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17 terms

Chapter 3: The Big Picture - Systems of Change

STUDY
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average residence time
a measure of time it takes for a given part of the total pool or reservoir of a particular material in a system to be cycled
biosphere
all the parts of the planet that are inhabited by living things; sum of all Earth's ecosystems
biota
all the organisms of all species living in an area or region up to and including the biosphere
closed system
a system that allows the exchange of energy, but not matter, between the system and its surroundings
doubling time
the time required for a population to double in size
ecosystem
a system formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their physical environment
environmental unity
a principle of environment sciences that states that everything affects everything else, meaning that particular course of action leads to an entire potential string of events
exponential growth
population growth pattern where a population grows faster as it increases in size
feedback
a kind of system response that occurs when output of the system also serves as input leading to changes in the system (positive and negative)
Gaia hypothesis
states that the environment on a global level has been changed for the better by life over the history of life on earth
lag time
the time between a stimulus and the response of a system
negative feedback
a type of feedback that occurs when the system's response is in the opposite direction of the output; negative feedback is self-regulating
open system
a system that can exchange both matter and energy with its surroundings
overshoot and collapse
this occurs when growth in one part of a system over time exceeds carrying capacity, resulting in sudden decline in one or both parts of the system
positive feedback
a type of feedback that occurs when an increase in output leads to a further increase in output
steady state
when input equals output in a system, there is no net change and the system is said to be in equilibrium
system
a set of components that are linked and interact to produce a whole