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abiotic
nonliving materials.
acidity
the amount of acid in a substance.
acid rain
precipitation containing impurities that can make it highly acidic.
aerobic respiration
a chemical process that uses oxygen and produces water and carbon dioxide. It stores energy in the form of ATP.
aesthetics
beauty.
biodegradable
materials that decomposers can break down fairly easily.
biological community
all the organisms living together in a specific area.
biological diversity
the variety of life at all levels of organization that exists in an area.
biotic
those things that are alive or were recently alive.
birth rate
the number of children born each year.
calorie
the amount of energy it takes to raise the temperature of one gram of water one degree Celsius. (The calories used to describe food are actually k calories or 1,000 calories.)
camouflage
the color, markings, body shape, or behavior that helps an animal or plant hide in its surroundings.
carbonification
the process by which dead plants and/or animals are turned into coal, oil, or natural gas.
carnivores
animals that eat only other animals. Some plants are also considered carnivores because they “eat” insects.
carrying capacity
the number of organisms that a habitat can support indefinitely.
CFCs
(chlorinated fluorocarbons) gases used in air conditioners and refrigerators that are being released into the atmosphere.
community
a group of organisms that lives in the same place.
consumers
organisms that get energy by eating other organisms.
cycle
a chain of events that happens regularly and has no distinct beginning or end.
decomposers
organisms that break down dead matter.
dehydrate
dry up.
demographers
ecologists who study human populations.
diversity
variety.
doubling time
the amount of time it takes for a population to double in size.
ecological pyramid
a snapshot of the amount of energy or number of individuals at different levels of a food web in a specific location.
ecologists
scientists who study the distribution and abundance of organisms in the environment.
emigration
a move away from an area.
endangered
a species that is threatened with becoming extinct.
environment
the physical, chemical, and biotic (living) factors that you affect and that affect you.
ethics
a set of moral principles or values.
evaporate
change into water vapor.
extinct
a species of which all members have died.
food chain
a description of the path by which energy moves from the sun to plants and animals.
food web
a diagram that shows how food chains in a community are related and interlinked.
fossil fuels
coal, oil, and gas that are made up of the remains of ancient plants and animals.
genes
structures in almost every living cell that carry genetic information from one generation to the next.
giga
one billion.
gigajoule
a unit used to measure energy.
global change
any worldwide change in the environment.
global warming
a warming trend around the world that is caused by an increase of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
greenhouse effect
the trapping of heat in Earth's atmosphere due to the presence of gases such as carbon dioxide.
greenhouse gas
gases that trap heat from the sun in the atmosphere, much like glass traps the heat of the sun in a greenhouse.
groundwater
water within the earth that supplies wells and springs.
habitat
the physical place where a plant or animal usually lives.
herbivores
organisms that eat only plants.
host organism
an organism that is used as food by a parasitic organism without the host being killed.
human community
all of the people who live around you and help you live where you do.
immigration
a move into an area.
joule
0.24 calories.
melanin
a pigment that gives color to hair, skin, and eyes.
mimicry
a method of protection in which one species or organism looks like another species.
mortality rate
death rate.
nature reserves
protected areas for wildlife and plants.
niche
the full range of biotic and abiotic conditions under which a particular species can live and reproduce.
omnivores
organisms that eat both plants and animals.
open water
water on the surface of Earth.
organism
a complete and whole living thing.
parasite
an organism that feeds off another organism without killing it immediately.
photosynthesis
a process in which a plant uses sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide to produce sugar and release oxygen.
population
all of the individuals of a species living in a certain area at a certain time.
precipitation
rain, snow, sleet, hail.
predation
an interaction in which one organism kills and eats another.
producers
organisms that make sugars through photosynthesis.
proximate cause
an action that happens right before an event and that causes the event to happen.
recycle
use materials over again, thus saving resources and energy.
resource
a substance, object, or space needed by an organism to live, grow, and reproduce.
species
a group of organisms that are so much alike that they can reproduce and make others like themselves.
terrestrial net primary productivity
a name for all of the sun's energy that is trapped and stored by all of the plants on Earth's land surfaces during photosynthesis.
ultimate cause
an action that starts a series of events.
watershed
the area of land drained by a stream or river.

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