Ecosystems Notes:

 

Abiotic: Non-living – examples of abiotic factors include soil, water, temperature, bedrock, etc.

 

Adaptations: Characteristics that help an organism survive in a particular ecosystem – ex. thorns, camouflage

 

Animal: consumer, must eat other organisms to survive

 

Bacteria: simplest one of the five kingdoms of life, single celled organisms, decomposers, do not have membrane-bound nuclei, ex: streptococcus, E. coli

 

Biotic: living – ex. producers, consumers, decomposers

 

Carbon Dioxide: CO2, a basic nutrient, required by plants for photosynthesis, also a product of decomposition

 

Carnivores: animals that eat only other animals

 

Cell Membrane: controls what goes in and out of cell

 

Cell Wall: provides structure, support, protection to plant cells; not found in animal cells; composed of cellulose, or fiber, which is not digested by humans

 

Chloroplasts: cell organelle that is the site of photosynthesis, contains the pigment chlorophyll; not found in animal cells

 

Club Mosses: one of the five major plant groups, grow taller than mosses, thicker cell walls, more developed roots, leaves and vascular tissue (“tubes” that transport nutrients, etc.)

 

Conifers: one of the five major plant groups, male cones produce pollen that is spread by air, female cones produce seeds (plant embryo, food supply, protective covering) – ex. firs, pines, sequoia

 

Consumers: animals, must eat other organisms to survive

 

Cytoplasm: jelly-like substance that fills the cell and holds the organelles in place; organelles are parts of the cell (ex. nucleus, chloroplasts, etc.)

 

Decomposers: do not eat: they secrete enzymes on to dead material to break it down and then absorb nutrients directly; when decomposers are finished, all that is left is the most basic nutrients (water, carbon dioxide, minerals) – ex. bacteria, fungi

 

Domesticated Organisms: in and around the home; often cannot survive in the wild; used by people for food, decoration, companionship, etc. – ex. pets, livestock, houseplants

 

Earthworm: animal, scavenger, omnivore

 

Ecosystem: everything living and non-living in an area

 

Enzyme: biological catalyst, or substance that speeds up chemical reactions; used by decomposers to break down dead material in to basic nutrients

 

Ferns and Horsetails: one of the five major plant groups, reproduce using spores

 

Flowering Plants: most highly-developed plant group; flowers use color, scent, nectar, etc. to attract animals that help pollination; fruit attracts animals that help spread seeds

 

Food Chain: shows a linear progression of “who eats whom,” the flow of nutrients and energy through an ecosystem; arrows point from what is eaten to the eater (ex. carrot => bunny)

 

Food Web: similar to a food chain, but more complex; branches show all of the nutritional relationships for an entire ecosystem; can demonstrate the balance of an ecosystem

 

Fungi: one of the five kingdoms of life, decomposers, microscope reveals fibers and sporangia (round masses of developing spores) ex. – mushrooms, molds, yeast

 

Herbivores: animals that eat only plants

 

Kingdom: the broadest category of organisms, there are five kingdoms: bacteria, protists, fungi, plants, animals

 

Litter: dead and decomposing material

 

Mosses: most primitive of the five major plant groups; no, or poorly developed, roots, leaves; grow very low to ground; require moist habitat; reproduce using spores (single cells that develop in to new organism)

 

Native Organisms: evolved as part of the local ecosystem

 

Nucleus: cell organelle, “brain” of cell, controls cell activity, contains genetic information

 

Omnivores: animals that eat both plants and other animals, ex. humans, raccoons, ants

 

Photosynthesis: process that plants use to produce their own food (sugar), occurs in the chloroplasts – CO2  +  H2O  _sunlight_>  sugar  +  O2

 

Plant: producer, makes its own “food” via photosynthesis

 

Predator: animals that hunt, kill and eat other animals, ex. ball python

 

Prey: animals that are hunted and killed for food, ex. rabbits

 

Producers: plants, make their own “food” via photosynthesis

 

Protists: one of the five kingdoms of life, very diverse, live in moist or aquatic habitats, usually single-celled, contain membrane-bound nuclei, ex. amoeba, algae

 

Scavengers: animals that eat dead organisms: ex. vultures, millipedes, flies

 

Species: very specific category of organisms; two animals are of the same species if they can mate to produce fertile offspring; ex. labrador retreivers and poodles are two different breeds, but they can produce fertile offspring, so they are the same species

 

Vacuole: stores nutrients or waste

 

Vertebrates: animals that have a backbone, a brain protected by a skull, and paired appendages; ex. fish, reptiles, amphibians, birds, mammals

 

Weed: undesirable species; often non-native, with no local predators; reproduce and spread quickly, competing with native species