The Living things are open systems Due to their interaction with the environment that surrounds them. To understand this first it is necessary to define a system. Which is any organism, thing or process that due to its characteristics can be studied.

Depending on the type of living being and its behavior when relating to the outside, we can classify the systems in several modalities.


Types of systems in living things


He is one who exchanges energy and matter constantly with the environment around him and around him.

It takes as matter everything that occupies a place in space and has mass and volume. It uses the energy to carry out physical or chemical changes in its matter.


He who exchanges energy with the environment that surrounds it, but not matter. Characteristic that differentiates it from the previous one.


It is called an isolated system that does not exchange energy or matter with the environment that surrounds it.

Having said that, we know that a living being is a system, since it can be object of study, and we also know that it is considered an open system because it exchanges energy and matter with the environment.

Characteristics of living beings


The process by which organisms capture energy from the surrounding environment and transform it into energy for their vital functions.

This exchange of energy takes place through components that surround the living being like water, light, oxygen, etc.


It is universally known as the ability of every being to keep its internal environment constant.

To achieve that some parameters such as temperature, pH, nutrient level and volume of water are maintained in quantities or measures conducive to survival for many species, mechanisms are used. For example, the excretion of sweat, which allows the skin to cool and therefore decrease the temperature of the whole body.

To maintain the volume of water, living beings absorb it from the environment in quantities that allow them to achieve their basic processes.

In addition, some animals are exposed to Rays of the sun to increase its temperature, this is why homeostasis is considered an exchange of matter, energy or both in all living beings.


It is the adaptation of living beings to the environment that surrounds them. AND This mechanism is the way in which living beings accept and develop in the surrounding environmental conditions.


It is the ability of all living beings to respond to the stimuli of the environment that surrounds them.

This characteristic is one of the most determinant to witness the exchange of energy. The most representative example is the contraction of the pupil of the eye when receiving a large amount of light to avoid damage to the optic nerve and to focus images with more precision.

In addition the stimuli can be physical or sensitive, reason why the exchange is remarkable in these beings.


Defined as the ability to assimilate nutrients from food, that is, to incorporate them into cells for later use in the functioning of cellular units, organs and systems.

Another of the most relevant examples that support the classification of living beings as open systems, since all living beings on the planet must, in one way or another, assimilate nutrients.

Whether by photosynthesis, phagocytosis or the digestion process, assimilation from the environment into the organism is necessary.


It is the process by which a being discards the byproducts of their processes, which are not necessary or represent a danger to their survival.

An example of this characteristic is sweat, feces and urine, which are exchange of matter that mostly eliminates toxins.

For all of the above we understand why living beings are considered open systems, as they are constantly exchanging matter and energy with the environment that surrounds them.

References The Theory of Open Systems in Physics and Biology, Ludwig von BertalanffyDepartment of Biology, University of Ottawa. PDF Document, Page 23 - 28. Recovered from The Mystery of Life"s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories, Thermodynamics of Living Systems, Chapter 7 by Victor F. Weisskopf, R. Clausius and R. Caillois. Retrieved from Open Systems, from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979) 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved by D. N. ZUBAREV. Retrieved from Reece, J.B., Urry, L.A., Cain, M.L., Wasserman, S.A., Minorsky, P.V., and Jackson, R.B. (2011). The laws of energy transformation. In Campbell Biology (10th ed., Pp. 143-145). San Francisco, CA: Pearson. Living Beings, Open Systems, Chapter · January 2009. In book: Molecular and Cellular Enzymology, pp.63-82 by Jeannine Jon Khan. The Human Being as an Open System by Eduard V. Galazhinskiy, Rector, Professor and Doctor of Psychology, Tomsk State University. Retrieved from Entropy and Open Systemsby Henry M. Morris, Ph.D.Evidence for Creation> Evidence from Science> Evidence from the Physical Sciences> The Universe Is Stable> Energy Can not Naturally Be Created or Destroyed.

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