Ed Golson Outdoor Education


We realize that some of the terms used here may be new to you. Some of these words can get down-right confusing. That's why we included this glossary to help you keep all the definitions straight.

A,B,C - D,E,F - G,H,I - J,K,L - M,N,O - P,Q,R - S,T,U - V,W,X,Y,Z

Abiotic factors – things in the environment that are not living but still affect living things such as temperature, water, climate, soil, etc. 

Adaptation- adjustments an organism makes to better fit the conditions of its environment

Beaks/bills- the hard pointed mouth of a bird (or even turtles) used to puncture objects and break seeds and nuts

Biotic factors- any type of living thing in an environment

Bog- a poorly drained portion of land that is usually rich in accumulated plant material frequently surrounding a body of open water.

Brackish- somewhat salty usually the area of water between fresh and salt water.

Brood- one nest of eggs produced by a bird

Captivity- a state of isolation; refers to plants and animals that are kept out of the wild as pets or in a garden

Carnivore- an animal that eats meat

Claws- the sharp nails of animals used for preying, grasping, and defense

Climate- the average course of weather in an area

Competition- a demand by two or more organisms or kinds of organisms for some environmental resource in short supply

Coniferous- cone bearing plant without flowers that keeps it leaves all year long

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Deciduous- Flowering trees that loses their leaves every year

Decomposer- Any type of organism that feeds on dead plant and animal material, turning it into soil

Deforestation- clearing lands of forest. 

Desert- a portion of hot arid land with sandy terrain

Diploid- having two sets of chromosomes 

Echolocation- the use of high frequency sound waves to determine the position of nearby objects

Ecology- the study of the interrelationship of the organisms and their environment

Endangered- an organism that is so rare it is in danger of becoming extinct

Exoskeleton- the external supportive covering of some kinds of animals, mainly insects 

Extinct- no longer existing 

Fauna- the types of animals in an area 

Feathers - a flat, hollow shaft with parallel barbs on the outside of a bird 

Field - A broad level, open area of land

Fin - An outer appendage of a fish or other aquatic animal containing membranes that is used for propulsion, steering, and balance

Flora - Plants of a certain group in a particular region 

Foliage - A cluster of leaves

Forest - A dense growth of plants, trees, and underbrush covering a large area

Fur - Soft hair covering a mammal, often used as insulation

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Gills - breathing device of aquatic animals 

Grassland - An area where grass and grass-like plants are the dominant plants

Habitat - A particular environment where an organism lives and is most likely found

Haploid - A single set of chromosomes characterized by the symbol 1N, or half of the total number of chromosomes

Herbivore - an organism that eats plants

Hibernation - An inactive or dormant period

Insulation - protection from heat and cold 

Invertebrate - An organism without a backbone 

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Jaws - Two bony structures that make the frame of the mouth

Jungle - Land with dense tropical growth

Lake - a large body of fresh or salt water completely surrounded by land 

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Marsh - A soft, wet piece of land that is usually a transition between land and water and has grassy plants growing in and around it 

Meadow - A piece of grassland

Metamorphosis - A change in the form and habits of an animal during normal development; usually occurs in stages. 

Migrate - A temporary change of location from one region to another usually for an Earth season i.e. winter, spring, summer, fall.  This is often found in birds 

Molt - periodically shedding an outer covering of the body

Omnivore - an organism that eats both meat and plants

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Parasite - An organism that receives nutrients from its host, usually without killing its host

Pastures - grass or other plants fed upon by animals

Paw - the foot of an animal containing claws or nails

Peninsula - A piece of land surrounded on three sides by water

Pioneer - A plant or animal species that establishes itself in a barren environment

Plain - a large, level, treeless piece of land

Pollution - release of harmful products in the ground, water, or atmosphere

Pond - A body of water smaller than a lake

Population - All of the organisms of a specific group in a particular region 

Predator - an organism that preys on other organisms 

Prey - An animal hunted for food by a predator

Producer- Any organism that makes its own food, i.e. plants 

Quills - a sharp hollow spine of a porcupine or hedgehog and the hollow shaft of a feather.

River - a moving body of water usually fed by tributaries, other streams, that empties into a larger body of water

Rural - A country, or farming region without a lot of humans

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Spawning - the act of fish fertilizing their eggs to create new fish

Stream - a steady current of water, or a small river 

Suburban - the area between the country and city having a moderate number of humans

Succession - the process of ecosystem development brought about by changes

Swamp - a saturated lowland with semi-good drainage and wooded plants growing in and around it.

Teeth - hard bonelike structures in the jaws of vertebrates

Threatened Species- A species that is rare and could become endangered if its numbers decrease further.

Toxin - A poisonous substance created by living cells capable of causing disease in the body

Tundra - a permanently frozen treeless area

Urban - An area characterized by cities and many humans

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Vertebrate - An organism with a backbone

Wetland - A low lying area saturated with moisture

Whiskers - Stiff hair like bristles growing near the mouth of mammals

Woodland - Land covered with trees and shrubs

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