Flash Cards

Terms and Definitions

Term Definition
environmental science The study of the impact of humans on the environment
ecology The study of how living things interact with each other and with their nonliving environment
agriculture The practice of growing, breeding, and caring for plants and animals that are used for food, clothing, housing, transportation, and other purposes
natural resources Any natural material that is used by humans
pollution An undesired change in air, water, or soil that adversely affects the health, survival, or activities of humans or other organisms.
biodiversity The number and variety of species that live in an area
law of supply and demand States that the greater the demand for a limited supply of something, the more that thing is worth
ecological footprint Shows the productive area of Earth needed to support one person in a particular country
sustainability The condition in which human needs are met in such a way that a human population can survive indefinitely
cost-benefit-analysis Balances the cost of the action against the benefits one expects from it
risk assessment A tool that helps to create cost effective ways to protect our health and environment
developed country A country characterized by higher average incomes, slower population growth, diverse industrial economies, and stronger social support systems
developing country A country characterized by lower average incomes, simple and agriculture-based economies, and rapid population growth
tectonic plates Individual sections of the lithosphere of the earth. They fit together in a way similar to a jigsaw puzzle, but are always moving very slowly, floating on the molten rock of the lower mantle.
erosion The removal of rock particles by wind, water, ice, or gravity
atmosphere A mixture of gases that surrounds a planet or moon
troposphere The lowest layer of the atmosphere, in which temperature drops at a constant rate as altitude increases; the part of the atmosphere where weather conditions exist
stratosphere The layer of the atmosphere that lies between the troposphere and the mesosphere and in which temperature increases as altitude increases; contains the ozone layer
ozone A form of oxygen that has three oxygen atoms in each molecule instead of two. protects us from dangerous ultraviolet radiation from the sun
radiation The energy that is transferred as electromagnetic waves, such as visible light and infrared waves
conduction The transfer of energy as heat through a material
convection The movement of matter due to differences in density that are caused by temperature variations; can result in the transfer of energy as heat
greenhouse effect The warming of the surface and lower atmosphere of Earth that occurs when carbon dioxide, water vapor, and other gases in the air absorb and reradiate infrared radiation
water cycle The continuous movement of water between the atmosphere, the land, and the oceans
evaporation Change of state from a liquid to a gas
condensation The change of state from a gas to a liquid
precipitation Water that falls to Earth's surface as rain, snow, sleet, or hail
salinity A measure of the amount of dissolved salts in a given amount of liquid
fresh water Water that contains insignificant amounts of salts, as in rivers and lakes
biosphere The part of the Earth where life exists
ecosystem A community of organisms and their nonliving environment
biotic factor Living and once living parts of an ecosystem
abiotic factor A nonliving part of an ecosystem
organism A living thing; anything that can carry out life processes independently
species A group of organisms so similar to one another that they can breed and produce fertile offspring
population Group of individuals of the same species living in a particular area at the same time
community A group of various species that live in the same place and interact with each other
habitat Place where an organism lives
natural selection The process by which individuals that are better adapted to their environment survive and reproduce more successfully than less well adapted individuals do; a theory to explain the mechanism of evolution
evolution A change in the genetic characteristics of a population from one generation to the next
adaptation An inherited characteristic that improves an organism's ability to survive and reproduce in a particular environment.
artificial selection The selective breeding of organisms by humans for specific characteristics
resistance The ability of one or more organisms to tolerate a particular chemical designed to kill it
Archaebacteria Single celled; lack cell nuclei; reproduce by dividing in half; often found in harsh places
Eubacteria Very common and can be found in soil and animal bodies
fungus An organism whose cells have nuclei, rigid cell walls, and no chlorophyll and that belongs to the kingdom fungi
protists Single-celled organisms divided into 3 groups: fungus-like, plant-like, and animal-like
Gymnosperms Woody plants that produce seeds, but their seeds are not enclosed in fruits
Angiosperms Flowering plants that produce seeds in fruit
invertebrates Animals that lack a backbone
vertebrates Animals that have backbones
photosynthesis Process by which plants use the sun's energy to convert water and carbon dioxide into sugars
producer An organism that makes its own food
consumer An organism that obtains energy by feeding on other organisms
decomposer An organism that gets energy by breaking down the remains of dead organisms or animal wastes and consuming or absorbing the nutrients.
cellular respiration The process of breaking down food to yield energy
food chain A linked feeding series; in an ecosystem the sequence of organisms through which energy and materials are transferred in the form of food from one trophic level to another.
food web A diagram that shows the feeding relationships between organisms in an ecosystem
trophic level Each step through which energy is transferred in a food chain
carbon cycle A process by which carbon is cycled between the atmosphere, land, water, and organisms
nitrogen-fixing bacteria Bacteria that convert nitrogen in the air into forms that can be used by plants and animals
nitrogen cycle The process in which nitrogen circulates among the air, soil, water, plants, and animals in an ecosystem
phosphorus cycle Movement of phosphorus from the environment to organisms and then back to the environment
ecological succession A gradual process of change and replacement of the types of species in a community
primary succession Succession that occurs on surfaces where no soil exists
secondary succession Succession following a disturbance that destroys a community without destroying the soil
pioneer species The first organisms that colonize a disturbed ecosystem
climax community A stable, mature community that undergoes little or no change in species over time
biome A large region characterized by a specific type of climate and certain types of plant and animal communities
climate The average weather conditions in an area over a long period of time
latitude Distance north or south of the Equator, measured in degrees
altitude The height of an object above the Earth's surface
tropical rain forest A forest or jungle near the equator that is characterized by large amounts of rain and little variation in temperature and that contains the greatest known diversity of organisms on Earth
emergent layer The top foliage layer in a forest where the trees extend above surrounding trees
canopy The layers of treetops that shade the forest floor
epiphytes A plant that uses another plant for support, but not for nourishment
understory A foliage layer that is beneath and shaded by the main canopy of a forest
temperate rain forest A forest community (or biome), characterized by cool, humid weather and abundant rainfall, where tree branches are draped with mosses, tree trunks are covered with lichens, and the forest floor is covered with ferns
temperate deciduous forest A forest (or biome) that is characterized by trees that shed their leaves in the fall.
tiaga The largest terrestrial biome dominated by evergreen trees; usually found between the tundra and the temperate forests
savanna A plain full of grasses and scattered trees and shrubs; found in tropical and subtropical habitats and mainly in regions with a dry climate, such as East Africa
temperate grassland A community (or biome) that is dominated by grasses, has few trees, and is characterized by cold winters and rainfall that is intermediate between that of a forest and a desert
chaparral A type of vegetation that includes broad-leafed evergreen shrubs and that is located in areas with hot, dry summers and mild, wet winters
desert A region that has little or no vegetation, long periods without rain, and extreme temperatures; usually found in warm climates
tundra A treeless plain that is located in the Arctic or Antarctic and that is characterized by very low winter temperatures; short, cool summers; and vegetation that consists of grasses, lichens, and perennial herbs
permafrost The arctic regions, the permanently frozen layer of soil or subsoil
Population All members of the SAME SPECIES living together, Based on: SIZE, DENSITY (thick or thin), and DISPERSION (how they are spread out)
Reproductive Potential Maximum of offspring (births) each member of the population can reproduce (make)
Biotic potential Fastest rate a population can grow
Exponential growth Starts out slow, then INCREASES FASTER AND FASTER
Natural selection The strongest/fittest of a population survive and reproduce (make more babies)
Carrying capacity Maximum population an ecosystem can support
limiting resource An essential factor whose short supply limits the growth of a population
territory Specific area occupied and protected by an animal or group of animals
Density Dependent Death happens MORE QUICKLY in a CROWDED population than sparse (uncrowded) population Ex: flu, Black Plague
Density Independent Certain parts of population die in crowded and sparse areas. Ex: natural disaster, severe weather
Niche Unique role and pattern of use of its habitat – home; food, nutrients; interaction with other organisms
Competition Individuals or populations try to use the same limited resource, 1. INDIRECT COMPETITION-never come in direct contact but may use same food source, 2. ADAPTATIONS TO COMPETITION-which niches overlap, adpatations can reduce (lessen) competition
Predation Predators capture prey, Ex: LIONS capture MICE
Parasitism An organism lives in or on another organism (HOST) and feeds on it – DON'T KILL but weaken, Ex: ticks, fleas, tapeworms
Mutualism Both benefit and can't survive alone, Ex: Bacteria in our intestines
Commensalism ???? 1 benefits and 1 does NOT, Ex: sharks and remoras, birds and trees
gene Sequence of DNA that codes for a protein and thus determines a trait; factor that is passed from parent to offspring Sequence of DNA that codes for a protein and thus determines a trait; factor that is passed from parent to offspring
keystone species A species that is critical to the functioning of the ecosystem in which it lives because it affects the survival and abundance of many other species in its community
ecotourism A form of tourism that supports the conservation and sustainable development of ecologically unique areas
endangered species species that is likely to become extinct if protective measures are not taken immediately
threatened species A species that has a declining population and that is likely to become endangered if it is not protected
exotic species A species that is not native to a particular region
poaching Illegal killing or removal of wildlife from their habitats.
endemic species Species that are native to and found only within a limited area.
germ plasm Any form of genetic material, such as that contained within the reproductive, or germ, cells of plants and animals
Endangered Species Act Identifies threatened and endangered species in the US, and puts their protection ahead of economic considerations.
habitat conservation plan A plan that attempts to protect one or more species across large areas of land through trade-offs or cooperative agreements.
Biodiversity Treaty Goal is to preserve biodiversity and ensure the sustainable and fair use of genetic resources in all countries
surface water All the bodies of freshwater, salt water, ice, and snow that are found above the ground
river system A flowing network of rivers and streams draining a river basin (or drainage basin)
watershed The area of land that is drained by a water system; largest watershed in the US is the Mississippi River Watershed
groundwater The water that is beneath the Earth's surface.
aquifer A body of rock or sediment that stores groundwater and allows the flow of groundwater.
porosity The percentage of the total volume of a rock or sediment that consists of open spaces
permeability The ability of a rock or sediment to let fluids pass through its open spaces, or pores.
recharge zone An area which water travels downward to be part of aquifer
potable Suitable for drinking
pathogen A bacterium, virus, or other microorganism that can cause dis
dam A structure that is build across a river to control a river's flow
reservoir An artificial lake that forms behind a dam.
desalination A process of removing salt from ocean water.
water pollution Contamination of water by waste matter or other material that is harmful to organisms that are exposed to the water.
point-source pollution Pollution that comes from a specific site.
nonpoint-source pollution Pollution that comes from many sources rather than from a single specific site.
waste water Water that contains waste from homes or industry
artificial eutrophication A process that increases the amount of nutrients in a body of water through human activities, such as waste disposal and land drainage.
thermal pollution A temperature increase in a body of water that is caused by human activity and that has a harmful effect on water quality and on the ability of that body of water to support life.
biomagnification Accumulation of pollutants at successive levels of the food chain
greenhouse gases Gases that trap heat and energy from the sun thus warming the earth
global warming Gradual warming of the earth and its atmosphere that may be caused in part by pollution and an increase in the greenhouse effect

Previous Article

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *