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2013-05-31 08:56:07
USU 1360 Biosphere Earth System Science

Biosphhere USU1360
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  1. Adaptation
    The process of change in response to an environmental pressure.
  2. Autotroph
    Organisms that can get energy directly from sunlight.
  3. Biosphere
    The totality of the Earth's organisms and, in addition, organic matter that has not yet been completely decomposed.
  4. Chemosynthesis
    The synthesis of small organic molecules such as amino acids.
  5. DNA
    A biopolymer consisting of two twisted, chain-like molecules held together by organic molecules called bases; the genetic material for all organisms except viruses, it stores the information on how to make proteins.
  6. Domain
    The highest taxonomic ranking of organisms. Also called super-kingdoms.
  7. Ecosphere
    The zone around star within which an orbiting planet and its moons would be just the right distance to allow for the existence of liquid water and thus, possibly, the support of life.
  8. Eukaryotic Cell
    A cell that includes a nucleus with a membrane, as well as other membrane-bound organelles.
  9. Evolution
    The changes that species undergo through time, eventually leading to the formation of new species.
  10. Extinction
    The permanent disappearance of a species.
  11. Fossil
    The naturally preserved remains or traces of an animal or a plant.
  12. Gene
    Regions of DNA coded for specific proteins that perform particular functions.
  13. Genetic Drift
    Changes in the frequency of a gene in a population as a result of chance rather than of mutation, selection, or migration.
  14. Heterotrophs
    Organisms that are unable to use the energy from sunlight directly and so must get their energy by eating autotrophs or other heterotrophs.
  15. Kingdom
    One of the major classes of living things.
  16. Life Zone
    The volume of the Earth system within which all life exists, approximately 10km, above and below the surface of the geosphere.
  17. Mass Extinction
    Event in which many types of organisms die out over a very short period.
  18. Metabolism
    The sum of all the chemical reactions in an organism, by which it grows and maintains itself.
  19. Mutation
    Stated most simply, a chemical change in a DNA molecule. It means that the DNA carries a different message than it did before, and this change can affect the expressed characteristics when cells or individual organisms reproduce.
  20. Natural Selection
    A process by which organisms whose biological characteristics better fir them to the environment are better represented by descendants in future generations than those whose characteristics are less fit for the environment.
  21. Phylogenetic tree
    Taxonomy that organizes the forms of life into groupings according to their genetic  and evolutionary relationships.
  22. Procaryotic cell
    Cells without a nucleus; refers to single-celled organisms that have no membrane separating their DNA from the cytoplasm.
  23. Respiration
    The use of oxygen by aerobic heterotrophs to break down carbohydrates, releasing carbon dioxide, water, and energy.
  24. RNA
    A single-stranded molecule similar to the DNA molecule, but with a slightly different chemical composition; it reads and executes the codes contained in the DNA.
  25. Speciation
    The emergence of a new species.
  26. Species
    A population of individuals that can interbreed to produce offspring that are, in turn, interfertile with each other.
  27. Taxonomic Rank
    The position of a species in a the hierarchy of life.
  28. Alpine (biomes)
    Terrestrial biomes in which altitude exerts a major influence.
  29. Benthic Zone
    The ocean-floor environment.
  30. Bioaccumulation
    The build-up of a substance in the tissues of an organism.
  31. Bioavailability
    A measure of the ease with a substance can be absorbed and used by organisms.
  32. Bioconcentration
    The consumption of substance by an organism faster than it can excrete the substance.
  33. Biogeochemical cycle
    A natural cycle describing the movements and interactions through the Earth's spheres of the chemicals essential to life.
  34. Biomagnification
    Accumulation of a substance by organisms in higher trophic levels. Also called food-chain concentration.
  35. Biomass
    Usually used to mean the amount of living material, both as live and dead material, as in the leaves (live) and stem wood (dead) of trees.
  36. Biome
    A kind of ecosystem. The rain forest is an example of a biome; rain forests occur in many parts of the world but are not all connected with each  other.
  37. Boreal Forest
    The terrestrial biome that lies to the south of the tundra in North American and Eurasia.
  38. Chaparral
    Biome of the Mediterranean climate characterized by scrubby evergreen brushes and drought resistant trees.
  39. Consumer
    Heterotrophs that occupy higher trophic levels.
  40. Decomposer
    Organisms that break down complex organic compounds so that the chemical elements can be recycled.
  41. Desert
    Arid land, whether "deserted" or not, in which annual rainfall is less that 250mm or in which the evaporation rate exceeds the precipitation rate.
  42. Ecosystem
    The life-supporting system in which living organisms interact with each other and with the abiotic competent of their environment.
  43. Ecozone
    The assemblage of biomes that co-exist in a particular geographic region.
  44. Essential Nutrient
    The 24 chemical elements that are known to be required for life.
  45. Food Chains
    The pathways by which energy (as food) is moved from one trophic levels to another.
  46. Grassland
    Temperate climate biome characterized by extensive prairies typical of Midwestern U.S. and Canada.
  47. Gross Production
    Production before respiration losses are subtracted.
  48. Limiting Factor
    A limitation in the supply of a chemical element that prevents the growth of an individual or species, or that an even cause local extinction.
  49. Macronutriens
    Elements required in large amounts by living things. These include the big six- carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, and sulfur.
  50. Micronutrients
    Chemical elements required in very small amounts by at least some forms of life. Boron, copper, and molybdenum are examples of micronutients.
  51. Net Production
    The biomass left from gross production after it has been used to fuel the processes of life.
  52. Pelagic Zone
    The open-water environment of the ocean.
  53. Primary Producer
    Species such as algae and photosynthesis bacteria that form the first trophic level.
  54. Profundal Zone
    Region of a lake below the limnetic zone, where light cannot penetrate.
  55. Savanna
    Open forest consisting of broad, grassy plains and scattered trees.
  56. Secondary Production
    Production of body mass of heterotrophs that derive their food energy by eating other organisms.
  57. Soil
    The part of the regolith that can support rooted plants.
  58. Temperate Deciduous Forest
    Forest of mainly deciduous trees characterized by distinct seasonal changes from summer to winter.
  59. Temperate Rain Forest
    A type of forest, either broadleaf or coniferous, that is characteristic or areas with temperate climate and high precipitation.
  60. Trophic level
    In an ecological community, all the organisms that are the same number of food-chain steps from the primary source of energy. For example, in a grassland the green grasses are on the first trophic level, grasshoppers are on the second, birds that feed on the grasshoppers are on the third, and so forth.
  61. Tropical Deciduous Forest
    Deciduous forest of the equatorial region.
  62. Tropical Rain Forest
    Non-deciduous forest of the equatorial region.
  63. Tundra
    A terrestrial biome of the high latitudes.
  64. Geological production