37 terms

Ecology

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Autotroph
An organism that synthesizes its own organic molecules (food) from simple inorganic substances. (aka producer)
heterotroph
An organism that obtains organic food molecules by eating other organisms or substances derived from them. (aka consumer)
herbivore
A consumer that eats only plants.
carnivore
A consumer that eats only animals.
omnivore
A consumer that eats both plants and animals.
predator
An organism that hunts and kills other animals for food.
prey
An organism that is killed and eaten by another organism
scavenger
An organism that feeds on the bodies of dead organisms
decomposer
An organism that breaks down chemicals from wastes and dead organisms, and returns important materials to the soil and water.
succession
the progressive replacement of one community by another until a stable climax is established
primary succession
An ecological succession that begins in an area where no biotic community previously existed
secondary succession
Succession following a disturbance that destroys a community without destroying the soil
pond succession
overtime, a pond or lake may fill in with sediment and become a land ecosystem which will undergo succession
barren
an uninhabited area that is worthless for cultivation (no life or soil present)
pioneer species
First species to populate an area during primary succession
10 percent rule
only 10% of energy moves from one trophic level to the next. The rest is lost as heat
Trophic Level
The position an organism is in relation to the flow of energy through an ecosystem (e.g., producer, consumer, and decomposer).
primary consumer
consumer that feeds directly on producers
secondary consumer
An organism that eats primary consumers
tertiary consumer
An organism that eats secondary consumers
quaternary consumer
An organism that eats tertiary consumers
biotic
Describes living factors in the environment.
abiotic
A term that describes a nonliving factor in an ecosystem.
limiting factor
An environmental factor (abiotic) that restricts the size of a population
biodiversity
The number of different species in an area
food chain
A series of events in which one organism eats another and obtains energy.
food web
A community of organisms where there are several interrelated food chains
niche
An organism's particular role or job in an ecosystem. What it does, who it eats and who eats it.
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
commensalism
A relationship between two organisms in which one organism benefits and the other is unaffected
parasitism
A relationship between two organisms of different species where one benefits and the other is harmed
population
A group of individuals that belong to the same species and live in the same area
community
All the different populations that live together in an area
ecosystem
A biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment.
biome
A group of ecosystems that share similar climates and typical organisms
biosphere
Consists of all parts of the Earth in which life exists, including land, water, and the atmosphere.
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