Glossary of *S Largent* Environmental Science Ch 2 Terms
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- the scientific study of the relationships between organisms and their environment. It is concerned with the life histories; distribution; and behavior of individual species as well as the structure and function of natural systems at the level of populations; communities; and ecosystems.
- everything that takes up space and has mass.
- Conservation of matter
- in any chemical reaction; matter changes form; it is neither created nor destroyed.
- the capacity to do work.
- Kinetic energy
- energy contained in moving objects such as a rock rolling down a hill; the wind blowing through the trees; or water flowing over a dam.
- Potential energy
- stored energy that is latent but available for use. A rock poised at the top of a hill or water stored behind a dam are examples.
- total kinetic energy of atoms or molecules in a substance not associated with the bulk motion of the substance.
- a branch of physics that deals with transfers and conversions of energy.
- 1st law of thermodynamics
- energy is conserved; that is; it is neither created nor destroyed under normal conditions.
- 2nd law of thermodynamics
- with each successive energy transfer or transformation in a system; less energy is available to do work.
- Energy quality
- the measure of an energy sources ability to do work.
- High energy quality
- organized/concentrated to perform useful work; examples include: electricity; coal; gasoline; natural gas; and concentrated sunlight)
- Low energy quality
- disorganized/dispersed and has little ability to do useful work; best example is heat.
- all the organisms genetically similar enough to breed and produce live; fertile offspring in nature.
- all the members of one species that live in the same area at the same time.
- Biological community
- the populations of plants; animals; and microorganisms living and interacting in a certain area at a given time.
- a specific biological community and its physical environment interacting in an exchange of matter and energy.
- an organism that synthesizes food molecules from inorganic compounds by using an external energy source; most producers are photosynthetic.
- an organism that obtains energy and nutrients by feeding on other organisms or their remains.
- Food chain
- the sequence of organisms through which energy and materials (in the form of food) are transferred.
- Food web
- a complex; interlocking series of individual food chains in an ecosystem.
- Biogeochemical cycle
- movement of matter within or between ecosystems; caused by living organisms; geological forces; or chemical reactions. The cycling of nitrogen; carbon; sulfur; oxygen; phosphorus; and water are examples.
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