Environmental Science Vocabulary
Living Things in the Environment & Populations
organism- a living thing
habitat - an environment that provides the things an organism needs to live.
biotic factor - a living part of an organism’s habitat. i.e. grass, plants, seeds, fruit, worms, bacteria, other animals
abiotic factor - a non-living part of an organisms habitat. i.e. water, sunlight, oxygen, temperature, soil
photosynthesis - the process in which plants use water along with sunlight and carbon dioxide to make their own food.
species - a group of organisms that are physically similar and can produce offspring.
population - all the members of one species in a particular area. The “count” of one species in an area.
ecosystem - the community of organisms that live in an area along with their non-living surroundings.
ecology - the study of how living things interact with each other and their environment.
population density- the number of species in a specific area
limiting factor - a factor in the environment that causes the population to decrease or go down. i.e. food and water, living space, weather
Interactions of Living Things & Changes in Community
natural selection - a process in which organisms best suited to the environment tend to survive; survival of the “fittest.”
adaptation - a change in the body or behavior of a species making it easier to survive. i.e. poisonous jellyfish, camouflage bugs, protective shell, etc.)
niche - the “job” an organism in its environment. i.e. plants produce oxygen, bacteria decompose waste, hawks control mice population, etc.
competition - the struggle for survival between living things for the limited resources.
predator - an animal that hunts and eats other animals; i.e. lions are the predators of zebras
prey - an animal that is hunted or eaten by other animals; i.e. mice are the prey of cats
symbiosis - two organisms living together. There are three kinds of symbiosis: mutualism, commensalism and parasitism.
mutualism - a kind of symbiosis in which both organisms help each other (bees getting pollen from flowers; helps the flower pollinate and bee can make honey)
commensalism - commensalism is a kind of symbiosis in which one organism benefits without harming the other (bird builds nest in a tree to protect itself from ground animals, three not harmed)
parasitism - Parasitism is a kind of symbiosis in which one organisms gains and the other is harmed (tick on dog)
parasite - the organism that benefits by living off of another organism (tick)
host - the organism that a parasite “lives off of” and harms
succession - a series of changes that occur in a community over time; i.e. a field becomes a forest over time
Energy Flow, Cycles of Matter, Biogeography
producer- an organism that can make its own food; i.e. a plant
consumer - an organism that gets its energy (food) by eating another organism.
herbivore - an animal that only eats plants
carnivore - an animal that eats animals
omnivore - an animal that eats both plants and animals
scavenger - a carnivore that eats dead animals
decomposer - an organism that breaks down waste and dead animals
food chain - a series of events in which one organism eats another to get energy
food web - overlapping food chains in an ecosystem
energy pyramid - a diagram that shows the amount of energy that moves from one feeding level to another in a food web.
water cycle - the process in which water moves from the Earth’s surface to the atmosphere and back in a repeating cycle.
condensation - when a gas changes into a liquid; i.e. water vapor condensing into a cloud.
precipitation - rain, sleet, snow or hail
dispersal - the movement of organisms from one place to another
climate - the weather in an area over a long period of time.
more to come for next chapter....