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32 terms

AP Environmental Science Chapter 3 Vocabulary

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ecosystem
a particular location on Earth distinguished by its particular mix of interacting biotic and abiotic components
ecosystem boundaries
some ecosystems have these; however, in most ecosystems it is difficult to determine where one ecosystem stops and the next begins
cellular respiration
the process by which other organisms gain energy from eating the tissues of producers
producers (autotrophs)
are able to use the suns energy to produce usable energy through the process called photosynthesis
consumers (heterotrophs)
obtain energy by consuming other organisms
primary consumers (herbivores)
consume producers
secondary consumers (carnivores)
obtain their energy by eating primary consumers
tertiary consumers (carnivores)
eat secondary consumers
food chain
the sequence of consumption from producers through tertiary consumers
food web
a more realistic type of food chain that takes into account the complexity of nature
gross primary productivity (GPP)
the total amount of solar energy that the producer in an ecosystem capture via photosynthesis over a given amount of time
net primary productivity (NPP)
the energy capture (GPP) minus the energy respired by producers
biomass
the energy in an ecosystem is measured in terms of this
standing crop
the amount of biomass present in an ecosystem at a particular time
ecological efficiency
the proportion of consumed energy that can be passed from one tropic level to another
trophic pyramid
the representation of the distribution of biomass among trophic levels
biosphere
the combination of all ecosystems on Earth
biogeochemical cycles
the movement of matter within and between ecosystems involving biological, geologic, and chemical processes
transpiration
the process where plants release water from their leaves into the atmosphere
evapotranspiration
the combined amount of evaporation and transpiration
runoff
when water moves across the land surface into streams and rivers, eventually reaching the ocean
infiltration
water moves down into the soil where plants can absorb it, or down through layers of rock to recharge aquifers
nitrogen fixation
bacteria convert nitrogen gas to ammonia [or ammonium ion]
assimilation
plants absorb nitrate
ammonification
decomposers break down organic nitrogen into ammonium
denitrification
bacteria convert nitrates into nitrogen gas
disturbance
an event caused by physical, chemical, or biological agents that results in changes in population size or community composition; not necessarily bad
watershed
all of the land in a given landscape that drains into a particular stream, river, lake, or wetland
resistance
a measure of how much a disturbance can affect the flow/exchange of energy and matter in an ecosystem; the ability of an ecosystem to resist change from a disturbance
resilience
the rate at which an ecosystem returns to its original state after a disturbance
restoration ecology
a new scientific discipline that is interested in restoring damaged ecosystems
intermediate disturbance hypothesis
states that ecosystems experiencing intermediate levels of disturbance are more diverse than those with high or low disturbance levels