Animal Info - Glossary P

Pack Ice
1. Floating ice that has been driven together into a single mass. 2. Floating consolidated sea ice that is either detached from land and freely floating, or has been blocked by land-attached ice while drifting past. 
Palatable
Not unpleasant to the taste.
Palynology
A branch of science dealing with pollen and spores.
Pampas
1. Argentinean steppe grasslands; 2. grassland created by burning and cattle occupation.
Pantanal
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 savanna.
Páramo
1) Alpine meadow of northern and western South American uplands. 2) High-altitude grasslands.
Parasite
An organism. that lives in or on another organism (the host), from which it obtains food, shelter, or other requirement.  A parasite usually does not kill its host organism.
Parous
Referring to a female who has produced offspring.
Parturition
The process of giving birth.
Pastoralism
A social organization based on livestock raising as the primary economic activity.
Pectoral fins
The pair of fins that are located one on each side of a fish or cetacean just behind the gills.
Pelage
The hairy covering of a mammal.
Perennial
Referring to a plant that continues to live for several years.
Permafrost
A permanently frozen layer in the soil in frigid climates, found in alpine, arctic, and antarctic regions.
pH
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 are bases.
Philopatric
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.
Photo-trapping
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.
Phylogenetic
Referring to the closeness of evolutionary descent.
Physiology
The study of the functioning of living organisms and of the functioning of their constituent tissues or cells.
Pinniped
A member of the order Pinnepedia: seals and sea lions.
Placenta
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.
Plankton
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.
Plantigrade
Relating to an animal that walks on the sole of its feet with the heel touching the ground; as opposed to digitigrade.
Pleistocene
The Pleistocene Epoch began approximately 1.8 million years ago and ended about 11,000 years ago.
Podzolization
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.
Pollen
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 monogamy, polygamy and polygyny).
Polyestrous
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 monogamy, polyandry and polygamy).
Polymorphic gene
A gene at which the most common allele has a frequency of occurrence of less than 0.95.
Polyphagous
Referring to an animal that feeds on many kinds of food.
Population
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.
ppt
Abbreviation for "parts per thousand."
Precocial
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".) (Allaby 1991)
Predation
The action of a predator in killing and eating its prey.
Predator
An animal that eats other animals.
Prehensile
Capable of, or adapted for, grasping.
Prey
An animal that is hunted or caught for food by another animal (the "predator").
Proboscis
A long, flexible nose or trunk.
Promiscuous
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.
Prosimian
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 Univ. 2003) 
Protozoan
One-celled organisms that are present in almost every kind of habitat. Some of them are disease-causing parasites of humans and domestic animals.
Puberty
The period in life when an animal becomes sexually mature and is then physically capable of reproducing sexually.

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Last modified: June 14, 2006;

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