid out, but is not particularly engaging visually • The margins are very large, resulting in a proportionately small text size. Images in the text also do not make a very good use of space. A two-column format may be more appropriate. • Poor use of page space / too much white space also makes this text a poor fit for reading online, particularly on devices such as iPad, tablet, eReaders where screen size is smaller and the text /content is intended to fill the entire screen space. • Overall figures / images were good and clearly demonstrated the concepts, although occasionally they look somewhat unprofessional when compared to other similar texts. Occasionally figures also look grainy / blurry or as if they are low-resolution images (ex. Page 149). • The “Art Connection” headings seem unnecessary. These images are similar or complimentary to others displayed in the main text, and labeling them as “Art” seems strange. • Would it be possible to move the image credits to an Appendix at the end of the text? They create unnecessary clutter on the page / in the figure caption. • Use of tables was appropriate and any information in tables was presented in a clear and organized manner, without extraneous details. • I thought many images had a random quality. For example 14.3, a dead mouse image was unhelpful in understanding this classic experiment. • Especially in the first image for the chapter. 12.1, 15.1,16.1,17.1 all were poor choices. 18.1 too dark. 12.7 needed to show red, white and pink phenotypes. • p.356 Where is the phenotype associated with the G/C phenotype? • p.358 Please show the McClintock strategy as well. • p.359 Why show a karyotype where the colours don’t match up for the homologues? Ie #21’s and #10’s • Show more water molecules in shell of hydration image fig. 2.15 • Include blood in pH figure 2.19
• No grammatical errors were noted. • Exception: Noted unnecessary use of ( ) on pg. 122 – an entire sentence was inside the parentheses.
• Content did not seem culturally insensitive or offensive. • I noticed nothing culturally insentitive.
• Career Connections are great throughout, but some appear to be written from an American perspective. Special interest topics also fail to mention Canadian content (for example, laws governing reproductive technologies and “designer babies”). • Links to online content varied in quality and ability to engage students in a dynamic way. Some videos were very good and modern, while some animations seemed overly simplistic. • Nothing caught my attention regarding Canadian content. (other than the colour/color thing) • I think you need to hire someone to give the text a consistent voice and internal refences.
The text is well-written and easy to read and understand. read more
The text is well-written and easy to read and understand.
The textbook is aimed to provide fundamental knowledge at a general reading level. The content is up to date with no glaring and serious mistakes. However, there are several mistakes that do need to be corrected. For instance, in Figure 40.15/Page 1178, the branch after the Thoracic aorta is named the Abdominal aorta; its branches include the Celiac trunk, Superior Mesenteric artery (mistakenly labeled as Gastric artery)…, and it becomes the Common Iliac artery (mistakenly labeled as Iliac artery) …
The textbook has taken good advantage of the use of figures in describing concepts and structures. I would agree that the relevance is one of the strengths of the textbook.
The textbook may need some improvements with clarity. For instance, in Figure 41.5/page 1194, the major and minor calyces are introduced unclearly in the description and there are no labels provided to follow.
The terminology and framework are consistent throughout the whole text.
The textbook is divisible into smaller reading sections and it is self-referential.
It is acceptable for a general reading level.
The interface is acceptable. It would definitely improve the interface if there were a softer color scheme. The contrast of the colors is too strong which detracts the reader from the content.
I found there are no issues.
The majority of the photos in this textbook are images adopted from American-based resources. It may be more suitable for Canadian students if there were more images from Canada-based resources.
The content and organization of the textbook have great potential to be a popular textbook if the clarity and interface were improved. I still would not recommend my students this current version as it may not be easy to follow and is at times confusing.
Table of Contents
Preface to Biology
- The Study of Life
- The Chemical Foundation of Life
- Biological Macromolecules
- Cell Structure
- Structure and Function of Plasma Membranes
- Cellular Respiration
- Cell Communication
- Cell Reproduction
- Meiosis and Sexual Reproduction
- Mendel's Experiments and Heredity
- Modern Understandings of Inheritance
- DNA Structure and Function
- Genes and Proteins
- Gene Expression
- Biotechnology and Genomics
- Evolution and the Origin of Species
- The Evolution of Populations
- Phylogenies and the History of Life
- Prokaryotes: Bacteria and Archaea
- Seedless Plants
- Seed Plants
- Introduction to Animal Diversity
- Plant Form and Physiology
- Soil and Plant Nutrition
- Plant Reproduction
- The Animal Body: Basic Form and Function
- Animal Nutrition and the Digestive System
- The Nervous System
- Sensory Systems
- The Endocrine System
- The Musculoskeletal System
- The Respiratory System
- The Circulatory System
- Osmotic Regulation and Excretion
- The Immune System
- Animal Reproduction and Development
- Ecology and the Biosphere
- Population and Community Ecology
- Conservation Biology and Biodiversity
About the Book
Biology is grounded in an evolutionary basis and includes exciting features that highlight careers in the biological sciences and everyday applications of the concepts at hand. To meet the needs of today’s instructors and students, some topics have been condensed and combined; for example, phylogenetic trees are presented in the various ways they are currently being developed by scholars, so instructors can adapt their teaching to the approach that works best in their classroom. The book also includes an innovative art program that incorporates critical thinking and clicker questions to help students understand—and apply—key concepts.
About the Contributors
Yael Avissar, Rhode Island College, Cell Biology
Jung Choi, Georgia Institute of Technology, Genetics
Jean DeSaix, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Evolution
Vladimir Jurukovski, Suffolk County Community College, Animal Physiology
Robert Wise, University of Wisconsin, Oshkosh, Plant Biology
Connie Rye, East Mississippi Community College, General Content Lead