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The sum of all the conditions surrounding us that influence life

environmental science
The field of study that looks at interactions among human systems and those foun
d in nature
Any set of interacting components that infludence one another by exchanging ener
gy or materials
a partiular location on Earth distinguished by its mix of interacting biotic and
abiotic components
A person who participates in environmentalism, a social movement that seeks to p
rotect the environment through lobbying, activism, and education
environmental studies
The field of study that includes environmental science, environmental policy, ec
onomics, literature, and ethics among others
ecosystem services
The process by which natural environments provide life-supporting resources
environmental indicators
Something that describes the current state of an environmental system
Living on Earth in a way that allows humans to use its resources without deprivi
ng future generations of those resources
The diversity of life forms in an environment
A group of organisms that is distinct from other groups in its morphology, behav
ior, or biochemical properties
The evolution of a new species
background extinction rate
The average rate at which species become extinct over the long term
greenhouse gases
a gas in Earth's atmosphere that traps heat near the surface
Derived from human activities
Improvement in human well-being through economic advancement

sustainable development
Development that balances current human well-being and economic advancement with
resource management for the benefit of future generation
an appreciaton of and love for all life
ecological footprint
A measure of how much an individual consumes, expressed in area of land
scientific method
An objective way to explore the natural world, draw inferences for it, and predi
ct the outcome of certain events, processes, or changes
A testable theory or supposition about how something works
null hypothesis
A statement or idea that can be falsified, or proven wrong
The data collection procedure of taking repeated measurements
sample size
The number of times a measurement is replicated in the data collection process
How close a measured value is to the actual or true value
How close the repeated measurements of a sample are to one another
An estimate of how much a measured or calculated vallue differs from a true valu
inductive reasoning
The process of making general statements from specific fats or examples
deductive reasoning
The process of applying a general satement to specific facts or situations
critical thinking
The process of questioning the soure of information, considering the methods use
d to obtain the information, and drawing conclusions; essential to all scientifi
c endeavors
a hypothesis that has been repeatedly tested and confirmed by multiple groups of
researchers and has reached wide acceptance
control group
A set that experiences exactly the same conditions as the experimental group, ex
cept for the single variable under study
natural experiment
A natural event that acts an an experimental treatment in an ecosystem
environmental justice

A social movement and field of study that focuses on eliminating disparities in

the exposure of environmental harm to different ethnic and socioeconomic groups
anything that occupies space and has mass
measure of the amount of matter an object contains
smallest particle that can contain the chemical properties of an element
substance composed of atoms that cannot be broken down into smaller, simpler com
Periodic table
lists all of the elements currently known
particles containing more than one atom
molecules that contain more than one element
Atomic Number
the number of protons in the nucleus of a particular element
Mass Number
total number of protons and neutrons in an element.
Radioactive decay
the spontaneous release of material from the nucleus
the time it takes for one-half of the original radioactive parent atoms to decay
Covalent bonds
chemical bonds formed by sharing electrons
Ionic bonds
a bond formed by the attraction between oppositely charged ions
Hydrogen bond
a weak chemical bond that forms when hydrogen atoms are attracted to another ato
m on another molecule
Polar Molecule
a molecule in which one side is more positive and the other side is more negativ
Surface tension
results from the cohesion of water molecules at the surface of a body of water
Capillary action
when the adhesion of water molecules to a surface is strong, as when water climb
s plant stems
a substance that contributes hydrogen ions to a solution (0-6.9)

a substance that contributes hydroxide ions to a solution (7.1-14)
pH scale
indicates the strength of acids and bases.
Chemical reaction
occurs when atoms separate from the molecules they are a part of and recombine w
ith other molecules
Law of Conservation of Matter
matter cannot be created or destroyed; it can only change form
Inorganic compounds
compounds that either do not contain the element carbon or do contain carbon, bu
t only carbon bound to elements other than hydrogen
Organic compounds
compounds that have carbon-carbon and carbon-hydrogen bonds
compounds composed of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms
made up of long chains of nitrogen-containing organic molecules called amino aci
ds, building blocks
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)
genetic material that organisms pass on to their offspring that contains the cod
e for reproducing the components of the next generation.
RNA (ribonucleic acid)
translates the code stored in the DNA and allows for the synthesis of proteins
molecules that do not mix with water, insulate and lubricate body, fats and waxe
smallest living unit, highly organized surrounded by a membrane
the ability to do work or transfer heat
Electromagnetic Radiation
a form of energy emitted by the sun that includes various wavelengths of energy
the amount of energy used when a 1-watt light bulb is turned on for 1 second
the rate at which work is done
power x time
energy divided by time

Potential energy
energy that is stored but has not yet been released
Kinetic energy
the energy of motion
Chemical energy
potential energy stored in chemical bonds
the measure of the average kinetic energy of a substance
First Law of Thermodynamics
energy is neither created nor destroyed
Second Law of Thermodynamics
when energy is transformed, the quantity of energy remains the same, but its abi
lity to do work diminishes
Energy efficiency
the ratio of the amount of work that is done to the total amount of energy that
is introduced into the system in the first place
energy quality
the ease with which an energy source can be used for work
all systems move toward randomness rather than toward order
open system
exchanges of matter or energy occur across system boundaries.
Closed system
matter and energy exchanges across system boundaries do not occur
addition to a given system
losses from a given system
Systems analysis
a study in which the inputs, outputs, and changes in a system under various cond
itions are determined
Steady state
when inputs equal outputs so that the system is not changing over time
Negative feedback loop
when a system responds to a change by returning to its original state
Positive feedback loops
when a system responds to a change by further increasing the damage done to the
Adaptive management plan
a strategy that provides flexibility so that managers can modify it as future ch
anges occur

a location of interacting biotic and abiotic components.

an organism that uses the energy of the Sun to produce usable forms of energy
able to produces it's own food
process by which producers convert water and carbon dioxide into glucose and oxy
Cellular Respiration
process by which cells convert glucose and oxygen into energy, carbon dioxide, a
nd water
organism that must obtain its energy by eating other organisms
can not make own food, eats other organisms
Primary Consumer
organism that must obtain energy by consuming other organisms
Secondary Consumer
carnivore that eats primary consumers
Tertiary Consumer
carnivore that eats secondary consumers.
Trophic Levels
levels in the feeding structure of organisms, higher trophic levels consume orga
nisms from lower levels
Food Chain
sequence of consumption from producers through consumers
Food Web
complex model of how energy and matter move between trophic levels
carnivore that consumes dead animals
organism that specializes in breaking down dead plant or animal tissues
fungi or bacteria that recycle nutrients from dead tissues and wastes back into
an ecosystem
Gross Primary Productivity
the total amount of biomass produced via photosynthesis over a given amount of t
Net Primary Productivity
the energy captured by producers in an ecosystem minus the energy producers use
to live

total mass of all living matter in a specific area

Standing Crop
the amount of biomass present in an ecosystem at a particular time
Ecological Efficiency
the proportion of consumed energy that can be passed from one trophic level to a
Trophic Pyramid
a representation of the distribution of biomass or energy among trophic levels
The region of out planet where life resides, the combination of all ecosystems o
n Earth.
Biogeochemical Cycles
the movements of matter within and between ecosystems
Hydrologic Cycle
the movement of water through the biosphere
the release of water from leaves during photosynthesis
the combined amount of evaporation and transpiration.
water that moves across the land surface and into streams and rivers
Carbon Cycle
the flow of carbon through the environment
Nitrogen Cycle
the flow of nitrogen through the environment.
the six key elements that organisms need in relatively large amounts
Limiting Nutrient
a nutrient required for the growth of an organism but available in a lower quant
ity than other nutrients
Nitrogen Fixation
a process by which some organism can convert nitrogen gas molecules directly int
o ammonia
the transportation of dissolved molecules through the soil via groundwater
Phosphorus Cycle
the flow of phosphorus through the environment
an event, caused by physical, chemical, or biological agents, resulting in chang
es in an ecosystem
all land in a given landscape that drains into a particular stream, river, lake,

or wetland
a measure of how much a disturbance can affect flows of energy and matter in an
the rate at which an ecosystem returns to its original state after a disturbance
Restoration Ecology
the study and implementation of restoring damaged ecosystems
Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis
the hypothesis that ecosystems experiencing intermediate levels of disturbance a
re more diverse than those with high or low disturbance levels
Instrumental Value
something that has worth as an instrument or useful tool
Intrinsic Value
worth independent of any benefit it may provide to humans
a good that humans can use directly
average weather that occurs in a giver region over a long period of time
layer of the atmosphere closest to the surface of Earth and containing most of t
he atmospheres mass
layer of the atmosphere that contains the ozone layer
percentage of incoming sunlight reflected from a surface
Saturation Point
maximum amount of water vapor in the air at a given temperature
Adiabatic Cooling
cooling effect of reduced pressure on air as it rises higher in the atmosphere a
nd expands
Adiabatic Heating
heating effect of increased pressure on air as it sinks toward the surface of Ea
rth and decreases in volume
Latent Heat Release
release of energy when water vapor in the atmosphere condenses into liquid water
Hadley Cells
convection current in the atmosphere that cycles between the equator and 30 N and
30 S.
Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ)
area of Earth that receives the most intense sunlight; at equator, much evaporat
ion and precipitation

Polar Cells
convection cell in the atmosphere, formed by air that rises at 60 N and 60 S and s
inks at the poles
Coriolis Effect
deflection of an object's path due to the rotation of the Earth
large-scale pattern of water circulation that moves clockwise in the Northern He
misphere and counterclockwise in the Southern Hemisphere
upward movement of ocean water toward the surface as a result of diverging curre
Thermohaline Circulation
an oceanic circulation pattern that drives the mixing of surface water and deep
El Nio-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)
periodic changes in winds and ocean currents, causing cooler and wetter conditio
ns in the southeastern United States and unusually dry weather in southern Afric
a and Southeast Asia
Rain Shadow
region with dry conditions found on the leeward side of a mountain range as a re
sult of humid winds from the ocean causing precipitation on the windward side
a geographic region categorized by a particular combination of average temperatu
re, precipitation, and distinctive plant growth forms on land, and a particular
combination of salinity, depth, and water flow in water
a cold and treeless biome with low-growing vegetation
an impermeable, permanently frozen layer of soil
Boreal Forests
A forest made up primarily of coniferous evergreen trees that can tolerate cold
winters and short growing seasons.
Temperate Rainforests
A coastal biome typified by moderate temperatures and high precipitation.
Temperate Seasonal Forests
A biome with warmer summers and colder winters than temperate rainforests and do
minated by deciduous trees.
A biome characterized by hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters.
Temperate Grassland/Cold Desert
A biome characterized by grassed prairies with cold, harsh winters, and hot, dry
Tropical Rainforests
A warm and wet biome found between 20 N and 20 S of the equator, with little seaso
nal temperature variation and high precipitation.

Tropical Seasonal Forests/Savanna

A biome marked by warm temperatures and distinct wet and dry seasons.
Subtropical Deserts
A biome prevailing at approximately 30 N and 30 S, with hot temperatures, extremel
y dry conditions, and sparse vegetation.
Littoral Zone
The shallow zone of soil and water in lakes and ponds where most algae and emerg
ent plants grow.
Limnetic Zone
A zone of open water in lakes and ponds.
Floating algae.
Profundal Zone
A region of water where sunlight does not reach, below the limnetic zone inn ver
y deep lakes.
Benthic Zone
The muddy bottom of a lake, pond, or ocean.
Freshwater Wetlands
An aquatic biome that is submerged or saturated by water for at least part of ea
ch year, but shallow enough to support emergent vegetation.
Salt Marshes
A marsh containing nonwoody emergent vegetation, found along the coast in temper
ate climates.
Mangrove Swamps
A swamp that occurs along tropical and subtropical coasts, and contains salt-tol
erant trees with roots submerged in water.
Intertidal Zone
The narrow band of coastline between the levels of high tide and low tide.
Coral Reefs
The most diverse marine biome on Earth, found in warm, shallow waters beyond the
Coral Bleaching
A phenomenon in which algae inside corals die, causing the corals to turn white.
Photic Zone
The upper layer of water in the ocean that receives enough sunlight acting on co
mpounds such as nitrogen oxides.
Aphotic Zone
The layer of ocean water that lacks sufficient sunlight for photosynthesis.
A process used by some bacteria in the ocean to generate energy with methane and
hydrogen sulfide.
Ecosystem Diversity
the variety of ecosystems within a given region

Species Diversity
the variety of species within a given ecosystem
Genetic Diversity
the variety of genes within a given species
Species Richness
the number of species in a given area
Species Evenness
the relative proportion of different species in a given area
the branching patterns of evolutionary relationships
a change in the genetic composition of a population over time
evolution occurring below the species level
evolution that gives rise to new species, genera, families, classes or phyla
the complete set of genes in an individual
a random change in the genetic code produced by a mistake in the copying process
process by which one chromosome breaks off and attaches to another chromosome du
ring reproductive cell division
a set of traits expressed by an individual
Artificial Selection
a breeder chooses to perpetuate certain desirable inheritable traits in a plant
or animal
Natural Selection
survival of a species due to it being most suited to the environment
an individual's ability to survive and reproduce
a trait that improves an individual's fitness
Genetic Drift
a change in the genetic composition of a population over time as a result of ran
dom mating
Bottleneck Effect
a reduction in the genetic diversity of a population caused by a reduction in it
s size
Founder Effect

a change in a population descended from a small number of colonizing individuals

Geographic Isolation
physical separation of a group of individuals from others of the same species
Reproductive Isolation
two populations within a species evolving separately so they can no longer inter
breed and produce viable offspring
Allopatric Speciation
the process of speciation that occurs with geographic isolation
Sympatric Speciation
the evolution of one species into two, without geographic isolation
Genetic Engineering
direct manipulation of genetic material in order to alter the hereditary traits
of a cell, organism, or population
Genetically Modified Organisms
an organism produced by copying genes from a species with a desirable trait and
inserting them into another species
Range of Tolerance
the limits to the abiotic conditions that a species can tolerate
Fundamental Niche
ideal environmental conditions for a species
Realized Niche
range of abiotic and biotic conditions under which a species actually lives
areas of the world in which a species live
Niche Generalists
a species that can live under a wide range of abiotic or biotic conditions
Niche Specialists
a species that is specialized to live in a specific habitat or to feed on a smal
l group of species
Mass Extinction
a large extinction of a species in a relatively short period of time
levels of complexity
Individual -> Population -> Community -> Ecosystem -> Bisophere
The individuals that belong to the same species and live in a given area at a gi
ven time.
All of the populations of organisms within a given area.
population ecology
The study of factors that cause populations to increase or decrease.
population size (N)
The total number of individuals within a defined area at a given time.

population density
The number of individuals per unit area at a given time.
population distribution
A description of how individuals are distributed with respect to one another. Po
pulations in nature distribute themselves in three ways: random, uniform, and cl
umped distribution.
sex ratio
The ratio of males to females.
age structure
A description of how many individuals fit into particular age categories.
density-dependent factor
A factor that influences an individual's probability of survival and reproductio
n in a manner that depends on the size of the population. Example: amount of ava
ilable food.
limiting resource
A resource that a population cannot live without and that occurs in quantities l
ower than the population would require to increase in size.
carrying capacity (K)
The limit of how many individuals in a population the food supply can sustain.
density-independent factor
A factor that has the same effect on an individual's probability of survival and
the amount of reproduction at any population size. Examples: tornadoes, hurrica
nes, floods, fires, volcanic eruptions, and other climatic events.
growth rate
The number of offspring an individual can produce in a given time period, minus
the death of the individual or any of its offspring during the same period.
intrinsic growth rate (r)
The maximum potential for growth of a population under ideal conditions with unl
imited resources.
exponential growth model
(Nt = N0 ert) A growth model that estimates a population's future size (Nt) afte
r a period of time (t), based on the intrinsic growth rate (r) and the number of
reproducing individuals currently in the population (N0).
J-shaped curve
The curve of the exponential growth model when graphed.
logistic growth model
A growth model that describes a population whose growth is initially exponential
, but slows as the population approaches the carrying capacity of the environmen
S-shaped curve
The shape of the logistic growth model when graphed.
When a population becomes larger than the environment's carrying capacity.

A rapid decline in a population due to death.

K-selected species
A species with a low intrinsic growth rate that causes the population to increas
e slowly until it reaches carrying capacity.
r-selected species
A species that has a high intrinsic growth rate, which often leads to population
overshoots and die-offs.
survivorship curve
A graph that represents the distinct patterns of species survival as a function
of age.
A strip of natural habitat that connects separated populations.
A group of spatially distinct populations that are connected by occasional movem
ents of individuals between them.
community ecology
The study of interactions between species.
The struggle of individuals to obtain a limiting resource.
competitive exclusion principle
The principle stating that two species competing for the same limiting resource
cannot coexist.
resource partitioning
A situation in which two species divide a resource, based on differences in thei
r behavior or morphology.
The use of one species as a resource by another species.
true predator
A predator that typically kills its prey and consumes most of what it kills.
A predator that consumes plants as prey.
A predator that lives on or in the organism it consumes.
An illness-causing bacterium, virus, or parasite.
An organism that lays eggs inside other organisms.
An interaction between species that increases the chances of survival or reprodu
ction for both species.
A relationship between species in which one species benefits and the other speci
es is neither harmed nor helped.

A relationship of two species that live in association with each other.
keystone species
A species that is far more important in its community that in its relative abund
ance might suggest.
predator-mediated competition
Competition in which a predator is instrumental in reducing the abundance of a s
uperior competitor, allowing inferior competitors to persist.
ecosystem engineer
A keystone species that creates or maintains habitat for other species.
ecological succession
The replacement of one group of species by another group of species over time.
primary succession
Ecological succession occurring on surfaces that are initially devoid of soil.
secondary succession
The succession of plant life that occurs in areas that have been disturbed but h
ave not lost their soil.
pioneer species
A species that can colonize new areas rapidly.
theory of island biogeography
A theory that demonstrates the dual importance of habitat size and distance in d
etermining species richness.