IB Environmental Systems and Societies
IB Enviro glossary
Terms in this set (109)
A non-living, physical factor that may influence an organism or ecosystem; i.e. temperature, sunlight, pH, salinity, precipitation
Capable of being broken down by natural biological processes; i.e. the activities of decomposer organisms
The amount of biological or living diversity per unit area. It includes the concepts of species diversity, habitat diversity and genetic diversity.
Biomass/ Standing Crop
The mass of organic material in organisms or ecosystems, usually per unit area. Sometimes the term "dry weight biomass" is used where mass is measured after the removal of water. Water is not organic material and inorganic material is usually relatively insignificant in terms of mass.
A collection of ecosystems sharing similar climatic conditions; i.e. tundra, tropical rainforest, desert.
That part of the Earth inhabited by organisms, that is, the narrow zone (a few km thick) in which plants and animals exist. It extends from the upper part of the atmosphere (where birds, insects and wind-blown pollen may be found) down to the deepest part of the Earth's crust to which living organisms venture.
A living, biological factor that may influence an organism or ecosystem; i.e. predation, parasitism, disease, competition.
The maximum number of species or "load" that can be sustainably supported by a given environment.
A community of organisms that is more or less stable, and that is in equilibrium with natural environmental conditions such as climate; the end point of ecological succession.
A group of populations living and interacting with each other in a common habitat.
A common demand by 2 or more organisms upon limited supply of a resource; i.e. food, water, light, space, mates, nesting sites. It may be intraspecific or interspecific.
A measure of the association between 2 variables. If 2 variables tend to move up or down together, they are said to be positively correlated. If they tend to move in opposite directions, they are said to be negatively correlated.
A generic term for heterogeneity. The scientific meaning of the diversity becomes clease from the context in which it is used; it may refer to heterogeneity of species of habitat, or to genetic heterogeneity.
The range of genetic material present in a gene pool or population of a species.
The range of different habitats or numbers of ecological niches per unit area in an ecosystem, community or biome. Conseravtion of habitat diversity usually leads to the conservation of species and genetic diversity.
A numerical measure of species diversity that is derived from both the number of species (variety) and their proportional abundance.
The variety of species per unit area. This includes both the number of species present and their relative abundance.
The area of land and water required to support a defined human population at a given standard of living. The measure takes account of the area required to provide all the resources needed be the population, an the assimilation of all wastes.
A community of interdependent organisms and the physical environment they inhabit.
A measure of the amount of disorder, chaos or randomness in a system; the greater the disorder, the higher the level of entropy.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA)
A method of detailed survey required, in many countries, before a major development. Ideally it should be independent of, but paid for by, the developer. Such a survey should include a baseline study to measure environmental conditions before development commences, and to identify areas and species of conservation importance.
A state of balance among the components of a system.
The natural or artificial enrichment of a body of water, particularly with respect to nitrates and phosphates, that result in depletion of the oxygen content of the water. Eutrophication is accelerated by human activities that add detergents, sewage or agricultural fertilizers to bodies of water.
The cumulative, gradual change in the genetic characteristics of successive generations of a species or race of an organism, ultimately giving rise to species or races different from the common ancestor. Evolution reflects changes in the genetic composition of a population over time.
The return of part of the output from a system as input, so as to affect succeeding outputs.
Feedback that tends to damp down, neutralize or counteract any deviation from an equilibrium, and promotes stability.
Feedback that amplifies or increases change; it leads to exponential deviation away from an equilibrium.
Hypothesis developed by James Lovelock and named after an ancient Greek Earth goddess. It compares the Earth to a living organism in which feedback mechanisms maintain equilibrium.
An increase in average temperature of the Earth's atmosphere.
Those atmospheric gases which absorb infrared radiation, causing world temperatures to be warmer than they would otherwise be.
The environment in which a species normally lives.
The process by which 2 populations become separated by geographical, behavioral, genetic ore reproductive factors. If gene flow between the 2 subpopulations is prevented, new species may evolve.
The angular distance from the equator (that is, north or south of it) as measured from the centre of the Earth (in degrees).
A relationship between individuals of 2 or more species in which all benefit and none suffer. symbiosis relationship, e.g. lichen and river she-oak tree.
Natural resources and natural services that keep us and other species alive and support our economies.
Non- Renewable Natural Capital
Natural resources that cannot be replenished within a timescale of that same order as that at which they are taken from the environment and used; i.e. fossil fuels.
Replenishable Natural Capital
Non-living natural resources that depend on the energy of the Sun for their replenishment; i.e. groundwater.
Rate of Natural Increase
The form in which human population growth rates are usually expressed:
crude birth rate- crude death rate/ 10
(inward and outward migration are ignored)
A species' share of a habitat and the resources in it. Depends on where the specie lives and what it does.
A relationship between 2 species in which one species lives in or on another, gaining all or much of its food from it. its a symbiotic relationship. e.g. a tick feeding on a dog
The movement of the 8 major and several minor internally rigid plates of the Earth's lithosphere in relation to each other and to the partially mobile asthenosphere below.
The addition to an environment of a substance or an agent (such as heat) by human activity, at a rate greater than that at which it can be rendered harmless by the environment, and which has an appreciable effect on the organism within it.
Non- Point Source Pollution
The release of pollutants from numerous, widely dispersed origins; i.e. gases from exhaust systems in vehicles.
Point Source Pollution
The release of pollutants from a single, clearly identifiable site; i.e. a factory chimney
A group of organisms of the same species living in the same area at the same time, and which are capable of interbreeding.
Gross Productivity (GP)
The total gain in energy or biomass per unit area per unit time, which could be through photosynthesis in primary producers or absorption in consumers. GP= NP+R
Gross Primary Productivity (GPP)
The total gain in energy or biomass per unit area per unit time fixed by photosynthesis in green plants.GPP=NPP+R
Gross Secondary Productivity (GSP)
The total gain by consumers in energy or biomass per unit area per unit time through absorption. GSP= Food eaten- Faecal matter
Net Productivity (NP)
The gain in energy or biomass per unit area per unit time remaining after allowing for respiratory losses (R). NP= GP+R
Net Primary Productivity
The gain by producers in energy or biomass per unit area per unit time remaining after allowing for respiratory losses (R). NPP= GPP - R
Net Secondary Productivity
The gain by consumers in energy or biomass per unit time remaining after allowing for respiratory losses (R). NSP= GSP-R
The gain by producers in energy or biomass per unit area per unit time. Can refer to either net or gross productivity.
The biomass gained by heterotrophic organisms, through feeding and absorption, measured in units of mass or energy per unit area per unit time.
Species that tend to spread their reproductive investment among a large number of offspring so that they are well adapted to colonize new habitats rapidly and make opportunistic use of short- lived resources.
The process through which new species form.
A group of organisms that interbreed and produce fertile offspring.
The condition of a system in which there is a tendency for it to return to a previous equilibrium condition following disturbance.
Steady- State Equilibrium
The condition of an open system in which there are no changes over the longer term, but in which there may be oscillations in the very short term. There are continuing inputs and outputs of matter and energy, but the system as a whole remains in a more or less constant state.
The orderly process of change over time in a community. Changes in the community of organisms frequently cause changes in the physical environment that allow another community to become established and replace the former through competition.
Use of global resources at a rate that allows natural regeneration and minimizes damage to the environment.
An assemblage of parts and the relationship between them, which together constitute an entity or whole.
A system in which energy, but not matter, is exchanged with its surroundings.
A system that exchanges neither matter nor energy with its surroundings.
A system in which both matter and energy are exchanged with its surroundings.
The position that an organism occupies in a food chain, or a group of organisms in a community that occupy the same position in food chains.
The arrangement or patterning of plant communities or ecosystems into parallel or sub- parallel bands in response to change, over a distance, in some environmental factor.
(energy used for growth(new biomas)/ energy supplied x 100
the build-up of persistent/ non-biodegradable pollutants within an organism or trophic level because it cannot be broken down
the increase in concentration of persistent/ non-biodegradable pollutants along a food chain
pyramid of numbers
records the number of individuals at each trophic level coexisting in an ecosystem. Quantitative data for each trophic level are drawn to scale as horizontal bars arranged symmetrically around central axis
pyramid of biomass
represents the biological mass of the standing stock at each trophic level at a particular point in time measured in units such as grams of biomass per square meter
pyramid of productivity
shows the flow of energy( rate at which stock is being generated) through each trophic level of a food chain over a period of time. it is meausre in units of flow, joules(gm2, yr-1, jm2)
Carbon dioxide + water -------> glucose + oxygen
Sunlight as energy source, carbon dioxide and water
glucose, used as energy source for the plant ans as the starting material for other organic molecules
oxygen released into atmosphere through stomata
energy change is from light into stored chemical energy, and thus the chemical energy is stored in organic material(carbohydrates). Chlorophyll is necessary to capture certain visible wavelengths of sunlight and allows this energy to be transformed into chemical energy
glucose + oxygen ------> carbon dioxide + water
organic matter(glucose) and oxygen
release of energy for work and heat
oxidation process inside cells
energy transformation is from stored chemical energy into kinetic energy and heat. it is released in a for available for use by living organisms
also known as autotrophs, they convert abiotic components into living matter, they support the ecosystem by constant input of energy and new biological matter. e.g. plants, bacteria, some algae
organisms that cannot maker their own foot eat other organisms to obtain energy and matter. they don't contain photosynthetic matter. they are also known as heterotophs which feed on producers(Autotrophs), carnivores feed on other heterotrophs and onmiovers feed on both
obtain their food and nutrients from the breakdown of dead organic matter. when they break town tissue, they release nutrients reader for re absorption by producers. and form the base of decomposer food chains. and contribute to build-up of hummus(organic material in soil made by decomposition of plant and animal matter.
s-population growth curve
when a graph of population growth for such species is plotted againt time. also known as sigmoid growth curve. it shows the intial rapid growth and then slows down as the carrying capacity is reached
first stage of an s-shaped population growth curve. population numbers are low leading to low birth rates. few individuals colonize a new area, because number are low, birth rates are also low
exponential growth phases
second stage of s-shaped population growth curve. population grows an increasingly rapid rate. limiting factors are not restricting the growth of the population. there are favourable abiotic components such as temp. and rainfall, and lack of predators and disease. the number of individuals rapidly increase as does rate of growth
third stage of s-shaped population growth curve. population growth slows down considerably although continuing to grow. limiting factors begin to affect the pop. and restrict its growth, increased competition for resources , increase in predators, disease and mortality due to increase in numbers of individuals living in small area
fourth and final stage of s-shaped population growth curve. population size stabilizes and pop. fluctuates around level that represents carrying capacity. limiting factors restrict pop. to carrying capacity(K), changes in limiting factors, predation, disease and abiotic factors cause pop. increase then decrease
competition within a species
competition between species. exists when the niches of different species overlap. no two species can share the same niche, so degree to which niches overlap determines the degree of competition.
describes the full range of conditions and resources in which a species could survive and reproduce
the actual conditions and resources in which a species exists due to biotic factors
first law of thermodynamics
energy can neither be created nor destroyed; it can only change form/
second law of thermodynamics
energy goes from a concentrated form(sun) into dispersed forms(heat)
a critical threshold when a small change can have potentially drastic effects. Mostly linked to climate change and pollution and the increase in the emmition of greenhouse gases
positive feedback loop
an increase in temperature from increased greenhouse emissions and fossil fuels melts ice and glaciers at an increased rate which decrease the Earth's Alebdo(earth's ability to reflect sun back into space) which increase the temperature even more(climate change- global warming) and increase seal level impacting salinity, acidity in waters impacting fish such as coral and algae)
Negative feedback loop
an old tree in a rain forest fall over or dies due to wind etc, allows for more light to be accessible because there is less canopy reducing the light, so therefore there is more light available to younger trees which then growth, potentially taking over the old tree.
The Basline study
First stage of an EIA:Determines the current state of the site's environment
measure the abiotic factors before the site is disturbed (some
examples are listed below, but these are not a complete list)
• water, soil, &/or air quality
• stream flow
• measure the biotic factors and diversity within an area
• species richness
• species evenness
second stage of an EIA.
Identifies and assesses the possible impacts
• What will definitely change?
• How will it change?
• How much will it change? (scaling)
third stage of an EIA:
limiting the impacts to acceptable levels (mitigation = minimizing impacts)
What constitutes "acceptable" levels? Who determines those levels?
What must be done to limit those impacts?
Who is responsible for those actions?
last stage of an EIA:
Theoretically designed to explain the science in everyday language so that an average
citizen can understand the issues around the project.
Active or emissions such as gas released from burning coal
Arising from primary pollutant undergoing physical change or chemical change such as car exhausts
Acute effects of pollution
Occurring after short period of time like asthma attacks
Chronic effects of pollution
Occurring after low level long term exposure e g air pollution
Those that cannot be broken down by living organisms and so passed along a good change DDT
Persistent organic pollutants
Organic compounds that are resistant to environmental breakdown
Those that are not stored in biological matter passed along food chains
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