enviro vocab.txt

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tor
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enviro vocab.txt
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2014-09-28 00:01:39
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environmental science vocabulary
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  1. ACID
    Any water solution that has more hydrogen ions (H+) than hydroxide ions (OH-) and a pH less than 7.
  2. ACID DEPOSITION
    The falling of acids and acid-forming compounds from the atmosphere to the earth's surface.
  3. ACID RAIN
    The falling of acids and acid-forming compounds from the atmosphere to the earth's surface.
  4. ACID SOLUTION
    Any water solution that has more hydrogen ions (H+) than hydroxide ions (OH-) and a pH less than 7.
  5. AEROBIC RESPIRATION
    Complex process that occurs in the cells of most living organisms, in which nutrient organic molecules such as glucose (C6H12O6) combine with oxygen (O2) to produce carbon dioxide (CO2), water (H2O) and energy.
  6. ANAEROBIC RESPIRATION
    Form of cellular respiration in which some decmoposers get the energy they need through the breakdown of glucose in the absense of oxygen.
  7. AQUATIC LIFE ZONE
    Water protions of the biosphere. Either freshwater (i.e. lakes, rivers, streams, and inland wetlands) or marine (i.e. oceans, bays, estuaries, coastal wetlands, shorelines, coral reefs, and mangrove forests).
  8. AQUIFER
    Porous, water-saturated layers of sand, gravel, or bedrock that can yield an economoically significant amount of water.
  9. ASEXUAL REPRODUCTION
    A mother cell divides to produce two idential daughter cells that are clones of the mother. Common in single-celled organisms.
  10. ATMOSPHERE
    The whole mass of air surrounding the earth.
  11. AUTOTROPH
    Organism that uses solar energy (green plants) or chemical energy (some bacteria) to manufacture the organic compounds it needs as nutrients from simple inorganic compounds obtained fom its environment.
  12. BACTERIA
    Prokaryotic, one-celled organisms that can transmit diseases. Most act as decomposers and get the nutrients they need by breaking down complex organic compounds in the tissues of living or dead organisms into simpler inorganic nutrient compounds.
  13. BASIC SOLUTION
    Water solution with more hydroxide ions (OH-) than hydrogen ions (H+) and a pH greater than 7.
  14. BIODIVERSITY
    Variety of different species (species diversity), genetic variability among individuals within each species (genetic diversity), variety of ecosystems (ecological diversity), and functions such as energy flow and matter cycling needed for the survival of species and biological communities (functional diversity).
  15. BIOGEOCHEMICAL CYCLE
    Natural proceses that recycle nutrients in various chemical forms from the nonliving environment to living organisms and then back to the nonliving environment. (i.e. the carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur and hydrologic cycles)
  16. BIOLOGICAL COMMUNITY
    Populations of all species living and interacting in an area at a particular time
  17. BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
    Variety of different species (species diversity), genetic variability among individuals within each species (genetic diversity), variety of ecosystems (ecological diversity), and functions such as energy flow and matter cycling needed for the survival of species and biological communities (functional diversity).
  18. BIOMASS
    Organic matter produced by plants and other photosynthetic producers that; the total dry weight of all living organisms that can be supported at each trophic level in a food chain or web ; dry weight of all organic matter in plants and animals in an ecosystem ; plant materials and animal wastes used as fuel
  19. BIOME
    Terrestrial regions inhabited by certain types of life, especially vegetation. (i.e. deserts, grasslands, forests)
  20. BIOSPHERE
    Zone of the earth where life is found. It consists of parts of the atmosphere (the troposphere), hydrosphere (mostly surface water and groundwater), and lithosphere (mostly soil and surface rocks and sediments on the bottoms of oceans and other bodies of water) where life is found.
  21. BIOTIC
    Living organisms
  22. BUFFER
    Subsance that can react with hydrogen ions in a solution and thus hold the acidity or pH of a solution fairly constant.
  23. CARBON CYCLE
    Cyclic movement of carbon in different checmical forms from the environment to organisms and then back to the environment.
  24. CELL
    Smallest living unit of an organism. Each cell is encased in an outer membrane or wall and contains genetic material (DNA) and other parts to perform its life function
  25. CHEMOSYNTHESIS
    Process in which certain organisms (mostly specialized bactera) extract inorganic compounds from their environment and convert them into organic nutrient compounds without the presence of sunlight.
  26. COMMUNITY
    Populations of all species living and interacting in an area at a particular time
  27. CONSUMER
    Organism that cannot synthesize the organic nutrients it needs and gets its organic nutrients by feeding on tissues of producers or of other consumers.
  28. DECOMPOSER
    Organisms that digests parts of dead organisms and cast-off fragments and wastes of living organisms by breaking down the complex organic molecules in those materials into simpler inorganic compounds and then absorbing the soluble nutrients. Producers return most of these chemicals to the soil and water for reuse.
  29. DETRITIVORE
    Consumer organism that feeds on detritus, parts of dead organisms, and cast-off fragments and wastes of living organisms. (i.e. detritus feeders and decomposers).
  30. DETRITUS
    parts of dead organisms and cast-off framnets and wastes of living organisms.
  31. DETRITUS FEEDER
    Organisms that extracts nutrients from frangments of dead organisms and their cast-off parts and organic wastes. (i.e. earthworms, termites, crabs)
  32. DISSOLVED OXYGEN (DO) CONTENT
    Amount of oxygen gas (O2) dissolved in a given volume of water at a particular temperature and pressure, often expresseed as a concentration in parts of oxygen per million parts of water
  33. DISTURBANCE
    A discrete event that disrupts an ecosystem or community. Natural disturbances include fires, hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, and floods. Human-caused disturbances include deforestation, overgrazing and plowing.
  34. ECOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
    variety of ecosystems ; The variety of forests, deserts, grasslands, oceans, streams, lakes and other biological commnities interacting with one another and with their nonliving environment.
  35. ECOLOGICAL EFFICIENCY
    Percentage of energy transfered from one trophic level to another in a food chain or web.
  36. ECOLOGIST
    Biological scientist who studies relationships between living organisms and their environment
  37. ECOLOGY
    Study of the interactions of living organisms with one another and with their nonliving environment of matter and energy ; study of the structure and functions of nature
  38. ECOSPHERE
    Zone of the earth where life is found. It consists of parts of the atmosphere (the troposphere), hydrosphere (mostly surface water and groundwater), and lithosphere (mostly soil and surface rocks and sediments on the bottoms of oceans and other bodies of water) where life is found.
  39. ECOSYSTEM
    Community of different species interacting with one another and with the chemical and physical factors making up its nonliving environment
  40. ENERGY
    Capacity to do work by performing mechanical, physical, chemical or electrical tasks or to cause a heat transfer between two objects at different temperatures
  41. EVAPORATION
    conversion of a liquid into a gas
  42. FERMENTATION
    Form of cellular respiration in which some decmoposers get the energy they need through the breakdown of glucose in the absense of oxygen.
  43. FLOWS
    rate of flow of matter, energy, or information through a system
  44. FOOD CHAIN
    Series of organisms in which each eats or decomposes the preceding one
  45. FOOD WEB
    Complex network of many interconnected food chains and feeding relationships
  46. FOSSIL FUEL
    Products of partial or complete decomposition of plants and animals that occur as crude oil, coal, natural gas, or heavy oils as a result of exposure to heat and pressure in the earth's crust over millions of years
  47. FRESHWATER LIFE ZONES
    Aquatic systems wher water with a dissolved salt concentration of less than 1% by volume accuulates on or flows through the surfaces of terrestrial biomes (i.e. standing or lentic bodies of fresh water such as lakes, ponds and inland wetlands; flowing or lotic systems such as streams and rivers)
  48. FUNCTIONAL DIVERSITY
    functions such as energy flow and matter cycling needed for the survival of species and biological communities ; biological and chemcial proceses or fucntions such as energy flow and matter cycling needed for the survival of species and biological communities
  49. GENETIC DIVERSITY
    Genetic variability among individuals within each species
  50. GLOBAL WARMING
    warming of the earth's atmosphere because of increases in the concentrations of one or more greenhouse gases primarily as a result of human activities
  51. GREENHOUSE EFFECT
    A natural effect that releases heat in the atmosphere (troposphere) near the earht's surface. Water vapor, carbon dioxide, ozone and other gases in the lower atmosphere absorb some of the infrared radiation (heart) radiated by the earth's surface. Their molecules vibrate and transform the absorbed energy into longer-wavelength infrared radiation in the troposphere. If the atmospheric concentrations of these greenhouse gases increase and other natural processes do not remove them, the average temperature of the lower atmosphere will increase gradually.
  52. GREENHOUSE GASES
    Gases in the earth's lower atmosphere (troposphere) that cause the greenhouse effect. (i.e. carbon dioxide, chlorofluorocarbons, ozone, methane, water vapor, and nitrous oxide)
  53. GROSS PRIMARY PRODUCTIVITY (GPP)
    the rate at which an ecosystem's producers capture and store a given amount of chemical energy as biomass in a given length of time.
  54. HABITAT
    Place or type of place where an organism or population of organisms live.
  55. HETEROTROPH
    Organism that cannot synthesize the organic nutrients it needs and gets its organic nutrients by feeding on tissues of producers or of other consumers.
  56. HUMUS
    Slightly soluble residue of undigested or partially decomposed organic material in topsoil. This material helps retain water and water-soluble nutrients, which can be taken up by plant roots.
  57. HYDROLOGIC CYCLE
    Biogeochemical cycle that collects, purifies, and distributes the earth's fixed supply of water from the environment to living organisms and then back to the environment.
  58. HYDROSPHERE
    The earth's liquid water (oceans, lakes, other bodies of surface water, and underground water), frozen water (polar ice caps, floating ice caps, and ice in soil, known as permafrost) and water vapor in the atmosphere.
  59. INFILTRATION
    Downward movement of water through soil
  60. ION
    Atom or group of atoms with one or more positive or negative electrical charges
  61. LAW OF TOLERANCE
    The existence, abundance, and distribution of a species in an ecosystem are determined by whether the levels of one or more physical or chemical factors fall within the range of tolerated by the species
  62. LEACHING
    Process in which various chemicals in upper layers of soil are dissolved and carried to lower layers and, in some cases, to groundwater
  63. LIMITING FACTOR
    Single factor that limits the growth, abundance, or distribution of the population of a species in an ecosystem
  64. LIMITING FACTOR PRINCIPLE
    Too much or too little of any abiotic factor can limit or prevent growth of a population of a species in an ecosystem, even if all other facotrs are at or near the optimal range of tolerance for the species.
  65. LITHOSPHERE
    outer shell of the earth, composed of the crust and the rigid, outer-most part of the mantle outside the asthenosphere; material found in the earth's plates
  66. LOAMS
    Soils containing a mixture of clay, sand, silt and humus. Good for growing most crops.
  67. MATTER
    Anything that has mass (the amount of material in an object) and takes up space. On the earth, where gravity is present, we weigh an object to determine its mass.
  68. METABOLISM
    Ability of a living cell or organism to capture and transform matter and energy from its environment to supply its needs for survival, growth and reproduction
  69. MICROORGANISMS
    Organisms such as bacteria that are so small that it takes a microscope to see them
  70. NATURAL GREENHOUSE EFFECT
    heat buildup in the troposphere because of the presence of certain gases, called greenhouse gases. Without this effect, the earth would be nearly as cold as Mars, and life as we know it could not exist.
  71. NET PRIMARY PRODUCTIVITY (NPP)
    Rate at which all the plants in an ecosystem produce net useful chemical energy; equal to the difference between the rate at which the plants in an ecosystem produce useful chemical energy (gross primary productivity) and the rate at which they use some of that energy through cellular respiration.
  72. NEUTRAL SOLUTION
    Water solution containing an equal number of hydrogen ions (H+) and hydroxide ions (OH-); water solution with a pH of 7
  73. NITROGEN CYCLE
    Cyclic movement of nitrogen in different chemical forms from the environment to organisms and then back to the environment
  74. NITROGEN FIXATION
    Conversion of atmosphere nitrogen gas into forms useful to plants by lightning, bacteria, and cyano-bacteria; part of the nitrogen cycle
  75. NUTRIENT
    Any food or element an organism must take in to live, grow or reproduce
  76. NUTRIENT CYCLE
    Natural proceses that recycle nutrients in various chemical forms from the nonliving environment to living organisms and then back to the nonliving environment. (i.e. the carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur and hydrologic cycles)
  77. OMNIVORE
    Animal that can use both platns and other animals as food sources. Examples include pigs, rats, cockroaches and humans.
  78. ORGANISM
    Any form of life
  79. PERCOLATION
    Passage of a liquid through the spaces of a porous material such as soil
  80. PERMAFROST
    Perennially frozen layer of the soil that forms when the water there freezes. Found in arctic tundra.
  81. PEST
    Unwanted organism that directly or indirectly interferes with human activity.
  82. PH
    Numeric value that indicates the relative acidity or alkalinity of a substance on a scale of 0 to 14, with the neutral point at 7. Acid solutions have pH values lower than 7; basic or alkaline solutions have pH values greater than 7.
  83. PHOSPHORUS CYCLE
    Cyclic movement of phosphorus in different chemical forms from the environment to organisms and then back to the environment.
  84. PHOTOSYNTHESIS
    complex process that takes place in cells of green platns. Raidant energy from the sun is used to combine carbon dioxide (CO2) and water (H2O) to produce oxygen (O2), carbohydrates (such as glucose, C6H12O6), and other nutrient moleules.
  85. PHYTOPLANKTON
    Small, drifting plants, mostly algae and bacteria, found in aquatic ecosystems
  86. PLANKTON
    Small plant organisms (phytoplankton) and animal organisms (zooplankton) that float in aquatic ecosystems.
  87. POLLUTION
    An undesirable change in the physical, chemical, or biological characteristics of air, water, soil, or food that can adversely affect the health, survival or activities of humans or other living organisms
  88. POPULATION
    Group of individual organisms of the same species living in a particular area.
  89. POROSITY
    percentage of space in rock or soil occupied voids, whether the voids are isolated or connected.
  90. PRECIPITATION
    water in the form of rain, sleet, hail and snow that falls from the atmosphere onto land and bodies of water
  91. PRIMARY CONSUMER
    Organism that feeds on all or part of plants (herbivore) or on other producers.
  92. PRIMARY PRODUCTIVITY
    See GPP, NPP
  93. PRODUCER - Organism that uses solar energy (green plants) or chemical energy (some bacteria) to manufacture the organic compounds it needs as nutrients from simple inorganic compounds obtained fom its environment.
  94. PYRAMID OF ENERGY FLOW
    Diagram representing the flow of energy through each trophic level in a food chain or food web. With each energy transfer, only a small part (~10%) of the usable energy entering one trophic level is transferred to the organisms at the next trophic level.
  95. RANGE OF TOLERANCE
    Range of chemical and physical conditions that must be maintained for populations of a particular species to stay alive and grow, develop, and function normally
  96. REPRODUCTION
    production of offspring by one or more parents
  97. SALINITY
    Amount of various salts dissolved in a given volume of water
  98. SCAVENGER
    organism that feeds on dead organisms that were killed by other organisms or died naturally. Examples include vultures, flies and crows
  99. SECONDARY CONSUMER
    Organism that feeds only on primary consumers
  100. SEXUAL REPRODUCTION
    Reproduction in organisms that produce offspring by combining sex cells or gametes (such as ovum and sperm) from both parents. It produces offspring gthat have combinations of traits from their parents.
  101. SOIL
    Complex mixture of inorganic minerals (clay, silt, pebbles, and sand), decaying organic matter, water, air, and living organisms
  102. SOIL HOIRZONS
    Horizontal zones that make up a particular mature soil. Each horizon has a distinct texture and composition that ary with different types of soils.
  103. SOIL PROFILE
    cross-sectional view of the horizons in a soil
  104. SOIL STRUCTURE
    How the particles that make up a soil are roganized and clumped together
  105. SPECIES
    Group of organisms that resemble one another in apprearance, behavior, chemical makeup and processes, and genetic structure. Organisms that reproduce sexually are classified as members of the same species only if they can actually or potentially interbreed with one another and produce fertile offspring.
  106. SPECIES DIVERSITY
    Variety of different species
  107. STRATOSPHERE
    Second layer of the atmosphere, extending about 17-48 kilometers (11-30 miles), above the earth's surface. It contains small amounts of gaseous ozone (O3), which filers out about 95% of the incoming harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation emitted by the sun.
  108. SULFUR CYCLE
    Cyclic movement of sulfur in various chemical forms from the environment to organisms and then back to the environment.
  109. SURFACE RUNOFF
    Water flowing off the land into bodies of surface water.
  110. SYSTEM
    A set of components that function and interact in some regular and theoretically predictable manner
  111. TERRESTRIAL
    pertaining to land
  112. TERTIARY (HIGHER-LEVEL) CONSUMERS
    animals that feed on animal-eating animals. they feed at high trophic levels in food chains and webs. examples include hawks, lions, bass and sharks.
  113. THRESHOLD EFFECT
    the harmful or fatal effect of a small change in environmental conditions that exceeds the limit of tolerance of an organism or population of a species
  114. TRANSPIRATION
    Process in which water is absorbed by the root systems of plants, moves up through the plants, passes through pores (stomata) in their leaves or other parts, and evaporates into the atmosphere as water vapor
  115. TROPHIC LEVEL
    all organisms that are the same number of energy transfers away from the original source of energy (for example, sunlight) that enters an ecosystem. For example, all producers belong to the first trophic level, and all herbivores belong to the second trophic level in a food chain or a food web.
  116. TROPOSPHERE
    innermost layer of the atmosphere. It contains about 75% of the mass of earht's air and extends about 17 kilometers (11 miles) above sea level.
  117. WATER CYCLE
    Biogeochemical cycle that collects, purifies, and distributes the earth's fixed supply of water from the environment to living organisms and then back to the environment.
  118. WETLAND
    Land that is covered all or part of the time with salt water or fresh water, excluding streams, lakes, and the open ocean.
  119. WILD SPECIES
    Species found in the natural environment
  120. WILDLIFE
    All free, undomesticated species.

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