You are on page 1of 19


abiotic Nonliving. Compare biotic. age structure Percentage of the population aquatic Pertaining to water. Compare ter-
(or number of people of each sex) at each age restrial.
acid See acid solution.
level in a population.
aquatic life zone Marine and freshwater por-
acid deposition The falling of acids and acid- agricultural revolution Gradual shift from tions of the biosphere. Examples include fresh-
forming compounds from the atmosphere to the small, mobile hunting and gathering bands water life zones (such as lakes and streams) and
earths surface. Acid deposition is commonly to settled agricultural communities in which ocean or marine life zones (such as estuaries,
known as acid rain, a term that refers to the wet people survived by breeding and raising wild coastlines, coral reefs, and the open ocean).
deposition of droplets of acids and acid-forming animals and cultivating wild plants near where
compounds. they lived. It began 10,00012,000 years ago. aquifer Porous, water-saturated layers of
Compare environmental revolution, huntergather- sand, gravel, or bedrock that can yield an eco-
acid rain See acid deposition.
ers, industrialmedical revolution, information and nomically signicant amount of water.
acid solution Any water solution that has globalization revolution. arable land Land that can be cultivated to
more hydrogen ions (H) than hydroxide ions
agroforestry Planting trees and crops to- grow crops.
(OH); any water solution with a pH less than 7.
Compare basic solution, neutral solution. gether. arbitration Formal effort, somewhat similar
air pollution One or more chemicals in to a trial, to resolve a dispute; overseen by a
active solar heating system System that
high enough concentrations in the air to harm trained and certied arbitrator who takes a more
uses solar collectors to capture energy from the
humans, other animals, vegetation, or materi- active role than a judge and is not constrained
sun and store it as heat for space heating and
als. Excess heat is also considered a form of air by legal precedent. Compare mediation.
water heating. Liquid or air pumped through
the collectors transfers the captured heat to pollution. Such chemicals or physical conditions area strip mining Type of surface mining
a storage system such as an insulated water are called air pollutants. See primary pollutant, used where the terrain is at. An earthmover
tank or rock bed. Pumps or fans then distrib- secondary pollutant. strips away the overburden, and a power shovel
ute the stored heat or hot water throughout a albedo Ability of a surface to reect light. digs a cut to remove the mineral deposit. The
dwelling as needed. Compare passive solar heating trench is then lled with overburden, and a new
system. alien species See nonnative species. cut is made parallel to the previous one. The
alley cropping Planting of crops in strips with process is repeated over the entire site. Compare
adaptation Any genetically controlled struc-
rows of trees or shrubs on each side. mountaintop removal, open-pit mining, subsurface
tural, physiological, or behavioral characteristic
that helps an organism survive and reproduce alpha particle Positively charged matter,
under a given set of environmental conditions. consisting of two neutrons and two protons, arid Dry. A desert or other area with an arid
It usually results from a benecial mutation. See which is emitted as radioactivity from the nuclei climate has little precipitation.
biological evolution, differential reproduction, muta- of some radioisotopes. See also beta particle,
articial selection Process by which humans
tion, natural selection. gamma rays.
select one or more desirable genetic traits in the
adaptive radiation Process in which numer- altitude Height above sea level. Compare population of a plant or animal species and then
ous new species evolve to ll vacant and new latitude. use selective breeding to produce populations con-
ecological niches in changed environments, taining many individuals with the desired traits.
anaerobic respiration Form of cellular
usually after a mass extinction. Typically, this Compare genetic engineering, natural selection.
respiration in which some decomposers get the
process takes millions of years.
energy they need through the breakdown of asexual reproduction Reproduction in
adaptive trait See adaptation. glucose (or other nutrients) in the absence of which a mother cell divides to produce two
oxygen. Compare aerobic respiration. identical daughter cells that are clones of the
administrative laws Administrative rules
ancient forest See old-growth forest. mother cell. This type of reproduction is com-
and regulations, executive orders, and enforce-
mon in single-celled organisms. Compare sexual
ment decisions related to the implementation animal manure Dung and urine of animals reproduction.
and interpretation of statutory laws. used as a form of organic fertilizer. Compare
green manure. atmosphere Whole mass of air surrounding
advanced sewage treatment Third level of
the earth. See stratosphere, troposphere. Compare
sewage cleanup, which uses a series of special- annual Plant that grows, sets seed, and dies in biosphere, geosphere, hydrosphere.
ized chemical and physical processes to remove one growing season. Compare perennial.
specic pollutants left in the water after primary atmospheric pressure Force or mass per unit
and secondary treatment. See primary sewage anthropocentric Human-centered. area of air, caused by the bombardment of a
treatment and secondary sewage treatment. applied ecology See reconciliation ecology. surface by the molecules in air.
aerobic respiration Complex process that aquaculture Growing and harvesting of atom Minute unit made of subatomic particles
occurs in the cells of most living organisms, sh and shellsh for human use in freshwater that is the basic building block of all chemical
in which nutrient organic molecules such as ponds, irrigation ditches, and lakes, or in cages elements and thus all matter; the smallest unit
glucose (C6H12O6) combine with oxygen (O2) to or fenced-in areas of coastal lagoons and estuar- of an element that can exist and still have the
produce carbon dioxide (CO2), water (H2O), and ies or in the open ocean. See sh farming, sh unique characteristics of that element. Compare
energy. Compare photosynthesis. ranching. ion, molecule.

atomic number Number of protons in the and then back to the nonliving environment. broadleaf evergreen plants Plants that
nucleus of an atom. Compare mass number. Examples include the carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, keep most of their broad leaves year-round. An
phosphorus, sulfur, and hydrologic cycles. example is the trees found in the canopies of
atomic theory Idea that all elements are
tropical rain forests. Compare broadleaf deciduous
made up of atoms; the most widely accepted biological amplication See biomagnication.
plants, coniferous evergreen plants.
scientic theory in chemistry.
biological community See community.
buffer Substance that can react with hydrogen
autotroph See producer.
biological diversity See biodiversity. ions in a solution and thus hold the acidity or
background extinction Normal extinction pH of a solution fairly constant. See pH.
biological evolution Change in the genetic
of various species as a result of changes in local
makeup of a population of a species in succes- calorie Unit of energy; amount of energy
environmental conditions. Compare mass extinc-
sive generations. If continued long enough, it needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of
can lead to the formation of a new species. Note water by 1 C (unit on Celsius temperature
bacteria Prokaryotic, one-celled organisms. that populations, not individuals, evolve. See scale). See also kilocalorie.
Some transmit diseases. Most act as decompos- also adaptation, differential reproduction, natural
cancer Group of more than 120 different
ers and get the nutrients they need by break- selection, theory of evolution.
diseases, one for each type of cell in the human
ing down complex organic compounds in the
biological pest control Control of pest body. Each type of cancer produces a tumor in
tissues of living or dead organisms into simpler
populations by natural predators, parasites, or which cells multiply uncontrollably and invade
inorganic nutrient compounds.
disease-causing bacteria and viruses (patho- surrounding tissue.
barrier islands Long, thin, low offshore gens).
carbon capture and storage (CCS) Process
islands of sediment that generally run parallel to
biomagnication Increase in concentration of removing carbon dioxide gas from coal-
the shore along some coasts.
of DDT, PCBs, and other slowly degradable, fat- burning power and industrial plants and storing
basic solution Water solution with more soluble chemicals in organisms at successively it somewhere (usually underground or under
hydroxide ions (OH) than hydrogen ions (H); higher trophic levels of a food chain or web. the seabed) so that it is not released into the
water solution with a pH greater than 7. Com- Compare bioaccumulation. atmosphere, essentially forever.
pare acid solution, neutral solution.
biomass Organic matter produced by plants carbon cycle Cyclic movement of carbon in
benthos Bottom-dwelling organisms. Com- and other photosynthetic producers; total dry different chemical forms from the environment
pare decomposer, nekton, plankton. weight of all living organisms that can be sup- to organisms and then back to the environment.
ported at each trophic level in a food chain or
beta particle Swiftly moving electron emitted carcinogen Chemicals, ionizing radiation, and
web; dry weight of all organic matter in plants
by the nucleus of a radioactive isotope. See also viruses that cause or promote the development
and animals in an ecosystem; plant materials
alpha particle, gamma ray. of cancer. See cancer. Compare mutagen, teratogen.
and animal wastes used as fuel.
bioaccumulation An increase in the con- carnivore Animal that feeds on other animals.
biome Terrestrial regions inhabited by certain
centration of a chemical in specic organs or Compare herbivore, omnivore.
types of life, especially vegetation. Examples
tissues at a level higher than would normally be
include various types of deserts, grasslands, and carrying capacity (K) Maximum population
expected. Compare biomagnication.
forests. of a particular species that a given habitat can
biocentric Life-centered. Compare anthropo- support over a given period. Compare cultural
biosphere Zone of the earth where life is
centric. carrying capacity.
found. It consists of parts of the atmosphere (the
biodegradable Capable of being broken down troposphere), hydrosphere (mostly surface water cell Smallest living unit of an organism. Each
by decomposers. and groundwater), and lithosphere (mostly soil cell is encased in an outer membrane or wall
and surface rocks and sediments on the bottoms and contains genetic material (DNA) and other
biodegradable pollutant Material that can
of oceans and other bodies of water) where parts to perform its life function. Organisms such
be broken down into simpler substances (ele-
life is found. Compare atmosphere, geosphere, as bacteria consist of only one cell, but most
ments and compounds) by bacteria or other de-
hydrosphere. organisms contain many cells.
composers. Paper and most organic wastes such
as animal manure are biodegradable but can biotic Living organisms. Compare abiotic. cell theory The idea that all living things are
take decades to biodegrade in modern landlls. composed of cells; the most widely accepted
biotic pollution The effect of invasive species
Compare nondegradable pollutant. scientic theory in biology.
that can reduce or wipe out populations of many
biodiversity Variety of different species (spe- native species and trigger ecological disruptions. CFCs See chlorouorocarbons.
cies diversity), genetic variability among individu-
biotic potential Maximum rate at which the chain reaction Multiple nuclear ssions, tak-
als within each species (genetic diversity), variety
population of a given species can increase when ing place within a certain mass of a ssionable
of ecosystems (ecological diversity), and functions
there are no limits on its rate of growth. See isotope, which release an enormous amount of
such as energy ow and matter cycling needed
environmental resistance. energy in a short time.
for the survival of species and biological com-
munities (functional diversity). birth rate See crude birth rate. chemical One of the millions of different
elements and compounds found naturally
biodiversity hot spots Areas especially rich bitumen Gooey, black, high-sulfur, heavy oil
and synthesized by humans. See compound,
in plant species that are found nowhere else extracted from oil sand and then upgraded to
and are in great danger of extinction. These synthetic fuel oil. See oil sand.
areas suffer serious ecological disruption, mostly chemical change Interaction between
breeder nuclear ssion reactor Nuclear
because of rapid human population growth and chemicals in which the chemical composition of
ssion reactor that produces more nuclear fuel
the resulting pressure on natural resources. the elements or compounds involved changes.
than it consumes by converting nonssionable
Compare nuclear change, physical change.
biofuel Gas (such as methane) or liquid fuel uranium-238 into ssionable plutonium-239.
(such as ethyl alcohol) made from plant material chemical formula Shorthand way to show
broadleaf deciduous plants Plants such as
(biomass). the number of atoms (or ions) in the basic
oak and maple trees that survive drought and
structural unit of a compound. Examples include
biogeochemical cycle Natural processes that cold by shedding their leaves and becoming
H2O, NaCl, and C6H12O6.
recycle nutrients in various chemical forms from dormant. Compare broadleaf evergreen plants,
the nonliving environment to living organisms coniferous evergreen plants. chemical reaction See chemical change.

chemosynthesis Process in which certain coastal zone Warm, nutrient-rich, shallow concentration Amount of a chemical in a
organisms (mostly specialized bacteria) extract part of the ocean that extends from the high- particular volume or weight of air, water, soil, or
inorganic compounds from their environ- tide mark on land to the edge of a shelf-like other medium.
ment and convert them into organic nutrient extension of continental land masses known as
condensation nuclei Tiny particles on which
compounds without the presence of sunlight. the continental shelf. Compare open sea.
droplets of water vapor can collect.
Compare photosynthesis.
coevolution Evolution in which two or more
coniferous evergreen plants Cone-bearing
chlorinated hydrocarbon Organic com- species interact and exert selective pressures on
plants (such as spruces, pines, and rs) that keep
pound made up of atoms of carbon, hydrogen, each other that can lead each species to undergo
some of their narrow, pointed leaves (needles)
and chlorine. Examples include DDT and PCBs. adaptations. See evolution, natural selection.
all year. Compare broadleaf deciduous plants,
chlorouorocarbons (CFCs) Organic com- cogeneration Production of two useful forms broadleaf evergreen plants.
pounds made up of atoms of carbon, chlorine, of energy, such as high-temperature heat or coniferous trees Cone-bearing trees, mostly
and uorine. An example is Freon-12 (CCl2F2), steam and electricity, from the same fuel source. evergreens, that have needle-shaped or scale-
which is used as a refrigerant in refrigerators like leaves. They produce wood known commer-
cold front Leading edge of an advancing mass
and air conditioners and in making plastics cially as softwood. Compare deciduous plants.
of cold air. Compare warm front.
such as Styrofoam. Gaseous CFCs can deplete
the ozone layer when they slowly rise into the combined heat and power (CHP) produc- consensus science See reliable science.
stratosphere and their chlorine atoms react tion See cogeneration. conservation Sensible and careful use of
with ozone molecules. Their use is being phased natural resources by humans. People with this
commensalism An interaction between
out. view are called conservationists.
organisms of different species in which one
chromosome A grouping of genes and as- type of organism benets and the other type is conservation biology Multidisciplinary sci-
sociated proteins in plant and animal cells that neither helped nor harmed to any great degree. ence created to deal with the crisis of maintain-
carry certain types of genetic information. See Compare mutualism. ing the genes, species, communities, and ecosys-
genes. commercial extinction Depletion of the tems that make up earths biological diversity.
population of a wild species used as a resource Its goals are to investigate human impacts on
chronic undernutrition Condition suffered
to a level at which it is no longer protable to biodiversity and to develop practical approaches
by people who cannot grow or buy enough food
harvest the species. to preserving biodiversity.
to meet their basic energy needs. Most chroni-
cally undernourished children live in developing commercial forest See tree plantation. conservationist Person concerned with using
countries and are likely to suffer from mental natural areas and wildlife in ways that sustain
retardation and stunted growth and to die from commercial inorganic fertilizer Commer- them for current and future generations of hu-
infectious diseases. Compare malnutrition, overnu- cially prepared mixture of inorganic plant nutri- mans and other forms of life.
trition. ents such as nitrates, phosphates, and potassium
applied to the soil to restore fertility and increase conservation-tillage farming Crop cul-
civil suit Court case brought to settle disputes crop yields. Compare organic fertilizer. tivation in which the soil is disturbed little
or damages between one party and another. (minimum-tillage farming) or not at all (no-till
common law A body of unwritten rules and farming) in an effort to reduce soil erosion,
clear-cutting Method of timber harvesting in principles derived from court decisions along lower labor costs, and save energy. Compare
which all trees in a forested area are removed with commonly accepted practices, or norms, conventional-tillage farming.
in a single cutting. Compare selective cutting, strip within a society. Compare statutory law.
cutting. constancy Ability of a living system, such as a
common-property resource Resource that population, to maintain a certain size. Compare
climate Physical properties of the troposphere is owned jointly by a large group of individuals. inertia, resilience.
of an area based on analysis of its weather re- One example is the roughly one-third of the
cords over a long period (at least 30 years). The consumer Organism that cannot synthe-
land in the United States that is owned jointly
two main factors determining an areas climate size the organic nutrients it needs and gets its
by all U.S. citizens and held and managed for
are its average temperature, with its seasonal organic nutrients by feeding on the tissues of
them by the government. Another example is
variations, and the average amount and distri- producers or of other consumers; generally di-
an area of land that belongs to a whole village
bution of precipitation. Compare weather. vided into primary consumers (herbivores), second-
and that can be used by anyone for grazing cows
ary consumers (carnivores), tertiary (higher-level )
climax community See mature community. or sheep. Compare open access renewable resource
consumers, omnivores, and detritivores (decompos-
and private property resource. See tragedy of the
closed-loop recycling See primary recycling. ers and detritus feeders). In economics, one who
commons. Compare open access renewable resource,
private property resource. uses economic goods. Compare producer.
coal Solid, combustible mixture of organic
compounds with 3098% carbon by weight, contour farming Plowing and planting
community Populations of all species living
mixed with various amounts of water and small across the changing slope of land, rather than in
and interacting in an area at a particular time.
amounts of sulfur and nitrogen compounds. It straight lines, to help retain water and reduce
competition Two or more individual organ- soil erosion.
forms in several stages as the remains of plants
isms of a single species (intraspecic compe-
are subjected to heat and pressure over millions contour strip mining Form of surface mining
tition) or two or more individuals of different
of years. used on hilly or mountainous terrain. A power
species (interspecic competition) attempting to
shovel cuts a series of terraces into the side of
coal gasication Conversion of solid coal to use the same scarce resources in the same
a hill. An earthmover removes the overbur-
synthetic natural gas (SNG). ecosystem.
den, and a power shovel extracts the coal. The
coal liquefaction Conversion of solid coal compost Partially decomposed organic plant overburden from each new terrace is dumped
to a liquid hydrocarbon fuel such as synthetic and animal matter used as a soil conditioner or onto the one below. Compare area strip mining,
gasoline or methanol. fertilizer. mountaintop removal, open-pit mining, subsurface
coastal wetland Land along a coastline, compound Combination of atoms, or op-
extending inland from an estuary that is covered positely charged ions, of two or more elements controlled burning Deliberately set, carefully
with salt water all or part of the year. Examples held together by attractive forces called chemical controlled surface res that reduce ammable
include marshes, bays, lagoons, tidal ats, and bonds. Examples are NaCl, CO2, and C6H12O6. litter and decrease the chances of damaging
mangrove swamps. Compare inland wetland. Compare element. crown res. See ground re, surface re.

conventional-tillage farming Crop cultiva- ability of the planet to sustain future genera- democracy Government by the people
tion method in which a planting surface is tions. Compare carrying capacity. through their elected ofcials and appointed
made by plowing land, breaking up the exposed representatives. In a constitutional democracy, a
cultural eutrophication Overnourishment of
soil, and then smoothing the surface. Compare constitution provides the basis of government
aquatic ecosystems with plant nutrients (mostly
conservation-tillage farming. authority and puts restraints on government
nitrates and phosphates) because of human
power through free elections and freely ex-
convergent plate boundary Area where the activities such as agriculture, urbanization, and
pressed public opinion.
earths lithospheric plates are pushed together. discharges from industrial plants and sewage
See subduction zone. Compare divergent plate treatment plants. See eutrophication. demographic transition Hypothesis that
boundary, transform fault. culture Whole of a societys knowledge, be- countries, as they become industrialized, have
liefs, technology, and practices. declines in death rates followed by declines in
coral reef Formation produced by mas-
birth rates.
sive colonies containing billions of tiny coral currents Mass movements of surface water
animals, called polyps, that secrete a stony produced by prevailing winds blowing over the density Mass per unit volume.
substance (calcium carbonate) around them- oceans. depletion time The time it takes to use a
selves for protection. When the corals die, their
dam A structure built across a river to control certain fraction (usually 80%) of the known or
empty outer skeletons form layers and cause
the rivers ow or to create a reservoir. See estimated supply of a nonrenewable resource at
the reef to grow. Coral reefs are found in the
reservoir. an assumed rate of use. Finding and extracting
coastal zones of warm tropical and subtropical
the remaining 20% usually costs more than it is
oceans. data Factual information collected by scien- worth.
core Inner zone of the earth. It consists of a tists.
desalination Purication of salt water or
solid inner core and a liquid outer core. Com- DDT Dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, a chlo- brackish (slightly salty) water by removal of dis-
pare crust, mantle. rinated hydrocarbon that has been widely used solved salts.
corrective feedback loop See negative feed- as an insecticide but is now banned in some
countries. desert Biome in which evaporation exceeds
back loop.
precipitation and the average amount of precipi-
death rate See crude death rate.
costbenet analysis A comparison of tation is less than 25 centimeters (10 inches) per
estimated costs and benets of actions such as debt-for-nature swap Agreement in which year. Such areas have little vegetation or have
implementing a pollution control regulation, a certain amount of foreign debt is canceled in widely spaced, mostly low vegetation. Compare
building a dam on a river, or preserving an area exchange for local currency investments that forest, grassland.
of forest. will improve natural resource management or
desertication Conversion of rangeland,
protect certain areas in the debtor country from
critical mass Amount of ssionable nuclei rain-fed cropland, or irrigated cropland to
environmentally harmful development.
needed to sustain a nuclear ssion chain reac- desert-like land, with a drop in agricultural
tion. deciduous plants Trees, such as oaks and productivity of 10% or more. It usually is caused
maples, and other plants that survive during dry by a combination of overgrazing, soil erosion,
crop rotation Planting a eld, or an area of
seasons or cold seasons by shedding their leaves. prolonged drought, and climate change.
a eld, with different crops from year to year
Compare coniferous trees, succulent plants.
to reduce soil nutrient depletion. A plant such detritivore Consumer organism that feeds on
as corn, tobacco, or cotton, which removes decomposer Organism that digests parts detritus, parts of dead organisms, and cast-off
large amounts of nitrogen from the soil, is of dead organisms and cast-off fragments and fragments and wastes of living organisms. Ex-
planted one year. The next year a legume such wastes of living organisms by breaking down the amples include earthworms, termites, and crabs.
as soybeans, which adds nitrogen to the soil, is complex organic molecules in those materials Compare decomposer.
planted. into simpler inorganic compounds and then ab-
sorbing the soluble nutrients. Producers return detritus Parts of dead organisms and cast-off
crown re Extremely hot forest re that most of these chemicals to the soil and water for fragments and wastes of living organisms.
burns ground vegetation and treetops. Compare reuse. Decomposers consist of various bacteria detritus feeder See detritivore.
controlled burning, ground re, surface re. and fungi. Compare consumer, detritivore, producer.
deuterium (D; hydrogen-2) Isotope of the
crude birth rate Annual number of live deductive reasoning Use of logic to arrive at element hydrogen, with a nucleus containing
births per 1,000 people in the population of a a specic conclusion based on a generalization one proton and one neutron and a mass number
geographic area at the midpoint of a given year. or premise. Compare inductive reasoning. of 2.
Compare crude death rate.
deep ecology worldview Worldview holding developed country Country that is highly
crude death rate Annual number of deaths that each form of life has inherent value, that industrialized and has a high per capita GDP.
per 1,000 people in the population of a geo- the fundamental interdependence and diversity Compare developing country.
graphic area at the midpoint of a given year. of life forms helps all life to thrive, that humans
Compare crude birth rate. have no right to reduce this interdependence developing country Country that has low to
and diversity except to satisfy vital needs, and moderate industrialization and low to moderate
crude oil Gooey liquid consisting mostly of
that present human interference with the per capita GDP. Most are located in Africa, Asia,
hydrocarbon compounds and small amounts
nonhuman world is excessive, and the situation and Latin America. Compare developed country.
of compounds containing oxygen, sulfur, and
nitrogen. Extracted from underground accu- is worsening rapidly. Compare environmental dieback Sharp reduction in the population of
mulations, it is sent to oil reneries, where it is wisdom worldview, frontier worldview, planetary a species when its numbers exceed the carrying
converted to heating oil, diesel fuel, gasoline, management worldview, stewardship worldview. capacity of its habitat. See carrying capacity.
tar, and other materials. defendant The party in a court case being differential reproduction Phenomenon in
crust Solid outer zone of the earth. It consists charged with creating a harm. See plaintiff and which individuals with adaptive genetic traits
of oceanic crust and continental crust. Compare civil suit. produce more living offspring than do individu-
core, mantle. deforestation Removal of trees from a for- als without such traits. See natural selection.
cultural carrying capacity The limit on ested area.
dioxins Family of 75 chlorinated hydrocarbon
population growth that would allow most degree of urbanization Percentage of the compounds formed as unwanted by-products
people in an area or the world to live in reason- population in the world, or in a country, living in chemical reactions involving chlorine and
able comfort and freedom without impairing the in urban areas. Compare urban growth. hydrocarbons, usually at high temperatures.

discount rate An estimate of a resources a population with the renewable resources it functioning of the worlds economies. Examples
future economic value compared to its present uses and to absorb or dispose of the wastes from are the chemical cycles, natural pest control, and
value; based on the idea that having something such resource use. It is a measure of the average natural purication of air and water. See natural
today may be worth more than it will be in the environmental impact of populations in differ- resources.
future. ent countries and areas. See per capita ecological
electromagnetic radiation Forms of kinetic
dissolved oxygen (DO) content Amount of energy traveling as electromagnetic waves.
oxygen gas (O2) dissolved in a given volume of ecological niche Total way of life or role of a Examples include radio waves, TV waves, micro-
water at a particular temperature and pressure, species in an ecosystem. It includes all physical, waves, infrared radiation, visible light, ultravio-
often expressed as a concentration in parts of chemical, and biological conditions that a species let radiation, X rays, and gamma rays. Compare
oxygen per million parts of water. needs to live and reproduce in an ecosystem. ionizing radiation, nonionizing radiation.
See fundamental niche, realized niche.
disturbance An event that disrupts an electron (e) Tiny particle moving around out-
ecosystem or community. Examples of natural ecological restoration Deliberate alteration side the nucleus of an atom. Each electron has
disturbances include res, hurricanes, tornadoes, of a degraded habitat or ecosystem to restore as one unit of negative charge and almost no mass.
droughts, and oods. Examples of human-caused much of its ecological structure and function as Compare neutron, proton.
disturbances include deforestation, overgrazing, possible.
and plowing. element Chemical, such as hydrogen (H), iron
ecological succession Process in which com- (Fe), sodium (Na), carbon (C), nitrogen (N), or
divergent plate boundary Area where the munities of plant and animal species in a par- oxygen (O), whose distinctly different atoms
earths lithospheric plates move apart in opposite ticular area are replaced over time by a series of serve as the basic building blocks of all matter.
directions. Compare convergent plate boundary, different and often more complex communities. Two or more elements combine to form the
transform fault. See primary succession, secondary succession. compounds that make up most of the worlds
matter. Compare compound.
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) Large mol- ecologist Biological scientist who studies
ecules in the cells of organisms that carry genetic relationships between living organisms and their elevation Distance above sea level.
information in living organisms. environment.
endangered species Wild species with so
domesticated species Wild species tamed or ecology Biological science that studies the few individual survivors that the species could
genetically altered by crossbreeding for use by relationships between living organisms and their soon become extinct in all or most of its natural
humans for food (cattle, sheep, and food crops), environment; study of the structure and func- range. Compare threatened species.
pets (dogs and cats), or enjoyment (animals in tions of nature.
zoos and plants in botanical gardens). Compare endemic species Species that is found in only
wild species. economic depletion Exhaustion of 80% one area. Such species are especially vulnerable
of the estimated supply of a nonrenewable to extinction.
dose Amount of a potentially harmful sub- resource. Finding, extracting, and processing
stance an individual ingests, inhales, or absorbs energy Capacity to do work by performing
the remaining 20% usually costs more than
through the skin. Compare response. See dose- mechanical, physical, chemical, or electrical
it is worth. May also apply to the depletion of
response curve, median lethal dose. tasks or to cause a heat transfer between two
a renewable resource, such as a sh or tree spe-
objects at different temperatures.
dose-response curve Plot of data showing cies.
the effects of various doses of a toxic agent on a energy conservation Reducing or eliminat-
economic development Improvement of
group of test organisms. See dose, median lethal ing the unnecessary waste of energy.
human living standards by economic growth.
dose, response. Compare economic growth, environmentally sustain- energy efciency Percentage of the total
doubling time Time it takes (usually in years) able economic development. energy input that does useful work and is not
for the quantity of something growing exponen- converted into low-quality, generally useless
economic growth Increase in the capac-
tially to double. It can be calculated by dividing heat in an energy conversion system or process.
ity to provide people with goods and services;
the annual percentage growth rate into 70. See energy quality, net energy. Compare material
an increase in gross domestic product (GDP).
drainage basin See watershed. Compare economic development, environmentally
sustainable economic development. See gross domestic energy productivity See energy efciency.
drift-net shing Catching sh in huge nets product.
that drift in the water. energy quality Ability of a form of energy
economic resources Natural resources, to do useful work. High-temperature heat and
drought Condition in which an area does not capital goods, and labor used in an economy to the chemical energy in fossil fuels and nuclear
get enough water because of lower-than-normal produce material goods and services. See natural fuels are concentrated high-quality energy.
precipitation or higher-than-normal tempera- resources. Low-quality energy such as low-temperature
tures that increase evaporation. heat is dispersed or diluted and cannot do much
economic system Method that a group of
earthquake Shaking of the ground resulting useful work. See high-quality energy, low-quality
people uses to choose which goods and ser-
from the fracturing and displacement of rock, energy.
vices to produce, how to produce them, how
which produces a fault, or from subsequent much to produce, and how to distribute them to enhanced greenhouse effect See global
movement along the fault. people. warming, greenhouse effect.
ecological diversity The variety of forests, economy System of production, distribution, environment All external conditions, factors,
deserts, grasslands, oceans, streams, lakes, and and consumption of economic goods. matter, and energy, living and nonliving, that
other biological communities interacting with
affect any living organism or other specied
one another and with their nonliving environ- ecosphere See biosphere.
ment. See biodiversity. Compare functional diver-
ecosystem One or more communities of dif-
sity, genetic diversity, species diversity. environmental degradation Depletion or
ferent species interacting with one another and
destruction of a potentially renewable resource
ecological efciency Percentage of energy with the chemical and physical factors making
such as soil, grassland, forest, or wildlife that is
transferred from one trophic level to another in up their nonliving environment.
used faster than it is naturally replenished. If
a food chain or web.
ecosystem services Natural services or natu- such use continues, the resource becomes non-
ecological footprint Amount of biologically ral capital that support life on the earth and are renewable (on a human time scale) or nonexis-
productive land and water needed to supply essential to the quality of human life and the tent (extinct). See also sustainable yield.

environmental ethics Human beliefs about environmental scientist Scientist who uses Examples include cone-bearing trees (conifers)
what is right or wrong with how we treat the information from the physical sciences and so- such as rs, spruces, pines, redwoods, and se-
environment. cial sciences to understand how the earth works, quoias. Compare deciduous plants, succulent plants.
learn how humans interact with the earth, and
environmentalism Social movement dedicat- evolution See biological evolution.
develop solutions to environmental problems.
ed to protecting the earths life support systems
See environmental science. exhaustible resource See nonrenewable
for us and other species.
environmental wisdom worldview World-
environmentalist Person who is concerned
view holding that humans are part of and totally exotic species See nonnative species.
about the impacts of human activities on the
dependent on nature and that nature exists for experiment Procedure a scientist uses to
all species, not just for us. Our success depends study some phenomenon under known condi-
environmental justice Fair treatment and on learning how the earth sustains itself and tions. Scientists conduct some experiments
meaningful involvement of all people regardless integrating such environmental wisdom into in the laboratory and others in nature. The
of race, color, sex, national origin, or income the ways we think and act. Compare deep ecology resulting scientic data or facts must be veried
with respect to the development, implementa- worldview, frontier worldview, planetary management or conrmed by repeated observations and mea-
tion, and enforcement of environmental laws, worldview, stewardship worldview. surements, ideally by several different investiga-
regulations, and policies.
environmental worldview Set of assump- tors.
environmentally sustainable economic tions and beliefs about how people think the exponential growth Growth in which some
development Development that meets world works, what they think their role in quantity, such as population size or economic
the basic needs of the current generations of the world should be, and what they believe output, increases at a constant rate per unit of
humans and other species without prevent- is right and wrong environmental behavior time. An example is the growth sequence 2,
ing future generations of humans and other (environmental ethics). See deep ecology world- 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, and so on, which increases by
species from meeting their basic needs. It is view, environmental wisdom worlview, frontier world- 100% at each interval. When the increase in
the economic component of an environmentally view, planetary management worldview, stewardship quantity over time is plotted, this type of growth
sustainable society. Compare economic development, worldview. yields a curve shaped like the letter J. Compare
economic growth.
EPA U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; linear growth.
environmentally sustainable society Soci- responsible for managing federal efforts to con- external benet Benecial social effect of
ety that meets the current and future needs of trol air and water pollution, radiation and pesti- producing and using an economic good that is
its people for basic resources in a just and equi- cide hazards, environmental research, hazardous not included in the market price of the good.
table manner without compromising the ability waste, and solid waste disposal. Compare external cost, full cost.
of future generations of humans and other spe-
cies from meeting their basic needs. epidemiology Study of the patterns of disease external cost Harmful environmental, eco-
or other harmful effects from toxic exposure nomic, or social effect of producing and using an
environmental law Body of statements de- within dened groups of people to nd out why economic good that is not included in the mar-
ning what is acceptable environmental behav- some people get sick and some do not. ket price of the good. Compare external benet,
ior for individuals and groups, according to the
epiphyte Plant that uses its roots to attach full cost, internal cost.
larger community, and attempting to balance
competing social and private interests. itself to branches high in trees, especially in extinction Complete disappearance of a
tropical forests. species from the earth. It happens when a spe-
environmental movement Citizens
organized to demand that political leaders erosion Process or group of processes by cies cannot adapt and successfully reproduce
enact laws and develop policies to curtail pol- which loose or consolidated earth materials are under new environmental conditions or when
lution, clean up polluted environments, and dissolved, loosened, or worn away and removed a species evolves into one or more new species.
protect unspoiled areas from environmental from one place and deposited in another. See Compare speciation. See also endangered species,
degradation. weathering. mass extinction, threatened species.

environmental policy Laws, rules, and estuary Partially enclosed coastal area at the extinction rate Percentage or number of
regulations related to an environmental prob- mouth of a river where its fresh water, carrying species that go extinct within a certain time such
lem that are developed, implemented, and fertile silt and runoff from the land, mixes with as a year.
enforced by a particular government body or salty seawater.
family planning Providing information, clini-
agency. eukaryotic cell Cell that is surrounded by a cal services, and contraceptives to help people
environmental resistance All of the limiting membrane and has a distinct nucleus. Compare choose the number and spacing of children they
factors that act together to limit the growth of a prokaryotic cell. want to have.
population. See biotic potential, limiting factor. euphotic zone Upper layer of a body of water famine Widespread malnutrition and starva-
environmental revolution Cultural change through which sunlight can penetrate and sup- tion in a particular area because of a shortage
that includes halting population growth and port photosynthesis. of food, usually caused by drought, war, ood,
altering lifestyles, political and economic earthquake, or other catastrophic events that
eutrophication Physical, chemical, and
systems, and the way we treat the environ- disrupt food production and distribution.
biological changes that take place after a
ment with the goal of living more sustainably. lake, estuary, or slow-owing stream receives feedback Any process that increases (positive
It requires working with the rest of nature by inputs of plant nutrientsmostly nitrates and feedback) or decreases (negative feedback) a
learning more about how nature sustains phosphatesfrom natural erosion and runoff change to a system.
itself. from the surrounding land basin. See cultural
feedback loop Occurs when an output of
environmental science Interdisciplinary eutrophication.
matter, energy, or information is fed back into
study that uses information and ideas from eutrophic lake Lake with a large or excessive the system as an input and leads to changes in
the physical sciences (such as biology, chem- supply of plant nutrients, mostly nitrates and that system. See positive feedback loop and negative
istry, and geology) with those from the social phosphates. Compare mesotrophic lake, oligotrophic feedback loop.
sciences and humanities (such as economics, lake.
feedlot Conned outdoor or indoor space
politics, and ethics) to learn how nature works,
evaporation Conversion of a liquid into a gas. used to raise hundreds to thousands of domesti-
how we interact with the environment, and
cated livestock.
how we can to help deal with environmental evergreen plants Plants that keep some of
problems. their leaves or needles throughout the year. fermentation See anaerobic respiration.

fertility rate Number of children born to an fossil fuel Products of partial or complete generalist species Species with a broad
average woman in a population during her life- decomposition of plants and animals; occurs ecological niche. They can live in many differ-
time. Compare replacement-level fertility. as crude oil, coal, natural gas, or heavy oils as ent places, eat a variety of foods, and tolerate
a result of exposure to heat and pressure in he a wide range of environmental conditions.
fertilizer Substance that adds inorganic or
earths crust over millions of years. See coal, Examples include ies, cockroaches, mice,
organic plant nutrients to soil and improves its
crude oil, natural gas. rats, and humans. Compare specialist species.
ability to grow crops, trees, or other vegetation.
See commercial inorganic fertilizer, organic fertilizer. fossils Skeletons, bones, shells, body parts, genes Coded units of information about
leaves, seeds, or impressions of such items that specic traits that are passed from parents
rst law of thermodynamics In any physi-
provide recognizable evidence of organisms that to offspring during reproduction. They con-
cal or chemical change, no detectable amount of
lived long ago. sist of segments of DNA molecules found in
energy is created or destroyed, but energy can
be changed from one form to another; you can- foundation species Species that plays a ma- chromosomes.
not get more energy out of something than you jor role in shaping a community by creating and gene splicing See genetic engineering.
put in; in terms of energy quantity, you cannot enhancing a habitat that benets other species.
get something for nothing. This law does not Compare indicator species, keystone species, native genetic adaptation Changes in the genetic
apply to nuclear changes, in which energy can species, nonnative species. makeup of organisms of a species that allow
be produced from small amounts of matter. See the species to reproduce and gain a competi-
free-access resource See open access renewable tive advantage under changed environmental
second law of thermodynamics.
resource. conditions. See differential reproduction, evolution,
shery Concentration of particular aquatic mutation, natural selection.
freons See chlorouorocarbons.
species suitable for commercial harvesting in a
given ocean area or inland body of water. freshwater life zones Aquatic systems where genetically modied organism (GMO)
water with a dissolved salt concentration of less Organism whose genetic makeup has been
sh farming Form of aquaculture in which altered by genetic engineering.
than 1% by volume accumulates on or ows
sh are cultivated in a controlled pond or other
through the surfaces of terrestrial biomes. Ex- genetic diversity Variability in the genetic
environment and harvested when they reach
amples include standing (lentic) bodies of fresh makeup among individuals within a single spe-
the desired size. See also sh ranching.
water such as lakes, ponds, and inland wetlands cies. See biodiversity. Compare ecological diversity,
shprint Area of ocean needed to sustain the and owing (lotic) systems such as streams and functional diversity, species diversity.
consumption of an average person, a nation, or rivers. Compare biome.
the world. Compare ecological footprint. genetic engineering Insertion of an alien
front The boundary between two air masses gene into an organism to give it a benecial
sh ranching Form of aquaculture in which with different temperatures and densities. See genetic trait. Compare articial selection, natural
members of a sh species such as salmon are cold front, warm front. selection.
held in captivity for the rst few years of their
frontier science See tentative science.
lives, released, and then harvested as adults geographic isolation Separation of popula-
when they return from the ocean to their frontier worldview View held by European tions of a species for long times into different
freshwater birthplace to spawn. See also sh colonists settling North America in the 1600s areas.
farming. that the continent had vast resources and was a
geology Study of the earths dynamic history.
wilderness to be conquered by settlers clearing
ssionable isotope Isotope that can split Geologists study and analyze rocks and the
and planting land.
apart when hit by a neutron at the right speed features and processes of the earths interior and
and thus undergo nuclear ssion. Examples full cost Cost of a good when its internal costs surface.
include uranium-235 and plutonium-239. and its estimated short- and long-term external
geosphere Earths intensely hot core, thick
costs are included in its market price. Compare
oodplain Flat valley oor next to a stream mantle composed mostly of rock, and thin outer
external cost, internal cost.
channel. For legal purposes, the term often ap- crust that contains most of the earths rock, soil,
plies to any low area that has the potential for functional diversity Biological and chemi- and sediment. Compare atmosphere, biosphere,
ooding, including certain coastal areas. cal processes or functions such as energy ow hydrosphere.
and matter cycling needed for the survival of
ows See throughputs. geothermal energy Heat transferred from
species and biological communities. See bio-
yway Generally xed route along which the earths underground concentrations of
diversity, ecological diversity, genetic diversity, species
waterfowl migrate from one area to another at dry steam (steam with no water droplets),
certain seasons of the year. wet steam (a mixture of steam and water
fundamental niche Full potential range of droplets), or hot water trapped in fractured or
food chain Series of organisms in which each the physical, chemical, and biological factors a porous rock.
eats or decomposes the preceding one. Compare species can use if it does not face any competi-
food web. tion from other species. See ecological niche. global climate change Broad term referring
Compare realized niche. to changes in any aspects of the earths climate,
food insecurity Condition under which including temperature, precipitation, and storm
people live with chronic hunger and malnu- fungicide Chemical that kills fungi. activity. Compare weather.
trition that threatens their ability to lead healthy
game species Type of wild animal that people globalization Broad process of global social,
and productive lives. Compare food security.
hunt or sh for, for sport and recreation and economic, and environmental change that leads
food security Condition under which every sometimes for food. to an increasingly integrated world.
person in a given area has daily access to
gamma ray Form of ionizing electromagnetic global warming Warming of the earths
enough nutritious food to have an active and
radiation with a high energy content emitted by lower atmosphere (troposphere) because of
healthy life. Compare food insecurity.
some radioisotopes. It readily penetrates body increases in the concentrations of one or more
food web Complex network of many inter- tissues. See also alpha particle, beta particle. greenhouse gases. It can result in climate change
connected food chains and feeding relationships.
GDP See gross domestic product. that can last for decades to thousands of years.
Compare food chain.
See greenhouse effect, greenhouse gases, natural
gene mutation See mutation.
forest Biome with enough average annual greenhouse effect.
precipitation to support the growth of tree spe- gene pool Sum total of all genes found in
GMO See genetically modied organism.
cies and smaller forms of vegetation. Compare the individuals of the population of a particular
desert, grassland. species. GPP See gross primary productivity.

grassland Biome found in regions where hazard Something that can cause injury, dis- host Plant or animal on which a parasite feeds.
enough annual average precipitation to support ease, economic loss, or environmental damage.
human capital Peoples physical and mental
the growth of grass and small plants but not See also risk.
talents that provide labor, innovation, culture,
enough to support large stands of trees. Com-
hazardous chemical Chemical that can cause and organization. Compare manufactured capital,
pare desert, forest.
harm because it is ammable or explosive, can natural capital.
greenhouse effect Natural effect that re- irritate or damage the skin or lungs (such as
human resources See human capital.
leases heat in the atmosphere (troposphere) strong acidic or alkaline substances), or can
near the earths surface. Water vapor, carbon cause allergic reactions of the immune system humus Slightly soluble residue of undigested
dioxide, ozone, and other gases in the lower (allergens). See also toxic chemical. or partially decomposed organic material in
atmosphere (troposphere) absorb some of the topsoil. This material helps retain water and
hazardous waste Any solid, liquid, or
infrared radiation (heat) radiated by the earths water-soluble nutrients, which can be taken up
containerized gas that can catch re easily, is
surface. Their molecules vibrate and transform by plant roots.
corrosive to skin tissue or metals, is unstable and
the absorbed energy into longer-wavelength
can explode or release toxic fumes, or has harm- hunger See chronic undernutrition.
infrared radiation (heat) in the troposphere. If
ful concentrations of one or more toxic materials
the atmospheric concentrations of these green- huntergatherers People who get their food
that can leach out. See also toxic waste.
house gases increase and other natural processes by gathering edible wild plants and other mate-
do not remove them, the average temperature heat Total kinetic energy of all randomly rials and by hunting wild animals and sh.
of the lower atmosphere will increase gradu- moving atoms, ions, or molecules within a
hydrocarbon Organic compound made of hy-
ally. Compare global warming. See also natural given substance, excluding the overall motion
drogen and carbon atoms. The simplest hydro-
greenhouse effect. of the whole object. Heat always ows sponta-
carbon is methane (CH4), the major component
greenhouse gases Gases in the earths lower neously from a warmer sample of matter to a
of natural gas.
atmosphere (troposphere) that cause the green- colder sample of matter. This is one way to state
the second law of thermodynamics. Compare hydroelectric power plant Structure in
house effect. Examples include carbon dioxide,
temperature. which the energy of falling or owing water
chlorouorocarbons, ozone, methane, water
spins a turbine generator to produce electricity.
vapor, and nitrous oxide. herbicide Chemical that kills a plant or inhib-
its its growth. hydrologic cycle Biogeochemical cycle that
green manure Freshly cut or still-growing
collects, puries, and distributes the earths
green vegetation that is plowed into the soil to herbivore Plant-eating organism. Examples xed supply of water from the environment to
increase the organic matter and humus avail- include deer, sheep, grasshoppers, and zoo- living organisms and then back to the environ-
able to support crop growth. Compare animal plankton. Compare carnivore, omnivore. ment.
heterotroph See consumer. hydropower Electrical energy produced by
green revolution Popular term for the intro-
high Air mass with a high pressure. Compare falling or owing water. See hydroelectric power
duction of scientically bred or selected varieties
low. plant.
of grain (rice, wheat, maize) that, with adequate
inputs of fertilizer and water, can greatly in- high-grade ore Ore containing a large hydrosphere Earths liquid water (oceans,
crease crop yields. amount of the desired mineral. Compare low- lakes, other bodies of surface water, and un-
grade ore. derground water), frozen water (polar ice caps,
gross domestic product (GDP) Annual
oating ice caps, and ice in soil, known as
market value of all goods and services produced high-input agriculture See industrialized permafrost), and water vapor in the atmosphere.
by all rms and organizations, foreign and agriculture. See also hydrologic cycle. Compare atmosphere,
domestic, operating within a country. See per
high-quality energy Energy that is concen- biosphere, geosphere.
capita GDP.
trated and has great ability to perform useful hypereutrophic Result of excessive inputs of
gross primary productivity (GPP) Rate at work. Examples include high-temperature heat nutrients in a lake. See cultural eutrophication.
which an ecosystems producers capture and and the energy in electricity, coal, oil, gasoline,
store a given amount of chemical energy as sunlight, and nuclei of uranium-235. Compare igneous rock Rock formed when molten rock
biomass in a given length of time. Compare net low-quality energy. material (magma) wells up from the earths
primary productivity. interior, cools, and solidies into rock masses.
high-quality matter Matter that is concen- Compare metamorphic rock, sedimentary rock. See
ground re Fire that burns decayed leaves or
trated and contains a high concentration of a rock cycle.
peat deep below the ground surface. Compare
useful resource. Compare low-quality matter.
crown re, surface re. immature community Community at an
high-throughput economy Economic sys- early stage of ecological succession. It usually
groundwater Water that sinks into the soil
tem in most advanced industrialized countries, has a low number of species and ecological
and is stored in slowly owing and slowly
in which ever-increasing economic growth is niches and cannot capture and use energy and
renewed underground reservoirs called aquifers;
sustained by maximizing the rate at which mat- cycle critical nutrients as efciently as more
underground water in the zone of saturation,
ter and energy resources are used, with little complex, mature communities. Compare mature
below the water table. Compare runoff, surface
emphasis on pollution prevention, recycling, community.
reuse, reduction of unnecessary waste, and
other forms of resource conservation. Compare immigrant species See nonnative species.
habitat Place or type of place where an organ-
ism or population of organisms lives. Compare low-throughput economy, matter-recycling economy. immigration Migration of people into a coun-
ecological niche. try or area to take up permanent residence.
high-waste economy See high-throughput
habitat fragmentation Breakup of a habitat economy. indicator species Species that serve as early
into smaller pieces, usually as a result of human warnings that a community or ecosystem is be-
HIPPCO Acronym used by conservation biolo-
activities. ing degraded. Compare foundation species, keystone
gists for the six most important secondary causes
species, native species, nonnative species.
half-life Time needed for one-half of the of premature extinction: Habitat destruction,
nuclei in a radioisotope to emit their radiation. degradation, and fragmentation; Invasive (non- inductive reasoning Using specic observa-
Each radioisotope has a characteristic half-life, native) species; Population growth (too many tions and measurements to arrive at a general
which may range from a few millionths of a sec- people consuming too many resources); Pollu- conclusion or hypothesis. Compare deductive
ond to several billion years. See radioisotope. tion; Climate change; and Overexploitation. reasoning.

industrialized agriculture Production based on its usefulness to humans. Compare kerogen Solid, waxy mixture of hydrocar-
of large quantities of crops and livestock for intrinsic value. bons found in oil shale rock. Heating the rock
domestic and foreign sale; involves use of large to high temperatures causes the kerogen to
integrated pest management (IPM) Com-
inputs of energy from fossil fuels (especially oil vaporize. The vapor is condensed, puried, and
bined use of biological, chemical, and cultivation
and natural gas), water, fertilizer, and pesticides. then sent to a renery to produce gasoline,
methods in proper sequence and timing to keep
Compare subsistence farming. heating oil, and other products. See also oil shale,
the size of a pest population below the size that
shale oil.
industrialmedical revolution Use of new causes economically unacceptable loss of a crop
sources of energy from fossil fuels and later from or livestock animal. keystone species Species that play roles af-
nuclear fuels, and use of new technologies, to fecting many other organisms in an ecosystem.
integrated waste management Variety of
grow food and manufacture products. Compare Compare foundation species, indicator species, native
strategies for both waste reduction and waste
agricultural revolution, environmental revolution, species, nonnative species.
management designed to deal with the solid
huntergatherers, information and globalization
wastes we produce. kilocalorie (kcal) Unit of energy equal to
1,000 calories. See calorie.
intercropping Growing two or more different
industrial smog Type of air pollution con- kilowatt (kW) Unit of electrical power equal
crops at the same time on a plot. For example,
sisting mostly of a mixture of sulfur dioxide, to 1,000 watts. See watt.
a carbohydrate-rich grain that depletes soil
suspended droplets of sulfuric acid formed from
nitrogen and a protein-rich legume that adds ni- kinetic energy Energy that matter has
some of the sulfur dioxide, and suspended solid
trogen to the soil may be intercropped. Compare because of its mass and speed, or velocity. Com-
particles. Compare photochemical smog.
monoculture, polyculture. pare potential energy.
industrial solid waste Solid waste produced
internal cost Direct cost paid by the producer K-selected species Species that produce
by mines, factories, reneries, food growers, and
and the buyer of an economic good. Compare a few, often fairly large offspring but invest a
businesses that supply people with goods and
external benet, external cost, full cost. great deal of time and energy to ensure that
services. Compare municipal solid waste.
interspecic competition Attempts by most of those offspring reach reproductive age.
inertia Ability of a living system, such as a members of two or more species to use the same Compare r-selected species.
grassland or a forest, to survive moderate distur- limited resources in an ecosystem. See competi-
bances. Compare constancy, resilience. K-strategists See K-selected species.
tion, intraspecic competition.
infant mortality rate Number of babies out lake Large natural body of standing fresh
intertidal zone The area of shoreline be- water formed when water from precipita-
of every 1,000 born each year who die before tween low and high tides.
their rst birthday. tion, land runoff, or groundwater ow lls a
intraspecic competition Attempts by two depression in the earth created by glaciation,
infectious disease Disease caused when a or more organisms of a single species to use the earth movement, volcanic activity, or a giant
pathogen such as a bacterium, virus, or parasite same limited resources in an ecosystem. See com- meteorite. See eutrophic lake, mesotrophic lake,
invades the body and multiplies in its cells and petition, interspecic competition. oligotrophic lake.
tissues. Examples are u, HIV, malaria, tuber-
culosis, and measles. See transmissible disease. intrinsic rate of increase (r) Rate at which land degradation Decrease in the ability of
Compare nontransmissible disease. a population could grow if it had unlimited land to support crops, livestock, or wild species
resources. Compare environmental resistance. in the future as a result of natural or human-
inltration Downward movement of water induced processes.
through soil. intrinsic value Value of an organism, species,
ecosystem, or the earths biodiversity based on landll See sanitary landll.
information and globalization revolu- its existence, regardless of whether it has any land-use planning Planning to determine
tion Use of new technologies such as the usefulness to humans. Compare instrumental the best present and future uses of each parcel
telephone, radio, television, computers, the value. of land.
Internet, automated databases, and remote sens-
ing satellites to enable people to have increas- invasive species See nonnative species. latitude Distance from the equator. Compare
ingly rapid access to much more information inversion See temperature inversion. altitude.
on a global scale. Compare agricultural revolu-
invertebrates Animals that have no back- law of conservation of energy See rst law
tion, environmental revolution, huntergatherers,
bones. Compare vertebrates. of thermodynamics.
industrialmedical revolution.
ion Atom or group of atoms with one or more law of conservation of matter In any
inherent value See intrinsic value.
positive () or negative () electrical charges. physical or chemical change, matter is neither
inland wetland Land away from the coast, Examples are Na and Cl. Compare atom, created nor destroyed but merely changed from
such as a swamp, marsh, or bog, that is covered molecule. one form to another; in physical and chemi-
all or part of the time with fresh water. Compare cal changes, existing atoms are rearranged into
coastal wetland. ionizing radiation Fast-moving alpha or beta different spatial patterns (physical changes) or
particles or high-energy radiation (gamma rays) different combinations (chemical changes).
inorganic compounds All compounds not emitted by radioisotopes. They have enough
classied as organic compounds. See organic law of nature See scientic law.
energy to dislodge one or more electrons from
compounds. atoms they hit, thereby forming charged ions law of tolerance Existence, abundance, and
inorganic fertilizer See commercial inorganic in tissue that can react with and damage living distribution of a species in an ecosystem are de-
fertilizer. tissue. Compare nonionizing radiation. termined by whether the levels of one or more
physical or chemical factors fall within the range
input Matter, energy, or information entering isotopes Two or more forms of a chemical
tolerated by the species. See threshold effect.
a system. Compare output, throughput. element that have the same number of protons
but different mass numbers because they have LD50 See median lethal dose.
input pollution control See pollution different numbers of neutrons in their nuclei.
prevention. LDC See developing country.
J-shaped curve Curve with a shape similar
leaching Process in which various chemicals
insecticide Chemical that kills insects. to that of the letter J; can represent prolonged
in upper layers of soil are dissolved and carried
exponential growth. See exponential growth.
instrumental value Value of an organism, to lower layers and, in some cases, to ground-
species, ecosystem, or the earths biodiversity junk science See unreliable science. water.

less developed country (LDC) See developing easy to recycle, reuse, and repair, not allowing matter-recycling-and-reuse economy
country. population size to exceed the carrying capacity Economy that emphasizes recycling the
of the environment, and preserving biodiversity. maximum amount of all resources that can
life-cycle cost Initial cost plus lifetime operat-
Compare high-throughput economy, matter-recycling be recycled and reused. The goal is to allow
ing costs of an economic good. Compare full cost.
economy. economic growth to continue without depleting
life expectancy Average number of years a matter resources and without producing exces-
low-waste economy See low-throughput
newborn infant can be expected to live. sive pollution and environmental degradation.
Compare high-throughput economy, low-throughput
limiting factor Single factor that limits the
LPG See liqueed petroleum gas. economy.
growth, abundance, or distribution of the popu-
lation of a species in an ecosystem. See limiting magma Molten rock below the earths surface. mature community Fairly stable, self-
factor principle. sustaining community in an advanced stage of
malnutrition Faulty nutrition, caused by
ecological succession; usually has a diverse array
limiting factor principle Too much or too a diet that does not supply an individual with
of species and ecological niches; captures and
little of any abiotic factor can limit or prevent enough protein, essential fats, vitamins, miner-
uses energy and cycles critical chemicals more
growth of a population of a species in an ecosys- als, and other nutrients needed for good health.
efciently than simpler, immature communities.
tem, even if all other factors are at or near the Compare overnutrition, undernutrition.
Compare immature community.
optimal range of tolerance for the species.
mangrove swamps Swamps found on the maximum sustainable yield See sustainable
linear growth Growth in which a quantity coastlines in warm tropical climates. They are yield.
increases by some xed amount during each dominated by mangrove trees, any of about
unit of time. An example is growth that in- 55 species of trees and shrubs that can live partly MDC See developed country.
creases by 2 units in the sequence 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, submerged in the salty environment of coastal median lethal dose (LD50) Amount of a
and so on. Compare exponential growth. swamps. toxic material per unit of body weight of test
liqueed natural gas (LNG) Natural gas con- mantle Zone of the earths interior between animals that kills half the test population in a
verted to liquid form by cooling it to a very low its core and its crust. Compare core, crust. See certain time.
temperature. geosphere, lithosphere. mediation Approach for settling a dispute
liqueed petroleum gas (LPG) Mixture of manufactured capital See manufactured in which the parties involved are encouraged
liqueed propane (C3H8) and butane (C4H10) gas resources. to sit down and talk under the guidance of a
removed from natural gas and used as a professional mediator, with the goal of resolving
manufactured resources Manufactured the dispute in a way that is acceptable to both
items made from natural resources and used parties. Compare arbitration.
lithosphere Outer shell of the earth, com- to produce and distribute economic goods and
posed of the crust and the rigid, outermost services bought by consumers. They include megacity City with 10 million or more
part of the mantle outside the asthenosphere; tools, machinery, equipment, factory buildings, people.
material found in the earths plates. See crust, and transportation and distribution facilities. meltdown Melting of the highly radioactive
geosphere, mantle. Compare human resources, natural resources. core of a nuclear reactor.
loams Soils containing a mixture of clay, sand, manure See animal manure, green manure. mesotrophic lake Lake with a moderate
silt, and humus. Good for growing most crops. supply of plant nutrients. Compare eutrophic lake,
mass Amount of material in an object.
lobbying Process in which individuals or oligotrophic lake.
mass extinction Catastrophic, widespread,
groups use public pressure, personal contacts, metabolism Ability of a living cell or organ-
often global event in which major groups of spe-
and political action to persuade legislators to ism to capture and transform matter and energy
cies are wiped out over a short time compared
vote or act in their favor. from its environment to supply its needs for
with normal (background) extinctions. Compare
logistic growth Pattern in which exponential background extinction. survival, growth, and reproduction.
population growth occurs when the popula- metamorphic rock Rock produced when a
mass number Sum of the number of neu-
tion is small, and population growth decreases preexisting rock is subjected to high tempera-
trons (n) and the number of protons (p) in the
steadily with time as the population approaches tures (which may cause it to melt partially),
nucleus of an atom. It gives the approximate
the carrying capacity. See S-shaped curve. high pressures, chemically active uids, or a
mass of that atom. Compare atomic number.
low Air mass with a low pressure. Compare combination of these agents. Compare igneous
mass transit Buses, trains, trolleys, and other rock, sedimentary rock. See rock cycle.
forms of transportation that carry large numbers
low-grade ore Ore containing a small amount of people. metastasis Spread of malignant (cancerous)
of a desired mineral. Compare high-grade ore. cells from a tumor to other parts of the body.
mass wasting Process that occurs when rock
low-input agriculture See sustainable agri- metropolitan area See urban area.
and soil masses become detached from under-
culture. lying material and move downhill under the microorganisms Organisms such as bacteria
inuence of gravity. that are so small that it takes a microscope to see
low-quality energy Energy that is dispersed
and has little ability to do useful work. An material efciency Total amount of material
example is low-temperature heat. Compare needed to produce each unit of goods or ser- micropower systems Systems of small-scale
high-quality energy. vices. Also called resource productivity. Compare decentralized units that generate 110,000 kilo-
energy efciency. watts of electricity. Examples include microtur-
low-quality matter Matter that is dilute or
bines, fuel cells, wind turbines, and household
dispersed or contains a low concentration of a matter Anything that has mass (the amount
solar-cell panels and solar-cell roofs.
useful resource. Compare high-quality matter. of material in an object) and takes up space. On
the earth, where gravity is present, we weigh an migration Movement of people into and out
low-throughput economy Economy based
object to determine its mass. of specic geographic areas. Compare emigration
on working with nature by recycling and reus-
and immigration.
ing discarded matter, preventing pollution, con- matter quality Measure of how useful a
serving matter and energy resources by reducing matter resource is, based on its availability and mineral Any naturally occurring inorganic
unnecessary waste and use, not degrading concentration. See high-quality matter, low-quality substance found in the earths crust as a crystal-
renewable resources, building things that are matter. line solid. See mineral resource.

mineral resource Concentration of naturally natural greenhouse effect Heat buildup neutron (n) Elementary particle in the nuclei
occurring solid, liquid, or gaseous material in or in the troposphere caused by the presence of of all atoms (except hydrogen-1). It has a rela-
on the earths crust in a form and amount such certain gases, called greenhouse gases. Without tive mass of 1 and no electric charge. Compare
that extracting and converting it into useful ma- this effect, the earth would be nearly as cold as electron, proton.
terials or items is currently or potentially prot- Mars, and life as we know it could not exist. See
niche See ecological niche.
able. Mineral resources are classied as metallic global warming.
(such as iron and tin ores) or nonmetallic (such as nitric oxide (NO) Colorless gas that forms
natural income Renewable resources such
fossil fuels, sand, and salt). when nitrogen and oxygen gas in air react at the
as plants, animals, and soil provided by natural
high-combustion temperatures in automobile
minimum-tillage farming See conservation- capital.
engines and coal-burning plants. Lightning and
tillage farming.
natural law See scientic law. certain bacteria in soil and water also produce
mixture Combination of one or more ele- NO as part of the nitrogen cycle.
natural radioactive decay Nuclear change in
ments and compounds.
which unstable nuclei of atoms spontaneously nitrogen cycle Cyclic movement of nitrogen
model Approximate representation or simula- shoot out particles (usually alpha or beta par- in different chemical forms from the environ-
tion of a system being studied. ticles) or energy (gamma rays) at a xed rate. ment to organisms and then back to the envi-
molecule Combination of two or more atoms natural rate of extinction See background ronment.
of the same chemical element (such as O2) extinction. nitrogen dioxide (NO2) Reddish-brown gas
or different chemical elements (such as H2O) formed when nitrogen oxide reacts with oxygen
natural recharge Natural replenishment of
held together by chemical bonds. Compare atom, in the air.
an aquifer by precipitation, which percolates
downward through soil and rock. See recharge nitrogen xation Conversion of atmospheric
monoculture Cultivation of a single crop, area. nitrogen gas into forms useful to plants by light-
usually on a large area of land. Compare poly- ning, bacteria, and cyanobacteria; it is part of the
natural resources Materials such as air,
culture. nitrogen cycle.
water, and soil and energy in nature that are es-
more developed country (MDC) See devel- sential or useful to humans. See natural capital. nitrogen oxides (NOx) See nitric oxide and
oped country. nitrogen dioxide.
natural selection Process by which a
mountaintop removal Type of surface min- particular benecial gene (or set of genes) is noise pollution Any unwanted, disturbing,
ing that uses explosives, massive shovels, and reproduced in succeeding generations more than or harmful sound that impairs or interferes with
large machines called draglines to remove the other genes. The result of natural selection is a hearing, causes stress, hampers concentration
top of a mountain to expose seams of coal un- population that contains a greater proportion and work efciency, or causes accidents.
derneath a mountain. Compare area strip mining, of organisms better adapted to certain environ-
contour strip mining. mental conditions. See adaptation, biological evolu- nondegradable pollutant Material that
tion, differential reproduction, mutation. is not broken down by natural processes.
MSW See municipal solid waste. Examples include the toxic elements lead and
natural services Processes of nature, such as mercury. Compare biodegradable pollutant.
multiple use Use of an ecosystem such as a
purication of air and water and pest control,
forest for a variety of purposes such as timber nonionizing radiation Forms of radiant
which support life and human economies. See
harvesting, wildlife habitat, watershed protec- energy such as radio waves, microwaves, infra-
natural capital.
tion, and recreation. Compare sustainable yield. red light, and ordinary light that do not have
negative feedback loop Feedback loop that enough energy to cause ionization of atoms in
municipal solid waste (MSW) Solid materi-
causes a system to change in the opposite direc- living tissue. Compare ionizing radiation.
als discarded by homes and businesses in or near
tion from which is it moving. Compare positive
urban areas. See solid waste. Compare industrial nonnative species Species that migrate into
feedback loop.
solid waste. an ecosystem or are deliberately or accidentally
nekton Strongly swimming organisms found introduced into an ecosystem by humans. Com-
mutagen Chemical or form of radiation that
in aquatic systems. Compare benthos, plankton. pare native species.
causes inheritable changes (mutations) in the
DNA molecules in genes. See carcinogen, muta- net energy Total amount of useful energy
nonpoint sources Broad and diffuse areas,
tion, teratogen. available from an energy resource or energy
rather than points, from which pollutants enter
system over its lifetime, minus the amount of
mutation Random change in DNA mol- bodies of surface water or air. Examples include
energy used (the rst energy law), automatically
ecules making up genes that can alter anatomy, runoff of chemicals and sediments from crop-
wasted (the second energy law), and unnecessarily
physiology, or behavior in offspring. See muta- land, livestock feedlots, logged forests, urban
wasted in nding, processing, concentrating, and
gen. streets, parking lots, lawns, and golf courses.
transporting it to users.
Compare point source.
mutualism Type of species interaction in
net primary productivity (NPP) Rate at
which both participating species generally ben- nonrenewable resource Resource that exists
which all the plants in an ecosystem produce
et. Compare commensalism. in a xed amount (stock) in the earths crust
net useful chemical energy; equal to the differ-
and has the potential for renewal by geological,
native species Species that normally live ence between the rate at which the plants in
physical, and chemical processes taking place
and thrive in a particular ecosystem. Compare an ecosystem produce useful chemical energy
over hundreds of millions to billions of years.
foundation species, indicator species, keystone species, (gross primary productivity) and the rate at
Examples include copper, aluminum, coal, and
nonnative species. which they use some of that energy through
oil. We classify these resources as exhaustible
cellular respiration. Compare gross primary
natural capital Natural resources and natural because we are extracting and using them at a
services that keep us and other species alive and much faster rate than they are formed. Compare
support our economies. See natural resources, neurotoxins Chemicals that can harm the hu- renewable resource.
natural services. man nervous system (brain, spinal cord, peripheral
nontransmissible disease Disease that is
natural gas Underground deposits of gases not caused by living organisms and does not
consisting of 5090% by weight methane gas neutral solution Water solution containing spread from one person to another. Examples
(CH4) and small amounts of heavier gaseous an equal number of hydrogen ions (H) and include most cancers, diabetes, cardiovascular
hydrocarbon compounds such as propane (C3H8) hydroxide ions (OH); water solution with a pH disease, and malnutrition. Compare transmissible
and butane (C4H10). of 7. Compare acid solution, basic solution. disease.

no-till farming See conservation-tillage farming. omnivore Animal that can use both plants overgrazing Destruction of vegetation when
and other animals as food sources. Examples too many grazing animals feed too long and
NPP See net primary productivity.
include pigs, rats, cockroaches, and humans. exceed the carrying capacity of a rangeland or
nuclear change Process in which nuclei of cer- Compare carnivore, herbivore. pasture area.
tain isotopes spontaneously change, or are forced open access renewable resource Renew- overnutrition Diet so high in calories, satu-
to change, into one or more different isotopes. able resource owned by no one and available for rated (animal) fats, salt, sugar, and processed
The three principal types of nuclear change are use by anyone at little or no charge. Examples foods and so low in vegetables and fruits that
natural radioactivity, nuclear ssion, and nuclear include clean air, underground water supplies, the consumer runs a high risk of developing
fusion. Compare chemical change, physical change. the open ocean and its sh, and the ozone layer. diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and other
nuclear energy Energy released when atomic Compare common property resource, private property health hazards. Compare malnutrition, undernu-
nuclei undergo a nuclear reaction such as the resource. trition.
spontaneous emission of radioactivity, nuclear open dump Fields or holes in the ground oxygen-demanding wastes Organic materi-
ssion, or nuclear fusion. where garbage is deposited and sometimes als that are usually biodegraded by aerobic
nuclear ssion Nuclear change in which the covered with soil. They are rare in developed (oxygen-consuming) bacteria if there is enough
nuclei of certain isotopes with large mass num- countries, but are widely used in many develop- dissolved oxygen in the water.
bers (such as uranium-235 and plutonium-239) ing countries, especially to handle wastes from
ozone (O3) Colorless and highly reactive gas
are split apart into lighter nuclei when struck by megacities. Compare sanitary landll.
and a major component of photochemical smog.
a neutron. This process releases more neutrons open-pit mining Removing minerals such as Also found in the ozone layer in the strato-
and a large amount of energy. Compare nuclear gravel, sand, and metal ores by digging them out sphere. See photochemical smog.
fusion. of the earths surface and leaving an open pit
ozone depletion Decrease in concentration of
nuclear fusion Nuclear change in which two behind. Compare area strip mining, contour strip
ozone (O3) in the stratosphere. See ozone
nuclei of isotopes of elements with a low mass mining, mountaintop removal, subsurface mining.
number (such as hydrogen-2 and hydrogen-3) open sea Part of an ocean that lies beyond the
are forced together at extremely high tempera- ozone layer Layer of gaseous ozone (O3) in
continental shelf. Compare coastal zone.
tures until they fuse to form a heavier nucleus the stratosphere that protects life on earth by
(such as helium-4). This process releases a large ore Part of a metal-yielding material that ltering out most harmful ultraviolet radiation
amount of energy. Compare nuclear ssion. can be economically extracted from a mineral; from the sun.
typically containing two parts: the ore mineral,
PANs Peroxyacyl nitrates; group of chemicals
nucleus Extremely tiny center of an atom, which contains the desired metal, and waste
found in photochemical smog.
making up most of the atoms mass. It contains mineral material (gangue). See high-grade ore,
one or more positively charged protons and low-grade ore. paradigm shift Shift in thinking that occurs
one or more neutrons with no electrical charge when the majority of scientists in a eld or
organic agriculture Growing crops with
(except for a hydrogen-1 atom, which has one related elds agree that a new explanation or
limited or no use of synthetic pesticides and
proton and no neutrons in its nucleus). theory is better than the old one
synthetic fertilizers; raising livestock without use
nutrient Any chemical element or compound of synthetic growth regulators and feed addi- parasite Consumer organism that lives on or
an organism must take in to live, grow, or tives; using organic fertilizer (manure, legumes, in, and feeds on, a living plant or animal, known
reproduce. compost) and natural pest control (bugs that as the host, over an extended period. The
eat harmful bugs, plants that repel bugs, and parasite draws nourishment from and gradually
nutrient cycle See biogeochemical cycle.
environmental controls such as crop rotation). weakens its host; it may or may not kill the host.
nutrient cycling The circulation of chemicals See sustainable agriculture. See parasitism.
necessary for life, from the environment (mostly parasitism Interaction between species in
organic compounds Compounds containing
from soil and water) through organisms and which one organism, called the parasite, preys
carbon atoms combined with each other and
back to the environment on another organism, called the host, by living
with atoms of one or more other elements such
oil See crude oil. as hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, phospho- on or in the host. See host, parasite.
rus, chlorine, and uorine. All other compounds
oil sand Deposit of a mixture of clay, sand, particulates Also known as suspended par-
are called inorganic compounds.
water, and varying amounts of a tar-like heavy ticulate matter (SPM); variety of solid particles
oil known as bitumen. Bitumen can be extracted organic farming See organic agriculture and and liquid droplets small and light enough to
from oil sand by heating. It is then puried and sustainable agriculture. remain suspended in the air for long periods.
upgraded to synthetic crude oil. See bitumen. About 62% of the SPM in outdoor air comes
organic fertilizer Organic material such as
from natural sources such as dust, wild res, and
oil shale Fine-grained rock containing various animal manure, green manure, and compost,
sea salt. The remaining 38% comes from human
amounts of kerogen, a solid, waxy mixture of applied to cropland as a source of plant nutri-
sources such as coal-burning electric power and
hydrocarbon compounds. Heating the rock to ents. Compare commercial inorganic fertilizer.
industrial plants, motor vehicles, plowed elds,
high temperatures converts the kerogen into a organism Any form of life. road construction, unpaved roads, and tobacco
vapor that can be condensed to form a slow- smoke.
owing heavy oil called shale oil. See kerogen, output Matter, energy, or information leaving
shale oil. a system. Compare input, throughput. parts per billion (ppb) Number of parts of a
chemical found in 1 billion parts of a particular
old-growth forest Virgin and old, second- output pollution control See pollution
gas, liquid, or solid.
growth forests containing trees that are often cleanup.
hundredssometimes thousandsof years old. parts per million (ppm) Number of parts of
overburden Layer of soil and rock overlying
Examples include forests of Douglas r, western a chemical found in 1 million parts of a particu-
a mineral deposit. Surface mining removes this
hemlock, giant sequoia, and coastal redwoods lar gas, liquid, or solid.
in the western United States. Compare second- parts per trillion (ppt) Number of parts of a
overshing Harvesting so many sh of a spe-
growth forest, tree plantation. chemical found in 1 trillion parts of a particular
cies, especially immature individuals, that not
gas, liquid, or solid.
oligotrophic lake Lake with a low sup- enough breeding stock is left to replenish the
ply of plant nutrients. Compare eutrophic lake, species and it becomes unprotable to harvest passive solar heating system System that
mesotrophic lake. them. captures sunlight directly within a structure and

converts it into low-temperature heat for space thetic bers, paints, medicines, and many other plankton Small plant organisms (phytoplank-
heating or for heating water for domestic use products. ton) and animal organisms (zooplankton) that
without the use of mechanical devices. Compare oat in aquatic ecosystems.
petroleum See crude oil.
active solar heating system.
plantation agriculture Growing special-
pH Numeric value that indicates the relative
pasture Managed grassland or enclosed mead- ized crops such as bananas, coffee, and cacao in
acidity or alkalinity of a substance on a scale of 0
ow that usually is planted with domesticated tropical developing countries, primarily for sale
to 14, with the neutral point at 7. Acid solutions
grasses or other forage to be grazed by livestock. to developed countries.
have pH values lower than 7; basic or alkaline
Compare feedlot.
solutions have pH values greater than 7. plates See tectonic plates.
pathogen Living organism that can cause
phosphorus cycle Cyclic movement of plate tectonics Theory of geophysical pro-
disease in another organism. Examples include
phosphorus in different chemical forms from the cesses that explains the movements of litho-
bacteria, viruses, and parasites.
environment to organisms and then back to the spheric plates and the processes that occur at
PCBs See polychlorinated biphenyls. environment. their boundaries. See lithosphere, tectonic plates.

peer review Process of scientists reporting photochemical smog Complex mixture of air point source Single identiable source that
details of the methods and models they used, pollutants produced in the lower atmosphere by discharges pollutants into the environment. Ex-
the results of their experiments, and the reason- the reaction of hydrocarbons and nitrogen ox- amples include the smokestack of a power plant
ing behind their hypotheses for other scientists ides under the inuence of sunlight. Especially or an industrial plant, drainpipe of a meatpack-
working in the same eld (their peers) to exam- harmful components include ozone, peroxyacyl ing plant, chimney of a house, or exhaust pipe
ine and criticize. nitrates (PANs), and various aldehydes. Com- of an automobile. Compare nonpoint source.
pare industrial smog.
per capita ecological footprint Amount of poison Chemical that adversely affects the
biologically productive land and water needed photosynthesis Complex process that takes health of a living human or animal by causing
to supply each person or population with the place in cells of green plants. Radiant energy injury, illness, or death.
renewable resources they use and to absorb or from the sun is used to combine carbon dioxide
policies Set of laws and regulations that a
dispose of the wastes from such resource use. It (CO2) and water (H2O) to produce oxygen (O2),
government enforces and the programs it funds.
measures the average environmental impact of carbohydrates (such as glucose, C6H12O6), and
individuals or populations in different countries other nutrient molecules. Compare aerobic respi- politics Process through which individuals
and areas. Compare ecological footprint. ration, chemosynthesis. and groups try to inuence or control govern-
ment policies and actions that affect the local,
per capita GDP Annual gross domestic prod- photovoltaic (PV) cell Device that converts
state, national, and international communities.
uct (GDP) of a country divided by its total popu- radiant (solar) energy directly into electrical
lation at midyear. It gives the average slice of the energy. Also called a solar cell. pollutant Particular chemical or form of
economic pie per person. Used to be called per energy that can adversely affect the health,
physical change Process that alters one
capita gross national product (GNP). See gross survival, or activities of humans or other living
or more physical properties of an element or
domestic product. organisms. See pollution.
a compound without changing its chemical
per capita GDP PPP (Purchasing Power composition. Examples include changing the pollution Undesirable change in the physi-
Parity) Measure of the amount of goods and size and shape of a sample of matter (crushing cal, chemical, or biological characteristics of air,
services that a countrys average citizen could ice and cutting aluminum foil) and changing water, soil, or food that can adversely affect the
buy in the United States. a sample of matter from one physical state to health, survival, or activities of humans or other
another (boiling and freezing water). Compare living organisms.
percolation Passage of a liquid through the chemical change, nuclear change.
spaces of a porous material such as soil. pollution cleanup Device or process that re-
phytoplankton Small, drifting plants, mostly moves or reduces the level of a pollutant after it
perennial Plant that can live for more than 2 algae and bacteria, found in aquatic ecosystems. has been produced or has entered the environ-
years. Compare annual. Compare plankton, zooplankton. ment. Examples include automobile emission
permafrost Perennially frozen layer of the control devices and sewage treatment plants.
pioneer community First integrated set of
soil that forms when the water there freezes. It Compare pollution prevention.
plants, animals, and decomposers found in an
is found in arctic tundra. area undergoing primary ecological succession. pollution prevention Device, process, or
perpetual resource Essentially inexhaust- See immature community, mature community. strategy used to prevent a potential pollutant
ible resource on a human time scale because from forming or entering the environment or to
pioneer species First hardy speciesoften
it is renewed continuously. Solar energy is an sharply reduce the amount entering the envi-
microbes, mosses, and lichensthat begin colo-
example. Compare nonrenewable resource, renew- ronment. Compare pollution cleanup.
nizing a site as the rst stage of ecological suc-
able resource. cession. See ecological succession, pioneer community. polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) Group of
209 toxic, oily, synthetic chlorinated hydrocar-
persistence (1) the ability of a living system, plaintiff Party in a court case bringing charges
bon compounds that can be biologically ampli-
such as a grassland or a forest, to survive moder- or seeking to collect damages for injuries to
ed in food chains and webs.
ate disturbances (2) the tendency for a pollutant health or for economic loss; may also seek an
to stay in the air, water, soil, or body. Compare injunction, by which the party being charged polyculture Complex form of intercropping
constancy, resilience. would be required to stop whatever action is in which a large number of different plants
causing harm. See defendant and civil suit. maturing at different times are planted together.
pest Unwanted organism that directly or indi-
See also intercropping. Compare monoculture.
rectly interferes with human activities. planetary management worldview
Worldview holding that humans are separate population Group of individual organisms of
pesticide Any chemical designed to kill or
from nature, that nature exists mainly to meet the same species living in a particular area.
inhibit the growth of an organism that people
our needs and increasing wants, and that we
consider undesirable. See fungicide, herbicide, population change Increase or decrease in
can use our ingenuity and technology to man-
insecticide. the size of a population. It is equal to (Births 
age the earths life-support systems, mostly for
Immigration)  (Deaths  Emigration).
petrochemicals Chemicals obtained by our benet. It assumes that economic growth
rening (distilling) crude oil. They are used as is unlimited. Compare deep ecology worldview, population density Number of organisms in
raw materials in manufacturing most industrial environmental wisdom worldview, stewardship a particular population found in a specied area
chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, plastics, syn- worldview. or volume.

population dispersion General pattern in primary recycling Process in which materi- rain shadow effect Low precipitation on
which the members of a population are arranged als are recycled into new products of the same the leeward side of a mountain when prevail-
throughout its habitat. typeturning used aluminum cans into new ing winds ow up and over a high mountain or
aluminum cans, for example. range of high mountains, creating semiarid and
population distribution Variation of
arid conditions on the leeward side of a high
population density over a particular geographic primary sewage treatment Mechanical sew-
mountain range.
area or volume. For example, a country has age treatment in which large solids are ltered
a high population density in its urban areas out by screens and suspended solids settle out rangeland Land that supplies forage or veg-
and a much lower population density in rural as sludge in a sedimentation tank. Compare ad- etation (grasses, grass-like plants, and shrubs)
areas. vanced sewage treatment, secondary sewage treatment. for grazing and browsing animals and is not
intensively managed. Compare feedlot, pasture.
population dynamics Major abiotic and primary succession Ecological succession in
biotic factors that tend to increase or decrease a bare area that has never been occupied by a range of tolerance Range of chemical and
the population size and affect the age and sex community of organisms. See ecological succession. physical conditions that must be maintained for
composition of a species. Compare secondary succession. populations of a particular species to stay alive
and grow, develop, and function normally. See
population size Number of individuals mak- principles of sustainability Principles by
law of tolerance.
ing up a populations gene pool. which nature has sustained itself for billions of
years by relying on solar energy, biodiversity, rare species Species that has naturally small
positive feedback loop Feedback loop that
population regulation, and nutrient recycling. numbers of individuals (often because of limited
causes a system to change further in the same
direction. Compare negative feedback loop. private property resource Land, mineral, geographic ranges or low population densities)
or other resource owned by individuals or by or that has been locally depleted by human
potential energy Energy stored in an object activities.
a rm. Compare common property resource, open ac-
because of its position or the position of its parts.
cess renewable resource. realized niche Parts of the fundamental niche
Compare kinetic energy.
probability Mathematical statement about of a species that are actually used by that spe-
poverty Inability to meet basic needs for food, cies. See ecological niche, fundamental niche.
how likely it is that something will happen.
clothing, and shelter.
producer Organism that uses solar energy recharge area Any area of land allowing
ppb See parts per billion. water to percolate down through it and into an
(green plants) or chemical energy (some bac-
ppm See parts per million. teria) to manufacture the organic compounds aquifer. See aquifer, natural recharge.
it needs as nutrients from simple inorganic reconciliation ecology Science of invent-
ppt See parts per trillion.
compounds obtained from its environment. ing, establishing, and maintaining habitats to
prairie See grassland. Compare consumer, decomposer. conserve species diversity in places where people
precautionary principle When there is sig- prokaryotic cell Cell containing no distinct live, work, or play.
nicant scientic uncertainty about potentially nucleus or organelles. Compare eukaryotic cell. recycling Collecting and reprocessing a re-
serious harm from chemicals or technologies, source so that it can be made into new prod-
proton (p) Positively charged particle in the
decision makers should act to prevent harm ucts. An example is collecting aluminum cans,
nuclei of all atoms. Each proton has a relative
to humans and the environment. See pollution melting them down, and using the aluminum
mass of 1 and a single positive charge. Compare
prevention. to make new cans or other aluminum products.
electron, neutron.
precipitation Water in the form of rain, sleet, See primary recycling, secondary recycling. Compare
pyramid of energy ow Diagram represent- reuse.
hail, and snow that falls from the atmosphere
ing the ow of energy through each trophic
onto land and bodies of water. reforestation Renewal of trees and other
level in a food chain or food web. With each
predation Interaction in which an organism energy transfer, only a small part (typically types of vegetation on land where trees have
of one species (the predator) captures and feeds 10%) of the usable energy entering one trophic been removed; can be done naturally by seeds
on parts or all of an organism of another species level is transferred to the organisms at the next from nearby trees or articially by planting seeds
(the prey). trophic level. or seedlings.

predator Organism that captures and feeds radiation Fast-moving particles (particulate reliable runoff Surface runoff of water that
on parts or all of an organism of another species radiation) or waves of energy (electromag- generally can be counted on as a stable source of
(the prey). netic radiation). See alpha particle, beta particle, water from year to year. See runoff.
gamma ray.
predatorprey relationship Relationship reliable science Concepts and ideas that are
that has evolved between two organisms, in radioactive decay Change of a radioisotope widely accepted by experts in a particular eld
which one organism has become the prey for to a different isotope by the emission of radio- of the natural or social sciences. Compare tenta-
the other, the latter called the predator. See activity. tive science, unreliable science.
predator, prey.
radioactive isotope See radioisotope. renewable resource Resource that can be
prey Organism that is captured and serves as replenished rapidly (hours to several decades)
radioactive waste Waste products of nuclear
a source of food for an organism of another spe- through natural processes as long as it is not
power plants, research, medicine, weapon
cies (the predator). used up faster than it is replaced. Examples
production, or other processes involving nuclear
include trees in forests, grasses in grasslands,
primary consumer Organism that feeds on reactions. See radioactivity.
wild animals, fresh surface water in lakes and
all or part of plants (herbivore) or on other pro-
radioactivity Nuclear change in which un- streams, most groundwater, fresh air, and fertile
ducers. Compare detritivore, omnivore, secondary
stable nuclei of atoms spontaneously shoot out soil. If such a resource is used faster than it is
chunks of mass, energy, or both at a xed rate. replenished, it can be depleted and converted
primary pollutant Chemical that has been The three principal types of radioactivity are into a nonrenewable resource. Compare nonre-
added directly to the air by natural events or hu- gamma rays and fast-moving alpha particles and newable resource and perpetual resource. See also
man activities and occurs in a harmful concen- beta particles. environmental degradation.
tration. Compare secondary pollutant.
radioisotope Isotope of an atom that sponta- replacement-level fertility Average number
primary productivity See gross primary pro- neously emits one or more types of radioactivity of children a couple must bear to replace them-
ductivity, net primary productivity. (alpha particles, beta particles, gamma rays). selves. The average for a country or the world

usually is slightly higher than two children per the environment from exposure to hazards as- scientic law, scientic methods, scientic model,
couple (2.1 in the United States and 2.5 in some sociated with the use of a particular product or scientic theory.
developing countries) mostly because some technology.
scientic law Description of what scientists
children die before reaching their reproductive
risk communication Communicating infor- nd happening in nature repeatedly in the same
years. See also total fertility rate.
mation about risks to decision makers and the way, without known exception. See rst law of
reproduction Production of offspring by one public. See risk, risk analysis. thermodynamics, law of conservation of matter, second
or more parents. law of thermodynamics. Compare scientic data,
risk management Use of risk assessment
scientic hypothesis, scientic methods, scientic model,
reproductive isolation Long-term geo- and other information to determine options and
scientic theory.
graphic separation of members of a particular make decisions about reducing or eliminating
sexually reproducing species. risks. See risk, risk analysis, risk communication. scientic methods The ways scientists gather
data and formulate and test scientic hypothe-
reproductive potential See biotic potential. rock Any solid material that makes up a large, ses, models, theories, and laws. See scientic data,
natural, continuous part of the earths crust. See scientic hypothesis, scientic law, scientic model,
reserves Resources that have been identied
mineral. scientic theory.
and from which a usable mineral can be ex-
tracted protably at present prices with current rock cycle Largest and slowest of the earths scientic model A simulation of complex
mining or extraction technology. cycles, consisting of geologic, physical, and processes and systems. Many are mathematical
reservoir Articial lake created when a stream chemical processes that form and modify rocks models that are run and tested using computers.
is dammed. See dam. and soil in the earths crust over millions of
years. scientic theory A well-tested and widely
resilience Ability of a living system to be accepted scientic hypothesis. Compare scientic
restored through secondary succession after a r-selected species Species that reproduce data, scientic hypothesis, scientic law, scientic meth-
moderate disturbance. early in their life span and produce large num- ods, scientic model.
bers of usually small and short-lived offspring in
resource Anything obtained from the envi- a short period. Compare K-selected species. secondary consumer Organism that feeds
ronment to meet human needs and wants. It only on primary consumers. Compare detritivore,
can also be applied to other species. r-strategists See r-selected species. omnivore, primary consumer.
resource partitioning Process of dividing rule of 70 Doubling time (in years)  secondary pollutant Harmful chemical
up resources in an ecosystem so that species 70/(percentage growth rate). See doubling time, formed in the atmosphere when a primary air
with similar needs (overlapping ecological exponential growth. pollutant reacts with normal air components or
niches) use the same scarce resources at dif- runoff Freshwater from precipitation and other air pollutants. Compare primary pollutant.
ferent times, in different ways, or in different melting ice that ows on the earths surface into secondary recycling A process in which
places. See ecological niche, fundamental niche, nearby streams, lakes, wetlands, and reservoirs. waste materials are converted into different
realized niche. See reliable runoff, surface runoff, surface water. products; for example, used tires can be shred-
resource productivity See material efciency. Compare groundwater. ded and turned into rubberized road surfacing.
salinity Amount of various salts dissolved in a Compare primary recycling.
respiration See aerobic respiration.
given volume of water. secondary sewage treatment Second step in
response Amount of health damage caused
salinization Accumulation of salts in soil that most waste treatment systems in which aerobic
by exposure to a certain dose of a harmful sub-
can eventually make the soil unable to support bacteria decompose as much as 90% of degrad-
stance or form of radiation. See dose, dose-response
plant growth. able, oxygen-demanding organic wastes in
curve, median lethal dose.
wastewater. It usually involves bringing sewage
restoration ecology Research and scientic saltwater intrusion Movement of saltwater and bacteria together in trickling lters or in the
study devoted to restoring, repairing, and recon- or brackish (slightly salty) water into freshwater activated sludge process. Compare advanced sew-
structing damaged ecosystems. aquifers in coastal and inland areas as ground- age treatment, primary sewage treatment.
water is withdrawn faster than it is recharged by
reuse Using a product over and over again in precipitation. secondary succession Ecological succession
the same form. An example is collecting, wash- in an area in which natural vegetation has been
ing, and relling glass beverage bottles. Compare sanitary landll Waste disposal site on land removed or destroyed but the soil or bottom
recycling. in which waste is spread in thin layers, com- sediment has not been destroyed. See ecological
pacted, and covered with a fresh layer of clay or succession. Compare primary succession.
riparian zones Thin strips and patches of plastic foam each day. Compare open dump.
vegetation that surround streams. They are very second-growth forest Stands of trees result-
important habitats and resources for wildlife. scavenger Organism that feeds on dead or- ing from secondary ecological succession. Com-
ganisms that were killed by other organisms or pare old-growth forest, tree farm.
risk Probability that something undesirable
died naturally. Examples include vultures, ies,
will result from deliberate or accidental expo- second law of energy See second law of ther-
and crows. Compare detritivore.
sure to a hazard. See risk analysis, risk assessment, modynamics.
risk management. science Attempts to discover order in nature
and use that knowledge to make predictions second law of thermodynamics In any
risk analysis Identifying hazards, evaluat- conversion of heat energy to useful work, some
about what is likely to happen in nature. See
ing the nature and severity of risks associated of the initial energy input is always degraded
reliable science, scientic data, scientic hypothesis, sci-
with the hazards (risk assessment), ranking risks to lower-quality, more dispersed, less useful
entic law, scientic methods, scientic model, scientic
(comparative risk analysis), using this and other energyusually low-temperature heat that
theory, tentative science, unreliable science.
information to determine options and make de- ows into the environment; you cannot break
cisions about reducing or eliminating risks (risk scientic data Facts obtained by making ob- even in terms of energy quality. See rst law of
management), and communicating information servations and measurements. Compare scientic thermodynamics.
about risks to decision makers and the public hypothesis, scientic law, scientic methods, scientic
sedimentary rock Rock that forms from the
(risk communication). model, scientic theory.
accumulated products of erosion and in some
risk assessment Process of gathering data scientic hypothesis An educated guess that cases from the compacted shells, skeletons, and
and making assumptions to estimate short- and attempts to explain a scientic law or certain other remains of dead organisms. Compare igne-
long-term harmful effects on human health or scientic observations. Compare scientic data, ous rock, metamorphic rock. See rock cycle.

selective cutting Cutting of intermediate- social capital Result of getting people with response to changes in environmental condi-
aged, mature, or diseased trees in an uneven- different views and values to talk and listen to tions; usually takes thousands of years. Compare
aged forest stand, either singly or in small one another, nd common ground based on extinction.
groups. This encourages the growth of younger understanding and trust, and work together to
species Group of similar organisms, and for
trees and maintains an uneven-aged stand. solve environmental and other problems.
sexually reproducing organisms, they are a set
Compare clear-cutting, strip cutting.
soil Complex mixture of inorganic minerals of individuals that can mate and produce fertile
septic tank Underground tank for treating (clay, silt, pebbles, and sand), decaying organic offspring. Every organism is a member of a
wastewater from a home in rural and sub- matter, water, air, and living organisms. certain species.
urban areas. Bacteria in the tank decompose soil conservation Methods used to reduce species diversity Number of different species
organic wastes, and the sludge settles to the soil erosion, prevent depletion of soil nutrients, (species richness) combined with the relative
bottom of the tank. The efuent ows out of and restore nutrients previously lost by erosion, abundance of individuals within each of those
the tank into the ground through a eld of leaching, and excessive crop harvesting. species (species evenness) in a given area. See
soil erosion Movement of soil components, biodiversity, species evenness, species richness. Com-
sexual reproduction Reproduction in organ- especially topsoil, from one place to another, pare ecological diversity, genetic diversity.
isms that produce offspring by combining sex usually by wind, owing water, or both. This species equilibrium model See theory of
cells or gametes (such as ovum and sperm) from natural process can be greatly accelerated by hu- island biogeography.
both parents. It produces offspring that have man activities that remove vegetation from soil.
combinations of traits from their parents. Com- Compare soil conservation. species evenness Relative abundance of indi-
pare asexual reproduction. viduals within each of the species in a commu-
soil horizons Horizontal zones, or layers, that nity. See species diversity. Compare species richness.
shale oil Slow-owing, dark brown, heavy oil make up a particular mature soil. Each horizon
obtained when kerogen in oil shale is vaporized has a distinct texture and composition that vary species richness Number of different species
at high temperatures and then condensed. Shale with different types of soils. See soil prole. contained in a community. See species diversity.
oil can be rened to yield gasoline, heating oil, Compare species evenness.
and other petroleum products. See kerogen, oil soil prole Cross-sectional view of the hori-
zons in a soil. See soil horizon. spoils Unwanted rock and other waste materi-
als produced when a material is removed from
solar capital Solar energy that warms the
shelterbelt See windbreak. the earths surface or subsurface by mining,
planet and supports photosynthesis, the process
dredging, quarrying, or excavation.
shifting cultivation Clearing a plot of ground that plants use to provide food for themselves
in a forest, especially in tropical areas, and and for us and other animals. This direct input S-shaped curve Leveling off of an exponen-
planting crops on it for a few years (typically of solar energy also produces indirect forms of tial, J-shaped curve when a rapidly growing
25 years) until the soil is depleted of nutrients renewable solar energy such as wind and ow- population exceeds, reaches, or exceeds the
or the plot has been invaded by a dense growth ing water. Compare natural capital. carrying capacity of its environment and ceases
of vegetation from the surrounding forest. Then to grow.
solar cell See photovoltaic cell.
a new plot is cleared and the process is repeated.
statistics Mathematical tools used to collect,
The abandoned plot cannot successfully grow solar collector Device for collecting radiant
organize, and interpret numerical data.
crops for 1030 years. See also slash-and-burn energy from the sun and converting it into heat.
cultivation. See active solar heating system, passive solar heating statutory laws Laws developed and passed
system. by legislative bodies such as federal and state
slash-and-burn cultivation Cutting down
solar energy Direct radiant energy from the governments. Compare common law.
trees and other vegetation in a patch of forest,
leaving the cut vegetation on the ground to sun and a number of indirect forms of energy stewardship worldview Worldview holding
dry, and then burning it. The ashes that are left produced by the direct input of such radiant that we can manage the earth for our benet
add nutrients to the nutrient-poor soils found energy. Principal indirect forms of solar energy but that we have an ethical responsibility to be
in most tropical forest areas. Crops are planted include wind, falling and owing water (hydro- caring and responsible managers, or stewards,
between tree stumps. Plots must be abandoned power), and biomass (solar energy converted of the earth. It calls for encouraging environ-
after a few years (typically 25 years) because into chemical energy stored in the chemical mentally benecial forms of economic growth
of loss of soil fertility or invasion of vegetation bonds of organic compounds in trees and other and discouraging environmentally harmful
from the surrounding forest. See also shifting plants)none of which would exist without forms. Compare deep ecology worldview, environ-
cultivation. direct solar energy. mental wisdom worldview, planetary management
solid waste Any unwanted or discarded ma- worldview.
sludge Gooey mixture of toxic chemicals, in-
fectious agents, and settled solids removed from terial that is not a liquid or a gas. See industrial stratosphere Second layer of the atmosphere,
wastewater at a sewage treatment plant. solid waste, municipal solid waste. extending about 1748 kilometers (1130 miles)
sound science See reliable science. above the earths surface. It contains small
smart growth Form of urban planning which
amounts of gaseous ozone (O3), which lters out
recognizes that urban growth will occur but uses spaceship-earth worldview View of the about 95% of the incoming harmful ultraviolet
zoning laws and other tools to prevent sprawl, earth as a spaceship: a machine that we can radiation emitted by the sun. Compare tropo-
direct growth to certain areas, protect ecologi- understand, control, and change at will by using sphere.
cally sensitive and important lands and water- advanced technology. See planetary management
ways, and develop urban areas that are more worldview. Compare environmental wisdom world- stream Flowing body of surface water. Ex-
environmentally sustainable and more enjoyable view, stewardship worldview. amples are creeks and rivers.
places to live.
specialist species Species with a narrow eco- strip cropping Planting regular crops and
smelting Process in which a desired metal logical niche. They may be able to live in only close-growing plants, such as hay or nitrogen-
is separated from the other elements in an ore one type of habitat, tolerate only a narrow range xing legumes, in alternating rows or bands to
mineral. of climatic and other environmental conditions, help reduce depletion of soil nutrients.
or use only one type or a few types of food.
smog Originally a combination of smoke and strip cutting Variation of clear-cutting in
Compare generalist species.
fog but now used to describe other mixtures of which a strip of trees is clear-cut along the con-
pollutants in the atmosphere. See industrial smog, speciation Formation of two species from one tour of the land, with the corridor being narrow
photochemical smog. species because of divergent natural selection in enough to allow natural regeneration within a

few years. After regeneration, another strip is by evaporation or transpiration. See runoff. boundaries of these plates. See lithosphere, plate
cut above the rst, and so on. Compare clear- Compare groundwater. tectonics.
cutting, selective cutting.
survivorship curve Graph showing the temperature Measure of the average speed
strip mining Form of surface mining in which number of survivors in different age groups for a of motion of the atoms, ions, or molecules in
bulldozers, power shovels, or stripping wheels particular species. a substance or combination of substances at a
remove large chunks of the earths surface in given moment. Compare heat.
suspended particulate matter See particu-
strips. See area strip mining, contour strip mining,
lates. temperature inversion Layer of dense, cool
surface mining. Compare subsurface mining.
air trapped under a layer of less dense, warm
subatomic particles Extremely small par- sustainability Ability of earths various air. It prevents upward-owing air currents
ticleselectrons, protons, and neutronsthat systems, including human cultural systems and from developing. In a prolonged inversion, air
make up the internal structure of atoms. economies, to survive and adapt to changing pollution in the trapped layer may build up to
environmental conditions indenitely. harmful levels.
subduction zone Area in which oceanic
lithosphere is carried downward (subducted) sustainable agriculture Method of grow- tentative science Preliminary scientic data,
under an island arc or continent at a convergent ing crops and raising livestock based on organic hypotheses, and models that have not been
plate boundary. A trench ordinarily forms at the fertilizers, soil conservation, water conservation, widely tested and accepted. Compare reliable sci-
boundary between the two converging plates. biological pest control, and minimal use of non- ence, unreliable science.
See convergent plate boundary. renewable fossil-fuel energy.
teratogen Chemical, ionizing agent, or virus
subsidence Slow or rapid sinking of part of sustainable development See environmen- that causes birth defects. Compare carcinogen,
the earths crust that is not slope-related. tally sustainable economic development. mutagen.
subsistence farming See traditional subsistence sustainable living Taking no more poten- terracing Planting crops on a long, steep slope
agriculture. tially renewable resources from the natural that has been converted into a series of broad,
world than can be replenished naturally and not nearly level terraces with short vertical drops
subsurface mining Extraction of a metal ore overloading the capacity of the environment to from one to another that run along the contour
or fuel resource such as coal from a deep under- cleanse and renew itself by natural processes. of the land to retain water and reduce soil ero-
ground deposit. Compare surface mining.
sustainable society Society that manages sion.
succession See ecological succession, primary suc- its economy and population size without doing terrestrial Pertaining to land. Compare
cession, secondary succession. irreparable environmental harm by overloading aquatic.
succulent plants Plants, such as desert cacti, the planets ability to absorb environmental in-
sults, replenish its resources, and sustain human tertiary (higher-level) consumers Animals
that survive in dry climates by having no leaves,
and other forms of life over a specied period, that feed on animal-eating animals. They feed
thus reducing the loss of scarce water. They
usually hundreds to thousands of years. During at high trophic levels in food chains and webs.
store water and use sunlight to produce the
this period, the society satises the needs of its Examples include hawks, lions, bass, and sharks.
food they need in the thick, eshy tissue of their
people without depleting natural resources and Compare detritivore, primary consumer, secondary
green stems and branches. Compare deciduous
thereby jeopardizing the prospects of current consumer.
plants, evergreen plants.
and future generations of humans and other tertiary sewage treatment See advanced sew-
sulfur cycle Cyclic movement of sulfur in species. age treatment.
various chemical forms from the environment to
organisms and then back to the environment. sustainable yield (sustained yield) Highest theory of evolution Widely accepted scientif-
rate at which a potentially renewable resource ic idea that all life forms developed from earlier
sulfur dioxide (SO2) Colorless gas with an can be used indenitely without reducing its life forms. It is the way most biologists explain
irritating odor. About one-third of the SO2 in available supply. See also environmental degrada- how life has changed over the past 3.63.8 bil-
the atmosphere comes from natural sources as tion. lion years and why it is so diverse today.
part of the sulfur cycle. The other two-thirds
come from human sources, mostly combustion synergistic interaction Interaction of two or theory of island biogeography Widely ac-
of sulfur-containing coal in electric power and more factors or processes so that the combined cepted scientic theory holding that the number
industrial plants and from oil rening and smelt- effect is greater than the sum of their separate of different species (species richness) found on
ing of sulde ores. effects. an island is determined by the interactions of
synergy See synergistic interaction. two factors: the rate at which new species immi-
superinsulated house House that is heavily
grate to the island and the rate at which species
insulated and extremely airtight. Typically, ac- synfuels Synthetic gaseous and liquid fuels become extinct, or cease to exist, on the island.
tive or passive solar collectors are used to heat produced from solid coal or sources other than See species richness.
water, and an air-to-air heat exchanger prevents natural gas or crude oil.
buildup of excessive moisture and indoor air thermal inversion See temperature inversion.
pollutants. synthetic natural gas (SNG) Gaseous fuel
containing mostly methane produced from solid third and higher-level consumers Carni-
surface re Forest re that burns only under- coal. vores such as tigers and wolves that feed on the
growth and leaf litter on the forest oor. Com- esh of carnivores.
pare crown re, ground re. See controlled burning. system Set of components that function and
interact in some regular and theoretically pre- threatened species Wild species that is still
surface mining Removing soil, subsoil, and dictable manner. abundant in its natural range but is likely to
other strata and then extracting a mineral de- become endangered because of a decline in
posit found fairly close to the earths surface. See tailings Rock and other waste materials re- numbers. Compare endangered species.
area strip mining, contour strip mining, mountaintop moved as impurities when waste mineral mate-
threshold effect Harmful or fatal effect of a
removal, open-pit mining. Compare subsurface rial is separated from the metal in an ore.
small change in environmental conditions that
tar sand See oil sand. exceeds the limit of tolerance of an organism or
surface runoff Water owing off the land population of a species. See law of tolerance.
tectonic plates Various-sized areas of the
into bodies of surface water. See reliable runoff.
earths lithosphere that move slowly around throughput Rate of ow of matter, energy, or
surface water Precipitation that does not in- with the mantles owing asthenosphere. Most information through a system. Compare input,
ltrate the ground or return to the atmosphere earthquakes and volcanoes occur around the output.

throwaway society See high-throughput and parasitic worms) and can spread from one urbanization Creation or growth of urban
economy. person to another by air, water, food, or body areas, or cities, and their surrounding developed
uids (or in some cases by insects or other or- land. See degree of urbanization, urban area.
tipping point Threshold level at which an en-
ganisms). Compare nontransmissible disease.
vironmental problem causes a fundamental and urban sprawl Growth of low-density devel-
irreversible shift in the behavior of a system. transpiration Process in which water is opment on the edges of cities and towns. See
absorbed by the root systems of plants, moves smart growth.
tolerance limits Minimum and maximum
up through the plants, passes through pores
limits for physical conditions (such as tempera- utilitarian value See instrumental value.
(stomata) in their leaves or other parts, and
ture) and concentrations of chemical substances
evaporates into the atmosphere as water vapor. volatile organic compounds (VOCs) Or-
beyond which no members of a particular spe-
ganic compounds that exist as gases in the
cies can survive. See law of tolerance. tree farm See tree plantation.
atmosphere and act as pollutants, some of which
total fertility rate (TFR) Estimate of the tree plantation Site planted with one or are hazardous.
average number of children who will be born only a few tree species in an even-aged stand.
alive to a woman during her lifetime if she volcano Vent or ssure in the earths surface
When the stand matures it is usually harvested
passes through all her childbearing years (ages through which magma, liquid lava, and gases
by clear-cutting and then replanted. These farms
1544) conforming to age-specic fertility rates are released into the environment.
normally raise rapidly growing tree species for
of a given year. More simply, it is an estimate of fuelwood, timber, or pulpwood. Compare old- warm front Boundary between an advancing
the average number of children that women in growth forest, second-growth forest. warm air mass and the cooler one it is replacing.
a given population will have during their child- Because warm air is less dense than cool air, an
bearing years. trophic level All organisms that are the same
advancing warm front rises over a mass of cool
number of energy transfers away from the origi-
toxic chemical See poison, carcinogen, hazard- air. Compare cold front.
nal source of energy (for example, sunlight) that
ous chemical, mutagen, teratogen. enters an ecosystem. For example, all producers waste management Managing wastes to
toxicity Measure of the harmfulness of a belong to the rst trophic level, and all herbi- reduce their environmental harm without seri-
substance. vores belong to the second trophic level in a ously trying to reduce the amount of waste pro-
food chain or a food web. duced. See integrated waste management. Compare
toxicology Study of the adverse effects of waste reduction.
chemicals on health. troposphere Innermost layer of the atmo-
sphere. It contains about 75% of the mass of waste reduction Reducing the amount of
toxic waste Form of hazardous waste that earths air and extends about 17 kilometers waste produced; wastes that are produced are
causes death or serious injury (such as burns, (11 miles) above sea level. Compare stratosphere. viewed as potential resources that can be reused,
respiratory diseases, cancers, or genetic muta- recycled, or composted. See integrated waste man-
tions). See hazardous waste. true cost See full cost.
agement. Compare waste reduction.
toxin See poison. tsunami Series of large waves generated
water cycle See hydrologic cycle.
when part of the ocean oor suddenly rises or
traditional intensive agriculture Produc- drops. waterlogging Saturation of soil with irriga-
tion of enough food for a farm familys survival tion water or excessive precipitation so that the
and perhaps a surplus that can be sold. This turbidity Cloudiness in a volume of water; a
water table rises close to the surface.
type of agriculture uses higher inputs of labor, measure of clarity of water in lakes, streams, and
fertilizer, and water than traditional subsistence other bodies of water. water pollution Any physical or chemical
agriculture. See traditional subsistence agriculture. change in surface water or groundwater that can
undergrazing Absence of grazing for long
Compare industrialized agriculture. harm living organisms or make water unt for
periods (at least 5 years), which can reduce the
certain uses.
traditional subsistence agriculture Pro- net primary productivity of grassland vegetation
duction of enough crops or livestock for a farm and grass cover. watershed Land area that delivers water,
familys survival and, in good years, a surplus sediment, and dissolved substances via small
undernutrition Consuming insufcient food
to sell or put aside for hard times. Compare streams to a major stream (river).
to meet ones minimum daily energy needs for
industrialized agriculture, traditional intensive a long enough time to cause harmful effects. water table Upper surface of the zone of
agriculture. Compare malnutrition, overnutrition. saturation, in which all available pores in the
tragedy of the commons Depletion or deg- soil and rock in the earths crust are lled with
unreliable science Scientic results or hy-
radation of a potentially renewable resource to water.
potheses presented as reliable science but not
which people have free and unmanaged access.
having undergone the rigors of the peer review watt Unit of power, or rate at which electrical
An example is the depletion of commercially de-
process. Compare reliable science, tentative work is done. See kilowatt.
sirable sh species in the open ocean beyond ar-
eas controlled by coastal countries. See common- weather Short-term changes in the tem-
property resource, open access renewable resource. upwelling Movement of nutrient-rich bot- perature, barometric pressure, humidity,
tom water to the oceans surface. It can occur precipitation, sunshine, cloud cover, wind
trait Characteristic passed on from parents to
far from shore but usually takes place along direction and speed, and other conditions in the
offspring during reproduction in an animal or
certain steep coastal areas where the surface troposphere at a given place and time. Compare
layer of ocean water is pushed away from shore climate.
transform fault Area where the earths and replaced by cold, nutrient-rich bottom
weathering Physical and chemical processes
lithospheric plates move in opposite but paral- water.
in which solid rock exposed at earths surface is
lel directions along a fracture (fault) in the
urban area Geographic area containing a changed to separate solid particles and dissolved
lithosphere. Compare convergent plate boundary,
community with a population of 2,500 or more. material, which can then be moved to another
divergent plate boundary.
The number of people used in this denition place as sediment. See erosion.
transgenic organisms See genetically modied may vary, with some countries setting the mini-
wetland Land that is covered all or part of the
organisms. mum number of people at 10,00050,000.
time with salt water or fresh water, excluding
transmissible disease Disease that is caused urban growth Rate of growth of an urban streams, lakes, and the open ocean. See coastal
by living organisms (such as bacteria, viruses, population. Compare degree of urbanization. wetland, inland wetland.

wilderness Area where the earth and its windbreak Row of trees or hedges planted to zone of aeration Zone in soil that is not satu-
ecosystems have not been seriously disturbed by partially block wind ow and reduce soil erosion rated with water and that lies above the water
humans and where humans are only temporary on cultivated land. table. See water table, zone of saturation.
wind farm Cluster of wind turbines in a zone of saturation Zone where all
wildlife All free, undomesticated species. windy area on land or at sea, built to capture available pores in soil and rock in the earths
Sometimes the term is used to describe animals wind energy and convert it into electrical crust are lled by water. See water table, zone of
only. energy. aeration.
wildlife resources Wildlife species that zoning Designating parcels of land for particu-
worldview How people think the world
have actual or potential economic value to lar types of use.
works and what they think their role in the
world should be. See environmental wisdom world- zooplankton Animal plankton; small oating
wild species Species found in the natural view, planetary management worldview, stewardship herbivores that feed on plant plankton (phyto-
environment. Compare domesticated species. worldview. plankton). Compare phytoplankton.