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Limiting factor

factor that causes the growth of a population to decrease


Role or position a species has in its environment; includes all biotic and abiotic interactions as an animal meets its needs for survival and reproduction


group of individuals of the same species that live in the same area


all the different populations that live together in an area


collection of all the organisms that live in a particular place, together with their nonliving (abiotic) environment


an organism that makes its own food

Primary consumer

an organism that eats producers

Secondary consumer

An organism that eats primary consumers

Tertiary consumer

an organism that eats secondary consumers

Trophic level

each step in a food chain or food web

Food web

(ecology) a community of organisms where there are several interrelated food chains

Food chain

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


symbiotic relationship in which both species benefit from the relationship


symbiotic relationship in which one member of the association benefits and the other is neither helped nor harmed


symbiotic relationship in which one organism lives in or on another organism (the host) and consequently harms it.


organism that breaks down and obtains energy from dead organic matter

Exponential growth

growth pattern in which the individuals in a population reproduce at a constant rate

J-shaped graph

graph of exponential growth

Logistical growth

Population growth pattern that begins with rapid growth, and slows down as the environmental carrying capacity is reached; characterized by an S-shaped curve when graphed.


a natural community of plants and animals, its composition being largely determined by climatic conditions.

Biogeochemical cycle

the exchange of matter through the biosphere


orderly natural changes and species replacements that take place in communities and ecosystems over time

Primary succesion

succesion that occurs on land where no soil exists

Secondary succession

succession following a disturbance that destroys a community without destroying the soil

Pioneer species

First species to populate an area during succession


organism that obtains energy from the foods it consumes; also called a consumer

Algal bloom

an immediate increase in the amount of algae and other producers that results from a large input of a limiting nutrient

Pyramid of energy

an ecological pyramid that shows the energy flow through each trophic level in an ecosystem (10%)

Pyramid of biomass

illustrates the relative amount of living organic matter available at each trophic level in an ecosystem


the dry weight of organic matter composing an organism or trophic level in a particular habitat

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