Flash Cards

vocabulary words for ecology

Term Definition
ecology scientific study of interactions among organisms and between organisms and their environment
biosphere part of Earth in which life exists including land, water, and air or atmosphere
species group of similar organisms that can breed and produce fertile offspring
population group of individuals of the same species that live in the same area
community assemblage of different populations that live together in a defined area
ecosystem collection of all the organisms that live in a particular place, together with their nonliving environment
biome group of ecosystems that have the same climate and dominant communities
autotroph organisms that can capture energy from sunlight or chemicals and use it to produce its own food from inorganic compounds; also called a producer
producer organisms that can capture energy from sunlight or chemicals and use it to produce its own food from inorganic compounds; also called an autotroph
photosynthesis process by which plants and some other organisms use light energy to convert water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and high-energy carbohydrates such as sugars and starches
chemosynthesis process by which some organisms, such as certain bacteria, use chemical energy to produce carbohydrates
heterotroph organisms that obtains energy from the food it consumes; also called a consumer
consumer organisms that relies on other organisms for its energy and food supply; also called a heterotroph
herbivore organism that obtains energy by eating only plants
carnivore organism that obtains energy by eating animals
omnivore organism that obtains energy by eating both plants and animals
detritivore organism that feeds on plant and animal remains and other dead matter
decomposer organism that breaks down and obtains energy from dead organic matter
food chain series of steps in an ecosystem in which organisms transfer energy by eating and being eaten
food web network of complex interactions formed by the feeding relationships among the various organisms in an ecosystem
trophic level step in a food chain or food web
ecological pyramid diagram that shows the relative amounts of energy or matter within each trophic level in a food chain or food web
biomass total amount of living tissue within a given trophic level
biogeochemical cycle process in which elements, chemical compounds, and other forms of matter are passed from one organism to another and from one part of the biosphere to another
evaporation process by which water changes from a liquid to an atmospheric gas
transpiration loss of water from a plant through its leaves
nutrient chemical substance that an organism requires to live
nitrogen fixation process of converting nitrogen gas into ammonia
denitrification conversion of nitrates into nitrogen gas
primary productivity rate at which organic matter is created by producers in an ecosystem
limiting nutrient single nutrient that either is scarce or cycles very slowly, liming the growth of organisms in an ecosystem
algal bloom an immediate increase in the amount of algae and other producers that results from a large input of a limiting nutrient

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