Ecosystems Vocabulary for Ecosystems Unit

Term Definition
mutualism a symbiotic relationship in which both species benefit from the association(win/win)
symbiosis any relationship in which two species live closely and interact
commensalism occurs when one species benefits from the association while the other is neither helped nor harmed(win/whatever)
parasitism occurs when one organism lives on or inside another organism and harms it (win/lose)
predator An organism that eats other organisms to live.
prey The organism that gets eaten.
community ALL living organisms in an area
population a group of the same species of organisms living in an area
environment Everything that surrounds an organism and influences it.
biotic factors living factors in an ecosystem
abiotic factors The non-living parts of an ecosystem such as soil, climate and rainfall.
habitat The physical place where an organism lives
climate An abiotic factor that describes overall weather in an area over a long period of time
ecosystem a system formed by the interaction of a community of organisms with their physical (abiotic) environment
biosphere part of Earth in which life exists including land, water, and air or atmosphere
producers …organisms that use sunlight directly to make food through a process called photosynthesis.
consumers …organisms that eat producers or other organisms for energy
decomposers organisms that get energy by breaking down the remains of dead organisms.
scavengers animals that feed on the bodies of dead organisms.
herbivore …, A consumer that eats only plants.
carnivore …, An animal that eats other animals
omnivore …, An animal that eats both plants and animals
food chain …, A series of steps in which organisms transfer energy by eating and being eaten
food web …, A community of organisms where there are several interrelated food chains
energy pyramid …, A diagram that shows the amount of energy that moves from one feeding level to another in a food web
limiting factors …when resources such as food, water or space become limited. Anything that limits (restricts) the size of a population
carrying capacity …the largest population that a given environment can support.
competition …when two or more individuals or populations try to use the same limited resource such as food.
primary consumer organisms that eat the autotrophs, examples include rabbits, squirrels, grasshoppers, deer
secondary consumer largely feeds on primary consumers, and can be split into two groups: omnivores and carnivores, carnivores eat entirely meat, while omnivores eat both plant based foods and meat. Examples of secondary consumers are: frog, snakes, and mice
tertiary consumer largely feeds on carnivores or secondary consumers, examples include: owls, seals, wolves, and sharks

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