Chapter 3

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  1. Biodiversity
    Definition: the number and variety of organisms (including different species of each organism), found within a specific area; also can be the number and variety of ecosystems within an area

    Extra Info: If an area has "high biodiversity" it means there is many different types of species there, while "low biodiversity" means there are not many species. Having a high biodiversity is important because with many species come many ecosystem services, as organisms depend on each other for different things.

    • Related Terms:
    • -Biodiversity Hotspot (describes area of biodiversity)
    • -Biodiversity Crisis (can lead to decrease in biodiversity)
  2. Protect
    Definition: to legally guard an endangered or threatened species (or one with special needs) from harm

    Example: In 1966, Blue Whales received legal national protection from commercial whaling due to their endangered status (from overexploitation).

    • Related Terms:
    • -Extinction (can occur when endangered animals are not protected)
    • -Overexploitation (can lead to the need for the legal protection of an organism)
  3. Biodiversity Hotspot
    Definition: a place where there is an exceptionally large number of species in a relatively small area

    • Example: The Hudson Bay and James Bay coasts are great examples of biodiversity hotspots, with many species, including Arctic Foxes, Snow Geese, Woodland Caribou, and Wolverines all living together in the small area.
    • Image Upload 1
    • Related Terms:
    • -Biodiversity
  4. Community
    Definition: all the populations of different species that interact in a specific area or ecosystem

    Extra Info: Communities are important parts of ecosystems because ecosystems would not be able to be sustainable without the interactions (and ecosystem services) that parts of communities provide each other with.

    Example: Deer, lynxes, hares, wolves, and grasses living together in the same area. They are a community because they interact. The deer and hares eat the grass (interaction type: predation), wolves eat the deer, and lynxes eat the hares.
  5. Dominant Species
    Definition: the species that are so abundant that they have the biggest biomass of any member in the community

    Example: In terrestrial ecosystems, the dominant species is always primary producers (plants). Another example is the American Chestnut Tree (in 1900s)

    Extra Info: Dominant species can be removed from an ecosystem, and it can remain sustainable, but the biodiversity may decrease as a result (when American Chestnut Trees became extinct in 1950, seven species of insects that received resources from the tree went extinct as well).

    • Related Terms:
    • -Keystone Species (a category of species)
    • -Ecosystem Engineer (a category of species)
  6. Keystone Species
    Definition: a species that can greatly affect the stability, population numbers, and health of an ecosystem

    • Example: Sea otters are a keystone species in British Columbia's kelp forests. Sea otters eat sea urchins, which consume kelp. If sea otter numbers are decreased, the number of sea urchins will raise, which will cause the kelp population to decline. The fish depend on the kelp as a habitat, so when the kelp biomass decreased, so did the fish biomass. The sea otters have a major impact on the ecosystem, so they are a keystone species.
    • Fish in kelp:
    • Image Upload 2
    • Related Terms:
    • -Dominant Species (a category of species)
    • -Ecosystem Engineer (a category of species)
  7. Captive Breeding
    Definition: the breeding of rare or endangered species (wildlife) in controlled settings, to increase their population size

    Example: Black-footed ferrets were endangered, so humans put them in a captive breeding program, and slowly released them back into the wild (after training them to survive in the wild) once their population size was large enough.
  8. Ecosystem Engineer
    Definition: a species that causes such significant changes to an ecosystem that it creates a new ecosystem

    • Example: Humans alter the environment so much that ecosystems have been changed completely. Another example is beavers.
    • A beaver has changed the ecosystem by creating a dam:
    • Image Upload 3
    • Related Terms:
    • -Dominant Species (a category of species)
    • -Keystone Species (a category of species)
  9. Succession
    Definition: a series of changes in an ecosystem that occur over time, usually following a disturbance (e.g. a drought)

    • Extra Info: The disturbance could be natural (like a drought) or man-made (like a forest fire).
    • Diagram of Succession Example (forest fire):
    • Image Upload 4
  10. Habitat Loss
    Definition: the destruction of a habitat, which is usually caused by human activities

    • Example: Wetland draining is a type of habitat loss as well as deforestation.
    • On the left is the ecosystem before habitat loss, and on the right is after habitat loss (in this picture it is deforestation):
    • Image Upload 5

    • Related Terms:
    • -Deforestation (a type of habitat loss)
    • -Restoration Ecology (the renewal of lost habitats)
  11. Deforestation
    Definition: the clearing of forests for logging and/or other human uses, and never replanting them

    Extra Info: Deforestation can be a type of habitat loss when done in large amounts.

    Picture: Refer to Picture in "Habitat Loss"
  12. Alien Species
    Definition: a species that is accidentally or purposely brought from one location, into a new location

    Example: Zebra mussels were accidentally brought into Lake Ontario from Asia, most likely from water used as ballast. Alien species often pose a problem, since while some are harmless, others (such as the Zebra mussel) outcompete native species for resources, which could endanger native species.

    • Related Terms:
    • -Invasive Species
  13. Invasive Species
    Definition: a species that can take over the habitat of native species

    Extra Info: Invasive species are similar to alien species, and many alien species are invasive species (e.g. Zebra mussels in Lake Ontario).

    • Related Terms:
    • -Alien Species
  14. Overexploitation
    Definition: the use or extraction of a resource until it is depleted

    Extra Info: Biodiversity is threatened when overexploitation occurs. It can lead to dangerously low population numbers.

    Example: In the early 1900s, passenger pigeons went extinct due to overexploitation (too much hunting of the pigeons).

    • Related Terms:
    • -Extinction (can be a result of overexploitation)
    • -Biodiversity Crisis
  15. Extinction
    Definition: the death of all of the individuals of a species

    • Extra Info: Extinction can be caused naturally (as species evolve) or by humans. Examples of these causes are overexploitation, habitat loss, and/or invasive species. The rate of natural extinction is often called, "Background Rate."
    • Image Upload 6

    Example: In the early 1900s the passenger pigeons became extinct due to overexploitation.

    • Related Terms:
    • -Captive Breeding (prevents extinction)
    • -Overexploitation (can cause extinction)
    • -Habitat Loss (can cause extinction)
  16. Biodiversity Crisis
    Definition: the current accelerated rate of extinctions

    Picture: Refer to Picture in "Extinction"

    Extra Info: Ecologists estimate that the current rate of extinction is 100 to 1,000 times higher than normal background rate. A study showed that out of 40,000 species, 39% were at risk of extinction. The rate of extinction has increased greatly because of human activity.

    • Related Terms:
    • -Biodiversity
    • -Extinction
  17. Restoration Ecology
    Definition: the renewal of damaged or destroyed ecosystems through active human intervention

    Extra Info: There are several methods of restoration ecology such as reforestation and bioremediation.

    • Reforestation:
    • Image Upload 7

    • Related Terms:
    • -Reforestation
    • -Bioremediation
  18. Reforestation
    Definition: the regrowth of a forest, either occurs through natural processes and/or through the planting of seeds/trees in an area where a forest habitat was lost (e.g. from being cut down)

    Picture: Refer to Picture in "Restoration Ecology"

    Example: In the early 1900s in eastern Canada, red pine trees were planted in rows to restore the forest habitat. Once the red pine trees matured, they provided enough shade for native seeds to grow.
  19. Biocontrol
    Definition: the use of a species to control the population growth/spread of another unwanted species

    Example: Asian Lady Beetles (also known as "Orange Lady Bugs") were brought into Canada to control Lady Bugs.
  20. Bioremediation
    Definition: the use of living organisms to clean up contaminated areas naturally

    Example: Bacteria is used to clean up oil spills on the coast.
  21. Bioaugmentation
    Definition: the use of living organisms to add essential nutrients to depleted soils

    • Example: Clovers are used to add nitrogen to depleted soils.
    • Image Upload 8
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Chapter 3
Chapter 3 Glossary Terms
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