Questions looking for clarifications or definitions of biological terminology.

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5
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2answers
42 views

What is Environmental Robustness? Is it different from plasticity?

Hansen (2006) in his review uses the concept of environmental robustness independently of the other concepts of robustness (at pages 139 and 140) without defining ...
1
vote
1answer
45 views

Definitions of robustness and canalization

The concepts of robustness and canalization are fashionable today in the biology literature. However, I am not sure of their definitions and I am not sure either that all authors actually use the same ...
6
votes
1answer
91 views

What does “Mutational Variance” mean?

Background The concept of mutational variance can be found in many articles including this one for example. The mutational variance of a trait number $i$ can be found in the M-matrix in position ...
3
votes
1answer
170 views

Soft and Hard selection

Seems to me that these two sources (M. Whitlock, B. Wallace) use different definitions of soft and hard selection. M. Whitlock: Soft selection occurs when the relative fitness of an individual is ...
2
votes
1answer
76 views

Limb polarity such as writing handedness, golf handedness and natural football foot

Define the term "limb polarity" to mean things such as writing handedness, golf handedness, throwing ball arm preference and natural boxing hand. I avoid using the term "handedness" because of its ...
5
votes
1answer
557 views

What is the definition of a stringent/relaxed plasmid?

I have found a publication which proposes some definitions, including a definition for strict and relaxed replication. The definitions are: Relaxed control of plasmid replication. Relaxed control ...
0
votes
1answer
81 views

What the difference between an inverted and everted retina?

I'm looking specifically for examples and comparisons, because the definitions of inverted and everted are remarkably similar; e.g. from Dictionary.com/Reference.com: everted verb (used with ...
0
votes
1answer
416 views

Are spiders part of the study of entomology?

The definition of entomology says it is the science of studying insects. I know spiders are not insects but does entomology include studying spiders as well? Otherwise is there any name to the ...
1
vote
1answer
48 views

What is a sex-biased gene?

How do you define a male-biased gene and a female-biased gene as they are found in the abstract of this article.
2
votes
1answer
61 views

Definition of Sexual Selection?

How do you define Sexual Selection (SS)? (One might want to subdivide SS into intra- and inter- SS to answer) Is SS clearly different from Natural Selection (NS)? Is SS nested within NS or are NS ...
1
vote
1answer
46 views

What does “developmentally programmed” mean?

What does the term "developmentally programmed" mean? I can't seem to find a definition anywhere. What would the alternative (i.e. not developmentally programmed) imply?
3
votes
1answer
2k views

What is a suicide plasmid?

What is a suicide plasmid? Example: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2737453/ mentions a "suicide vector". See also ...
1
vote
0answers
110 views

On the definition of gDCW (gram dry cell weight)

I need some clarification on the concept of gram dry cell weight. The unit acronym gDCW stands for gram dry cell weight. My interpretation is that 1 gDCW is equivalent to 1 gram of dry cells, but I ...
5
votes
2answers
118 views

Transitivity of Species Definitions

There are many definitions of "species" which usually take the form Two individuals are of the same species if ... An implied (rarely made explicit) property of any sensible species definition ...
1
vote
1answer
83 views

What is an on-line measurement? What is an off-line measurement?

See it used here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fed-batch. In the table giving the different strategies to control growth in a fed-batch culture, one finds, for example: "on-line measurement of ...
3
votes
1answer
1k views

What is the definition of “dry weight” and “dry cell weight”?

As I understand it, the dry weight of something is its weight minus the weight of its water content. Is this the definition? What about dry cell weight?
2
votes
2answers
696 views

What is a cortical circuit?

I have read about cortical circuits in the context of connectomics (e.g. any example here) and computational neuroscience (e.g. any example here), but a simple Google/Wikipedia does search not show an ...
7
votes
3answers
6k views

Do apes and humans share 99% of DNA or 99% of genes? What is the difference?

I made an answer on the Scifi.SE that can be read here. It is about how the characters in the story Jurassic Park might have gotten DNA for all the species shown. In my answer, I said this: Apes ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Polymorphism in cnidarians?

To me, the phenomenon of polymorphism in cnidarians is particularly troubling. I gather that it essentially refers to existence of various different forms or kinds of individuals, i.e. zooids and ...
1
vote
1answer
377 views

What is the difference between abiogenesis and spontaneous generation?

As we all should know, abiogenesis and spontaneous generation are far from identical. For one, spontaneous generation was disproven with Pasteur, and abiogenesis seems to be a solid scientific theory. ...
3
votes
2answers
449 views

What is an organism?

The definition of an organism Wikipedia gives is An organism is any contiguous living system. I understand that these are not organisms according to this definition: A bird and a tree it's ...
7
votes
1answer
65 views

Can an organism obtaining a part of its genome via horizontal gene transfer be called a “hybrid”?

Wikipedia definition of "hybrid" offers many competing definitions. But most seem to be centered on sexual-reproduction gene transfer. Is there an official (in a textbook or widely accepted peer ...
4
votes
1answer
85 views

How would one describe the R-factor in crystallography?

Yes, there is the wikipedia definition, but how would one explain this concept to a non structural biologist?