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Ecology

Biology - Ecology Unit

TermDefinition
population all the individuals of a single species that live in a specific area
community a combination of all the different populations that live and interact in the same environment
biotic the living parts of the environment
abiotic nonliving parts of the environment
species a group of organisms that share certain characteristics and can mate with one another, producing fertile offspring
ecosystem all the living and nonliving things that interact in a specific area; a subdivision of the environment
niche the specific role played by an organism in its ecosystem
habitat the place where an animal or plant lives
autotroph an organism that produces its own food; the source of energy for all other living things on Earth
heterotroph the organism that cannot make its own food; a consumer
producer an organism that makes its own food from light energy and inorganic materials
consumer an organism that obtains its energy from producers
decomposer an organism, generally a bacterium or fungus, that consumes dead organisms and organic waste
herbivore an organism that eats only plants
carnivore an organism that survives by eating animals
tundra characterized by permafrost (frozen subsoil), strong winds, low precipitation, short and soggy summers, long, cold and dark winters; poor soil
taiga biome with long cold winters and a few months of warm weather; dominated by coniferous evergreens; also called boreal forest
desert have less than 25 cm of rain annually, extreme daily temperature changes, soils rich in mineral but poor in organic material
rainforest 2 meters of rain per year, tall trees from dense, leafy canopy, organic matter on forest floor is recycled and reused quickly so the soil is not very rich in nutrients
grassland aka savanna - receives more rain than deserts but less than dry forests, warm and hot summer, cold winter, fertile soils, frequent fires
deciduous forest trees that shed leaves during a particular season of each year
pioneer organism the first organisms to become established in a new habitat
symbiosis relationship in which two species live close together
succession changes over time (in an environment)
saprophyte a plant, fungus, or microorganism that lives on dead or decaying organic matter
omnivore organism that obtains energy by eating both plants and animals
predator an animal that hunts and kills other animals for food
prey an animal that is hunted and killed by predators
food web a representation of many interconnected food chains that shows the feeding relationships among producers, consumers, and decomposers
food chain a representation that identifies the specific feeding relationships among organisms
nitrogen fixing bacteria process by which nitrogen forms compounds that be used by living things (bacteria in legumes that convert nitrogen to ammonia)
nitrifying bacteria group of aerobic bacteria that use inorganic chemicals as an energy source
denitrifying bacteria process by which bacteria convert nitrates into nitrogen gas, which is released into the atmosphere
parasite an organism that survives by living and feeding on other organisms
prey an animal that is hunted and killed by predators
host the organism in a parasitic relationship that provides a home and/or food for the parasite
legume plants, such as peanuts and peas, that have bacteria on their roots used to convert nitrogen gas to ammonia (nitrogen fixation)
lichen symbiotic association between a fungus and a photosynthetic organism
conifer tree that produces seed-bearing cones and have thin leaves shaped like needles
scavengers a carnivore that feeds on the bodies of dead organisms
commensalism symbiotic relationship in which one organism benefits and the other is neither helped nor harmed
mutualism symbiotic relationship in which both species benefit from the relationship
parasitism symbiotic relationship in which one organism lives on or inside another organism and harms it
biome large groups of ecosystems with similar climates and organisms; examples include the tundra, taiga, temperate forest, chaparral, tropical rain forest, desert, temperate grassland, tropical savanna grassland, and polar and high-mountain ice
biosphere all of Earth's ecosystems, collectively; the biologically inhabited portions of Earth, including all of the water, land, and air in which organisms survive
transpiration the process whereby plants absorb water through their roots and eliminate it through tiny pores on the undersides of their leaves
competition the struggle between organisms for the same limited resources in a particular area
climax community a relatively diverse and stable ecosystem that is the end result of succession
selective breeding the process of choosing a few organisms with desirable traits to serve as the parents of the next generation
photosynthesis the process by which some organisms are able to capture light energy and use it to make food from carbon dioxide and water
Created by: WGZimm