Animal Info - Glossary
A, B, C, D,
E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M,
N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W,
- Not living.
- A fully developed and mature animal, physically capable of breeding, but not necessarily
doing so until social and/or ecological conditions allow.
- Deriving energy from a process requiring free oxygen (compare "Anaerobic").
- To enter a state of dormancy in seasonal hot, dry weather, when food is scarce.
- Referring to behavior between individuals of the same species that may involve
aggression, threat, appeasement or avoidance. Agonistic behavior may arise from a conflict
between aggression and fear.
- Alga (plural "Algae")
- A general name for the single-celled, predominantly aquatic, organisms that
photosynthesize but lack the specialized reproductive structures of plants. Algae lack
true roots, stems, and leaves.
- Allee effect
- A situation where the density of an animal population is so low as to cause adverse
effects on the population. For example, adult animals may have trouble finding other
adults to mate with because they are so scarce.
- One of the forms of a given gene.
- An animal behaving parentally towards infants or young that are not its own offspring.
- Referring to a situation in which populations of different species are geographically
separated (compare "Sympatric").
- Referring to soil which has been deposited by running water. For example,
alluvial floodplains are formed when a river overflows during a flood and deposits silt on
- Alpha diversity
- See diversity - alpha.
- Referring to conditions similar to those found in the Alps or other higher mountains
(usually above 1500 m (4900')) .
- Refers to young mammals (e.g. rats, mice, cats, dogs, giant pandas) that are helpless at
birth. Their eyes and ears are sealed, and they cannot walk, maintain their
body temperature, or excrete without assistance. (Compare "precocial".)
- Amazon River habitat
- Includes black water, white water, igapo forest
and varzea forest.
- Able to live both on land and in the water.
- Deriving energy from a process that does not require free oxygen (compare "Aerobic").
- Antarctic Convergence
- The region between 50 deg - 55 deg S where the Antarctic surface water sinks beneath the
less dense and southward flowing subantarctic water.
- This is a general term without a strict definition, rather than a
zoological term. Antelopes have been variously classified as bovids
with long slender limbs, an animal that chews its cud,
or "all bovids other than cattle,
buffaloes, sheep and goats."
- The sac-like part of a stamen containing pollen.
- Antilles, Greater
- The Greater Antilles are the four largest islands in the northwestern portion of
the Caribbean Sea and include Cuba, Hispaniola (Haiti and the
Dominican Republic), Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. The Greater Antilles together with the
Lesser Antilles comprise the West
- Antilles, Lesser
- The Lesser Antilles include the smaller islands of the Caribbean - the Virgin
Islands, Windward Islands and Leeward
Islands. The Lesser Antilles together with the Greater Antilles comprise the
- Referring to an animal that lives mainly in the water.
- A species in a class of arthropods which includes mostly
air-breathing invertebrates, including spiders,
scorpions, mites and ticks, which have a body with two segments, with the front segment
having four pairs of legs and no antennae.
- Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.
- A group of islands.
- Referring to an insect, spider, crab or other member of a species with a hard, jointed exoskeleton and paired, jointed legs.
- Referring to an even-toed ungulate (includes the
cattle, pigs and ruminants).
- A horny substance, commonly known as whalebone, that grows as plates
from the upper jaws of certain whales, and forms a fringelike filter for
extracting plankton such as krill and small
fish from seawater.
- Baleen Whale
- Any of several whales of the suborder Mysticeti, such as the right
whale and rorquals, having a
symmetrical skull, two blowholes, and baleen plates
instead of teeth. Also known as a "mysticete."
- Bamboo species are giant grasses that have evolved woody stems and
tough, leathery leaves to deter predation. Because they are so high
in indigestible fiber and are loaded with abrasive compounds containing
silica, bamboo's are difficult to eat and to digest. (Roberts
- A barrage is a relatively low, gated dam built across a river to
regulate water discharge. In the Asian subcontinent, barrages are
primarily used to divert water into canals for irrigation and sometimes to
facilitate navigation. During monsoon season flows, the gates are
generally left open. They are then progressively lowered as the
- Benign introduction
- An attempt to establish a species, for the purpose of conservation,
outside its recorded distribution, but within an appropriate habitat and
- Referring to an animal that lives on the bottom of a body of water.
- Beta diversity
- See diversity - beta.
- A measure of the abundance of an animal (or group of animals, plants,
etc.) in term of the mass ("weight") of the animals, stated as
either the total mass of the animals in a given location or per unit area.
- Referring to animal that walks on two legs.
- Black water
- Several different types of water occur within the Amazon River basin.
Clear, non-turbid, acidic,
"black" water is derived locally from drainage of the forest and
is colored by tannin from the breakdown of
vegetation and high concentrations of dissolved organic humic acids. Black
water areas are grayish black in color.
- The opening of the nostril(s) of a whale, located on the top of it's
head, through which the whale breathes and from which the
"spout" is produced.
- A layer of fat beneath the skin.
- Referring to northern regions. Specifically, the region south of the
Arctic Circle and north of latitude 50 deg. N; the term may also refer to
an area dominated by coniferous
- A member of the artiodactyl family.
Members of this family have unbranched horns comprising a layer of keratin
surrounding a bony core. These horns are never shed, as opposed to
the antlers of deer. Bovids also have divided ("cloven") hooves
and chew their cud (utilizing a 4-chambered ruminating
stomach). Bovids include cattle, oxen, bison, buffaloes, sheep,
goats and antelopes (which include
- To move around in trees by arm-swinging beneath branches.
- Somewhat salty.
- Leaping headfirst from the water surface (usually by whales).
- Having inconspicuous dark streaks or flecks on a gray or tawny
- One of a family of American epiphytic
herbaceous plants including the
pineapple and Spanish moss.
- Tender shoots, twigs, and leaves of trees and shrubs used by animals for
- A herbivore that feeds on shoots and
leaves of trees and/or shrubs, as opposed to herbaceous
vegetation (compare "grazer").
- A natural region in southern Africa. It is an extensive grassland with
thornbushes and with scattered trees, such as acacia and baobab. It is
moderately dry and has an elevation of about 800 - 1,200 m (2,500 -
- Fish taken in a fishery which are not of the species intended for
- (noun) A hidden store of food; (verb) to hide food for future use.
- A member of the family Canidae, which includes the dogs, foxes,
jackals and wolves.
- A relatively continuous layer in forests resulting from the
intermingling of branches of trees; it may be continuous
("closed") or broken by gaps ("open").
- A hard, protective outer covering of the back or part of the back of an
animal (such as a crab).
- A behavior practiced by some animals, such as shrews, where the young
follow each other, or the mother, in single file, each one holding on to
the tail or hind end of the one in front of it with its teeth.
- A meat-eating animal.
- The dead and rotting body of an animal.
- Steep rapids in a river.
- Refers to an animal that is active during both daytime and nighttime.
The relative proportions of daytime and nighttime activity may vary with
- Caudal gland
- An enlarged skin gland associated with the root of the tail.
- The fundamental constituent of the cell wall of all green plants. It is
tough and fibrous and is the principal structural material of plants.
- A dry savanna region in central Brazil
dotted with patches of sparsely wooded vegetation.
- A member of the deer family of the artiodactyls.
- A whale, dolphin or porpoise.
- A lowland plains area in Bolivia and Paraguay
containing soils carried down from the Andes. It is characterized by dry deciduous
forest and scrub, transitional between rain forest & pampas
- Referring to the vegetation in an area with a Mediterranean
climate where the vegetation is dominated by broad-leafed evergreen
shrubs with hard or waxy leaves. In South America it includes the scrub ecotone
between forest and paramo.
- The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild
Fauna and Flora was negotiated in 1973 and originally signed by 85
countries. By October 2003 the total number of participating countries had
risen to 161. "It is designed to promote conservation of endangered
species while allowing commerce in species of wildlife that can withstand
the pressures of trade. The convention has three categories of protection.
Under its Appendix I, commercial trade in species that are threatened with
extinction is generally prohibited. These species may be traded only under
special conditions (usually for scientific research or display purposes).
Such transactions require both an import permit from CITES authorities in
the recipient country and an export permit from authorities in the country
CITES allows conditional commercial trade in species that are not yet
endangered but merit monitoring. These species are listed on Appendix II
and may be traded only with an export permit from their country of
A third appendix to CITES is intended to help individual countries gain
international cooperation in protecting native species. Any country may
place a native plant or animal on Appendix III, making the species
conditionally tradable. The species may not be traded without either an
export permit from its native country (if that country listed it on
Appendix III) or a certificate of origin (if it comes from a country that
did not list it)." (Fitzgerald 1989)
- A graded sequence of differences within a species across its
- Cloud forest
- Moist, high-altitude forest characterized by dense understory
growth, and abundance of ferns, mosses, orchids and other plants on the
trunks and branches of the trees.
- Coefficient of variation (CV)
- The standard deviation divided by the mean.
- Referring to animals that live together in colonies.
- A one-sided relationship between two species, in which only one benefits
and the other is neither benefited nor harmed (e.g. epiphytes such as
- Confidence Interval (CI)
- An interval (range of values) such that there is a specific probability
that a parameter (e.g. the mean) lies within that interval. E.g., a
"95% confidence interval" for the mean is a interval such
that the probability of the mean lying with that interval is 0.95. The
Upper Confidence Limit (Upper CL) and Lower Confidence Limit (Lower CL)
refer to the upper and lower ends of the Confidence Interval.
- A place where two streams flow together to form one larger stream.
- A member of the same species or genus.
- Relating to cone-bearing trees.
- Coniferous forest
- A forest consisting mostly of conifers such as firs, pines and spruces,
usually in climates too dry or too cold to support deciduous
- Being a member of the same species.
- A small marine crustacean only a few millimeters (less than 1/8")
- A system of mountain ranges often consisting of a number of more or less
- Appearing or becoming active at twilight or just before sunrise.
- Crude density
- The number (or biomass) per unit total space (see "Ecological
- A member of a class within the Arthropods which has five pairs of legs,
two pairs of antennae, head and thorax
joined, and calcareous deposits in the exoskeleton
(e.g. crayfish, crabs, and shrimp).
- Referring to behavior or coloration that tends to conceal an animal.
- Food brought back up into the mouth by an animal from its first stomach
to be chewed again (see "Ruminant").
- Refers to an animal possessing limbs adapted for running.
- Capable of producing cyanide (as hydrogen cyanide).
- 1. Relating to seasonal loss of leaves; 2. relating to teeth that are
replaced by others.
- Deciduous forest
- A temperate or tropical forest with moderate rainfall and marked
seasons. The trees usually shed their leaves during either cold or dry
- Delayed implantation
- The reproductive process whereby, after fertilization, the embryo
divides a few times and then floats free in the uterus, without further
development, for some time (that, depending on the animal, can include up
to five months) before implanting on the uterine wall and resuming
- Dwelling at or near the bottom of a body of water.
- Related to the numbers and density of a population and to changes in the
numbers and density.
- A shelter, natural or constructed, used for sleeping, for giving birth
and raising young, and/or for providing shelter during winter.
- Density dependence
- The phenomenon by which the values of vital rates such as survivorship
and fecundity depend on the density of
- The number, kind, form and arrangement of teeth.
- Areas of low rainfall, typically with sparse scrub or grassland
vegetation, or without any vegetation.
- Loose material, such as rock fragments or organic particles, that
results from disintegration, decay, or wearing away.
- One of the classes of flowering plants, characterized by the presence of
two seed leaves in the young plant, and by net-veined, often broad leaves,
in mature plants. Includes deciduous trees.
- A finger or toe.
- Relating to an animal that walks on its toes; as opposed to plantigrade.
- The occurrence of two distinct forms of structure, size, coloring, or
other characteristic in a single species. "Sexual dimorphism"
occurs where dimorphism exists between the male and female.
- Dipterocarp forest
- Dry-land tropical rain forest located in Southeast Asia that is
characterized by dominance of the Dipterocarpaceae family of
trees, which is the main timber family in the forests of Southeast Asia,
and usually forms a high proportion of the emergent and main canopy strata
of the forest. This type of forest is evergreen, hygrophilous
in character, at least 30 m (100') high, and rich in thick-stemmed lianas
and woody as well as herbaceous epiphytic
growth. These forests are located in the non-seasonal humid zone
stretching from Sumatra in the west, through the Malay archipelago, to New
Guinea in the east. They comprise at least three-quarters of the forests
of Southeast Asia. (Manokaran 1995)
- Movement of an animal away from its previous home range. Often refers to
the movement of a young animal away from the home range where it was born
when it matures.
- Any conspicuous pattern of behavior that conveys information to others,
usually to members of the same species; e.g. threat or courtship displays.
- Farthest from the body.
- Active during daylight hours.
- Diversity - alpha
- The number of species coexisting within a uniform habitat or a single
community (this is the traditional concept of "species
- Diversity - beta
- As habitats change along a topographic or climatic gradient, new species
are encountered as other species drop out, and this species turnover rate
is termed "beta diversity" - a function of changing habitat. An
example would be the rate at which the species composition of moss
communities changes as you go higher on a mountain slope.
- Diversity - gamma
- The rate at which additional species are encountered as geographic
replacements within a habitat type in different localities; i.e., the
species turnover rate with distance between sites of similar habitat, or
with expanding geographic areas.
- DNA ("DeoxyriboNucleic Acid") is a long
molecule in the shape of a double-stranded helix. It is a polymer (a
molecule of similar repeating units which are linked together by a common
bonding mechanism) made up of subunits known as nucleotides (which are
made up of a phosphate, a sugar, and a base). In DNA, the sugar is
deoxyribose. Four bases occur in DNA, and its sequence of paired bases
constitute the genetic code of an organism. Particular segments of the DNA
molecule constitute genes.
- Inactive for an extended period. For example, many bears are dormant for
a period in winter. As opposed to animals which are hibernating,
their pulse rate and body temperature do not decrease significantly.
- On the upper or top side or surface; e.g. "dorsal fin".
- The process by which an animal locates itself with respect to other
animals and objects by emitting sound waves and sensing the pattern of the
reflected sound waves.
- Ecological density
- Ecological (or "specific") density is the number (or biomass)
per unit of habitat space (available area or volume that can actually be
colonized by the population) (see "Crude
- Ecological extinction
- The reduction of a species to such low abundance that, although it is
still present in the community, it no longer interacts significantly with
- The study of the interrelationships among plants, animals and other
organisms and their interaction with all aspects of their natural
- 1. "...the more fundamental conception is ... the whole system
..., including not only the organism-complex, but also the whole complex
of physical factors forming what we call the environment of the biome -
the habitat factors in the widest sense.
It is the systems so formed which, from the point of view of the
ecologist, are the basic units of nature on the face of the earth.
These ecosystems, as we may call them, are of the most various
kinds and sizes..."
(Introduction and definition of a new term, "ecosystem," by Alfred
Tansley in 1935)
2. All the individuals, species and populations in a spatially defined
area, the interactions among them, and those between the organisms and the
- Ecosystem functioning
- The sum total of processes operating at the ecosystem level, such as the
cycling of matter, energy and nutrients, as well as those processes
operating at lower ecological levels which impact on patterns or processes
at the ecosystem level (e.g. interactions among species or the transfer of
- A transition between two or more different habitats; e.g. between forest
- A genetically induced variety within a single species, adapted for local
- A member of an order comprising living and extinct anteaters,
armadillos, pangolins and sloths.
- Influenced by the soil rather than the climate.
- Effective population size
- The average number of individuals in a population that actually
contribute genes to succeeding generations.
- Embryonic diapause
- In some species (e.g. in most kangaroo species), at about the time a
female gives birth, she also becomes receptive and mates. Embryos produced
at this mating develop only as far as a hollow ball of cells (the
blastocyst) and then become quiescent, entering a state of suspended
animation or "embryonic diapause." The hormonal signal (prolactin)
which blocks further development of the blastocyst is produced in response
to the sucking stimulus from the young in the pouch. When sucking
decreases as the young begins to eat other food and to leave the pouch, or
if the young is lost from the pouch, the quiescent blastocyst resumes
development, the embryo is born, and the cycle begins again. (Macdonald
- A species is "endemic" to a particular area if it occurs
naturally only in that area. The term is usually applied to a species with
a very limited range, or a species that
only occurs in one country.
- A disease that is persistently found in an animal population
- Short-lived, or of brief duration.
- Referring to a plant that lives on the surface of another plant and
obtains its moisture and nutrients from the air and rain.
- A disease outbreak in an animal population
that occurs at a particular time and does not persist (compare "Enzootic").
- A term collectively referring to asses, horses and zebras.
- An Arabic term for the great sand deserts, or sand "seas", of
the Sahara Desert (actually, the term erg in Arabic means "a
vein or belt"). An erg can be as large as France, covering well over
260,000 sq km (100,000 sq mi). An erg consists mostly of sand, shaped by
the wind into dunes, and it may contain salt flats and the exposed gravel
surface of the desert floor. (Langewiesche
- A long cliff separating two relatively level or gently sloping surfaces.
- The period in the estrus cycle of a female
mammal when she is usually attractive to males and receptive to mating.
- Estrus cycle
- In female mammals (other than most primates), the hormonally controlled,
regularly repeated stages by which the body is prepared for reproduction.
- An arm of the sea at the mouth of a river. Usually an estuary is
characterized by a two-layer flow, where the top layer consists of fresh
water flowing downstream and the bottom layer consists of salt water
flowing upstream from the sea.
- The history of a word shown by tracing its development from another
- Referring to an animal that can tolerate a wide range of temperatures
("eury-" = "broad" or "wide").
- A hard supporting structure on the outside of the body, enclosing all
living cells ("external skeleton").
- Exotic species
- Introduced, non-native species.
- To wipe out.
- A material that has oozed out of something. For example, gum that has
oozed out of a tree through a wound in the bark.
- 1. Optional; 2. taking place under some conditions but not under others;
3. exhibiting an indicated lifestyle under some environmental
conditions but not under others
- Referring to a field that has been left untilled or unsown after
- To give birth to a pig.
- Bodily waste discharged from the bowels.
- The number of offspring produced per unit of time per individual of any
given age. Also referred to as "birth rate," maternity
rate" or "fertility."
- Referring to domesticated animals which have adapted to living in the
- One of the lobes of a whale's tail.
- An animal that eats mainly leaves (i.e., it is "folivorous").
- Food for animals, especially when taken by browsing or grazing.
- A general term applied to ephemeral
plant species (not grasses); in arid and semi-arid regions they grow
abundantly after rains.
- A shallow resting hollow dug by a hare, which it lies in during the day.
The form may be dug out slightly more deeply at one end than the other -
the deeper end accommodates the hare's large and powerful hind quarters.
The form may be oriented so that the hare can sit with its back against
- Referring to a burrowing life-style or behavior.
- Referring to an animal (a "frugivore") that eats mainly
- Fruiting body
- An organ of a fungus which carries or produces spores for the fungus'
reproduction. For example, a mushroom is a fruiting body of a fungus; the
main body of the fungus is underground and consists of a network formed
from a mass of tubular, branching filaments.
- Fungus (plural "Fungi")
- One of a group of non-flowering lower plants that lack chlorophyll and
the organized plant structure of stems, roots, and leaves. Fungi have two
common characteristics: they grow principally through the extension of a
mass of interwoven filaments, via growth at the tips of the filaments; and
their nutrition is based on the absorption of organic matter.
- An animal whose pelt has commercial value and is subject to being
- Gallery forest
- Luxuriant forest lining the banks of waterways.
- The individual or generation of a plant exhibiting alternation of
generations that bears sex organs (compare "Sporophyte").
- Gamma diversity
- See diversity - gamma.
- Each gene is a linear segment of a DNA
molecule that includes a specific sequence of paired bases. The genes
belonging to each cell are arranged on chromosomes, which are simply giant
molecules of DNA. Each gene is responsible
for a single inherited property or characteristic of the organism. Higher
organisms like flies or humans have 50,000 - 100,000 genes. Simple
organisms like bacteria have 2000 - 3000 genes.
- Generation (or "Generation time")
- A period of time characteristic of an animal species and/or population
that can be calculated as:
- The average age of parents in the population (used in the criteria
for the 1996 IUCN Red Data List categories), or
- The average age at first breeding, or
- The time from a given stage in an animal’s life to the same stage
in the animal’s offspring’s life (e.g. the time between when an
animal is born and when its offspring is born)
- Genus (plural "Genera")
- A taxonomic division that generally
refers to a group of animals which are similar in structure and descent
but are not all able to breed among themselves. For example, the lion,
leopard and tiger all belong
to the genus "Panthera."
- To begin to grow.
- Pregnancy; the period from implantation of the embryo in the uterus to
- Gibber desert or plains
- Large areas in Australia covered by
small, rounded pebbles, rocky ranges and low scrubby vegetation.
- A "GIS" (Geographic Information System) is a means of storing
and manipulating a variety of geographic information (e.g. vegetation,
animal species distributions, land use) in a computer in a way such that
the information can be combined and analyzed in different ways for
- To gather food (e.g. insects) bit by bit.
- Gran Chaco
- The Gran Chaco is a flat plain in the region of northern Argentina,
southeastern Bolivia and western Paraguay
and with a mosaic of vegetation types including thorn forest, savanna,
marsh and gallery forest.
- Referring to animals that feed on seeds or grain.
- A herbivore that feeds on herbaceous
vegetation (compare "browser.").
- Tending to associate with other animals of its kind; habitually living
with other animals of its kind.
- Guard hair
- Part of the coat of some animals consisting of longer, stiffer hairs
which lie outside and support the warmer, softer underfur.
- The natural characteristics of the area where an animal lives; the
particular location where an animal normally lives.
- A group of females associated with one male - used in reference to polygamous
- Haul out
- Referring to an animal such as a seal pulling itself ashore.
- An area dominated by low-growing shrubs with woody stems and narrow
leaves (e.g. heather), which often predominate on acidic or upland soils.
- An animal, usually without young of its own, which contributes to the
survival of the offspring of others by behaving parentally towards the
- A plant that has little or no woody tissue and usually persists only for
a single growing season.
- Referring to a plant that has little or no woody tissue and usually
persists only for a single growing season.
- An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.
- Hertz (Hz)
- A measurement unit used to describe the frequency of sound. One Hertz
(Hz) equals one cycle per second. The frequency of the note "A above
middle C" on the piano is 440 Hz. The range of human hearing is
generally between 16 and 20,000 Hz.
- The production of microspores and megaspores
(as in ferns and seed plants)..
- Heterozygosity - average
- Sum the number of heterozygous individuals
for each gene, divide this by the total number of individuals in the
sample, and average over all genes.
- Referring to an individual in which the alleles
of a given gene are different.
- Remaining inactive for a period in the winter during which the normal
physiological process is significantly reduced, thus lowering the animal's
- The single specimen of the animals which is designated by an author to
represent the type of a species at the time the species is established.
- Home range
- The area in which an animal normally lives, whether or not it defends
the area from other animals; the area that an animal learns thoroughly and
habitually patrols; the amount of land used by an animal throughout the
- The offspring of parents of different species.
- The process whereby animals of one genetic stock (e.g. an endangered
species) breed with animals of another genetic stock (e.g. another
species, or domestic stocks of the same species), resulting in hybrid
offspring that have lost the pure genetic characteristics of
the original stock.
- Living or growing in moist places.
- Forested land in the Amazon River basin that is seasonally flooded by
acidic, nutrient-poor black water.
- One of the chisel-shaped teeth at the front of the mouth.
- Native to a particular country or area.
- Induced ovulation
- See "Ovulation - induced".
- An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
- Referring to an animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.
- An animal which lacks a backbone (such as an insect, spider or crustacean).
- A line on a map that connects places with equal rainfall.
- A species which has iteroparity reproduces more than once over a period
of time (it is "iteroparous").
- IUCN categories
- See Notes.
- Philippine term for temporary
agricultural plots cleared from the forest by native people. The soil of
such plots is rapidly exhausted and new plots have to be cleared every few
- A group of fibrous proteins, usually containing large amounts of sulphur,
which form the structural bases of hair, wool, nails, horns and other
external structures in animals.
- A small, round hill.
- Small crustaceans which occur in
huge numbers in polar seas, particularly off of Antarctica. They comprise
the main prey of baleen whales. The term
can be used generally to apply to all such food organisms, but it is
frequently used to refer specifically to shrimp-like animals of the group
Euphausiacae, especially the Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba.
This species is the most important food source for southern whales and
other animals. It is about 2.5 cm (1") long, and has been observed in
swarms as large as an estimated 2.5 million metric tons (2.8 million tons)
- Lactation refers to the secretion and yielding of milk by females after
- Lateritic soils are comprised of a wide
variety of red, brown, and yellow soils. They
are characterized by the presence of iron and aluminum oxides or
hydroxides, particularly those of iron, which give the colors to the
- Leeward Islands
- The Leeward Islands include the Virgin Islands, Dominica, Guadeloupe,
Montserrat, Antigua, Barbuda, St. Kitts, Nevis, and Anguilla. They're
called the Leeward Islands because they are away from the wind
("lee"). The Leeward Islands are part of the Lesser
Antilles of the Caribbean Sea.
- A plant of the family Leguminosae (Fabaceae), which has a pod containing
dry seeds, as well as nodules on the roots that contain nitrogen-fixing
bacteria. The family includes herbs, shrubs and trees such as peas, beans,
lentils, clover, and alfalfa.
- Relating to or consisting of plants that are legumes.
- A climbing plant.
- A lichen is a symbiotic association
of a specific fungus and a specific alga
that is so integrated functionally and morphologically
that a third kind of organism is formed which resembles neither of its
components. Lichens are usually classified as single
"species" even though they are composed of two unrelated
species. They grow on a solid surface such as rock or bark.
- Semi-arid savanna found in South America.
- Slapping the water repeatedly with the flukes.
- The act or power of moving from place to place.
- Extending lengthwise.
- A grassy, open woodland habitat
characteristic of many semi-arid parts of Australia.
"Mallee" also describes the multi-stemmed habit of eucalypt
trees which dominate this habitat.
- Mangrove forest
- A tropical forest that has developed on sheltered, muddy shores of
deltas and estuaries exposed to tide. The
vegetation is almost entirely woody.
- Marantaceae forest
- A rather open canopy forest with a thick tangle of large leafed herbaceous
plants at ground level belonging to the Marantaceae and Zingiberaceae
(ginger) families. This vegetation is extremely thick, almost impenetrable
in places (although not for gorillas),
and it provides both thick cover and plenty to eat. (Cons.
- Native to or inhabiting the sea.
- A technique for estimating the number of animals in a population.
A sample of the population is captured, marked, and released.
Assuming that these marked individuals become randomly distributed
throughout the wild population, and that subsequent trapping is random,
any new sample should contain a representative proportion of marked to
unmarked individuals. From this, the size of the total population
may be estimated, most simply by dividing the number in the first sample
by the fraction of marked individuals in the recaptured sample. (Allaby
- A member of a group of mammals 1) that generally do not have a placenta
and 2) whose females generally have a pouch on the abdomen containing the
nipples, where newborn young are carried. Marsupials include bandicoots,
kangaroos, opossums, wombats and others.
- A block of the earth's crust bounded by faults or folds; a group of
mountains formed by such a structure.
- Nuts accumulated on the forest floor and often serving as food for
- Relating to a type of social organization among animals where the family
group is lead by a female.
- A related group of animals linked by descent through females alone.
- Same as "average" (also called the "arithmetic
- The value that represents the point at which there are as many instances
above as there are below (e.g., the "median" of a group of
persons earning 3, 4, 5, 8, and 20 dollars a day is 5 dollars (note: the
average is 8 dollars)).
- Mediterranean climate
- A climate with cool wet winters and dry summers.
- A spore in heterosporous
plants that gives rise to female gametophytes
and is generally larger than a microspore.
- Having a high level of blackish pigmentation which produces a very dark
or black color.
- A thin, soft, pliable sheet or layer.
- A habitat characterized by a moderate amount of moisture.
- One of the spore in heterosporous
plants that give rise to male gametophytes
and are generally smaller than the megaspore.
- Miombo is a vernacular word that has been adopted by ecologists to
describe those woodland ecosystems dominated by trees in the genera
Brachystegia, Julbernardia and Isoberlinia of the
family Fabaceae. Such woodlands extend across about 2.8 million sq km (1.1
million sq mi) of the southern subhumid tropical zone from Tanzania
and Zaire in the north, through Zambia,
Malawi and eastern Angola,
to Zimbabwe and Mozambique
in the south. Their distribution largely coincides with the flat to gently
undulating surfaces that form the Central African plateau. The soils are
predominantly infertile. These woodlands constitute the largest
more-or-less contiguous block of deciduous tropical woodlands and dry
forests in the world. (IGBP 1997)
- Molecular genetics
- The branch of genetics that deals with issues such as how a gene is
copied, how a mutation arises, how genes are turned on and off when their
activity is needed or not needed, what are the chemical products of genes,
and what is the precise sequence of the chemical building blocks of DNA in
- Monogamy; Monogamous
- Referring to a mating system where males and females each have only one
mate per breeding season (compare polyandry,
polygamy, and polygyny).
- Referring to an organism that subsists on only one kind of food.
- The monotremes are the only egg-laying mammals. They include the
platypus and the echidnas (e.g. the long-nosed
- Referring to a genus that comprises a
single species (see Scientific
- A seasonal wind from the southwest, occurring from April to October,
that brings very heavy rainfall to India
and nearby areas.
- Pertaining to mountainous country.
- The form and structure of an animal.
- A pattern formed by clumps of different objects arranged with more or
less regularity over a surface.
- Multi-male Group
- A permanent grouping of animals of the same species
that consists of several adult males, several adult females and their
- Associated with an animal's birth.
- Active during nighttime.
- Some bats have a fleshy structure called a " nose-leaf"
surrounding the nose. These bats generally fly with their mouth closed and
emit ultrasound through their nostrils. The nose-leaf is thought to
act as a directional amplifier of this ultrasound, which is used to avoid
obstacles and locate prey.
- Oestrus cycle
- See estrus cycle.
- Referring to an animal that eats both plant and animal life.
- One of the categories of taxonomy by
which animals are hierarchically classified. It ranks above
"family" and below "class".
- 1. The forest canopy layer above the
shrubs, herbs and small trees in a forest.
2. The upper level of vegetation in a two-level vegetation system (see understory).
- Ovulation - induced
- Ovulation that is triggered by copulation.
- A branch of science dealing with pollen and spores.
- 1. Argentinean steppe
grasslands; 2. grassland created by burning and cattle occupation.
- An area on the Brazil-Bolivia-Paraguay
frontier that covers more than 100,000 sq km (38,000 sq mi) and is best
characterized by its low degree of land relief and annual flooding; swampy
- Alpine meadow of northern and western South American uplands.
- Referring to a female who has produced offspring.
- The process of giving birth.
- A social organization based on livestock raising as the primary economic
- Pectoral fins
- The pair of fins that are located one on each side of a fish or cetacean
just behind the gills.
- The hairy covering of a mammal.
- Referring to a plant that continues to live for several years.
- A (logarithmic) scale ranging from 0 to 14, which is used to determine
how acidic or basic a substance is. Pure water has a pH of 7. Substances
with a pH less than 7 are acids and substances with a pH greater than 7
- Referring to an animal that has a tendency to return to or stay in its
home area, or to return yearly to the same area to breed.
- A method of observing hard-to-see animals by taking their pictures
automatically, using remote cameras triggered when the animal interrupts
an infrared light beam.
- Referring to the closeness of evolutionary descent.
- The study of the functioning of living organisms and of the functioning
of their constituent tissues or cells.
- An internal organ providing nourishment to and removing waste products
from the blood of an unborn young. The unborn young's blood is conveyed to
the placenta via the umbilical cord.
- A body of water's animal ("zooplankton") and plant
("phytoplankton") life, usually microscopic to small in size,
that floats or swims weakly.
- Plant exudate
- A substance that has oozed out of a plant at the site of insect or other
damage. For example, gum that has oozed out of a tree through a
wound in the bark.
- Relating to an animal that walks on the sole of its feet with the heel
touching the ground; as opposed to digitigrade.
- The Pleistocene Epoch began approximately 1.8 million years ago and
ended about 11,000 years ago.
- A process of soil formation, especially in humid regions and often under
coniferous or mixed forest , involving principally leaching of the upper
layers with accumulation of material in lower layers and development of a
group of soils (the soils are called "podzols") that have an
organic mat and a thin organic-mineral layer above a gray leached layer
resting on a dark alluvial horizon enriched with amorphous clay.
- A mass of microspores in a seed
plant appearing usually as a fine dust (in flowering plants, formed in the
anthers that produce the male cells).
- Pollen grain
- One of the granular microspores that
occur in pollen and give rise to the male gametophyte
of a seed plant.
- Polyandry; Polyandrous
- Referring to a mating system where a female can mate with several males
during one breeding season, but a male mates with only one female (compare
- Referring to a female that has two or more estrus
cycles in one breeding season.
- Polygamy; Polygamous
- Referring to a mating system where males and females each can have more
than one mate per breeding season (compare monogamy,
polyandry and polygyny).
- Polygyny; Polygynous
- Referring to a mating system where a male can mate with several females
during one breeding season, but a female mates with only one male (compare
- Polymorphic gene
- A gene at which the most common allele
has a frequency of occurrence of less than 0.95.
- Referring to an animal that feeds on many kinds of food.
- A group of animals of the same species that occupies a particular area;
usually refers to a group that is somewhat separate from other groups of
the same species.
- Refers to young mammals which are born with their eyes and ears open and
are able to stand and walk, regulate their body temperature, and excrete
without assistance. The young of grazing animals (e.g. cattle, sheep, and
horses) are precocial. (Compare "altricial".)
- The action of a predator in killing and eating
- An animal that eats other animals.
- Capable of, or adapted for, grasping.
- An animal that is hunted or caught for food by another animal (the
- A long, flexible nose or trunk.
- Referring to a mating system where a member of one sex mates with more
than one member of the other sex, and each relationship is ephemeral
and terminates after mating without a social bond being formed.
- Scientists refer to lemurs (includes sifakas), lorises, galagos, pottos,
and tarsiers as "prosimians" to distinguish them from
monkeys, apes and humans. "Prosimian" means "pre-ape",
that is, primates that appear in the fossil record before monkeys, apes
and humans. They more closely resemble primitive primates that lived
millions or tens of millions of years ago than do other living primates.
Generally, prosimians look and act much differently than monkeys and apes.
For example, lemurs tend to have longer fox-like, wet noses, compared to
monkeys which have flatter faces and dry noses. One could guess from this
difference that smell plays a greater role in prosimian behavior than it
does in that of monkeys, who tend to be more visually oriented. (Duke
- Applied to an animal that walks on four feet; or, in the case of a
primate, that uses its hands and feet for walking.
- An interbreeding group of individuals all of whom are genetically
distinct from the members of other such groups of the same species.
Usually these groups are geographically isolated from each another. (Allaby
- The geographical area over which an animal is distributed.
- Red Tide
- "Red Tide" is a common name for a phenomenon whereby, under
certain conditions, a species of algae that
contain reddish pigments reproduces quickly and produces huge numbers of algae
(i.e. "blooms") such that the water appears to be colored red.
Although most such species of algae do not
produce toxic chemicals, some do, and the term "red tide" has
come to mean the blooming of a toxic form of red-pigmented algae
that can be transmitted through the aquatic food chain and harm higher
organisms including fish, marine mammals, and even humans that feed either
directly or indirectly on them.
- A persistent remnant of an otherwise extinct flora or fauna.
- An area containing scrubby vegetation typical of sand marine barrier
- Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody
(usually, but not always, a river or stream).
- To settle down for rest or sleep.
- The rorquals are those baleen whales
that are characterized by the presence of conspicuous grooves, or pleats,
on their throats. (The word "rorqual" is derived from the Old
Norse word for "grooved whale.") Rorquals include the minke, sei,
Bryde's, blue, fin, and humpback
- The "snout" or "beak" of a dolphin or whale.
- An animal with a specialized digestive system which includes chewing the
- A period of concentrated sexual activity; the mating season.
- The ecoclimatic region that borders the Sahara Desert
to the south in the 6000 km (3720 mi) long, 500 km (310 mi) wide strip
crossing the continent of Africa from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea
between the 100 mm (4") and 600 mm (24") isohyets
of mean annual rainfall. It is characterized by low and erratic rainfall
with little vegetation, most of which is seasonal. The word
"Sahel" comes from the Arabic word for "edge".
- A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of
community intermediate between grassland and forest.
- An organism that climbs or is given to climbing.
- Feces of an animal.
- Scientific name
- The "scientific name" of an animal consists of two levels of
its taxonomic classification, the
"genus" and "species."
Scientific names are usually in Latin. They should be printed in italics,
with the genus capitalized and the species
not capitalized. Thus the scientific name of the tiger
is "Panthera (genus) tigris
(species)." Sometimes a species
is further subdivided into subspecies, and the subspecies
name (not capitalized) is added to the scientific name. Thus the Siberian
tiger's scientific name is "Panthera tigris altaica".
Once the scientific name of a species has been
mentioned in a publication, the genus is
frequently abbreviated in subsequent occurrences (e.g. the tiger's
scientific name would be written "P. tigris"). Once
the scientific name of a subspecies has been
mentioned, the genus and species
are frequently abbreviated in subsequent occurrences (e.g. the Siberian
tiger's scientific name would be written "P. t. altaica").
- Sclerophyll forest
- A general term for hard-leafed forest, such as the eucalypt forest that
covers much of Australia.
- An accumulation of stones or rocky debris lying on a slope or at the
base of a hill or cliff.
- Not migratory.
- A family of grasslike plants found in all parts of the world, especially
in marshes of subarctic and temperate zones. Sedges differ from true
grasses in having solid, angular (usually triangular) stems.
- Seed Predation
- Destruction of a seed as a result of consumption by a seed predator;
e.g., a mouse eating grain.
- Referring to a species whose animals only reproduce once.
- Relating to a series of ecological communities that succeed one another
in the biological development of an area.
- An area of plains and open woodland in northern Tanzania
and southern Kenya in East Africa.
It includes the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania
and the adjoining Masai Mara Park in Kenya.
The Serengeti is just south of the Equator and has an area of about 25,000
sq km (about 10,000 sq mi).
- Sexual dichromatism
- A form of sexual dimorphism in which
the sexes are identical in size but have different coloration.
- Sexual dimorphism
- See "Dimorphism".
- A range of mountains, especially with a serrated or irregular outline.
- An adult male gorilla, so
called because of his coat coloring.
- The collective term for a group of pigs.
- A taxonomic division that generally
refers to a group of animals which are similar in structure and descent
and are able to breed among themselves.
- Species Survival Plan
- The Species Survival Plan (SSP) program is a cooperative population
management and conservation program for selected species in zoos and
aquariums in North America. Each SSP manages the breeding of a species in
order to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both
genetically diverse and demographically
stable. As of early 2003, 108 SSPs covering 159 individual species
are administered by the American Zoo and Aquarium
- Specific density
- See "Ecological density".
- A person who explores and/or studies caves.
- The process of sperm production.
- A grass which grows in large, distinctive clumps or hummocks in the
driest areas of central and western Australia.
- Sporangium (plural "sporangia")
- A structure within which spores are produced.
- A primitive, usually unicellular reproductive body produced by plants
and capable of development into a new individual, either directly or after
fusion with another spore.
- The individual or generation of a plant exhibiting alternation of
generations that bears asexual spores. (compare "Gametophyte".).
- The male organ of a flower, composed of a filament topped by an anther
(usually several in each flower).
- Open grassy plains in the temperate zone, characterized by low and
sporadic rainfall and a wide annual temperature variation.
- Random; exhibiting variability due to random events.
- Technically, a subgroup of a species that is
allocated a Latin name. The number of subgroups recognized within a species
and the allocation of names to them is something of an arbitrary
procedure. Variations do occur within species, but
there are no clear rules for identifying them as subspecies except that
they must be: a) geographically distinct; b) populations, not merely a
group of animals that differs in some morphological
respect from other members of the species; and c)
different to some degree from other geographic populations. (Allaby
- The progressive replacement of one ecological community by another until
a relatively stable community occupies the area.
- Referring to something that is undergoing the process of succession.
- The Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna River come together in Bangladesh
to form a 10,000 sq km (3850 sq mi) delta, the largest in the world. At
the edge of the delta is the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove
- A super-group forms when two or more groups of animals of a species
(e.g. Drill (Mandrillus
leucophaeus) or Mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx)) come
together for short periods.
- The intimate living together of two dissimilar organisms, frequently
(but not always) in a mutually beneficial relationship.
- Relating to two or more animals whose geographical ranges
overlap (compare Allopatric).
- Rock debris at the base of a cliff.
- A brown pigment found in leaves and other parts of plants. It causes the
brown color of leaves after all other colors have disappeared. It is
present throughout the growing season but is masked by the chlorophylls
(greens), xanthophylls and carotenes (yellows and oranges), and
anthocyanin (reds and purples). Tannin solutions are acid and have an
- Taxonomic, Taxonomy
- Referring to the science of hierarchically classifying animals by
categories (phylum (pl. phyla), class, order, family, genus
(pl. genera), species and subspecies)
which share common features and are thought to have a common evolutionary
- A 8-24 km (5-15 mile) wide belt of swampy grass jungle generally between
the Himalayan foothills and the plains of India.
It extends from northeast Uttar Pradesh (India) in the east, through
southern Nepal and northwest Bengal
(India) to northwest Assam (India) and adjacent parts of extreme southern Bhutan.
- Living on the ground.
- Referring to an animal that maintains a territory
within its home range, by fighting or
aggressive gestures, from which it excludes others of its own kind.
- An exclusive area maintained through overt defense or advertisement; the
part of the home range of an animal
that is protected, by fighting or aggressive gestures, from others of its
own kind, during some phase of its life.
- The portion of the body between the head and abdomen of certain species
that bears whatever legs and wings are present.
- The term is used in the 1994 IUCN Red List of
Threatened Animals to refer collectively to species categorized as
"Endangered" (E), "Vulnerable"
(V), "Rare" (R), "Indeterminate"
(I), or "Insufficiently
Known" (K) and in the 1996 IUCN Red
List of Threatened Animals and 2000
IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals to refer collectively to species
categorized as "Critically
Endangered" (CR), "Endangered"
(EN), or "Vulnerable" (VU).
- A state where an animal's metabolism, breathing rate, heartbeat and body
temperature each decreases to a level lower than normal. In cold weather,
torpor decreases the temperature difference between the animal's body and
the outside air. Therefore the animal's rate of heat loss is lowered, and
it can maintain its (reduced) body temperature more easily. By slowing
metabolism, all tissues use less energy. In hot weather, torpor decreases
water loss due to evaporation, excretion and respiration. During torpor,
the animal doesn't seem to see, hear, or feel things going on around it,
and it takes longer to "wake up" than from normal sleep.
- Referring to a water body that is thick or opaque with suspended
- Type locality
- The locality from which a species or subspecies was first described.
- The layer of shrubs, herbs and small trees
beneath the forest canopy. The upper
level of vegetation in a two-level vegetation system (see overstory).
- A hoofed mammal which is usually adapted for running. Includes deer,
cattle, gazelles, horses, elephants, and hyraxes. Most are large herbivores.
The term no longer has taxonomic
- Floodplain forest that is seasonally inundated by nutrient-rich white
water. This habitat is found in the Solimoes/Amazon River system. It
is seasonally inundated, with annual fluctuations in water level of up to
15 m (50'). It includes tall forest, which is restricted to narrow
interlinked corridors (restingas) located on alluvial
levees marking the deposition areas of old watercourses. This vegetation
is flooded for less than six months each year. Areas of low, dense scrub (chavascais)
separate the restingas, with some open grassy areas and many ribbon-like
lakes. This low vegetation is flooded for more than half the year, usually
being submerged completely. At peak flood, only the canopies of the
restinga trees can be seen above the water (Ayres
& Johns 1987). Compare igapo.
- Vascular Plant
- A plant with a specialized system of channels for carrying fluids that
includes xylem (thick walled, water conducting cells) and phloem
(thin-walled food-conducting tissue) plus any associated tissues.
- A grassland, especially in southern Africa, and usually having scattered
shrubs or trees.
- Related to the front or lower surface of an animal, opposite to the
- An animal (including amphibians, birds, fish, mammals and reptiles) with
- A shallow, usually sharply defined depression in a desert region,
frequently comprising a bed or valley of a stream that is usually dry
except during the rainy season and that often forms an oasis.
- A maze of passageways.
- A term applied to certain species of wild pigs. The "warty
pigs" are so-called because the adult males typically develop three
pairs of warts: on the cheek swellings, on the jaw angle, and above the
canine root flanges.
- A watershed consists of all of the land area that drains to a particular
body of water.
- The time when a young animal stops nursing and begins utilizing other
- 1. A fence set in a waterway for catching fish; 2. A dam in a stream to
raise the water level or divert its flow.
- West Indies
- The West Indies are composed of the islands of the Caribbean Sea and can
be divided into the Greater Antilles
and the Lesser Antilles.
- White water
- Several different types of water occur within the Amazon River basin.
Opaque, so-called "white" water (actually yellowish-brown in
color) is turbid, laden with sediments. It
is brought from the Andes by the main, relatively straight, and
fast-flowing "whitewater" rivers.
- Windward Islands
- The Windward Islands are southeastern islands of the Caribbean and
include Martinique, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, the Grenadines, and Grenada.
They're called the Windward Islands because they are exposed to the wind
("windward") of the northeast trade winds (northeasterlies). The
Windward Islands are part of the Lesser
Antilles of the Caribbean Sea.
- A bunch grass habitat, mainly consisting of Epicampes, Festuca and
Muhlenbergia, unique to central Mexico.
- Small (often microscopic) aquatic animals suspended or weakly swimming in
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Last modified: May 25, 2005;