Glossary

Aquifer
An underground layer of earth or rock that stores water.

Biodiversity
The variety and interdependence of all living things. Biodiversity includes all living organisms, the genetic differences among them, the communities, cultures, habitats and ecosystems in which they evolve and coexist, and the ecological and evolutionary processes that support them.

Carbon monoxide
A highly poisonous gas formed by the incomplete combustion of gasoline and other carbon-based materials.

Carnivore
An organism that eats meat.

Community, biological
All the species living together in an area.

Conservation
The management and protection of the natural world.

Demographics
The study of populations.

Development
In economic terms, the creation of industries in an area which allow a higher standard of living for the human inhabitants.

Dispersal
The movement of organisms to new areas of habitat.

Ecology
The relationships between organisms and their environments, and the study of those relationships.

Ecoregion
A relatively large area of land or water that contains a geographically distinct assemblage of natural communities.

Endangered
In danger of extinction in the foreseeable future.

Environment
All the external factors that affect an organism during its lifetime.

Estuary
A place where fresh (non-salty) water enters the sea, such as at a river mouth.

Food web
The interconnected group of organisms through which energy, in the form of food, is passed. An entire food web includes all the interconnected feeding relationships in an ecosystem.

Fragmentation, habitat
When contiguous areas of habitat are divided into smaller pieces by development, agriculture, or roads.

Global Positioning System (GPS)
A system of satellites, computers, and receivers that can determine the location (latitude and longitude) of a receiver on Earth.

Habitat
The environment where an organism can and does live.

Herpetology
The study of reptiles and amphibians.

Inbreeding
The mating of closely genetically related individuals.

Introduction
The intentional or unintentional escape or placement of a species into an ecosystem as a result of human activity.

Invasive species
A species that is nonnative to an ecosystem, and whose introduction causes economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.

Invertebrate
An animal without a backbone.

Native species
A species that historically occurred or currently occurs in an ecosystem other than as a result of an introduction.

Nonnative species
A species that has not historically occurred in an ecosystem, but does occur as a result of its introduction to that ecosystem. Also called alien species, exotic species, or introduced species.

Ozone
A poisonous form of oxygen that is produced by the reaction of certain pollutants in the lower atmosphere. Also found in the upper stratosphere.

Population
A group of organisms of one species, occupying a defined area and usually isolated from similar groups of the same species.

Predator
An organism that hunts and eats other organisms.

Prey
Organisms that are hunted and eaten by predators.

Radio tracking
Measuring the movement of an organism via the transmission of radio waves from a transmitter on the animal to a receiving station for recording and analysis. Also called radio telemetry.

Range
The area naturally occupied by an individual, population, or species.

Species
A group of individuals, usually identifiable by a set of distinctive features, with a unique evolutionary history. Classically, the members of a species can interbreed only with each other to produce fertile offspring.

Sprawl
The haphazard, low-density spread of development.

Threatened
Populations or species likely to become endangered in the near future.

Vernal pool
A depression in the earth lacking a permanent aboveground outlet which fills with water temporarily as a result of rain or snowmelt.

Watershed
The area of land that collects all the rainwater that flows into a given river or stream.
Wetland
A permanently moist lowland area such as a swamp or marsh.
Wildlife corridor
Segments of land that connect two habitats that are fragmented from one another.
Wildlife crossing
A structure that facilitates animals moving from one fragmented habitat to another, such as a pass over or under a highway.