Term Defintion
Abiotic Factors Non living parts of an ecosystem.
Adaptation An inherited trait that increases an organisms chance of survival and reproduction in a certain environment.
Ammonification Process in the nitrogen cycle where nitrogen fixing bacteria fix atmospheric nitrogen (NH3) and ammonium ion (NH4+)
Autotrophs Also known as producers, uses processes like photosynthesis or chemosynthesis to produce there own food
Biogeochemical cycle Cycles where nutrient atoms, ions, and molecules continuously cycle through air, water, rock, soil and living organisms.
Biosphere The thin layer surrounding the Earth were life exists.Extends approximately 8km above its surface and 8km below to the deepest part of the ocean.
Biotic Factors Living part of an ecosystem.
Carnivore Consumers that feed only on other consumers. Also referred to as a Tertiary consumer.
Chemosynthesis Process used by consumers to create more energy from the oxidation of inorganic molecules.
Climax Community The community that eventually forms if land is left undisturbed. The community changes in very small ways but te type of community stays the same.
Coevolution Occurs when two or more species evolve in response to each other.
Commensalism Relationship in which one species benefits and the other is neither harmed nor helped.
Community Group of interacting populations of different species. All of the living inhabitants of an ecosystem.
Competition Species interaction that occurs when two or more organisms of the same or different species tempt to seek the same limited resource.
Competitive Exclusion Principle If all the other factors are constant no two species that compete for the same resources can occupy the same niche.
Decomposer Consumers that get there food by breaking down dead organisms into simpler inorganic compounds, causing them to rot.
Denitrification Process in the nitrogen cycle where denitrifying bacteria convert excess nitrates (NO3') to nitrates (NO2") and then to nitrogen gas (N2).
Detritivore Consumers that feed on dead organic detritus and break down into smaller molecules.
Ecological succession Gradual change of the species composition in a given area over time.
Ecology The study of the interactions of organisms and there environment.
Ecosystem All of the different organisms living in a specific area, along with their physical environment.
Entropy Measure of the quantity of energy in a system that is not available to perform work.
Evolution Gradual change in the genetic makeup of a population over time.
Fitness Ability of an organism to survive and reproduce.
Food chain Sequence in which energy is transferred from one organism to the next as each organism eats one another.
Food web Diagram that shows the complex feeding relationships within an ecosystem.
Gene pool Consists of all genes in a populations off spring.
Ground water A layer of underground water that has seeped so far into the surface of the earth that it has reached a layer of rock or clay and cannot go any farther.
Habitat The physical location where a species lives.
Herbivore Consumers that feed only off plants. also known as primary consumers.
Heterotrophs Also known as consumers . needs to consume other organisms or organic material to obtain energy.
Host The organism a parasite lives in or on and takes its nourishment from.
Limiting factor principle States that too much or too little of any abiotic factor can limit or prevent growth of a population, even if all other factors are at or near the optimum range of tolerance.
Limiting factors A resource or condition that limits the growth or distribution of a population in an ecosystem.
Microevolution Small genetic changes that occur in a population over time.
Mutation Random changes in the structure / number of DNA molecules in a cell.
Mutualism Cooperative partnership between two species in which both species benefit.
Natural selection The idea that organisms better suited for there environment tend to survive and produce more offspring. also known as 'survival of the fittest'.
Niche The function of an organism in an ecosystem that include everything that affects its survival and reproduction.
Biome A group of ecosystems that have distinctive climates and organisms.
Omnivore Omnivores are consumers that feed on both plants and other consumers. Can be called a secondary consumer.
Organism An individual living thing.
parasite An organism that lives in or on another organism and feeds on it without immediately killing it.
Parasitism Relationship in which one organism benefits and the other organism is harmed.
Photosynthesis Metabolic process used by producers In which light energy is converted into chemical energy.
Pioneer species The first organisms to colonize and newly available area and start the process of succession.
Population Group of individuals of the same species living in the same area or interbreeding and sharing the same genetic information.
Precipitation Process by which vaporous water condenses into its liquid form and falls from the atmosphere. Rain, sleet or hail
Predation Species interaction where one organism kills and eats another organism.
Predator An organism that preys upon other organisms.
Prey An organism that is killed for food.
Primary succession Gradual establishment of biotic communities on a ground surface that does not contain life.
Secondary succession Gradual change of the species composition of an ecosystem over time occurring in communities with different species developing in places with soil or bottom sediment.
Species A group of organisms that share common genes and are able to produce fertile offspring.
Surface water Water that is above ground in lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams.
Theory of evolution Theory that states all species descend from earlier, ancestral species.
Transpiration Process by which water evaporates from plants into the atmosphere.
Trophic Levels Feeding levels for organisms within an ecosystem.
Nitrification Process in the nitrogen cycle where nitrifying bacteria convert ammonia (NH3) and ammonium (NH4+) into inorganic nitrogen molecules: Nitrates(N)3-) to nitrites (NO2")

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