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48 terms

BIOL 103 Chp 3 Vocab Enviro Systems: Chemistry, Energy, and Ecosystems

This flashcard set includes the vocabulary words and definitions from Chp 3: Environmental Systems: Chemistry, Energy, and Ecosystems (Essential Environment 3E by Withgott and Brennan, 2009).
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negative feedback loop
a process in which the output of one type acts as input that moves the system in the opposite direction
positive feedback loop
a process in which the output of one type acts as input that moves the system in the same direction; the input and output drive the system further toward one extreme or another
lithosphere
the collective system of rock at and just below the our planet's surface, including the crust and uppermost mantle
atmosphere
the thin layer of gases surrounding planet Earth
hydrosphere
Earth's collective system of water - salt and fresh; liquid, ice, and vapor - in surface bodies, underground, and in the atmosphere
biosphere
the sum total of all the planet's living organisms and the nonliving portions of the environment with which they interact
eutrophication
the process of nutrient enrichment, increased production of organic matter, and subsequent ecosystem degradation in a water body
matter
anything in the universe that has mass and occupies space
law of conservation of matter
states that matter may be transformed from one type of substance into others, but that it cannot be created or destroyed
element
a fundamental type of matter; a chemical substance with a given set of properties, which cannot be broken down into substances with other properties
atom
the smallest component of an element that maintains the chemical properties of that element
ion
an electrically charged atom or combination of atoms
molecule
a combination of two or more atoms
acidic
the property of a solution in which the concentration of hydrogen ions (H+) is greater than the concentration of hydroxide ions (OH-)
basic
the property of a solution in which the concentration of hydroxide ions (OH-) is greater than the concentration of hydrogen ions (H+)
hydrocarbon
an organic compound consisting solely of hydrogen and carbon atoms
macromolecule
a very large chemical, such as a protein, nucleic acid, carbohydrate, or lipid
protein
a macromolecule made up of long chains of amino acids
nucleic acid
a macromolecule that directs the production of proteins; includes DNA and RNA
carbohydrate
an organic compound consisting of atoms of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen
lipid
one of a chemically diverse group of macromolecules that are classified together because they do not dissolve in water; include fats, oils, waxes, and steroids
cell
the most basic organizational unit of organisms
potential energy
energy of position
kinetic energy
energy of motion
chemical energy
potential energy held in the bonds between atoms
first law of thermodynamics
states that energy can change from one form to another but cannot be created or lost; the total energy in the universe remains constant and is said to be conserved
second law of thermodynamics
states that the nature of energy tends to change from a more ordered state to a less ordered state
autotroph
an organism that can use the energy from sunlight to produce its own food; includes green plants, algae, and cyanobacteria; also called producers
photosynthesis
the process by which autotrophs produce their own food
cellular respiration
the process by which a cell uses the chemical reactivity of oxygen to split glucose into its constituent parts, water and carbon dioxide, and thereby release chemical energy that can be used to form chemical bonds or to perform other tasks within the cell
heterotroph
an organism that consumes other organisms; includes most animals, as well as fungi and microbes that decompose organic matter; also called consumers
ecosystem
all organisms and nonliving entities that occur and interact in a particular area at the same time
net primary production
the energy or biomass of autotrophs that is available for consumption by heterotrophs
landscape ecology
the study of how broad geographic areas affect the abundance, distribution, and interaction of organisms
conservation biology
a scientific discipline devoted to understanding the factors, forces, and processes that influence the loss, protection, and restoration of biological diversity within and among ecosystems
nutrient cycle
the comprehensive set of cyclical pathways by which a chemical substance moves through the environment
carbon cycle
consists of the routes that carbon atoms take through the networks of environmental systems
phosphorus cycle
consists of the routes that phosphorus atoms take through the networks of environmental systems
nitrogen cycle
consists of the routes that nitrogen atoms take through the networks of environmental systems
nitrogen fixation
the process by which inert nitrogen gas combines with hydrogen to form ammonium ions which are chemically and biologically active and can be taken up by plants
hydrologic cycle
the flow of water - in liquid, gaseous, and solid forms - through our biotic and abiotic environment
evaporation
the conversion of a substance from a liquid to a gaseous form
transpiration
the release of water vapor by plants through their leaves
precipitation
water that condenses out of the atmosphere and falls to Earth in droplets or crystals
groundwater
water held in aquifers underground
water table
the upper limit of groundwater held in an aquifer
runoff
the water from precipitation that flows into streams, rivers, lakes, and ponds, and (in many cases) eventually to the ocean
aquifer
an underground water reservoir