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Glossary of Environmental Education


COMPILED BY :Prof. Waseem Yaseen
Autotrophic
Ability to synthesize food from inorganic material, e.g, Green plants
Aerosol
Minute particles and droplets suspended in the air.
Allergens
Substances causing allergy
Anthropogenic
Human generated; Caused by humans
Benthos
The organisms which live on or at the bottom of a body of water or the bottom of sea or lake
Biogas
A mixture of gaseous hydrocarbons coming from degradation of organic matter by methanogenic bacteria. Biogas is also known as Gobar gas
Biota
The flora and fauna of an area
Biological Control
The control of Pests with the help of natural predators, parasites or diseases.
Biodiversity
The sum total of all the living plants, animals and microbes is called bio-diversity
Bio-degradation
This is the process by living organisms breakdown matter into its simpler constituents and thus recycle nutrients. All natural decay processes such as rotting of wood are examples of biodegradation
Biome
Biome is an ecological region characterized by the predominant vegetation type, such as Savanna. The biome is the largest Biogeographical unit
Biosphere
Biosphere is the region inhabited by living things. It forms a thin layer around the earth, including the surface of the lithosphere, hydrosphere and the lower atmosphere.
Biogeochemical cycles
cycling of nutrients among living organisms, air, water and soil.
Biogeographical area
A region with characteristic climatic biological, water and land resources
Biomagnification
increase in concentration of some stable compounds at successive trophic levels in a food chain
Beta-diversity
Variations in species composition across different habitats.
Biomass
Organic matter produced by living organisms
Biotic
Living
Bog
Water-logged soil usually containing peat
Cancer
a disease producing tumors in which cells multiply uncontrollably and invade surrounding tissue
Carcinogen
Any agent promoting cancer e.g chemicals, ionizing radiations etc
Carnivore
Organisms that feeds on other animals
Carrying Capacity
Maximum population size that a given system can support over a given period of time.
Cell:
The smallest unit of living organisms
Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
Chemical compounds with a carbon skeleton and one or more attached chlorine and fluorine atoms; used as refrigement, solvent, fire retardant and blowing agent
Chemosynthesis
Conversion of inorganic substances into organic compounds (by bacteria) in the absence of light
Chlorophyll
Green coloured pigment found in green plants
Climate
Long term pattern of weather in a particular area
Climax Community
The ultimate stable community formed during ecological succession, usually a forest.
Conservation
The planning and management of resources so as to secure their wide use and continuity of supply which maintaining and enhancing their quality, value and diversity
Consumer
an organism which meets its energy requirements by feeding on others.
Contamination
Rendering impure or unstable by adding something bad or impure
Community
Populations of various species living and interacting in a given area.
Compost
a nutrient rich soil amended produced by biological degradation of organic material under aerobic conditions
Decomposer
Organisms which obtain their nutrient by breaking down dead organic matter into simple molecules
Deforestation
The permanent removal of forest and undergrowth
Desert
A vast area in which evaporation exceeds precipitation with consequent lack of vegetation. Rain less than 25cm/year produces a desert in almost any temperature range
Desertification
The formation of desert in arid and semi-arid regions from overgrazing, deforestation, poor use of land, excessive withdrawl of ground water, overgrazing and climate change
Deciduous
Trees that shed their leaves at the end of the growing season
Delta
Fan- shaped sediment deposit found at the mouth of a river
Demography
Study of human populations
Detritivore
Organism that consumes organic litter, debris and dung
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid, genetic material
Diversity
A community is said to have a high degree of diversity if it contains many species in fairly equal abundance
Dust
Solid particles, 1 to 100 micron in size, in the atmosphere
Ecology
The study of the inter-relations of animals and plants with their environment both animate and inanimate
Ecological Pyramid
A graphical representation of tropic level in a stable food chain. The decrease (or increase) in energy or number of individuals at each level gives it an appearance of a pyramid
Ecosystem
Ecological system formed by the interaction of co-existing organisms and their environment
Ecotone
A fairly transition zone between two adjacent biomes or habitats
Effluent
General term for a fluid emitted by a source (general the outflow of a sewer or industrial liquid waste).
Energy Flow
The passage of energy through the tropic level of a food chain
Environment
Physical, chemical, biotic and cultural conditions, and their ramifications, collectively comprise, the environment
Earthquake
Shaking of ground due to fracturing and displacement of rocks on the earth's crust
Eutrophication
Enrichment of water body by nitrate and phosphate containing organic material leading to increase in the growth of aquatic plants and often to algal bloom
Food Chain
A number of organisms forming a series through which energy is passed.
Food web
A group of interconnected food chains
Fossil fuels
Fuels produced due to fossilization of plants/animals like petroleum, coal, natural gas
Forest
A type of biome in which the dominant plants are trees
Grassland
Herbaceous vegetation dominated by grasses
Gene
A unit of heredity, it is either DNA or RNA
Green House Effect
Heating of the air caused by permitting incoming solar radiation but inhibiting outgoing radiation. The actual heating in a green house is caused mainly by physical obstruction of the glass, which prevents warm air from leaving and cooled air from entering
Ground Water
Water held in aquifers below the earth's surface
Habitat
The area in which the organism is found.
Hazardous waste
Any waste that is potentially dangerous to environmental health because of chemical reactivity, flammability, explosiveness, and so on.
Hydrosphere
The part of the earth, which is composed of water , oceans, seas , the ice caps, lakes, rivers etc
Heterotroph
Organism that can't synthesis its own food and derives its nourishment by feeding on others
Homeostasis
An inherent property of living organisms or ecosystems to resist change and remain stable
Humus
A dark amorphous substance that is partially degraded and serves as a major source of nutrients to plants
Hydrocarbon
Organic compounds of hydrogen and carbon
Inflitration
Percolation of water into the soil
Insolation
Incoming solar radiations
Latitude
Distance from the equator
Leaching
Process in which various chemicals in upper layers of soil are dissolved and carried to lower layers
Landslides
Mass movement of rock or soil down hill.
Lithosphere
Outer shell of the earth composed of the crust and the rigid outermost part of the mantle
Landscape
Scenery of an area of land
Littoral Zone
Region of shallow water near sea shore lying between high and low tide levels.
Magma
Molten rock below the earth's surfaces
Marsh
A wetland without trees.
Mutualism
An association between two organisms so that both of them are benefited, also called symbiosis
Metabolism
The sum total of all chemical reactions that occur in a living organism
Niche
The functional role and position of a specie in an ecosystem i.e what resources it uses, how does it interact with other species etc.
Net Productivity
Rate at which plants produce biomass from sunlight
Nitrogen Fixation
Conversion of atmospheric nitrogen gas into ammonia by nitrogen fixing bacteria / cyanobacteria or by electrification
Nuclear Fission
Nuclei of certain isotopes with large mass number are split into lighter nuclei when struck by a neutron releasing large amount of energy
Nutrients
Elements used by plants for their survival and growth occur in food, particularly, leafy vegetables and drinking water
Oil Pollution
Pollution caused by oil spills at sea
Oligotrophic:
Refers to lakes poorly productive in terms of organic material formed and which are poor in plant nutrients.
Omnivore
An animal,which eats both plant and animalfood e.g, man
Over exploitation
Maximum use of any resource without replenishing it
Particulate matter
Solid particles or liquid droplets suspended in air.
Parts per million (ppm):
number of parts of a chemical found in one million parts of a liquid/gas e.g., mg/L
Pathogen
organisms that cause disease.
Peat
semi-decayed organic matter.
Perennial species
plants that grow for more than two years
Permafrost
A permanently frozen layer of soil in arctic tundra
Photosynthesis
synthesis of food by green plants in presence of sunlight using carbon dioxide and water.
Phytoplanktons
small plants like algae, bacteria found floating on the surface of water
Pioneer species
the species which colonize the bare soil first of all
Point Source
a single identifiable source that discharges pollutants into the environment.
Radioactive Substance
The substance that spontaneously emits one or more types of radiations like alpha particles, beta particles or gamma rays
Run off
The excess of precipitation that does not evaporate or infiltrate.
Rangelands
Grasslands
Remediation
Cleaning up chemical contaminants from polluted area.
Rehabilitation:
reconstructing the ecological system that has been degraded
Residence Time
The length of time for which a chemical or molecule stays in the environment.
Sludge
Thick mud, often greasy, or the suspended solid matter in the sedimentation tank or in industrial effluent left after partial drying
Species
All the organisms genetically similar, breeding freely but reproductively isolated from other species
Sustainable Development
Increase in standard of life that can be maintained over a long - term without degrading the environment or comprising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
Soil
Weathered unconsolidated surface material
Thermodynamics
The branch that deals with the transfer of energy and its conversions
Toxins
Poisonous chemicals harmful even in small concentrations
Transpiration
loss of water from plant surfaces
Troposphere
The layer of air nearest to earth's surface; both temperature and pressure usually decreases in this layer with increasing altitude
Topography
Description of the features of a place, especially the position of its rivers, mountains, roads etc.
Trophic Level
The nutrient status / functional level of an organismin any food chain.
Tundra
Treeless arctic or alpine biome
Urbanization
Increasing concentration of population in cities.
Unconfined aquifer
Groundwater above a layer of earth material with low permeability.
Vertebrates
Animals with backbones
Volcano
Emission of magma from a fissure/vent in earth's surface releasing liquid lava and gases
Water logging
Saturation of soil with irrigation water or excessive precipitation so that water table rises close to surface.
Water table
the depth below which the ground is saturated with water
Watershed
Land area drained by a given stream or river
Weathering
The term used for wearing down of a land mass by wind, precipitation, living agents and chemical action, an important feature of the process is that it affects landmass in situ, and no transportation takes place. This factor distinguishes it clearly from erosion.
Weed
Wild plant growing where it is not wanted especially among crops or garden plants.
Wetland
An area covered, permanently, occasionally or periodically by fresh or salt water upto a depth of 6m.
Wild life
A collective term embracing thousands of species of mammals, birds and reptiles.
Wind erosion
The removal of material from the land or from buildings by the action of the wind.
Xerophyte
A plant that has certain adaptations which enable it to life in dry habitats. These adaptations allow to cut down water loss by having small leaf area and recover after wilting. Various cacti, Euphorbias are good example.
Zooplankton
Microscopic animals that feed on the phytoplankton in aquatic ecosystem.

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