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Day to day condition of earth's atmosphere at a particular time and place


the average overall weather conditions over a long period of time

greenhouse effect

the trapping of the sun's heat by gasses of the atmosphere such as carbon dioxide and methane

polar zone

extreme cold zones above 66.5 degrees north and below 66.5 degrees south latitudes

temperate zone

moderate temperature zones between 23.5 and 66.5 degrees latitude, north and south of the equator

tropical zone

warmest and most humid of the 3 major zones, between the equator and 23.5 degrees North and 23.5 degrees south latitude

biotic factor

the biological influences on an organism within an ecosystem

abiotic factor

the non-living environmental factors (temperature, humidity, wind, etc) that affect an ecosystem


the biotic and abiotic factors that make up that particular area in which an organism lives


the specific way in which an organism uses its habitat to survive


any naturally occurring biotic or abiotic factor that enhances an organism's ability to survive

competitive exclusion

fundamental rule in ecology that states that no two species may occupy the same niche in the same environment at the same time (blue bird and starling)


relationship in nature in which one organism (predator) captures and feeds on another (prey)


relationship in nature in which two organisms live closely to each other for survival


symbiotic relationship in which both organisms benefit from each other (lichen)


relationship in which one member benefits while the other is neither helped nor hindered (ex: barnacles on whales get food, but don't hurt or help the whale)


one organism benefits, while hurting the other organism's chances of survival (tapeworm)

ecological succession

orderly, predictable change in community over time in response to natural or human disturbance in an area

primary succession

initial species to start growing in an area devoid of soil or life

pioneer species

first organisms to populate an area usually lichen and 'exerserees' - 'rock eaters'

secondary succession

first organisms to occupy land stripped of life but not soil (cherry tree after fire)

climax community

area in which succession ends in mature, relatively stable old-growth forests


particular physical environment occupied by characteristic plants and animals (desert biome vs. tropical vs. temperate forest biomes)


small area within a larger area with its own distinct climate


dense top layer of leaves in a mature forest


the shorter vegetation that lives in the shadows below the forest canopy


trees that drop their leaves at the end of the growing season in preparation for winter


gymnosperm tree, that reproduces with seed bearing cones. Most keep their need-shaped leaves through the winter


decaying organic matter found on the forest floor


coniferous forests found at the northern edge of temperate zone biomes


permanently frozen sub-soil found in tundra biomes of extreme northern regions


any plant or animal-like organism in the ocean that floats and is at the mercy of the tides


any plant-like organism that floats in the ocean and is at the mercy of the tides


single-celled photosynthetic organisms made of silicon shells (diatomaceous earth for pool filters)


often single-celled animal ilk organisms that float and are at the mercy of the tides


any animal that can swim purposefully against the tides (whales, squid, people, fish)


ecosystem made of wet, marshy or near marshy land either freshwater or salt water


wetlands where rivers meet the sea, providing shelter lush breeding grounds for many life forms


organic particles that provide the base for many food webs

salt marsh

temperate zone estuaries made up of salt tolerant grasses above low tide line and underwater seagrass

mangrove swamp

coastal wetlands important in controlling shore erosion, made up of salt water tolerant trees called 'mangroves' as well as seagrasses

photic zone

well lit area 300 to 600 feet below ocean surface where sun penetrates, allow photosynthesis

aphotic zone

area in ocean below the photic zone where photosynthesis does NOT occure


horizontal banding of organisms in the ocean brought on by competition and environment

coastal ocean

relatively shallow area of the ocean that starts at the ocean's edge and extends to the outer edge of the continental shelf

kelp forest

coastal edge community made up of underwater brown seaweed called kelp

coral reef

structures constructed of tiny sea creature exoskeletons that accumulate in warm offshore oceans to make reefs


sea creatures that live on or near the ocean bottom (clams, lobsters, oysters, starfish, etc)

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