Environmental Science Exam 1

Environment
all of the surrounding things, conditions, and influences affecting the growth or development of living things.

Environmental Science
the study of how the natural world works, how our environment affects us, and how we affect our environment. It is an interdisciplinary field.

Natural Resources
various substances and energy sources we need to survive.

Renewable Natural Resources
sunlight, wind, and wave energy are essentially inexhaustible while others, such as timber, water, and soil can be replenished by the environment over periods of time varying from months to decades.

Nonrenewable Natural Resources
resources such as mineral ores and crude oil are formed more slowly than we use them

Ecosystem Services
Important environmental benefits, such as clean air to breathe, clean water to drink, and fertile soil in which to grow crops, that ecosystems provide

Agricultural Revolution
the time when human beings first domesticated plants and animals and no longer relied entirely on hunting and gathering

Industrial Revolution
the change from an agricultural to an industrial society and from home manufacturing to factory production, especially the one that took place in England from about 1750 to about 1850.

Fossil Fuels
a nonrenewable energy resource that forms in the Earth’s crust for millions of years

Tragedy of the Commons
situation in which people acting individually and in their own interest use up commonly available but limited resources, creating disaster for the entire community

Ecological Footprint
A way of measuring how much of an impact a person or community has on the earth. Someone who uses more natural resources will have a bigger footprint than someone who uses less.

Environmentalism
A social movement dedicated to protecting the earth’s life support systems for us and other species.

Observational/Descriptive Science
Scientific work based on information gathering.

Hypothesis-Driven Science
Scientists know about a subject and ask specific questions using the scientific method.

Scientific Method
1. Observations 2. Questions 3. Hypothesis 4. Prediction 5. Experiment

Variables
Independent-manipulative variable
Dependent- depends on the Independent

Theory
a tentative theory about the natural world

Paradigm
a dominant view regarding a topic

Relativists
Those who believe moral principles are always dependent on the particular situation.

Universalists
those who believe that some fundamental ethical principles are universal and unchanging. In this vision, these principles are valid regardless of the context or situation

Environmental Ethics
a search for moral values and ethical principles in human relations with the natural world.

Anthropocentrism
the belief that humans hold a special place in nature; being centered primarily on humans and human affairs.

Biocentrism
The belief that all creatures have rights and values; being centered on nature rather than humans.

Ecocentrism
Moral principle that regards the ecosphere as the most important being in existence in an attempt to redress the imbalance created by anthropocentrism

20th Century Environment Ethics
Preservation (Muir) and Conservation (Pinchot)

Leopold Ethics
“We are the land.” Thought we should treat land in an ethical manner.

Environmental Justice
A recognition that access to a clean, healthy environment is a fundamental right of all human beings.

Environmental Sustainability
Developing strategies and practices that create a world economy that the planet can support indefinitely

Earth’s Natural Capital
Accumulated wealth of resources.

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
Comprehension assessment of the condition of the world’s ecological systems and their capacity to continue supporting us.

Sustainable Development
Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Triple bottom line
Demand that our current human population limit its environmental impact while also promoting economic well-being and social equity

Negative Feedback Loop
an opposite action to what is occurring in the body to regain homeostasis, ex. if body temperature rises too high, body tries to lower it

Positive Feedback Loop
Causes a system to change further in the same direction.

Lithosphere
a rigid layer made up of the uppermost part of the mantle and the crust (rock and sediment)

Atmosphere
the mass of air surrounding the Earth

Hydrosphere
the watery layer of the earth’s surface

Biosphere
the regions of the surface and atmosphere of the Earth (or other planet) where living organisms exist

Eutrophication
The buildup over time of nutrients in freshwater lakes and ponds that leads to an increase in the growth of algae

Matter
that which has mass and occupies space

Law of Conservation of Matter
a fundamental principle of classical physics that matter cannot be created or destroyed in an isolated system

Elements
a molecule composed of one kind of atom; cannot be broken into simpler units by chemical reactions.

Nutrients
Compounds in food that the body requires for proper growth, maintenance, and functioning

Atoms
the building blocks of matter
Proton- + charge
Neutron- lack electrical charge
Electron- – charge

Ions
electrically charged atoms that have gained or lost electrons.

Molecules
groups of two or more atoms held together by chemical bonds

Compound
A molecule composed of atoms from two or more different elements.

Ionic Bonds
formed when one or more electrons are transferred from one atom to another

Covalent Bond
A chemical bond that involves sharing a pair of electrons between atoms in a molecule

pH Scale
a range of values that are used to express the acidity or alkalinity (basicity) of a system; each whole number on the scale indicates a tenfold change in acidity; a pH of 7 is neutral, a pH of less than 7 is acidic, and a pH of greater than 7 is basic

Organic Compounds
Consist of carbon atoms joined by bonds

Inorganic Compounds
Lack carbon-carbon bonds

Hydrocarbons
organic molecules that are composed of only carbon and hydrogen

Polymers
Long chains of repeated molecules: proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates. Considered as macromolecules because of their large size.

Proteins
contains carbon, hydrogen, oxyge, and nitrogen. source of energy. needed by tissue for repair and growth. made up of 20 amino acids.

Nucleic Acids
very long organic compounds made up of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and phosphorous, contain instructions that cells need to carry out all the functions of life.

Carbohydrates
compound made up of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms; major source of energy for the human body

Lipids
energy-rich organic compounds, such as fats, oils, and waxes, that are made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen

Energy
Phenomenon that can change the position, physical composition, and temperature of matter.

Potential Energy
energy stored due to an object’s position or arrangement

Kinetic Energy
the energy of motion

Chemical Energy
potential energy stored in chemical bonds of molecules.

First Law of Thermodynamics
the fundamental principle of physics that the total energy of an isolated system is constant despite internal changes

Second Law of Thermodynamics
when energy is changed from one form to another, some useful energy is always degraded into lower quality energy, usually heat

Autotrophs
organisms that make their own food from sunlight (producers)

Photosynthesis
process by which plants and some other organisms use light energy to convert water and carbon dioxide into oxygen and high-energy carbohydrates such as sugars and starches

Cellular Respiration
process that releases energy by breaking down glucose and other food molecules in the presence of oxygen

Heterotrophs
consumers, they rely on other organisms for their energy and food supply (consumers)

Ecosystem
collection of all the organisms that live in a particular place, together with their nonliving environment

Primary Production
The amount of light energy converted to chemical energy (organic compounds) by autotrophs in an ecosystem during a given time period

Gross Primary Production
The total primary production of an ecosystem.

Net Primary Production
the gross primary production of an ecosystem minus the energy used by the producers for respiration.

Productivity
Rate at which autotrophs convert energy to biomass.

Net Primary Productivity
the rate at which biomass accumulates in an ecosystem

Ecotones
A boundary between two types of ecological communities in which elements of each ecosystem mix.

Landscape Ecology
the study of past, present, and future patterns of landscape use, as well as ecosystem management and the biodiversity of interacting ecosystems

Conservation Biologists
Scientists that study the loss, protection, and restoration of biodiversity.

Ecological Models
the practice of construing and testing models that aim to explain and predict how ecological systems function.

Nutrient Cycles
circulates elements/molecules through all the spheres. Nutrients move from one pool to another. When a pool releases more materials than is accepts it is called source. Accepts more than it releases it is called a sink. The rate at which materials move between pools is termed flux.

Hydrologic Cycle
the natural process by which water is purified and made fresh through evaporation and precipitation. The cycle provides all the fresh water available for biological life.

Evaporation
the process by which water changes from liquid form to an atmospheric gas

Transpiration
loss of water from a plant through its leaves

Precipitation
water that falls to Earth’s surface as rain, snow, sleet, or hail

Runoff
water that flows over the ground surface rather than soaking into the ground

Infiltration
Water that soaks down through soil and rock to recharge underground reservoirs called aquifers.

Water Table
Uppermost level of ground water held in an aquifer.

Carbon Cycle
the circulation and reutilization of carbon atoms especially via the process of photosynthesis and respiration.

Phosphorus Cycle
The movement of phosphorus atoms from rocks through the biosphere and hydrosphere and back to rocks.

Nitrogen Cycle
The recycling of nitrogen in the environment in which nitrogen goes from a gas, to organic compounds in the soil, to proteins in a plant or nitrates, and then is again released into the atmosphere as a gas.

Nitrogen Fixation
the assimilation of atmospheric nitrogen by soil bacteria and its release for plant use on the death of the bacteria

Nitrogen Fixing Bacteria
bacteria that can use nitrogen in soil to make nitrogen compounds

Nitrification
the oxidation of ammonium compounds in dead organic material into nitrates and nitrites by soil bacteria (making nitrogen available to plants)

Denitrifying bacteria
bacteria which often live in damp soil, and which convert nitrates into nitrogen gas

Species
a group of organisms so similar to one another that they can breed and produce fertile offspring

Population
a group of individuals of a particular species that live in a particular area.

Natural Selection
process by which individuals that are better suited to their environment survive and reproduce most successfully; also called survival of the fittest

Adaptive Trait
a heritable trait that enhances an individuals fitness; an evolutionary adaption

Mutations
Random errors in gene replication that lead to a change in the sequence of nucleotides; the source of all genetic diversity

Artificial Selection
selection by humans for breeding of useful traits from the natural variation among different organisms

Biodiversity
the variety of organisms in a given area, the genetic variation within a population, the variety of species in a community, or the variety of communities in an ecosystem

Speciation
the formation of new species as a result of evolution

Allopatric Speciation
The formation of a new species as a result of an ancestral population’s becoming isolated by a geographic barrier.

Phylogenic Trees
Branching diagrams used to illustrate evolutionary relationships.

Endemic
native to or confined to a certain region

Ecology
the branch of biology concerned with the relations between organisms and their environment

Population Ecology
The study of populations in relation to the environment, including environmental influences on population density and distribution, age structure, and variations in population size.

Community Ecology
The study of how interactions between species affect community structure and organization

Habitat
the type of environment in which an organism or group normally lives or occurs

Niche
the status of an organism within its environment and community (affecting its survival as a species)

Specialists
*opposite of generalist* a species with a narrow niche that can tolerate a narrow range of conditions and can use only a few specific resources

Population Distribution
the way the population is spread out over an area. Random, uniformed, or clumped.

Density-dependent factors
Limiting factors (such as competition, predation, parasitism, and disease) that are affected by the number of individuals in a given area

Density-independent factors
Limiting factor that affects all populations in similar ways, regardless of population size.

K-selected
organisms that reproduce later in life, produce fewer offspring and devote significant time and energy to the nurturing of their offspring

R-selected
organisms that reproduce early in life and often and have a high capacity for reproductive growth.

Competition
Occurs when resources are limited and when multiple organisms seek the same resource. Can be among same species (intraspecific) or different species (interspecific)

Resource Partitioning
in a biological community various populations sharing environmental resources through specialization thereby reducing direct competition

Exploitative Interaction
Predation, parasitism, herbivory

Symbiosis
Physically close association between interacting species (mutualism)

Community
an assemblage of organisms living in the same area at the same time

Trophic Level
each step in a food chain or food web. Energy decreases as you move up the scale.

Biomass
the total mass of living matter in a given unit area

Keystone Species
a species whose impact on its community or ecosystem are much larger and more influential than would be expected from mere abundance

Trophic Cascade
A series of changes in the population sizes of organisms at different trophic levels in a food chain, occurring when predators at high trophic levels indirectly promote populations of organisms at low trophic levels by keeping species at intermediate trophic levels in check. Trophic cascades may become apparent when a top predator is eliminated from a system.

Primary Succession
an ecological succession that begins in a an area where no biotic community previously existed

Secondary Succession
the series of changes that occur after a disturbance of an existing ecosystem

Pioneer Species
First species to populate an area during primary succession

Phase Shift
where the overall character of the community fundamentally changes.

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