Conditions of Use
The book covers a range of different areas related to non-animal life. It tends to focus on what and not as much on why or mechanisms that explain the functions/properties seen. read more
The book covers a range of different areas related to non-animal life. It tends to focus on what and not as much on why or mechanisms that explain the functions/properties seen.
There were a few content errors, but many of them were due to typographical issues or confusion caused by diagram placement relative to the text.
The majority of the content is pretty evergreen (no pun intended) and actually presents the material from a different direction than most textbooks, which I found interesting.
The jargon isn't excessive, but sometimes the writing was harder to understand than it needed to be.
The author stays consistent from chapter to chapter.
The back 250 pages is completely modular as it is just different examples of organisms. The first 30 chapters of actual content is pretty modular, but does rely on accessing content from other chapters.
I had trouble with the flow. Granted, it tells you from the outset that the author is using a different strategy for organizing the content, I still had trouble following the flow from chapter to chapter.
The book was easy to navigate (I used the pdf version). A few links did not work or did not lead to useful content. The images ranged from great to difficult to navigate (some appeared to be Windows Paint images with some hand scribbles for labels). I could see some of these images confusing students.
I consistently found grammatical errors ranging from minor missing words that did not affect the text to spelling errors and missing words that dramatically change the meaning of the text. That required me at times to re-read and use the surrounding context to know what the correct meaning of some of the statements were.
I didn't see any examples of races or ethnicities, which is not surprising considering the topic. That being said, most textbooks try to connect to folks in the field to give students examples of people they might see as examples and provide aspiration. That is not present in this textbook.
I was hoping this book could serve as a supplement to the general biology for science majors 213 course that I teach. The Openstax Biology 2e book has limited plant biology and ecology content and although this book does have that content, it doesn't have the mechanistic pieces that I am looking for. It has lots of great information to pull in things like energy production, soil and nutrients, and even classification of non-animals, but there is limited information on plant hormones, details on plant defenses (i.e. signal transduction pathways related to plant defenses), details on energy production (some of the charts show some steps and enzymes, but they tend to be overview diagrams), and not much genetic information presented. It might work best as a standalone book for an introductory student as the student would not need much chemistry background to understand the content in the book.
Table of Contents
- Chapter 1: Organisms
- Chapter 2: Taxonomy and Phylogeny
- Chapter 3: Boundaries
- Chapter 4: Organism form: composition, size, and shape
- Chapter 5: Cellular Structure in Inanimate Life
- Chapter 6: Organ, Tissue, and Cellular Structure of Plants
- Chapter 7: Producing Form: Development
- Chapter 8: Vascular plant anatomy: primary growth
- Chapter 9: Secondary growth
- Chapter 10: Vascular Plant Form
- Chapter 11: Reproduction and sex
- Chapter 12: Fungal sex and fungal groups
- Chapter 13: Sex and reproduction in non-seed plants
- Chapter 14: The Development of Seeds
- Chapter 15: Sex and Reproduction in Seed Plants
- Chapter 16: Reproduction: development and physiology
- Chapter 17: Sex, evolution, and the biological species concept
- Chapter 18: Matter, Energy and Organisms
- Chapter 19: Cellular Respiration
- Chapter 20: Photosynthesis
- Chapter 21: Metabolic diversity
- Chapter 22: Nutrition and nutrients
- Chapter 23: Soils
- Chapter 24: Material movement and diffusion’s multiple roles in plant biology
- Chapter 25: Plant growth—patterns, limitations and models
- Chapter 26: Interactions Involving Conditions
- Chapter 27: Biotic Interactions
- Chapter 28: Agriculture
- Chapter 29: Weeds and weed control
- Chapter 30: Threats to agriculture: insects and pathogens
- Chapter 31: Propagating plants and developing new plants
About the Book
Inanimate Life is an open textbook covering a very traditional biological topic, botany, in a non-traditional way. Rather than a phylogenetic approach, going group by group, the book considers what defines organisms and examines four general areas of their biology: structure (their composition and how it comes to be), reproduction (including sex), energy and material needs, and their interactions with conditions and with other organisms. Although much of the text is devoted to vascular plants, the book comparatively considers ‘EBA = everything but animals’ (hence the title): plants, photosynthetic organisms that are not plants (‘algae’, as well as some bacteria and archaebacteria), fungi, and ‘fungal-like’ organisms. The book includes brief ‘fact sheets’ of over fifty organisms/groups that biologists should be aware of, ranging from the very familiar (corn, yeast) to the unfamiliar (bracket fungi, late-blight of potato). These groups reflect the diversity of inanimate life.
About the Contributors
George M. Briggs. The author grew up in coastal Maine and received a BA in Biology from Dartmouth College before attending Utah State University, where he received an M.S. degree in ecology, studying alpine sedge dominated communities, and a PhD degree in plant physiology, studying the effect of root pruning on the water relations of sunflower. He has taught at Middlebury College, the University of Montana, the Cranberry Lake Biological Station and SUNY, College of Geneseo, from which he retired in 2021.