106 terms

Ecology

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Biome
A large region characterized by a specific type of climate and certain types of plant and animal communities.
Savanna
A tropical / subtropical grassland biome with scattered individual trees, large herbivores, and three distinct seasons based primarily on rainfall, maintained by occasional fires and drought.
Desert
A region of little vegetation, either cold or hot, that receives ten inches or less of precipitation each year, long periods without rain, deserts have extreme temperatures.
Tundra
Biome that surrounds the north and south poles; treeless landscape with short, cool summers, and long, very cold winters with short periods of winter sunlight, beneath the topsoil is a layer of permafrost.
Temperate Deciduous Forest
Characterized by warm summers, cool winters, has all four seasons, year-round precipitation and fertile soil.
Conifer
Cone-bearing trees (ie: pine, or fir tree) of middle and high latitudes that are mostly evergreen and that have needle-shaped or scale like leaves. Conifers are able to withstand the long, cold winter season.
Coniferous Forest
Forest populated by cone-bearing evergreen trees; mostly found in the colder northern latitudes.
Flora
All the plant life in a particular region, or period.
Fauna
All of the animal life in a particular region, or period.
Prarie
A large area of flat land, or rolling hills covered by grasses and wild flowers but few trees.
Temperate
Climate zones with moderate (warm) temperatures that are located between the tropics and the polar zones.
Permafrost
A layer of permanently frozen subsoil found in the tundra
Alpine Tundra
biome at high mountain altitudes, which has vegetation & climate similar to those of the Arctic tundra
(though no permafrost)
Marine
Biome that includes open ocean, seashore, and it covers 75% of the planet. There is a very high salinity level, and a wide variety of animals
Plankton
A general term for the tiny, free-floating or weakly swimming organisms that live in both freshwater and saltwater environments.
Estuary
An area where fresh water from a river mixes with salt water from an ocean; are productive ecosystems because they constantly recieve fresh nutrients from the river and the ocean.
Forest
Large tree and plant filled area that covers 30% of Earth's land surface. Provide habitats, maintain soil, air, and water quality, acts as a carbon sink in biogeochemical cycle.
Intertidal Zone
Part of the shoreline that is under water at high tide and exposed to the air at low tide.
Neritic Zone
Area of ocean that extends from the low-tide line out to the edge of the continental shelf.
Benthic Zone
At the bottom of all aquatic biomes, deep or shallow. Made up of sand and organic and inorganic sediments.
Oceanic Zone
All the water the covers the sea floor except for the continental shelf -water temperature is colder and pressure is greater -strange looking animals live in the dark deeper areas. (Ex. Giant Squid).
Coral Reef
A structure of calcite skeletons built up by coral animals in warm, shallow ocean water.
Open Water Zone
The zone of a lake or pond that extends from the littoral zone out across the top of the water, and that is only as deep as light can reach through the water.
Deep Water Zone
The zone of a lake or pond below the open water zone where no light reaches.
Wetland
An ecosystem in which water either covers the soil or is present at or near the surface of the soil for at least part of the year.
Marsh
A type of wetland featuring grasses, reeds and other plants in shallow water.
Tributary
A stream or river that flows into a larger river.
Freshwater
Aquatic ecosytem that does not contain any saltwater, can be rivers, lakes, streams,ponds, and wetlands.
Littoral Zone
Shallow water near shore that receives enough sunlight to support photosynthesis. May be marine or freshwater; often flowering plants are present.
Brackish Water
More salty than fresh water, and less salty than marine saltwater. It is found in estuaries where freshwater and saltwater mix.
Biosphere
Consists of all life on Earth and all parts of the Earth in which life exists, including land, water, and the atmosphere.
Organism
Individual living thing.
Species
A group of organisms that are closely related, who can mate to produce fertile offspring. All of the cats are feline, but each cat is a different species.
Biodiversity
The number, and variety of living organisms in a given area, during a specific period of time.
Ecosystem
A system formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their physical environment.
Habitat
Place where an organism lives.
Niche
An organism's particular role in an ecosystem, or how it makes its living.
Abiotic
All of the non-living parts of an ecosystem.
Biotic
All of the living parts of an ecosystem.
Biomass
Total amount of living tissue within a given trophic level.
Herbivore
A consumer that eats only plants.
Carnivore
An animal that eats other animals
A consumer that eats only animals.
Omnivore
A consumer that eats both plants and animals.
Producer
An organism that can make its own food.
Consumer
An organism that obtains energy by feeding on other organisms.
Autotroph
An organism that makes its own food.
Heterotroph
An organism that cannot make its own food, it gets food by consuming other living things, or their by-products.
Taiga
A biome in which the winters are cold, but summers are mild enough to allow the ground to thaw, it contains mostly coniferous forests.
Prey
An organism that is hunted, killed and eaten by another organism.
Predator
An animal that hunts, and kills other animals for food.
Population
A group of individuals that belong to the same species and live in the same area.
Community
A group of interdependent organisms inhabiting the same region and interacting with each other.
Food Web
A diagram that shows the feeding relationships between organisms in an ecosystem; it contains multiple overlapping food chains.
Food Chain
A diagram that represents how energy in food flows from one organism to the next in an ecosystem.
Energy Pyramid
A diagram that shows the amount of energy that moves from one trophic level to another in an ecosystem.
Limiting Factor
A biotic or abiotic factor that restricts the number, distribution, or reproduction of a population within a community.
Carrying Capacity
Largest number of individuals of a population that a environment can support.
Predation
An interaction in which one organism captures and feeds on another organism to gain energy.
Competition
Ecological relationship in which organisms compete for available resources. There are 2 types: between organisms within a population, and between different populations.
Symbiosis
A close relationship between two species that benefits at least one of the species.
Mutualism
A relationship between two species in which both species benefit.
Parasitism
A relationship between two organisms of different species where one benefits and the other is harmed.
Commensalism
A relationship between two organisms in which one organism benefits and the other is unaffected.
Co-evolution
Relationship in which 2 organisms change or adapt together over time.
Cooperation
Relationship in which behavior by two or more individuals leads to mutual benefit.
Decomposition
The breaking down of matter into simpler molecules. Typically performed by bacteria.
Carbon Cycle
The movement of carbon from the nonliving environment into living things and back.
Combustion
Burning of fossil fuels and wood, releasing energy and carbon dioxide.
Nitrogen Cycle
The movement of nitrogen from the atmosphere to the soil, to living organisms, and back to the atmosphere.
Water Cycle
The movement of water from Earth's surface to the atmosphere and back.
Photosynthesis
Process used by plants to capture and convert the sun's energy, water, and carbon dioxide into glucose (sugar).
Succession
The sequence of biotic changes that regenerate a damaged community or create a community in a previously uninhabited area.
Primary Succession
Biotic growth on newly exposed areas (bare,rocky) that were not previously occupied by soil and vegetation.
Secondary Succession
A type of ecological succession that occurs where a disturbance has destroyed an existing biological community but left the soil intact.
Pioneer Species
Creates soil in primary succession (lichen/moss) first species to appear on bare or rocky area.
Nitrogen Fixation
Process in which bacteria in the soil change nitrogen gas into materials that plants can use during photosynthesis.
Evaporation
A physical change from a liquid to a gas at a temperature that is lower than the boiling point.
Condensation
A physical change from a gas to a liquid at cooler temperatures (the opposite of evaporation).
Precipitation
Any form of water that falls from clouds and reaches Earth's surface.
Nitrification
The process by which nitrites and nitrates are produced by bacteria in the soil.
Denitrification
Denitrifying bacteria converts nitrates into gaseous nitrogen that re-enters the atmosphere.
Respiration
The exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide between living cells and their environment; this includes breathing and cellular respiration.
Aquifer
An underground area of sediment and rocks that is filled with groundwater.
Pollution
An unwanted change in the environment caused by the introduction of harmful materials, or the production of harmful conditions (chemical, biological, heat, cold, sound).
Renewable Resource
A natural resource that can be replaced at the same rate at which the resource is consumed.
Non-Renewable Resources
A resource that cannot be reused or replaced as quickly as it is used (ex. gems, iron, copper, fossil fuels).
Overpopulation
Term used when the number of people in an area exceeds the capacity of the environment to support life at a decent standard of living.
Conservation
The preservation, wise use, and protection of natural resources.
Recycle
The process of recovering valuable or useful materials from waste or scrap; the process of reusing, or remanufacturing some items.
Percolation
The downward movement of water through soil and rock due to gravity.
Infilration
Process of water seepage into the ground becoming ground water.
Runoff
Part of the water cycle where an excess of water runs down and does not sink into the soil and eventually makes it to the rivers, lakes, and oceans.
Biodegradable
Capable of being broken down by bacteria and other decomposers.
Reduce
To cut down / back on the consumption of; or to use less of a resource.
Reuse
Involves using a resource over and over in the same form.
Deciduous
Falling off or shed at a particular season, stage of growth, etc., as leaves, horns, or teeth; not permanent; transitory.
Polar
A cold air mass that forms north of 50° north latitude or south of 50° south latitude and has high air pressure
Frigid
Intensely cold temperatures; cold in manner; Ex. frigid zone
Tropical
Biome near the equator with warm temperatures, wet weather, and lush plant growth.
Climate
Seasonal pattern of weather conditions in a large geographic area over many years; it does not change rapidly.
Climate Zone
A region in which yearly patterns of temperature, rainfall, and the amount of sunlight are similar throughout.
Grassland
A biome found in the dry temperate interiors of continents. This biome is characterized by rich soil, moderate rainfall, a hot, dry climate, thick grasses, and herds of grazing animals.
Canopy
Dense covering formed by the leafy tops of tall rainforest trees.
Tropical Rain Forest
Biome characterized by hot temperatures, large amounts of rainfall, and high biodiversity,that grows near the equator; it receives large amounts of rain, and has dense growths of tall, leafy trees; the weather is warm and wet year-round; few plants live on the dark forest floor.
Swamp
A type of freshwater wetland that consists of spongy, muddy land full of water.
Treeline
The limit of the area that trees can grow in on Earth. Above it, it's too cold for trees to grow.

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