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Heredity is the genetic passing of a set of instructions from generation to generation. These instructions are encoded as DNA and may manifest themselves as characteristics. Some characteristics are inherited, and some result from interactions with the environment.
A variety of ecosystems and communities exist on Earth. Ecosystems are dynamic interactions of organisms and their environment. Ecosystems have distinct characteristics and components that allow certain organisms to thrive. Change in one or more components can affect the entire ecosystem.
Evidence suggests that living things change over periods of time. These changes can be attributed to genetic and/or environmental influences. This process of change over time is called biological evolution. The diversity of life on Earth is classified using objective characteristics. Scientific classification uses a hierarchy of groups and subgroups based on similarities that reflect evolutionary relationships.