Life is the condition that distinguishes plants and animals from organic matter and includes the capacity for reproduction, functional activity, growth and continual change that precedes death. It is the quality that differentiates a functional and energetic being from a dead one. All living organisms right from the smallest (bacterium) to the largest (whale) share some characteristics of life. Besides having cells and reproducing so as to give rise to the next generation, the organisms have the following life attributes.
Characteristics of life
- Growth and change; they have the ability to grow and change; a seed may be tiny but with the right conditions in place it will sprout and grow into large plants. The same applies to the bacterium.
- Maintain homeostasis; living organisms maintain their internal conditions within a certain range irrespective of alterations in their external settings.
- Metabolism; all living organisms possess a complex process through which they manufacture their own foods and breathe. The sum of the various reaction processes is called metabolism.
Importance of life
- Life provides a balance between plants and animals. Plants require carbon dioxide to make their own foods while animals breathe in oxygen and release carbon dioxide.
- Life captures the energy, chemical substances and information from the surrounding, transform into biomass and introduces it into the ecosystem.
- It facilitates the flow of biomass through the ecosystem from one tropical level to another as it follows various food chain routes.
- Single cell algae produce more oxygen than any other organism on the planet. This oxygen is used by animals and human beings to breathe and live.
- Life controls the number of different species.
- Birds, insects, and lizards build their shelter in trees. Deer and other small camouflage in a thick thicket while certain plants require
animals to disperse their seeds.
- Life decomposes and returns chemical substances back into the environment and hence ensures they go back so as to function again. This way, life maintains some sort of cycle.
- Through symbiosis, different organisms interact with each other in a close relationship. Consequently, both organisms benefit from receiving food and shelter from another.
- Life beautifies our surrounding. Plants, due to the beauty, add splendor to our homes. When we build houses, the job is never done until we introduce living creatures to make them attractive.
- Some animals and insects help pollinate certain plants. Without pollination, such plants would not reproduce and hence would become extinct.
- In parasitic relationships, life allows one organism to derive benefit from another which is adversely or negatively affected by the parasite.
- Plant life processes like photosynthesis involve the use of sunlight, carbon dioxide and water to produce oxygen. Human beings must breathe in oxygen to live.
- In addition to giving us food and labor animals and plants provide companionship thus comforting us and increasing our productivity.
- Life regulates pollution levels on the planet. Processes like photosynthesis and respiration take in polluted air and give off fresh oxygen which is very beneficial to our bodies.
Life captures energy from the environment and transform into biomass and delivers it into the ecosystem. The subsequent flow of energy ensures all organisms get adequate energy necessary for their survival. It also controls the effective number of the various species in the environment.
By: Joni Kim