Abiotic: Not associated with or derived from living organisms. Abiotic factors in an environment include sunlight, temperature, wind patterns, and precipitation, for example. Opposite of “biotic.”
Adaptation: A feature of an organism that results from natural selection and by which the organism becomes better fitted to survive and reproduce in its environment.
Analogous: Similar in function and/or appearance but not in origin or development.
Bio-assistance: Sometimes confused with biomimicry, bio-assistance refers to domesticating an organism to accomplish a function, such as using bacteria to purify water. Bio-assistance is not biomimicry, but it can be well-adapted if it is done naturally, not through transgenic or genetic engineering.
Biodiversity: The variety of life and its processes; includes the variety of living organisms, the genetic differences among them, and the communities and ecosystems in which they occur.
Biological: Of or relating to biology or living organisms.
Biologize [a question]: To take a human need or function and rephrase it so that an answer may be found in biology, e.g., “How can I make the fabric red?” becomes, “How does nature create color?”
Biomimicry: The conscious emulation of life’s genius. Learning from and then emulating biological forms, processes, and ecosystems to create more sustainable designs.
Biomimicry Taxonomy: A function-based organization scheme cataloging how organisms meet different challenges. Information on AskNature.org is organized by this taxonomy.
Biomorphic: Sometimes confused with biomimicry, biomorphic describes anything resembling or suggesting the forms of living organisms.
Biophilic / Biophilia: Sometimes confused with biomimicry, biophilia is a term popularized by E.O. Wilson to describe the extent to which humans need connection with nature and other forms of life. Biophilic design emphasizes using natural materials, forms, living things, air, sun, and water in a design.
Biotic: Associated with or derived from living organisms. The biotic factors in an environment include the organisms themselves as well as factors such as predation, competition for food resources, and symbiotic relationships.
Bio-utilization: Sometimes confused with biomimicry, bio-utilization entails acquiring or harvesting a product or producer, such as gathering medicinal plants to obtain the medications they produce, or growing algae to make biofuels. Bio-utilization is not biomimicry, but it can be well-adapted if the harvest is sustainable and does no harm to the environment.