ABIOTIC - Characterized by the absence of life; unable to support life; azoic. Also: harmful to or destructive of living organisms. Frequently contrasted with biotic.

ALLUVIUM - A deposit of earth, sand, and other transported matter left by water flowing over land not permanently submerged, esp. in a river valley or a delta; material consisting of clay, silt, and sand deposited by flowing floodwater, typically forming fertile soil.

ALTRICIAL - Confined to the nest, burrow, etc., until sufficiently developed to live without parental care.

AUTOTROPHIC - Self-nourishing; capable of synthesizing organic compounds from simple inorganic molecules (such as carbon dioxide); not dependent upon organic compounds as a source of energy. Opposed to heterotrophic. 




BIODIVERSITY - Diversity of plant and animal life, especially as represented by the number of extant species.

BIOMASS - The total quantity, usually expressed as weight, of specified organisms (or organic material) in a given area or volume of habitat.

BIOME -  The plant and animal community of a major climatic region or type of habitat.

BIOPHILIA - A love of or empathy with the natural world, esp. when seen as a human instinct.

BIOTIC - Of, or relating to, living organisms; caused by living organisms; of, or relating to, a (typically specific) biota or ecosystem, or flora or fauna in general.

BOTTOM-UP CONTROLS - The influences of physical and chemical factors, such as temperature and nutrients, on ecosystems.




CALCIPHILE - Any plant or animal capable of thriving in calcareous (limestone) soils.

CARNIVORE - A carnivorous (meat-eating) animal; one of the Carnivora. Also, a carnivorous plant.

CARRYING CAPACITY - The number of people or animals (esp. sheep or cattle) that a given area of land will support.

CHICKAMAUGA LIMESTONE - Medium to dark-gray thick to thin-bedded partly argillaceous, locally fossiliferous limestone. Restricted to the western part of the Valley and Ridge province and Murphrees Valley and Wills Valley anticlines.

COEVOLUTION - The process of reciprocal evolutionary change that occurs between pairs of species or among groups of species as they interact with one another.

COLLUVIAL - Applied to soil at the foot of a slope, containing rock detritus or talus.

COMMUNITY - An association of interacting species living in particular area; also often defined as all of the organisms living in a particular area.

COMPETITIVE EXCLUSION PRINCIPLE - The principle that two species with identical niches cannot coexist indefinitely.

CREPUSCULAR - Appearing or active in the twilight.




DECOMPOSITION - The breakdown of organic matter accompanied by the release of carbon dioxide and other inorganic compounds; a key process in nutrient cycling.

DETRITIVORE - An organism which feeds on detritus, or nonliving organic matter.

DISPERSAL - The movement of individuals to new locations, such as when offspring make a home away from their parents.

DISTRIBUTION - The spatial range of a species in an ecosystem.

DORMANCY - A state of reduced metabolic activity in reaction to, or anticipation of, adverse conditions, as in winter.




EARTH CAPITAL - The natural resources of the planet; the ascribed value of these resources. 

ECOLOGY - The branch of biology that deals with the relationships between living organisms and their environment. Also: the relationships themselves, especially those of a specified organism.

ECOREGION - Any of a number of ecogeographical regions that may be distinguished on the basis of environmental conditions and habitat types within a country, continent, etc.

ECOSYSTEM - A biological system composed of all the organisms found in a particular physical environment, interacting with it and with each other.

ECOTONE - A transitional area between two or more distinct ecological communities.

ENDANGERED SPECIES - Any plant or animal species in danger of extinction.

ENDEMIC - A plant native to a certain limited area.

EPIPHYTE - A plant which grows on another plant; usually restricted to those which derive only support (and not nutrition) from the plants on which they grow.

EPHEMERAL - Of insects, flowers, etc.: Existing for one day only, or for a very few days.

EQUILIBRIUM - The condition of equal balance between opposing forces.

ESTIVATION - A state of torpor or dormancy accompanied by decreased metabolic rate in an insect, fish, or amphibian as a (typically seasonal) adaptation to a prolonged period of hot or dry conditions.

ESTUARY - The tidal mouth of a great river, where the tide meets the current of fresh water.

EUTROPHIC - Of a lake, swamp, etc. rich in organic or mineral nutrients and having as a result an excessive growth of algæ and other plants, with depletion of oxygen and consequent extinction of animal life.




FACULTATIVE MUTUALISM - A mutualistic relationship between two species that is not required for the survival of the two species.




HABITAT - The combination of components of the ecosystem upon which a plant or animal species relies for its life cycle.

HARDWOOD FOREST - A forest of broadleaved or dicotyledonous trees (such as oak, ash, and teak), the wood of which is typically (although not always) hard, as distinguished from that of conifers (such as pine), which is typically softer. 

HERBIVORE - A heterotrophic organism that eats plants.

HETEROTROPH -  Any organism which requires an external supply of energy contained in complex organic compounds to maintain its existence.

HIBERNACULUM - The winter quarters or place of retirement of a hibernating animal.




INVASIVE - Of a plant: tending to spread prolifically or uncontrollably; encroaching upon or replacing other vegetation.




KEYSTONE SPECIES - A species exerting a major influence on an ecosystem, especially one on whose activities the survival of other species depends.




LANDSCAPE - An area of land containing a patchwork of ecosystems.

LICHEN - One of a class of cellular cryptogamic plants, often of a green, grey, or yellow tint, which grow on the surface of rocks, trees, etc.




MEGAFAUNA - Large vertebrates, especially the larger mammals.

MESOCOSM - An enclosed and essentially self-sufficient (but not necessarily isolated) experimental environment or ecosystem that is on a larger scale than a laboratory microcosm.

MACROCLIMATE - The general climate of a relatively large area.

MICROCLIMATE - The climate of a small or restricted area, or of the immediate surroundings of an organism or object of interest, esp. where this differs from the climate generally.

MICROCOSM - A small-scale natural ecosystem, regarded as a model of ecological principles.

MINERAL - A substance obtained by mining; a product of the depths of the earth.

MONITOR - To collect and analyze data by various methods for the purpose of understanding and documenting changes both favorable and unfavorable to natural ecosystems and features.

MONOCULTURE - The cultivation or exploitation of a single crop, or the maintenance of a single kind of animal, to the exclusion of others.

MORPHOLOGY - Shape, form, external structure or arrangement, esp. as an object of study or classification.

MOSS - A plant of the class Musci (or Bryopsida), comprising small bryophytes with scalelike leaves usually spirally arranged, and with a sporophyte generally opening by a lid, which grow in masses in bogs, on the surface of the ground, on stones, trees, etc.

MUTUALISM - The relationship existing between two organisms of different species which contribute mutually to each other's well-being; an instance of this.




NATIVE SPECIES - A plant or animal that is indigenous to a country, locality, or habitat, and not introduced by humans.

NATURAL RESOURCE - Industrial materials and capacities (such as coal, iron ore, and waterways) provided by nature. 

NATURAL SELECTION - The evolutionary theory, originally proposed by Darwin, of the preferential survival and reproduction of organisms better adapted to their environment.

NATURE PRESERVE - A protected area of importance for ecology, flora, fauna or features of geological or other special interest, which is reserved and managed for conservation and to provide special opportunities for study or research.

NICHE - The actual or potential position of an organism within a particular ecosystem, as determined by its biological role together with the set of environmental conditions under which it lives.

NUTRIENT - Conveying or supplying nourishment; especially concerned with the supply or distribution within the organism of substances which provide nourishment.




PARASITE - An organism that lives on, in, or with an organism of another species, obtaining food, shelter, or other benefit; (now) spec. one that obtains nutrients at the expense of the host organism, which it may directly or indirectly harm.

PERMACULTURE - The development or maintenance of an artificial ecosystem intended to be self-sustaining and to satisfy the living requirements of its inhabitants, esp. by the use of renewable resources.

PHOTOSYNTHESIS - The process (or series of processes) by which the energy of light absorbed by chlorophyll is utilized by plants for the synthesis of complex organic compounds from carbon dioxide, with the accompanying oxidation of water to form oxygen.

PIONEER ORGANISM - The first organism to colonize a new, previously abiotic, habitat.

POPULATION - Number of individual organisms of a single species living in a given area.

PRECOCIAL - Capable of independent living at birth.

PREDATOR - Organism that feeds by killing other organisms.

PRIMARY PRODUCER - Organism able to create food energy from light or chemicals.

PRODUCTIVITY - The rate of production of new biomass by an individual, population, or community; the fertility or capacity of a given habitat or area.




RENEWABLE RESOURCE - A resource that can replenish itself faster than it is destroyed.

RESILIENCE - The capacity of a community or ecosystem to recover structure and function after disturbance.

RESTORE - To recover natural site features and processes that existed on site prior to disturbance.

RIPARIAN - Living or growing on the banks of rivers and streams; relating to or characteristic of the transitional zone between dry land and running water.




SECONDARY CONSUMER - Organism that feeds on herbivores.

SENSITIVE SPECIES - Organisms with low population levels and/or specific environmental constraints limiting population increases; organisms intolerant to disturbance or natural/unnatural environmental stresses.

SPECIAL POPULATIONS - Organisms that may or may not necessarily be rare or threatened statewide or globally but have local conservation significance.

SPECIES - A group or class of animals or plants (usually constituting a subdivision of a genus) having certain common and permanent characteristics which clearly distinguish it from other groups.

STEWARDSHIP - Management activities that are intended to maintain, restore, or enhance resources.

STRESS - An adverse circumstance that disturbs, or is likely to disturb, the normal functioning of an organism or ecosystem.

SUSTAINABILITY - The property of being environmentally sustainable; the degree to which a process or enterprise is able to be maintained or continued while avoiding the long-term depletion of natural resources.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT - Development or construction which does not destroy future generations’ ability to meet their own needs.

SYMBIOSIS - Association of two different organisms (usually two plants, or an animal and a plant) which live attached to each other, or one as a tenant of the other, and contribute to each other's support. Also more widely, any intimate association of two or more different organisms, whether mutually beneficial or not.




TEMPERATE FOREST - Deciduous or coniferous forests generally found between 40° to 50° of latitude, where annual precipitation averages anywhere from abot 650 mm to over 3,000 mm.

TERTIARY CONSUMER - Organism that feeds on carnivores.

TOP-DOWN CONTROLS - The influences of consumers' feeding habits on an ecosystem.

TRANSECT - A line or a belt of land along which a survey is made of the plant or animal life or some other feature; a survey of this kind.

TRANSPIRATION - The exhalation of watery vapour from the surface of the leaves and other parts of plants, in connection with the passage of water or sap through the tissues.




WETLAND - An area of land that is usually saturated with water, often a marsh or swamp.

OED Online, Oxford University Press, January 2018, www.oed.com. Accessed 6 February 2018.
Freeman, Jennifer. Science 101: Ecology. Collins, 2007. 
Molles Jr., Manual C. Ecology: Concepts and Applications. McGraw-Hill, 1999. 
Slobodkin, Lawrence B. A Citizen's Guide to Ecology. Oxford UP, 2003.