NV APES -Living World


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A set of relationships between various biotic resources. They vary in size and should be sustainable in order to carry on from generation to generation.


Source: http://forest.mtu.edu/kidscorner/ecosystems/definition.html


A collection of similar species of organisms that all live in the same area.


Source: AP Environmental Textbook 


Different species of organisms that interact with each other and live in the same area at the same time.


Source: AP Environment Textbook

Ecological Niche

The role or job that each individual organism plays in an ecosystem.


Source: http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Ecological_Niche

Fundamental Niche

The full potential of factors that an organism could utilize if there were no competition among species.


Source: http://www.science-dictionary.com/definition/fundamental-niche.html

Realized Niche

This term is included in the fundamental niche and describes the role an organism plays with the inclusion of limiting factors in the environment.


Source: http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Realized_niche


A location or place where an organism or species lives.


Source: AP Environmental Textbook

Decidous Forest 

Forests that have the characteristic of trees that lose their leaves seasonally. They grow in areas with a moderate temperature that change with the seasons. They have long summers and cold, moderate length winters. They also have abundant precipitation. Vegetation includes: oak, hickory, and maple trees.



Source: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/deciduous+forest

Tropical Rainforest

A type of biome that is characterized by almost constant rainfall and a warm climate that allows many varieties of plants to grow. Trees usually have short roots and large bases and the soil is covered with leaf litter. Examples of vegetation: broadleaf evergreen plants.


Source: http://www.science-dictionary.com/definition/tropical-rainforest.html


A type of biome that has a dry climate in summer and freezes during the winter. There are many types of grasses and shrubs. Another name is a prairie.


Source: http://www.everythingbio.com/glos/definition.php?word=grassland


Located in the Subarctic and contains  varieties of coniferous evergreen forests. They are south of some tundra areas and in the north part of the Northern Hemisphere.


Source: http://www.allwords.com/word-taiga.html


Also known as a polar grassland, and characterized by below freezing temperatures for most of the year. Precipitation is in very small amounts throughout the year. They are present in places such as Alaska and contain only small shrubs for vegetation.


Source: AP Environmental Textbook


Also known as temperate shrublands and located in many coastal regions that border a desert. They have long rainy winters and fogs during the spring and fall. They are characterized by dense growths of low-growing evergreen shrubs. they also have long, dry summers.


Source: AP Environmental Textbook


In this biome, precipitation is exceeded by evaporation. They have dry soil and hardly any vegetation. Plant species include: cacti, small shrubs, etc. They take up 30% of Earth’s land surface.


Source: AP Environmental Textbook

Aquatic Life Zones: Lakes and Ponds (Freshwater)

Littoral: the area nearest to the shore. It is warm and contains the greatest amount of plant and animal life. Light shines all the way through it.

Limnetic: Photosynthesis occurs here and the area is dominated with phytoplankton and freshwater fish.

Profundal: This water is colder and photosynthesis cannot occur. Oxygen levels are low and only certain adapted fish live here.

Benthic: The bottom of the lake or pond. It contains low oygen and is cold. Decomposers and detritus feeders are found here.


*Note* Ponds are usually too small to have distinct life zones. Rivers and stream also possess similar qualities to the lakes.


Source: AP Environmental Textbook,;http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/exhibits/biomes/freshwater.php

Aquatic Life Zone: Oceans

Coastal: This area may contain coral reefs and contains warm and nutrient rich water. Most of the plant and animal life is here.

Euphotic: Sunlight can penetrate here and photosynthesis occurs.

Bathyal:;this area is darker and colder. Forms of nekton live here.

Abyssal: The deepest part of the ocean. It is very dark and cold and hardly any species (unless adapted) can survive.


Source: AP Environmental Textbook


The area where a river meets the sea. Saltwater mixes with freshwater and coastal wetlands are present.


Source: APES textbook

Coral Reef

Located in the coastal waters of an ocean, these areas are formed by polyps and contain vast amounts of biodiversity. However, many of these areas are depleting quickly.


Source: APES Textbook

Mangrove Forests

These areas are characterized by dense trees with large, long roots near the waterside and grow along 70% of silty coastlines in tropical and subtropical biomes.


Source: APES Textbook

Intraspecific Competition

This type of competition occurs between members of the same species. It is important in limiting population size of the given species.



Interspecific Competition

This type of competition is between 2 or more different species over specific limiting resources. This helps with the evolution of the different species.



Competitive Exclusion/ Gause’s Principle

This theory states that if two species are using the same resource, they cannot coexist together.


Source: http://knol.google.com/k/competitive-exclusion-gause-s-principle-and-limiting-similarity#


A relationship between organisms in which one organism hunts and kills the other (the predator). The victim is called the prey.


Source: http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Predation


A relationship between organisms in which both benefit and help eachother survive.


Source: APES Textbook


In this form of relationship, one organism benefits from another organism. The organism that does not benefit is not harmed in any way.


Source: APES Textbook


In this relationship between organisms, one species benefits and the other species is harmed or killed.


Source: APES Textbook

Law of Tolerance

States that the distribution as well as the number and presence of a species is dependant upon whether the levels of 1 or more factors fall within the tolerable range of the species. It is similar to the limiting factor principle.


Source: environment.nelson.com/0176169040/glossary.html

Law of the Minimum

States that the availability of specific nutrients that are present in the minimal amount determine the growth and development of an organism.


Source: http://www.biology-online.org/dictionary/Law_of_the_minimum

Range of Tolerance

The amounts of different conditions in which a species can survive. This limits the population growth and is affected by limiting factors.


Source: http://library.thinkquest.org/28343/rangtole.html

Keystone Species

A type of species that play many roles that affect the other organisms in an ecosystem. An example would be the sea otter.


Source: APES Textbook

Indigenous Species

A type of species that originated from a specific location and was not introduced to another. An example would be the Red squirrel in England.


Source: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_an_indigenous_species_or_animal

Invasive species

These species are not indigenous to an area and are brought to a location from other countries, continents, etc, They spread quickly and often endanger the indigenous species.


Source: APES Textbook.

Foundational Species

These species play a huge role in building and shaping a particular community. They enhance habitats and give benefits to other species. An example would be the American alligator.


Source: APES Textbook.

Indicator Species

These species are very sensitive and are utilized to help predict environmental damage and toxins in water or land. Many amphibians are great indicator species.


Source: http://www.epa.gov/bioiweb1/html/indicator.html

Natural Capital (Natural Resources vs. Natural Services)

Natural Resource Examples: Air, Water, Soil, Land, Biodiversity


Natural Service Examples: Pest Control, Air Purification, Soil Renewal, Water Storage


Source: APES Textbook

Renewable vs. Nonrenewable resources

Renewable: These resources replenish themselves quickly unless they are used up faster than they can naturally replenish: examples= forests, fresh air, wild animals.

Nonrenewable: These resources only are present in a fixed quantity. They are depleted faster than they are formed and often are used up. Examples= energy resources, nonmetallic mineral resources.


Source: APES Textbook

Autotrophs: Photosynthesis vs. Chemosynthesis

Autotrophs can provide food for themselves in various ways:


Photosynthesis: a process in which, plants use sunlight as energy to produce sugar as food.


Chemosynthesis: a process in which certain microbes create energy for themselves by intervening with chemical reactions.



Source: http://www.pmel.noaa.gov/vents/nemo/explorer/concepts/chemosynthesis.html


Heterotrophs: Cellular Respiration

Heterotrophs are organisms that cannot produce their own source of food.


Cellular Respiration: The process by which organisms use and release energy that is stored in the chemical, glucose.


Source: http://faculty.clintoncc.suny.edu/faculty/michael.gregory/files/bio%20101/bio%20101%20lectures/cellular%20respiration/cellular.htm


Anything that can make its own food, such as plants. They are also the base of a food chain.


Source: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_definition_of_producer

Net Primary Productivity (NPP) vs Gross Primary Productivity (GPP)

NPP: The amount of energy that goes through photosynthesis and becomes chemical energy. It only includes the energy that goes to new plant growth.


GPP: This consists of the same aspects of NPP but includes the amount of chemical energy that is used in respiration.


Source: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_difference_between_gross_primary_production_and_net_primary_production

Consumers (The different types)

Primary: These organisms are close to the bottom of the food chain and feed on plants (Herbivores). An example would be a bunny.

Secondary: These organisms feed off of other consumers, the primary consumers. They are called carnivores. An example would be certain types of snakes.

Tertiary: These are at the very top of the food chain and are carnivores. They feed off of secondary consumers. An example would be a hawk.

Detrivores: These are consumers that feed off of decomposing materials and dead animals. An example would be a vulture.

Decomposers: A type of organism that gets energy from dead creatures and help to break down organic molecules into simple compounds. Examples include fungi and some bacteria.


Sources: APES Textbook,http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/tertiary+consumer


Trophic Level

This is determined by the position that an organism occupies in a food chain. Here is the pyramid diagram:[image]

Source: http://schoolworkhelper.net/2011/01/energy-movement-in-ecosystems-trophic-energy-pyramid/

Food Chain

The organization for which each organism get its food. In each one, plants and other producers are at the base and are followed by different consumers.


Source: http://www.vtaide.com/png/foodchains.htm and http://alaska.fws.gov/fire/role/unit1/background.cfm



Energy Pyramid

This is the picture representation of the trophic levels. It explains that each organism on the pyramid recieves only 10% of the energy of the organism that it consumed.



Food Web

This is a type of diagram that explains the eating patterns of different organisms. It shows what organism eats the other organism.


Source: http://www.eoearth.org/article/Food_web


This is the term for the eventual buildup of substances from successive trophic levels.


Source: http://www.greenfacts.org/glossary/abc/biomagnification-biomagnify.htm


The appearance and increase of pollutants from the environment and its deposit on the 1st organism of the food chain.


Source: http://www.marietta.edu/~biol/102/2bioma95.html

1st and 2nd Law of Thermodynamics

1st law: States that energy cannot be created nor destroyed. However, the energy can be transferred from one form to another.


2nd law: States that even though energy cannot be destroyed, the amount of potential energy is always less over a period of time. Also, energy transfer always moves in one direction.


Source: http://www.emc.maricopa.edu/faculty/farabee/biobk/biobookener1.html


A variey of all different life forms on Earth. It includes plants, animals, etc.


Source: http://cnx.org/content/m12151/latest/

Species Evolution

The changes and adaptations that occur throughout a species. This was part of Darwin’s original therories. It has be proven to not exist because species rely on other species to evolve.



Phylogenetic Tree

This is a type of diagram that portrays the diverse, evolutionary backgrounds of organisms.;
Here is an example:;



Natural Selection

A process in which a particular gene is reproduced in a further generation more frequently than another gene. This produces more adapted organisms in the future.


Source: APES Textbook

Gene Pool

The entire total of all the genes found in individuals of a certain population of species.


Source: APES Textbook

Hardy-Weinberg Principle

A theorem that predicts how the gene frequencies will get passed on from generation to generation and includes a set of assumptions. It is written mathematically as: p;+2pq+q;=1. The p’s and q’s represent the frequencies of alleles.



Microevolution: bottleneck effect vs founder effect.

Microevolution: tiny genetic changes that a population experiences.


Bottleneck effect: Occurs when a population decreases in size for at least one generation. This can limit genetic variation.


Founder effect: a loss of genetic variation that is due to a new population that is formed by only a small number of individuals that came from a large population.


Sources: APES Textbook,http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Founder_effect;;,http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_bottleneck_effect

Macroevolution and various related terms

Macroevolution: Characterized by longterm and large-scale evolution changes that groups of species endure.


Allopatric Speciation: This is the same thing as speciation through the concept of geographic isolation. As a species is isolated at different parts of the world, they evolve differently and produce different qualities.


Reproductive Speciation: Shows that species can evolve and change genetically through reproducing with others.

Sympatric Speciation: This does not require geographic distance to occur and reduces the gene flow. It describes how new species can evolve from a singular species.


Sources: APES Textbook,;http://www.evotutor.org/Speciation/Sp1A.html


Occurs when an entire population disappears and dies out.




This acronym describes the various factor that lead to the endangerment of species.


H: Habitat Destruction

I:;Invasive Species

P: Population

P: Pollution

O: Overharvesting



Ecological Succession

The process of observed changes in a species’ structure and ecological community over a specific period of time.


Source: http://www.psu.edu/dept/nkbiology/naturetrail/succession.htm

Primary vs Secondary Succession

Primary: The formation of a living community from a habitat that originally had no plant or animal life.










Secondary: The formation of a living community from a habitat that was previously established and may have been partially damaged.











Sources: http://cochranshalfacre.pbworks.com/w/page/30560637/5-Chukri,-Daniel-Primary-and-Secondary-succession and http://geowords.org/ensci/imagesbook/04_03_succession.swf

Pioneer Species

Typically very hard and tolerable plants. They are the 1st plant (or species) to colonize on previously abiotic places. They usually start the beginning of an ecological succession.


Source: http://www.websters-online-dictionary.org/definitions/pioneer+species?cx=partner-pub-0939450753529744:v0qd01-tdlq&cof=FORID:9&ie=UTF-8&q=pioneer+species&sa=Search

Climax Community: Components

A community of biodiversity that has reached a stable point. At extreme stability they are known as biomes. Components include: ecological components are in balance, the cycle of succession is complete, etc.


Source: http://www.bookrags.com/research/climax-community-wob/


This is an area of transition between 2 communities or species and contains similar and shared characteristics between the 2 communities.


Source: http://www.answers.com/topic/ecotone

Habitat Fragmentation

Usually occurs when humans interact negatively with the environment and breaks the habitats into smaller pieces.


Source: APES Textbook

Edge Effect

Characterized by the influence that 2 communities have on each other in ecotones.


Source: http://science.yourdictionary.com/edge-effect

Species Movement in and out of ecosystem

Species may venture into or out of an ecosystem for many reasons. For example, if an ecosystem is not providing the necessary resources and nutrients, a species will move out. If another ecosystem provides necessary resources, new species will move in.


Source: APES Textbook

Biogeochemical Cycles

Natural recylcing processes in the environment that replenish nutrients in chemical forms from the non-living to living organisms and back to the non-living environment.


Source: APES Textbook


Part of a biogeochemical cycle that can be a source or sink of different substances.


Source: marine.rutgers.edu/…/2010-09-20-Concept-of-BiogeochemicalCycles.ppt

Exchange Pool

A part of a biogeochemical cycle that is also known as a cycling pool. They include the exchages between the abiotic and biotic factors in an ecosystem.


Source: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/197735/exchange-pool

Residency Time

The term for the amount of time that a object remains in the same state until it is transformed into something else.


Source: http://www.science-dictionary.com/definition/residence-time.html

Law of Conservation of Matter

States that in any change (physical or chemical), matter can be neither created nor destroyed. It also states that the matter can be changed from one form to another.


Source: APES Textbook

The Water Cycle and Terms

Precipitation: Any different type or form of water that comes from the atmosphere and falls to the ground.




Groundwater: Water that is located under the Earth’s surface and has sunk into soil. It is stored in aquifers below the water table.


(APES Textbook)

Infiltration: The process by which water moves downward through the soil. ;(APES Textbook)


Runoff: Water from precipitation or other sources that flows across Earth’s surface and is not infiltrated.



Evaporation: The process by which liquid water is transformed into vapor (gas state) and is taken in by the atmosphere.



Transpiration: When water is absorbed by the roots of plants and passes through the leaves’ pores. The water is then released into the atmosphere and is evaporated.

(APES Textbook)



Carbon Cycle and Terms

Respiration: Any process that includes exchanges in gas types. Example: anaerobic respiration.



Photosynthesis: A process where plants combine sunlight, water, and carbon dioxide. The result is oxygen and sugar.



Decomposition: The process in which a compound object (complex) is broken down into its simplest and smallest elements.



Combustion: A chemical reaction that produces energy from a fuel and oxidizing agent. It forms energy in the formation of heat and light.



Sea-surface Gas Exchange: Gas is transferred from across the air and water.




Nitrogen Cycle and Terms

Nitrogen Fixation: The process by which Nitrogen is transformed into a compound by various legumes.



Nitrification: A process by which ammonia is transformed, first into nitrites, and then into nitrates.



Assimilation: A conversion of a nutrient into a form that can be used.



Ammonification: Converting organic nitrogen into a form of ammonia. The process is started by the actions of decomposers.



Denitrification: The process by which nitrates become nitrites and other forms. The process is started by the actions of microorganisms.






Phosphorus Cycle

Exists in the atmosphere as dust particles. Also, Phosphorus is found mainly in its oxidized state and is almost never found freely in nature. The cycle is very slow because almost all of the phosphorus is trapped in rocks and other substrates.;


Source: APES Textbook ,http://pangea.tec.selu.edu/~abancroft/es/3/523.html,;http://www.writework.com/essay/phosphorus-cycle



Sulfur Cycle and Terms

-Includes volcanic eruptions

-Sulfur is required by life forms for protein and vitamins

Combustion:;A chemical reaction that produces energy from a fuel and oxidizing agent. It forms energy in the formation of heat and light.