Global Enviro Change

That part of the environment comprised by nonliving physical surroundings.
Natural Selection
The process that enables individuals with traits that better adapt them to a specific environment to survive and outnumber other, less well-suited individuals.
Scientific Method
A process of observation, hypothesis development, and experimentation.
Perpetual Resource
A resource that originates from a source that is virtually inexhaustible, at least in time as measure by humans; examples include the solar energy, tides, falling water, and winds.
The separation of populations of plants and animals, originally able to interbreed, into independent evolutionary units (or species) which can no longer interbreed because of accumulated genetic differences.
Global Environment
The sum of all living organisms, the relationships among organisms, and the relationships between organisms and their physical surroundings.
Biocentric Worldview
A way of perceiving reality that recognizes an inherent worth in all life and maintains that humans are no more or less valuable than all other parts of creation.
Anthropocentric Worldview
A way of perceiving reality that places humans in a preeminent position that is both above, and separate from, the rest of nature.
Environmental Law
A law system organized to use all of the laws in a nation’s legal system to minimize, prevent, punish, or remember the consequences of actions that damage or threaten the environment.
External Costs
The harmful social or environmental effects of the production and consumption of an economic good that are not included in the market price of the good.
Frontier Ethic
Code of conduct based on the premises that resources are essentially unlimited, that exploration or human inventiveness will discover new resources to replace those resources that are depleted, and that technology will solve any problems arising from human exploitation of the environment.
Gross National Product
Total market value, in current dollars, of all goods and services produced by an economy during a year; compare net national product.
Human Development Index
An estimate of the average quality of life in a given country based on three indicators: life expectancy at birth, literacy rates, and real GNP per capita.
Natural Capital
Natural resources, such as energy and minerals, used to produce economic goods; see human capital.
Pure Command Economy
An economic system in which the government makes all decisions about what and how much to produce and how to distribute goods and services; also know as a centrally planned economy; compare pure market economy.
Pure Market Economy
An economic system in which buyers and sellers in the marketplace determine demand, supply, and price; the government does not interfere with the market; also known as pure capitalism; compare pure command economy.
The goal of ecological economics; a relationship between human systems and larger ecological systems, in which human individuals and cultures develop without destroying the diversity, complexity, or function of the ecological life support system.
The natural capital used to produce economic goods.
Self-nourishing organisms; given water, nutrients and a source of energy, they can produce the compounds necessary for their survival; they form the basis of the food web; also known as autotrophs; also known as producers.
The synthesis of organic compounds within an organism, with chemical reactions providing the energy source.
An organism that cannot produce its own food and instead relies on other organisms for its energy needs; a consumer eats by engulfing or predigesting the fluids, cells, tissues, or waste products of other organisms.
An organism that, through the external activities of enzymes, digests materials outside its body and then absorbs the predigested materials in its cells; see microconsumers.
A self-sustaining, self-regulating community of organisms interacting with the physical environment within a defined geographic area.
A process of nutrient enrichment of a lake, stream, or estuary by natural or human activities that set in motion a mix of physical, chemical, and biological changes that lead to the aging of a body of water.
Keystone Species
A species that has a significant role in community organization due to its impact on other species in the community.
An organism that feeds by ingesting or engulfing part or entire bodies of other organisms, living or dead; macroconsumers include herbivores, carnivores, omnivores, scavengers, and detrivores.
An organism that feeds on the waste products of living organisms or digest materials outside their bodies through the external activities of enzymes, and then absorb the predigested materials into their cells; also known as decomposers.
Microscopic floating plants and algae that function as the major producer in aquatic systems.
Primary Consumers
In a food chain, organisms that consume producers; also known as herbivores.
A self-nourishing organism; given water, nutrients and a source of energy, it can produce the compounds necessary for their survival; producers form the basis of food webs; also known as autotrophs.
Substances needed in trace amounts for the construction of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates.
Aerobic Respiration
A process requiring oxygen to release energy from food molecules.
Food Web
Interlocking food chains woven into complex associations that describe the feeding relationships among organisms in a community and the movements of energy and materials.
Hydrologic Cycle
All of the processes that account for the circulation of water through bodies of water, the atmosphere, and land.
Net Primary Productivity
The total amount of energy produced each year at the producer level minus what producers need for their own life processes; consequently, the net primary productivity is the amount of energy available to other organisms in the community.
The release of energy from food molecules.
Ten Percent Rule
The concept that, in general, 90 percent of available energy is lost as low-quality heat when members of one trophic level are consumed by members of another.
Biotic Potential
The maximum growth rate that a population could achieve, given unlimited resources and ideal environmental conditions
A symbiotic association of two species in which one benefits and the other neither benefits nor is harmed; compare with mutualism and parasitism.
Diversity-Stability Hypothesis
School of thought which suggests that biodiversity promotes resistance to environmental disturbances; compare with rivet hypothesis, redundancy hypothesis, and null hypothesis.
Also known as edge community; the area where two different communities meet, characterized by intense competition for resources and space
The complete ecological description of an individual species, including all the physical, chemical, and biological factors that the species needs to survive and fulfill its role in the community.
Pioneer Species
The first organisms that occur in primary succession; hardy organisms such as lichens and microbes that are capable of breaking down weathered rock and minerals to form soil; the initial species in a habitat after a major disturbance.
Secondary Succession
The regrowth that occurs after an ecosystem has been disturbed, often by human activity; in secondary succession, although some organisms are still present, the ecosystem is set back to an earlier successional stage; compare with primary succession.