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adaptive radiation

Process in which numerous new species evolve to fill vacant and new ecological niches in changed environments, usually after a mass extinction or mass depletion. Typically, this takes millions of years.


Applied science of managing, analyzing, and communicating biological information.

domesticated species

Wild species tamed or genetically altered by crossbreeding for use by humans for food (cattle, sheep, and food crops), pets (dogs and cats), or enjoyment (animals in zoos and plants in gardens).

early successional plant species

Plant species found in the early stages of succession that (1) grow close to the ground, (2) can establish large populations quickly under harsh conditions, and (3) have short lives.

endangered species

Wild species with so few individual survivors that the species could soon become extinct in all or most of its natural range.

endemic species

Species that is found in only one area. Such species are especially vulnerable to extinction.


Generally fixed route along which waterfowl migrate from one area to another at certain seasons of the year.

game species

Type of wild animal that people hunt or fish for, for sport and recreation and sometimes for food.

habitat fragmentation

Breakup of a habitat into smaller pieces, usually as a result of human activities.

instrumental value

Value of an organism, species, ecosystem, or the earth's biodiversity based on its usefulness to us.

intrinsic value

Value of an organism, species, ecosystem, or the earth's biodiversity based on its existence, regardless of whether it has any usefulness to us.

keystone species

Species that play roles affecting many other organisms in an ecosystem.

late successional plant species

Mostly trees that can tolerate shade and form a fairly stable complex forest community.

midsuccessional plant species

Grasses and low shrubs that are less hardy than early successional plant species.

minimum dynamic area (MDA)

Minimum area of suitable habitat needed to maintain the minimum viable population. See minimum viable population.

minimum viable population (MVP)

Estimate of the smallest number of individuals necessary to ensure the survival of a population in a region for a specified time period, typically ranging from decades to 100 years.

nonnative species

Species that migrate into an ecosystem or are deliberately or accidentally introduced into an ecosystem by humans.

population viability analysis (PVA)

Use of mathematical models to estimate a population's risk of extinction.

rare species

Species that (1) has naturally small numbers of individuals, often because of limited geographic ranges or low population densities, or (2) has been locally depleted by human activities.

threatened species

Wild species that is still abundant in its natural range but likely to become endangered because of a decline in numbers.

wild species

Species found in the natural environment.


All free, undomesticated species. Sometimes the term is used to describe only free, undomesticated animal species.

wildlife management

Manipulation of populations of wild species (especially game species) and their habitats for (1) human benefit, (2) the welfare of other species, and (3) the preservation of threatened and endangered wildlife species.

wildlife resources

Wildlife species that have actual or potential economic value to people.

local extinction

Occurs when a species disappears from a part of its range but persists elsewhere.

ecological extinction

So few members remain that the species cannot maintain its ecological role, or members only survive in captivity.

biological extinction

Species no longer found anywhere on earth; forever.

species approach

Goal: to protect species from premature extinction.
Strategies: identify endangered species; protect critical habitats.
Tactics: legally protecting endangered species; propagating endangered species in captivity; reintroducing species back into suitable habitats.

ecosystem approach

Goal: to protect populations of species in their natural habitats.
Strategy: preserve sufficient areas of habitats in different biomes and aquatic systems.
Tactics: protecting habitat areas through private purchase or government action; eliminating or reducing populations of nonnative species from protected areas; managing protected areas to sustain native species; and restoring degraded ecosystems.

CITES treaty of 1975

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. Lists (1) some 900 species that cannot be commercially traded as live specimens or wildlife products because they are in danger of extinction and (2) restricts international trade of 29,000 other species because they are at risk of being threatened.

Lacey Act of 1900

prohibits transporting live/dead animals or their parts across state borders without a federal permit.

Endangered Species Act of 1973

requires the federal government to protect actively each of the hundreds of species listed as endangered-regardless of the economic effect on the surrounding towns or region.

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