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Chapter 4

Interacting with the Biosphere

TermDefinition
sustainability the ability of the biosphere to maintain its balance indefinitely
biogeochemical cycles the movement of a specific chemical through the living and nonliving components of the biosphere
nitrogen fixation the conversion of nitrogen gas (inorganic nitrogen) by one of several mechanisms into nitrogen compounds (organic nitrogen) that living things can use
population density the number of organisms in a defined unit of area
limiting factor a factor within an ecosystem that prevents a population from growing beyond a certain size
exponential growth a rate of population growth in which the population size multiplies at a constant rate at regular intervals
carrying capacity the maximum population size that a particular geographic area can support
primary succession the stage of succession characterized by organisms first colonizing a previously barren ecosystem, such as a lava field or ground exposed by a retreating glacier
pioneer species the plants and animals that first colonize an area during primary succession
secondary succession succession that takes place in a disturbed area with soil and perhaps a few plants
climax species stable, long-lived species that mark the end of succession and characterize a mature ecosystem
greenhouse gas a gas that can trap heat in the earth's atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide or water vapor
ecological footprint a measurement of human demand on the earth's ecosystems, based on the amount of resources used, waste generated, and the rate at which resources can be renewed
climate change the change in global temperatures and weather patterns over time
invasive species a species that moves into a new habitat, either naturally or by human introduction, and then competes with native species for resources
bioremediation a technique that uses organisms to remove or neutralize hazardous wastes in the environment, such as oil spills
Created by: Wcarlin