Ecology Vocab

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Biosphere

The entire portion of Earth inhabited by life; the sum of all the planet's ecosystems.

Ecosystem

a system formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their physical environment

Community

a group of interdependent organisms inhabiting the same region and interacting with each other

Population

group of individuals of the same species living in a particular area at the same time

Habitat

the place where an organism lives

Organism

any living thing

Biotic Factors

living parts of an ecosystem

Abiotic Factors

nonliving parts of an ecosystem

Niche

organism's role, or job, in its habitat

Autotrophs

organisms that make their own food

Producers

organisms that make their own food

Chemosynthesis

process by which some organisms, such as certain bacteria, use chemical energy to produce carbohydrates

Photosynthesis

process by which plants and some other organisms use light energy to convert water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and high-energy carbohydrates such as sugars and starches

Biomass

the total mass of living matter in a given unit area

Consumers

an organism that obtains energy and nutrients by feeding on other organisms or their remains

Heterotrophs

consumers, they rely on other organisms for their energy and food supply

Herbivores

organisms that eat only plants

Carnivores

consumers that eat only animals

Omnivores

organisms that eats both plants and animals

Detrivores

feed on plant and animal remains

Decomposers

organisms that break down wastes and dead organisms and return raw materials to the environment

Trophic Level

each step in a food chain or food web

Food Chain

series of steps in an ecosystem in which organisms transfer energy by eating and being eaten

Food Web

a community of organisms where there are several interrelated food chains

Ecological Pyramids

show the relative amount of energy or matter contained within each trophic level in a given food chain or food web

Energy

the ability to do work or cause change

Biogeochemical Cycles

elements, chemical compounds and other forms of matter are passed between organisms and parts of the biosphere in a cycle

Carbon/Oxygen Cycle

the process by which carbon and oxygen cycle among plants, animals, and the environment

Nitrogen Cycle

the process in which nitrogen circulates among the air, soil, water, plants, and animals in an ecosystem

Water Cycle

the continuous cycle of the transfer of water through an ecosystem, which involves evaporation, transpiration, condensation, and precipitation

Phosphorus Cycle

the cyclic movement of phosphorus in different chemical forms from the environment to organisms and then back to the environment

Ecology

the study of the interactions of living organisms with one another and with their environment

Symbiosis

a relationship in which two different organisms live in close association with each other

Homeostasis

process by which organisms maintain a relatively stable internal environment

Emigration

the movement of individuals out of a population

Immigration

movement of individuals into an area occupied by an existing population

Biodiversity

the variety of species living within an ecosystem

Exponental Growth

as population gets larger it also grows at a faster rate

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