abdomen The abdomen
of an insect is in the hind section. It holds the sexual, digestive,
and excretory organs. It also holds the breathing mechanism.
abiotic Non-living material such as water, rocks, and minerals.
adapt Fitting by alteration or adjustment.
in the structure or function of an organism in any of its parts,
by which the organism becomes better fitted to survive in its environment.
alkaline An alkaline
substance is comprised of salts and other dissolved materials and
is often found in desert soils and water; alkali can neutralize
acids. Alkaline water is bitter, slippery, and caustic.
alluvial Referring to landscape features produced by deposits of mud, clay, silt, gravel, or sand; made by a stream.
alpine zone The
portion of land that lies above treeline. Extreme weather conditions
make survival impossible for tall trees. If trees do exist, they
grow no higher than a few feet high and tend to sprawl across the
ground. Scientists call these trees "krummholz." Alpine plants usually
have adaptations for minimizing the effects of wind, cold temperatures,
short growing seasons, dry conditions, and ultraviolet radiation.
altitude Vertical elevation of an object above sea level.
amphibian An animal
without scales, adapted for life both in water and on land. Examples
are frogs, newts, and salamanders.
angle of repose The maximum
slope or angle at which a material --such as sand-- will remain
stable, without sliding or rolling.
antennae The long,
thin, jointed projections from an insect's head that inform it about
the feel, sound, taste, smell, temperature, and humidity in the
world outside of its skeleton.
anthropologist A person who studies the culture and lifeways of peoples from the past and of today.
ripples in the stream that appear to travel upstream. They act like
dams and hold the water back until the water pressure breaks them,
sending a pulse of water downstream.
anther The part of
a flower's stamen that contains pollen.
antlers Bony growths
from the head of members of the deer family, such as mule deer and
elk. They are shed and regrown every year, requiring large amounts
rock formation or group of rock formations.
archaeologist A person who studies that which remains from a past human culture: art, tools, games, skeletons, buildings, trash, anything left behind.
arid Lacking moisture especially because of insufficient rainfall; dry.
arrastre Spanish grinding device to extract gold or other ores.
artifact An object
produced by human workmanship, especially a tool, weapon, or ornament
of archeological or historic interest.
atlatl Throwing stick
with a handle on one end and a pit or cup in the other, used in
combination with a spear. When the spear was thrown, the atlatl
remained in the hand thus extending the throwing arm.
banding To identify
birds and other small to medium sized animals, park researchers
attach plastic or metal bands to the animal's leg. Animals are recognized
by the color, pattern, and/or number on the band. Banding helps
researchers determine a species population and their home range.
basalt A hard, dense,
dark volcanic rock.
baseline Scientists study
nature and try to determine the way an ecosystem or a species functions
in its natural state. The baseline heart rate of a human is approximately
72 beats per minute.
behavior All organisms
interact with their environment and with other organisms. These
actions and responses are types of behavior.
benthic macroinvertebrates Bottom-dwelling
aquatic animals without backbones (invertebrates) that are visible
with the naked eye (macro).
monitor certain species populations to determine the health of the
environment. A species may serve as a good bio-indicator if it depends
on stable conditions. If environmental conditions change ever so
slightly, these species' populations may change dramatically. Watching
these populations helps scientists forecast broader environmental
problems such as climate change, ozone layer destruction, biodiversity
loss, and global air/water pollution.
property of a substance allowing it to be broken down by microorganisms
into simpler components (atoms, molecules, or compounds). The simpler
components are later used by other organisms.
study of how organisms interact with the physical landscape.
biological diversity The variety and variability of living organisms on the planet.
biological integrity Ecological
systems, such as forests, deserts, and oceans, are sometimes wea
(low integrity) and other times strong (high integrity).
biologists study plants, animals, and their ecosystems from the
smallest microbes to the largest forest. Studying life helps us
learn how systems work, understand our roles, and know how to limit
our impact on ecosystems.
biology The study
biotic Pertains to
bimodal Referring to two main
directions or influences.
blowout dunes A
general term for various saucer, cup, or trough-shaped hollows formed
by erosion on a pre-existing dune or other sand deposit. Vegetation
is often found on blowouts.
bore A wall of water
or wave, usually produced by tidal action. In Medano Creek, bores
are formed by the surge flow of the creek.
botany The study of
braided stream A
stream that repeatedly divides and recombines, forming many small
browse To eat twigs
and leaves of woody plants. Examples of browsers are deer, elk,
and moose. Browsers may eat grass and other softer growth when it's
available, turning to leaves and twigs in winter.
buffer Buffers are sponges in nature. Natural buffers hold water to prevent flooding, detoxify poisonous chemistry from the air and water, retain biological integrity during times of ecological stress, etc.
burrow A hole or excavation
in the ground made by an animal for shelter or habitation.
cambium Layer of
delicate tissue between the inner bark (phloem) and the wood (xylem),
that produces all secondary growth in plants and is responsible
for the annual rings of wood.
animals are disguised or hidden by their coloration, texture, and
morphology. Some predators are camouflaged to help them sneak up
on prey. Other animals use cammouflage to hide from predators.
canopy The layer formed
by leaves and branches of a forest's trees.
capillary action Through
the adhesive forces (sticky property) of water, water is able to
move through tiny spaces. With the help of capillary action, water
can seemingly defy gravity and move upwards through a tree to its
The four primary points of the compass: north, east, south, and
carnivore An animal
that feeds principally on the meat of other animals.
carrion The flesh of an animal that is already dead. Carrion provides food for many scavengers, from insects to black bears.
carrying capacity The maximum population of a given animal (or of humans) that an ecosystem can support without being degraded or destroyed in the long run. Carrying capacity may be exceeded, but not without lessening the system's ability to support life in the long run.
cavity A hole in a tree that can be used by animals for shelter.
channel Bed where a
natural stream of water flows.
chlorophyll The green pigment used by plants to capture the sun's energy in order to perform photosynthesis.
chromosomes A string-like part in the nucleus (brain) of a cell that stores the directions for the cell.
order to have knowledge of nature, we must classify nature into
subdivided groups. There are two schools of thought in the process
of scientific classification: the 'lumpers' and the 'splitters'.
Which are you?
climate The average pattern
of weather variation at a certain location, over a long period of
Clovis culture A population of people in existence approximately 11,000 to 12,000 years ago.
Clovis point Stone
spearheads used by early Native Americans. These points are approximately
four inches long, with a groove or flute along the face. They were
first discovered in Clovis, New Mexico.
process by which two or more organisms develop specialized traits
and characteristics in accordance with the other. Species which
have coevolved with each other usually depend on each other for
organism benefits while the other is neither harmed nor benefited.
Example: moss growing on trees benefits by being raised above forest
floor competition, while the tree doesn't get much out of the deal
community All the
plants and/or animals living together in a particular habitat are
connected by food chains, food webs, and other relationships. Groups
of species live in communities.
have a wide variety of strategies that help them gather resources.
They may compete with each other for resources such as water, food,
shelter, space, and mates. Through competition, species are strengthened
in their ability to cope with difficulties.
within the Asteraceae family are grouped together as composites.
The flower heads are typically comprised of many smaller flowers.
process by which a substance changes from a vapor or gaseous state
to a liquid form. a common example is water vapor in the air condensing
into droplets of liquid on the outside of a cold drinking glass.
The condensation of water vapor into clouds and precipitation is
a vital link in the water cycle.
cone A pine cone, a
fir cone, a spruce cone, etc. Cones are the structures in which
the pollen (male cone) or seeds (female cone) of a tree are contained.
They are also important food items for many forest birds and mammals.
confined aquifer A layer of water beneath the surface of the earth that is trapped below an impermeable upper layer. The confining layer is usually composed of clay.
conifer A cone-bearing tree which has needle-leaves or scales, and which is usually evergreen. Pine trees, fir trees, etc. are conifers.
conifers A predominately evergreen, cone-bearing tree, such as a pine, spruce, hemlock or fir.
intelligent use of natural resources; a philosophy of natural resource
management that ensures their availability in the future by not
being too greedy in the present. Conservation practices, by preserving
land for future use by humans (the technical definition of conservation),
has the secondary benefit of providing habitat and thus survival
for many plants and animals not commonly thought of as resources,
such as wildflowers and songbirds. Another definition is preserving
resources from decay or loss.
consumer A person
or other animal who uses things: a rabbit is a consumer of grass;
a fox is a consumer of rabbits; a person is a consumer of potato
chips, televisions, and automobiles. In nature, there a two kinds
of consumers, primary and secondary. The rabbit above, as a consumer
of plants, is a primary consumer. The fox is a secondary consumer.
(Since the rabbit is essentially made out of rearranged grass, the
fox, by eating the rabbit, is consuming the plants secondarily,
and so is a secondary consumer.)
crepuscular An animal that is most active during the hours of dawn and dusk. Deer are a good example.
crown The upper branches and foliage of an individual tree.
cycle A continuous
process; a circular flow of energy or nutrients.
data outlier Data that
does not fit the overall trend.
deciduous A plant (usually a tree) that loses its leaves during an unfavorable time of year. In North America, most broad-leafed trees are deciduous and lose their leaves in the autumn. In the tropical rainforests, however, deciduous trees drop their leaves during the dry season.
community of fungi, bacteria, insects, and other scavengers that
consume and break down dead plant and animal material into simpler
component atoms, molecules, and compounds, thereby making the materials
available to be used again. If you dismantled a house to use the
lumber again to build another house or other project, the ones who
did the dismantling could be considered the decomposers.
process of breaking dead plant and animal material into simpler
components (atoms, molecules, and compounds) so the materials can
be used again. You can think of it like taking a Lego set apart
into its component bricks. A dead tree turns into a log, which then
slowly turns (decays) back into the soil, out of which new plants
can grow, as a result of the process of decomposition.
density Density describes
the amount of space filled by an object. In ecology, if trees are
widely spaced upon the landscape, tree density is low. If the number
of bark beetles per acre is above normal, bark beetle density is
high. In chemistry and geology, density usually describes the amount
of mass per volume.
dichotomous key Botanists
and other biological scientists use dichotomous keys to identify
species. These keys use characteristic-based 'yes' or 'no' questions
to identify species, beginning with generic traits and becoming
dicot Referring to
plants whose seedlings have two seed leaves, for example a bean.
disk flower Some
composite flowers have ray flowers along the margins and disk flowers
in their centers. Disk flowers usually have petals which are reduced
in size or tubular in shape.
dispersal In plants,
the method in which seeds are distributed. Wind, water, and animal
transport are three common methods of seed dispersal.
dissolved oxygen Aquatic
life depends on oxygen to breathe, as does all life. But for oxygen
to be available in water, it must be dissolved first. Oxygen dissolves
in water when tiny air bubbles are trapped by churning river rapids
or waterfalls, and as a byproduct of aquatic plant photosynthesis.
Rivers that have excess amounts of nutrients can become low in dissolved
oxygen, due to overuse by microorganisms.
diurnal Describes an animal that is most active during hours of daylight. Humans and most birds are good examples.
diversity A single
unit made up of many different individuals. A neighborhood having
people of many different nationalities and races living in it is
diverse. A natural community having many different kinds of plants
and animals living in it is also diverse. In nature, diversity is
important not only aesthetically, but also in terms of survival.
A community weak in diversity (i.e. having few or only one kind
of organism in it) can be devastated if something affects that population.
Many modern farms, for example, are vulnerable to attack by insects
and disease because of their huge areas of single types of plants.
Diversity allows some species to flourish even if others are negatively
affected. Although diversity is important, healthy ecosystems must
have a balance between high diversity and low diversity. If an ecosystem
is too diverse, vital ecosystem processes can lose their functionality.
process by which wild animals are tamed for human use. Animals such
as dogs, pigs, cows, and sheep were domesticated from their wild
relatives by humans thousands of years ago.
The most abundant, prevalent, or influential species in a given
drainage A natural
system of drains that channel surface water.
ecological role Carpenters,
bakers, grocers, doctors, and waste recyclers all have very important
roles within your community. It would be very difficult for your
community to survive without many of these roles. Could you do without
a mechanic? How about a farmer? Organisms within ecosystems have
roles too. Look in any ecosystem and you will find farmers (plants),
landscapers (grazers), lawyers (predators), teachers (processes)
home builders (trees), water treaters (wetlands), food transporters
(fish), waste recyclers (bacteria), and many more. What is your
role within the ecosystem?
ecology The study
of the relationships of living organisms to their environment.
ecosystem A dynamic
interacting system made up of living organisms and all the components
of their nonliving environment. Ecosystems are linked together by
processes such as energy and nutrient flow.
growth with little waste. Intact ecosystems are highly efficient.
Young ecosystems are much more wasteful with their use of energy.
endemic A species
that is unique to an area; found nowhere else.
internal skeletal structure, consisting of cartilage and bones,
found in vertebrates.
the living and nonliving things, such as plants, animals, soil,
weather, etc., that affect the existence of anything in that community.
eolian deposit Wind-deposited
material or sediment.
eolian Geologic features
formed by the wind. Sand dunes are examples of an eolian stucture.
erode To wear away
at something, as water erodes a rock.
erosion The removal of soil and/or rock by wind or water. Although a natural process, it can nonetheless be very damaging if it occurs too rapidly.
evaporation The process of a substance changing from a liquid form into a vapor. If a bowl of water is left out, it will eventually seem to disappear as the visible liquid changes into invisible water vapor. The evaporation of water is a vital link in the water cycle.
external skeletal support found on the outside of an insect or other
exotic Foreign species
or matter that did not originate in a landscape. In botany, exotic
plants are those that have been carried to an area (usually by humans)
from a distant location. In geology, exotic rocks are those that
are not of the local bedrock and have arrived to a terrain by a
force such as ice sheet movement.
extinct Something that is no longer in existence.
farm A piece of land used to produce plants or animals for human use.
fault A break in the
continuity of a rock formation, caused by a shifting or dislodging
of the Earth's crust.
fauna A list of the
animals living in a particular ecosystem.
fecundity The number
of and viability of a species' offspring.
feedback To maintain
efficiency and stability, all natural systems recycle their waste
products. Healthy ecosystems re-feed their wastes back into the
flavinoids A group
of aromatic compounds found in plants, usually as pigments, such
flora A list of the
plants living in a particular ecosystem.
flow In hydrology, the
quantity of water moving through a river or stream during a period
of time. Traditionally, water is calculated in cubic feet per second
Folsom Culture A
population of people in existence during the late Paleo-Indian period.
Folsom point These
points are smaller and were created more recently than Clovis Points.
They have a long groove or flute running up each side and were first
discovered in Folsom, New Mexico.
food chain A series
of plants and animals linked together by their food relationships.
An example of a three-part food chain is: grass eaten by a rabbit,
which is eaten by a fox. In nature, food chains rarely exceed four
or five links.
food web The complex
arrangement of who-eats-who in an ecosystem. Food chains are linked
together to form food webs.
forest floor The layer of decomposing material that covers the soil in a forest.
forest A diverse community
of plants and animals in which trees are the most conspicuous members.
fungus A group of
plants that includes mushrooms and molds. These organisms decompose
organic material, returning nutrients to the soil.
genetics The study
of genes and their passage through generations and adaptations.
genus A classifcation
category within the scientific taxonomy of organisms. The genus
category is more specific than family and more general than
geology The science and
study of the Earth, its composition, structure, physical properties,
history, and the variety of processes that shape or affect it.
alteration of a land surface by a massive movement of ice.
granite A coarse-grained
igneous rock consisting mostly of the minerals quartz and feldspar.
seeds") A type of vascular plant which is more primitive than
the flowering plants (angiosperms). Gymnosperms commonly have seeds
within a cone.
habitat Where an
organism lives in an ecosystem and finds all it needs to survive;
the native environment of an animal or plant.
hearth A location
or remains of a location where a fire was built.
herbivore An animal
that eats only plants.
nomadic method of subsistence whereby animals are hunted and plants
are gathered for food.
is the study of water and the way it courses through landscapes,
geology, and living things.
igneous One of the three
main rock types. Igneous rocks are formed when molten rock solidifies.
indicator species See
insect A six-legged
arthropod usually with a hard exoskeleton. Many are capable of flight.
Examples are beetles, flies, grasshoppers, etc.
insecticide A chemical compound used to kill unwanted insects.
animal or plant that feeds primarily on insects is considered insectivorous.
Some bats are insectivorous mammals.
instar Many larval insects
go through successive molts (or instar stages) before they can mature
into an adult. For example, the Great Sand Dunes Tiger Beetle molts
three times before becoming a teneral adult.
all environments, various plants and animals depend on each other
either directly or indirectly for survival.
interdunal pond In
eolian environments such as sand dunes, interdunal ponds (which
are found among the dunes) are extremely important to life in these
dry sandy environments. Animals seek water and food in these locations.
natural and cultural history education, a term that defines the
role of the teacher as one who interprets the stories that are inherent
in a place, person, or idea.
invasive n. An exotic species that has few natural enemies and that can quickly multiply upon the landscape. v. To crowd out other species and quickly multiply upon the landscape.
inventory Scientists create knowledge-bases of species and components of a landscape in order to understand how nature is composed. By knowing what is in a landscape, scientists will know what there is to protect.
organism with an exoskeleton (such as insects, spiders, and crabs)
instead of a backbone.
labium The lower lip of an insect.
labrum The upper lip of an insect.
latitude Angular distance North and South of the equator, measured in degrees.
lichen A plant that is a combination of a fungus and an alga; commonly grows on trees or rocks.
life zone A life
zone is an area on the landscape which is characterized by a like
climate and a dominant set of species. On mountain ranges, life
zones transition vertically. For example, tundra is the highest
life zone, where no trees can survive the extreme temperatures,
fierce winds, and short growing season.
magnetite A black
mineral composed of iron oxide which is attracted to magnets.
mammal A group of
air breathing animals having four appendages, fur or hair, and mammary
glands. All but a very few are placental.
mandibles The main
grinding mouth-part of an insect.
mano A hand-sized, rounded
stone used to grind grains and seeds into flour. Manos are used
maxillae The second
pair of jaws in an insect's mouth, used for pushing food down the
mean Approximating the
statistical norm or average
metamorphic rock One
of the three main rock types. Metamorphic rocks have been changed
by great heat or pressure.
metate The larger,
lower grinding stone used to grind grains into flour. Metates are
used with manos.
meteorology The science
and study of the weather and of atmospheric processes.
midden A pile of refuse.
Archaeologists study middens left behind by ancient cultures to
learn more about their habits and lifeways.
animals move to a different location to find a better place to endure
seasonal changes, find food supplies, breed, nurse young, find adequate
space, etc. Migrations may be repeated within a species from year-to-year
and even from generation-to-generation.
mineral An inorganic
material, usually refers to homogeneous crystalline compounds.
monocot A plant whose
seedling has only one seed leaf. A grass is an example of this group.
Those having conspicuous flowers have their flower parts in threes.
monoculture The growth
or cultivation of only one species in a given area.
mordant From Latin
"to bite," mordants are chemicals used to fix pigments
into fabric during the dyeing process.
physical structure of an organism. The visible characteristics of
to or characterized by several different directions or influences.
mutation A change
in a hereditary characteristic that produces a new trait which can
mutualism A relationship
in which both organisms benefit from the arrangement. Example: bees
and apple trees have a mutually beneficial relationship in which
the bees get pollen and nectar, while the trees get pollinated.
mycelium The mat of very thin filaments that comprise a fungus.
native Any species
which is found in the region of its origin; any species that has
not been newly introduced by humans into an ecosystem.
needle The narrow
leaves of most coniferous trees are described as needles.
niche The role a particular species plays within its ecosystem; this includes its selection of food, water and shelter sources as well as other facets of its behavior.
nitrogen fixation All
plants need nitrogen to survive. Despite the fact that over 75%
of our atmosphere is composed of nitrogen, it is in an elemental
form that plants cannot use. Only certain kinds of bacteria associated
with certain plants can "fix" the nitrogen into a usable form, which
involves breaking the original molecule and adding hydrogen. These
bacteria do this for themselves of course, but a lot of the nitrogen
leaks out into the surrounding environment in different ways, where
it is quickly snatched up by plants. Growth in many forest systems
is limited by nitrogen levels. Manure is high in fixed nitrogen,
and thus, is useful as fertilizer.
that are most active during the hours of darkness are nocturnal.
Bats, mice, and moths are good examples.
nomadic Refers to
tribes or people who wander. Often these groups of people followed
their food sources. They moved in response both to the seasonal
maturation of edible plants and also to the seasonal migrations
nonnative A species of plant or animal which did not originate in its present location. The Norway rat is nonnative to America.
nutrient Any organic molecule needed by a plant or animal can be called a nutrient.
obsidian Rock composed
of black or banded volcanic glass, displaying curved, lustrous surfaces
when fractured. It was often used to make sharp tools.
that eat many different kinds of foods, including plants, insects,
and other animals.
opportunist An animal
or other organism that takes advantage of the most abundant or easily
obtainable source of food.
ore A metal, such as gold, in its raw state when it is extracted from the ground.
who studies birds.
parabolic dune A
dune in the shape of a parabola, with a concave windward slope and
a convex leeward slope. The trailing ends of parabolic dunes are
anchored by vegetation.
parasitism A relationship
in which one benefits, while the other is harmed. Example: a flea
is a parasite on a dog. The flea benefits by drinking the dog's
blood, but the dog, by losing blood and acquiring discomfort adn
potential disease, is harmed.
pellet Owls eat their
prey whole and after the meal is digested, they regurgitate undigested
bones and hair in the form of a pellet.
phloem Small tubes
that carry food from where it is photosynthesized in the leaves
to the roots and other places in a plant where it is used and stored.
conversion of light energy into chemical energy (sugars). This process
takes place in green plants, as they create their own food using
water, air, and sunlight.
pigment A wide variety
of organic compounds found in plants and animals which have color
(or are colorless in some cases) and perform various functions.
Chlorophyll is one pigment found in plants, which aids in the manufacture
pioneer A plant adapted
to rapid colonization of ground recently vacated by its previous
inhabitants. Pioneer plants usually grow very quickly and can often
prosper in poor soil. Most of the plants in a vacant lot are going
to be pioneer species, as are the plants trying to make a go of
it in your gravel driveway, on a logged hillside, or after a forest
fire has burned through an area.
plant A photosynthetic organism, usually multicellular.
playa In arid basins,
where rivers merge but do not drain, playas sometimes form. Playas
are flat areas that contain seasonal or year-to-year lakes that
often evaporate, leaving minerals behind.
epoch in earth history from 2-5 million to 10,000 years ago. A series
of glacial and interglacial periods affected the climate and vegetation
of the epoch.
movement of pollen in a plant from the stamen (male structure) to
a plant's ovary (female structure).
oldest and largest division of geologic time; includes all time
from the origins of the earth to about 600 million years ago.
water falls from the sky in the form of rain, snow, etc.
predator An animal
that depends on or preys on other animals for food.
predictive models Oceanographers,
physicists, ecologists, and other scientists input data and variables
from nature into models and computer programs to try to predict
the future of an ecosystem or natural process. Meteorologists do
this daily in their weather forecasts. These predictive models tend
to lose accuracy in time.
before written human history in a given area.
prescribed burn When
the health of a forest or grassland depends on fire and it is not
possible to allow the landscape to burn naturally (sometimes due
to homes or buildings nearby) forest ecologists carefully manage
an intentionally-lit fire.
keep from injury; maintain and protect.
prey An animal that is eaten by other animals.
proboscis The long drinking tube used by insects like the butterfly.
processes The 'action verbs' of an ecosystem. For example: consume, decompose, exchange, produce, transfer, recycle, reproduce, and succeed are all ecosystem processes. These processes unite biological communities together into a web of life. The process that binds human community together is communication.
producer In nature,
'producers' generally refer to organisms near the bottom of the
food chain, namely plants. They are producing organic material from
inorganic components like carbon dioxide and water.
productivity Land managers use the term productivity to describe the quantity of a resource or the amount of energy produced by an ecosystem. Land productivity is naturally higher in early succession ecosystems and lower in climax (undisturbed, old) ecosystems.
Pueblos Refers to
the group of Native Americans that began living in the Rio Grande
Valley some 1,000 years ago. It is also the term for the communal
village in which they lived.
radio-carbon dating A
method of absolute dating that was developed by William Libbey.
The method is based on the fact that all living organisms absorb
carbon from the atmosphere and once the organism dies, the carbon
begins to decay. Scientists can measure how many years have elapsed
since the organism lived. It is most accurate for dating wood, charcoal,
and bone up to 50,000 years old.
rain Liquid precipitation.
range The entire area
where a certain species exists.
ray flower Some
composite flowers have ray flowers along their edges and disk flowers
within the center. Ray flowers usually have a petal which radiates
outward from the composite flower's center, such as the petals on
reach A portion of
a stream or creek that is mapped and monitored by researchers.
recharge The addition of water
to an aquifer by natural infiltration; the replenishment of ground
water in a saturated zone by seepage of precipitation and runoff.
recycle A very sensible practice of using things over again instead of throwing them away.
reptile An ectothermic
(cold-blooded), air-breathing animal with scales and a backbone;
includes snakes, lizards, turtles, etc.
resource A source or supply of something.
respiration The metabolic process by which plants and animals convert food to energy. In humans, as with other organisms, breathing out carbon dioxide is a product of respiration.
rhizomes A root-like,
usually horizontal stem growing under or along the ground that sends
out roots from its lower surface and leaves or shoots from its upper
to the life or ecosystem around a stream, river, creek, or sometimes
rodent A very successful
group of mammals that have enlarged incisor teeth; includes rats,
mice, squirrels, beavers, etc.
roost Bats, owls, and
other flying creatures take rest in roosts. Owls roost by perching
upright in tree cavities and on branches. Bats hang from trees,
cave walls, tree bark, attics, and other safe hollows when roosting.
sabkha Sabkha is an
Arabic name for a salt-flat ordinarily found near sand dunes. These
relatively flat and very saline areas of sand or silt form just
above the water-table, where the sand is cemented together by evaporite
salts from seasonal ponds.
saltation The bouncing
or 'leaping' movement of sand grains caused by the wind.
sample A portion of
a whole that is chosen to represent the whole in an experiment.
sand Loose, granular,
gritty particles, resulting from eroded rock. Sand particles are
finer than gravel and coarser than dust.
sapwood The complex vascular system within a tree through which water and minerals are transported and distributed.
scat The excrement of an animal.
are opportunists who search for or take advantage of useful dead
organic material; usually described as a member of the decomposer
community, but not all scavengers always consume carrion. A coyote,
for example, will kill a rabbit, but will also take advantage of
a dead deer it may happen across. It doesn't behave as a scavenger
when hunting the rabbit, but it does when feeding on the dead deer.
sediments Loose material
deposited by wind, water, or glaciers.
sedimentary rock One
of the three main rock types. Sedimentary rocks were formed by the
accumulation of layers of silt, sand, mud, stones, etc. on the bottom
of a body of water or on the land by wind. Geologists can tell a
lot about what happened in the past by examining these layers, how
they are distributed, what is in them, etc.
seed The reproductive
part of the plant. May (as in apples) or may not (as in grasses)
be inside a fruit. Seeds sometimes habe wings, barbs, or other means
especially trees, that have the ability to grow in low-light conditions
are considered shade-tolerant. Many late-succession tree species
fare well due to their love of shade and can become the dominant
species in a forest ecosystem.
silt Rock material composed of fine mineral particles intermediate in size between sand and clay.
snags Standing dead
species A group of
organisms different from all others in that they do not interbreed
with any other groups.
specific heat The amount
of heat it takes for a substance or material to be raised one degree
C; a measurement of a material's capacity to store thermal heat.
spore The reproductive
'seed' from fungi such as mushrooms and lower plants such as ferns
and mosses. Some spores are indigestible, so are often distributed
by traveling for awhile in the gut of the animal that ate the mushroom.
Many spores are small enough to waft away on the wind, sometimes
traveling hundreds or even thousands of miles in the upper atmosphere.
stability Ecosystems tend toward stability. If not, trees would grow at angles to the earth, deer populations would spread like wildfire across the globe, and mountains unimpeded by erosion or gravity would thrust into space.
stomata Stomata are
small holes on the underside of a leaf through which water is transpired.
On needle-bearing trees such as spruce, pine, and fir, large rows
of stomata can be seen as the white stripes on the underside and/or
top of each needle.
stylets Sharp appendages
on an insect, used for piercing and sucking.
subalpine zone The
area between the continuously forested montane zone and the high
elevation alpine zone. Usually very park-like in appearance, characterized
by a mixture of alpine and forest shrubs and herbs interspersed
with patches of trees.
ecosystems and plant communities go through what scientists call
succession. In the early stages of succession, bare ground is colonized
by pioneer species. Pioneer species can quickly populate areas which
are low in nutrients and high in sunlight. As the ecosystem matures,
successive stages of plant and animal species inhabit the landscape.
Mature ecosystems, such as old-growth forests, are often low in
biological diversity, but high in process integrity.
wildland fires have been stopped by human methods, fire ecologists
consider natural fires to have been suppressed in that landscape.
Fire suppression can sometimes lead to an extremely hazardous situation,
as downed and dead wood accumulates and increases the possibility
of a disastrous, unnaturally hot fire.
surface tension The
attractive forces between water molecules creates what is called
surface tension. Surface tension creates a strong boundary between
the air and water, which allows some insects to walk on water and
keeps water from evaporating too quickly.
surge To rise high
or move as if in waves.
survey an area to record an organized, detailed set of information
on the nature of what they are exploring.
symbiosis A relationship
in which plants and/or animals live together in some interconnected
manner. There are different ways symbiosis can happen: parasitism,
commensalism, and mutualism. Most organisms function under a varied
combination of all three symbiotic methods during different phases
of their life cycle.
in general is a systematic approach to discovery. Systematic sciences
follow logical, consistent, and ordered methods.
talus Where mountains have crumbled and vegetation has not yet taken hold, slopes of talus (large rocks) and scree (small, loose rocks) remain.
taxon Similar to the
word "species," but used to describe a more general, less specific
group of organisms; plural, taxa. Taxonomy refers to a system of
teneral adult The
stage of maturity after the last molt, when an insect has taken
the adult form, but has not matured enough to be able to reproduce.
territory An area
within the range of an individual animal that it will defend against
intruders. For example, a fox might range over an area of several
square miles, but only defend a small area near its den, and then
only when it has young. You might range over an entire city and
beyond, but only defend your own property or maybe only the house.
You too will become much less tolerant of intruders (i.e. defend
a larger territory) if you have children around.
thorax The thorax
is the middle section of an insect. It is where an insect's six
legs and wings attach to the body.
trait A distinguishing
characteristic of an organism that makes it what it is.
transect A narrow
strip along which researchers count organisms within communities
to determine species populations and variability.
is the loss of water vapor from a plant through small holes (stomata)
in leaves or needles. This process allows the plant to release water
that has been absorbed by the roots and transported through the
rest of the plant. Transpiration is one way water is cycled back
into the atmosphere.
treeline The elevation
where the trees end and subalptine or alpine meadows begin. The
elevation of treeline varies with latitude and climate.
trophic levels Referring
to the hierarchy within the food chain. Because energy is lost in
the form of heat at each level within the food chain and the quantity
of life that can be supported becomes smaller at each level, trophic
levels are usually visualized as a pyramid. All biological systems
are typically composed of four trophic levels: producers, herbivores,
small carnivores, and large carnivores.
trough In the dunes,
long narrow depressions between ridges of sand.
An aquifer with no confining, impermeable geologic structure above
the saturated layer (the water table forms the upper boundary of
the aquifer); an aquifer containing water that is not under pressure.
species of animal is discovered but there is no published scientific
description of a species yet.
to one main direction or influence.
proportion or ratio of organisms within a community. Instead of
counting each and every organism, scientists measure the variability
of populations to look for change over time. In your class, student
variability may be four girls for every three boys.
variable In the
scientific method, variables are the different parts or characteristics
in nature. In the science of fire ecology, for instance, fuel, vegetation
type, brush, tree size, density, species, and climate are all variables
that affect how fire plays out its role in a given landscape.
plants contain tubing that pumps sugars, nutrients, and water through
their tissues. Non-vascular plants, like mosses and liverworts,
have poorly developed fluid transportation systems.
velocity Speed or rate of movement.
vocalization A term used to describe sounds made by birds and other animals. As with humans, vocalizations are produced to communicate within and among species.
water cycle The
process by which water keeps getting used over and over again. Very
basically, water cycles from the ocean up into the sky. The clouds
then travel over land, where they drop their load of water, which
flows back to the sea.
watershed A topographical
basin or drainage that funnels water into one major river, lake,
water body, or other location.
waypoint A specific location,
often designated by a set of coordinates and stored in a GIS (Geographic
Information System) database.
areas are natural areas that are managed to maintain their primeval
character and influence, without permanent improvements or human
habitation. The National Wilderness Preservation System protects
legislated Wilderness areas managed by a variety of federal agencies,
including the National Park Service.
refers to large wild animals like deer, mice, birds, etc. that have
not been domesticated for human use. The term is generally not used
to describe smaller animals like insects.
wind regime The pattern
of winds in a given location, sometimes illustrated by a wind rose
Glossary modified and expanded from original text
supplied by teachers Tom Butler and Lori Cooper.