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Ecology Vocabulary

Olivia Pridgen

QuestionAnswer
Autotroph An organism that is able to form nutritional organic substances from simple inorganic substances such as carbon dioxide.
Heterotroph An organism deriving its nutritional requirements from complex organic substances.
Organism An individual animal, plant, or single-celled life form.
Habitat The natural home or environment of an animal, plant, or other organism.
Biotic factor A living organism that shapes its environment.
Abiotic factor Non-living chemical and physical parts of the environment that affect living organisms and the functioning of ecosystems.
Species A group of living organisms consisting of similar individuals capable of exchanging genes or interbreeding.
Population All the inhabitants of a particular town, area, or country.
Community A group of people living in the same place or having a particular characteristic in common.
Ecosystem A biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment.
Ecology The branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings.
Immigration The action of coming to live permanently in a foreign country.
Emigration The act of leaving one's own country to settle permanently in another; moving abroad.
Population density The concentration of individuals within a species in a specific geographic locale.
Limiting factor The factor that limits the reaction rate in any physiological process governed by many variables.
Carrying capacity The number or quantity of people or things that can be conveyed or held by a vehicle or container.
Natural Selection The process whereby organisms better adapted to their environment tend to survive and produce more offspring.
Adaption The action or process of adapting or being adapted.
Niche A comfortable or suitable position in life or employment.
Competition The activity or condition of competing.
Predation The preying of one animal on others.
Mutualism The doctrine that mutual dependence is necessary to social well-being.
Commensalism An association between two organisms in which one benefits and the other derives neither benefit nor harm.
Parasitism The practice of living as a parasite in or on another organism.
Parasite An organism that lives in or on an organism of another species (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the other's expense.
Host An animal or plant on or in which a parasite or commensal organism lives.
Succession A number of people or things sharing a specified characteristic and following one after the other.
Primary succession Primary succession occurs in an environment without previous life, or a barren habitat.
Pioneer species The species that first colonize new habitats created by disturbance.
Secondary succession Secondary succession occurs in an area that had previously been inhabited but experienced a disturbance.
Producer An organism that produces its own food.
Consumer A person or thing that eats or uses something.
Herbivore An animal that feeds on plants.
Carnivore An animal that feeds on flesh.
Omnivore An animal or person that eats food of both plant and animal origin.
Scavenger An animal that feeds on carrion, dead plant material, or refuse.
Decomposer An organism, especially a soil bacterium, fungus, or invertebrate, that decomposes organic material.
Food chain A hierarchical series of organisms each dependent on the next as a source of food.
Food web A system of interlocking and interdependent food chains.
Energy pyramid A graphical representation of the energy found within the trophic levels of an ecosystem.
Nitrogen fixation The chemical processes by which atmospheric nitrogen is assimilated into organic compounds, especially by certain microorganisms as part of the nitrogen cycle.
Biome A large naturally occurring community of flora and fauna occupying a major habitat, e.g. forest or tundra.
Climate The weather conditions prevailing in an area in general or over a long period.
Desert Arid land with usually sparse vegetation especially.
Rain forest A luxuriant, dense forest rich in biodiversity, found typically in tropical areas with consistently heavy rainfall.
Emergent layer The top layer of a rain forest.
Canopy The aboveground portion of a plant cropping or crop.
Understory A layer of vegetation beneath the main canopy of a forest.
Grassland A large open area of country covered with grass, especially one used for grazing.
Savanna A large open area of country covered with grass, especially one used for grazing.
Deciduous tree Trees that drop their leaves for part of the year.
Boreal forest The world's largest land biome.
Coniferous tree Conifers are a group of cone-bearing seed plants, a subset of gymnosperms.
Tundra A vast, flat, treeless Arctic region of Europe, Asia, and North America in which the subsoil is permanently frozen.
Permafrost A thick subsurface layer of soil that remains frozen throughout the year, occurring chiefly in polar regions.
Estuary The tidal mouth of a large river, where the tide meets the stream.
Intertidal zone The area where the ocean meets the land between high and low tides.
Neritic zone The relatively shallow part of the ocean above the drop-off of the continental shelf.
Biogeography The branch of biology that deals with the geographical distribution of plants and animals.
Continental drift The gradual movement of the continents across the earth's surface through geological time.
Dispersal An ecological process that involves the movement of an individual or multiple individuals away from the population in which they were born to another location, or population, where they will settle and reproduce.
Exotic species Those that occur in areas outside of their natural geographic range.
Point source A source of energy, such as light or sound, which can be regarded s having negligible dimensions.
Nonpoint source A source of pollution that issues from widely distributed or pervasive environmental elements.
Biodegradable (Of a substance or object) capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms.
Natural resource Materials or substances such as minerals, forests, water, and fertile land that occur in nature and can be used for economic gain.
Soil conversation The protection of soil from erosion and other types of deterioration, so as to maintain soil fertility and productivity.
Crop rotation The action or system of rotating crops.
Contour plowing Plowing along the contours of the land in order to minimize soil erosion.
Conservation plowing A method used by farmers to reduce soil erosion between crop harvesting and next crop planting.
Biodiversity The variety of life in the world or in a particular habitat or ecosystem.
Keystone species A species on which other species in an ecosystem largely depend, such that if it were removed the ecosystem would change drastically.
Endangered species A species of animal or plant that is seriously at risk of extinction.
Threatened species A plant or animal species generally perceived as likely, in the near future, to become endangered within all or much of its range.
Extinction The fact or process of a species, family, or other group of animals or plants becoming extinct.
Habitat destruction When a natural habitat, such as a forest or wetland, is altered so dramatically that it no longer supports the species it originally sustained.
Habitat fragmentation The 'breaking apart' of continuous habitat into distinct pieces.
Poaching The illegal trafficking and killing of wildlife.
Captive breeding A process of breeding animals outside of their natural environment for example, in farms zoos.
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