Environmental Science Terms

Population Ecology

  • A branch of biology that deals with the numbers of a particular species found in an area and how and why those numbers change (or remain fixed) over time.
  • Study of populations and why their numbers change over time.

Population Density

The number of individuals of a species per unit area or volume at a given time.

Carrying Capacity

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!

order now

The maximum number of individuals of a given species that a particular environment can support for an indefinite period, assuming there are no changes in the environment.


Abbreviated as K

Environmental Limits/Resistance

Prevent indefinite reproduction.


Includes unfavorable food, water, shelter, predation, waste accumulation, competition, etc. 

Population Crash

An abrupt decline from high to low population density.


A population that overshoots the carrying capacity.

The probablity that an given individual in a population will survive to a particular age.

R-selected Species


K-selected Species


At least 3 characteristices of each.

R-Selected: small body size, early maturity, short life span, large broods, little or no parental care, mosquitoes and dandelions


K-selected: small broods, long life span, slow development, large body size, late reproduction, redwood trees and human beings

Food security
The condition in which people do not live in hunger or fear of starvation.
Food Insecurity
The condition in which people live with chronic hunger and malnutrition.

The ideas and customs of a group of people at a give period.


Passed on from generation to generation, evolves over time.

Gender Inequality
The social construct that results in women not having the same rights, oppourtunities, or privaleges as men.
Family Planning
Services that enable men and women to limit family size, safeguard individual health rights, and improve the quality of life for themselves and their children.
Population Growth Momentum
The potential for future increases or decreases in a population based on the present age structure.

A person who is in favor of population growth.

The process in which people increasingly move from rural areas to densely populated cities.
Urban Agglomeration

An urbanized core region that consists of several adjacent cities or megacities and their surronding developed surburbs.

Cities with more than 10 million inhabitants.
Urban Heat Island
Local heat buildup in an area of high population density.
Dust Dome

A dome of heated air that surronds an urban area and contains a lot of air pollution.

An urban area of abandoned vacant factories, warehouses, and residential sites that may be contaminated from past uses.
Compact Development
The design of cities in which tall, multiple-unit residential buildings are close to shopping and jobs, and all are connected by public transportation.
Land Use Planning
The process of deciding the best uses for undeveloped land in a given area.
Fossil Fuels

Combustible deposits in Earth’s crust, composed of the remnants (fossils) of prehistoric organisms that existed millions of years ago.


Coal, oil (petroleum), and natural gas are the trhee types of fossil fuels.

Desulfurization systems that are used in smokestacks to decrease the amount of sulfur released in the air by 90% or more.
Resource Recovery
The process of removing any material – sulfure or metals, for example – from polluted emissions or solid waste and selling it as a marketable product.
Structural traps
Underground geologic structures that tend to trap any oil or natrual gas if it is present.
Coal Gasification
The technique of producing a synthetic gaseous fuel (such as methane) from solid coal.
A liquid or gaseous fuel that is synthesized from coal and other naturally occurring resources and used in place of oil or natural gas.

An alternate form of the same element that has a different atomic mass.


Has a different number of neutrons but the same number of protons and electrons.

Nuclear Energy

The energy released by nuclear fission or fusion.

Nuclear Fission

The splitting of an atomic nucleus into two smaller fragments, accompanied by the release of a large amount of energy.

Nuclear Fussion

The joining of two lightweight atomic nuclei into a single, heavier nucleus, accompanined by the release of a large amount of energy.
Radioactive Half-life
The time required for one-half of a radioactive substance to change into a different material.