Living System Heirarchy

Read here about the heirarchy of living systems, a series of scales that characterizes life as we know it.


Images of Living Systems Heirarchy


In this image, we see from top to bottom
  • the galaxy, showing the Milky Way
  • the biosphere, showing a portion of planet Earth from space.
  • an ecosystem showing a snake, antelope, hawk, bushes, grass, rocks and stream
  • a community showing a snake, antelope, hawk, bushes and grass
  • a species population, showing aherd of pronghorn antelope
  • an organism, showing a pronghorn antelope
  • an organ system, showing the nervous system of a pronghorn antelope
  • an organ, showing the brain of a pronghorn antelope
  • a tissue, showing mammalian nervous tissue
  • a cell, showing a mammalian nerve cell
  • organelles, showing a mitochondrion, chrloroplast and cell nucelus
  • molecules, showing water, glucose, and DNA
  • atoms, showing hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen and oxygen

Scalometer of Living Systems Heirarchy

The scalometer depicts, in order from large to small
  • the galaxy, NASA's depiction of the Millky Way galaxy
  • the biosphere, NASA's photo of Earth from the Moon taken by the Apollo astronauts.
  • an ecosystem, a satellite photo of the Red Sea from space.
  • a community, showing a school of fish and their habitat.
  • a population, a photo of a school of fish swimming.
  • a multicelled organism, showing a single fish.
  • an organ, showing the gills of the fish.
  • a tissue, showing some skin and structural cells of the fish.
  • a cell, showing a cartoon of a Eukaryotic cell.
  • a molecule, showing a stick and ball model, a space filling model, and a proteomic folded model
  • an atom, showing an electron cloud surrounding a hydrogen atom

Links and Citations

See Living Systems by James Miller.