SJCC Environmental Science Ecosystem Test Vocabulary

Question Answer
Ecology The study of how species interact with each other and with their environment
Habitat The physical environment where an organism lives
Niche The role an organism plays in its environment
Fundamental Niche The full range of the habitat where a species can exist and reproduce without competition from other species
Realized Niche Niche in practice, including competition
Competition Species vie for scarce environmental resources, including food, water, space, and light.
Principle of Competitive Exclusion A species in direct competition with each other cannot coexist
Intraspecific Same species
Interspecific Different species
Territorial Aggression An individual stakes and defends its territory against other individuals of the same species
Symbiosis Species interact in ways that are beneficial to one or both
Mutualism Both partners benefit
Commensalism One partner benefits without affecting the other
Parasitism One partner benefits while the other is harmed
Predation One organism, the predator, eats another organism, the prey
Keystone Species A species that plays a crucial role in an ecosystem or whose influence is much greater than might be expected given its abundance
Biodiversity The variety of life forms (richness or variety of a species)
Habitat Diversity Also called ecosystem diversity; Refers to the variety of habitat types in an ecosystem and the biologic richness of those habitats
Genetic Diversity Refers to the amount of variability or heterogeneity that is available among the DNA of individuals within a population or species
Species Diversity Encompasses the concepts of species richness and evenness
Species Richness Refers to the number of species in a community
Species Evenness Refers to the relative abundance of individuals within each species
Divergent Evolution Individuals of a species change over time in a way that makes them more different from one another
Adaptive Radiation The process of one species evolving into a number of new species
Convergent Evolution Individuals of different species change over time in a way that makes them more similar to one another
Extinction The disappearance of a species from the Earth
Mass Extinction Many species become extinct in a geologically short period of time
Endangered Species A species that is in imminent danger of extinction
Megadiversity Hot Spot Clusters of biodiversity in certain highly productive areas of the earth
r-strategist Organisms that produce a large number of offspring, only some of which survive- small body size, short life span, large number of eggs or offspring
k-strategist Larger organisms with longer lifespans-Small number of organisms less often, devote energy to parental care of offspring, vulnerable to extinction because of low reproductive rate
Specialist An organism with a narrow niche and is completely dependent upon the availability of a specific habitat or available resource
Generalist An organism that readily adjusts to changes in its habitat or available resources
Poaching The illegal harvesting of wild species for commercial exploitation
Exotic Species An organism that is not a native of a particular ecosystem; alien
Endemic Species An organism that is the native species of a particular ecosystem
Habitat Fragmentation Large tracts of natural area that are broken up into smaller patches by roads or other developments
Metabolism The set of chemical reactions through which an organism derives food energy
Autotrophs Make their own food
Heterotrophs Eat organisms for food
Producers Autotrophs
Consumers Heterotrophs
Primary Consumers Eat producers
Herbivores Eat plants
Secondary Consumers Eat primary consumers and producers
Tertiary Consumers Eat primary consumers, secondary consumers, and producers
Carnivores Eat meat
Omivores Eat plants and animals
Detritivores Consumers that eat detritus
Decomposer (Saprotroph) Breakdown dead organic material into simple carbohydrates, mineral salts, and carbon dioxide
Food chain A linear sequence of organisms that exist on successive trophic levels within a natural community, through which energy is transferred by feeding.
Trophic Level Each level of a food chain
Food Web A non-linear network of feeding between organisms that includes many food chains, and hence multiple organisms on each trophic level.
Biomass A quantitative measure of the amount of organic matter in an ecosystem or part of an ecosystem.
Phytomass Plant matter
Zoomass Animal matter
Ecological Pyramid A diagram that shows the relative amounts of energy or matter, or numbers of organisms within each trophic level in a food chain or food web
Biologic Productivity A measure of the rate at which biomass is produced
Gross Primary Productivity (GPP) The amount of biomass produced by photosynthesis in a given area during a specific amount of time
Net Primary Productivity (NPP) The amount of organic material available for consumption in a given area. GPP minus losses due to plant respiration.

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