Take me home Glossary
 
 
amphibian ("am-fib-E-un"): an animal with a backbone that has soft shell-less eggs. Their eggs are usually fertilized outside of the body, as a result, require a moist environment to develop. Even though many adult amphibians live on land, they are tied to water as eggs and as babies. Toads, frogs, salamanders, caecelians, and newts are all amphibians.
 
 
Anuran anurans ("un-er-uns"): means "no tail". They are amphibians that have no tail (in most cases). Frogs and toads are anurans.
 
 
Aquatic aquatic ("ah-kwah-tik"): to be in or live in water
 
 
archaea ("R-K-ah"): microscopic, single-celled organisms that along with bacteria make up the group "prokarya". Prokarya do not have nuclei. They are thought to be more closely related to eukarya (organisms with nuclei) than bacteria. They are famed for the capabilities of some to live in very extreme environments.
 
  asexual reproduction  ("A-sek-shoo-al" "re-pro-duck-shun"): a form of reproduction that does not require both a male and a female. Most asexual reproduction results from cloning a mother organism.
 
 
autotrophic ("auto-trofe-ik"): literally means "self-nourishing", means to aquire, or get, energy from sources other than from previously fixed carbon. Often use carbon dioxide and sunlight in the case of plants or cyanobacteria.
 
 
bacteria ("bac-tear-E-ah"): microscopic single-celled organisms that together with archaea form the group "prokarya". Prokarya do not have nuclei. Some bacteria cause disease, others help us digest food and still more are used in industry and food production.
 
  brackish ("brak-esh"): slightly salty water. Often used to describe the water that results from river water mixing with ocean water at an estuary or mouth of a river.
 
 
burrow: ("burr-O") a hole in the ground where an animal or animals sometimes live.
 
  cannibalism  ("can-ih-bull-is-um"): when an organism eats another organism of the same kind.
 
 
cell membrane ("sell" "mem-brane"): the thin layer that encloses the contents of a cell. It is made out of a thin layer of oil-like substance called a phospholipid bilayer.
 
 
cell wall: the relatively tough outer covering of a cell that provides structure and protection. Fungi, plants, algae, archaea, and bacteria can all have cell walls. They can be made out of peptidoglycans (protein/sugar complexes, as in some bacteria), chitin (a kind of starch, as in some fungi), or cellulose (a kind of starch, as in plants). Animals DO NOT have cell walls.
 
  chemoautotrophic ("keem-O-auto-trofe-ik"): to acquire, or get, energy from the chemical bonds in compounds, without the use of sunlight. Some bacteria are chemoautotrophic.
 
  cilia ("sil-E-ah"): small hair-like extensions of an organism, used to move in water and get food. They're like a microorganism's version of arms and legs. An organism that has cilia is said to be "ciliated".
 
  classification ("class-if-ik-A-shun"): to put in groups of like or similar things.
 
  classifications ("class-if-ik-A-shuns"): a set of characteristics that are used to put things in groups based on similarity.
 
  conductivity  ("con-duck-tiv-it-E"): a measurement of the ability of a substance to carry an electrical current. Conductivity of water gives scientists an idea of how high the salt or mineral content of the water is. The more pure the water is the less conductive it becomes.
 
 
conservation  ("con-serve-A-shun"): preservation, or attempting to protect, organisms and environments.
 
  cyst  ("sist"): a dormant form of some organisms. They are usually very small dry balls that are protected by a hardened exterior.
 
 
cytoplasm ("site-O-plaz-um"): the goo inside a cell that is not enclosed in any membrane other than the cell membrane. It is the fluid in which most of the contents of the cell are submerged.
 
  DNA ("D" "N" "A"): or DeoxyriboNucleic Acid, is the carrier of all the genes in any organism.
 
 
desiccation  ("des-ih-K-shun"): to dry up
 
 
  devour ("dev-hour"): to eat aggressively
 
  detritus  ("deh-trite-us"): dead or rotting plant or animal material; usually used to refer to little pieces of leaves.
 
 
dorsal ("door-sul"): the back of an animal. The dorsal side of an animal is what points to the sky on animals like dogs and cats, and where you find the "dorsal fin" on dolphins.
 
  ecology ("E-call-O-G"): the study of the ecosystems
 
  ecophysiology ("E-co-fizz-E-all-O-G"): The study of how organisms respond physiologically to their environments.
 
  ecosystem ("E-co-sis-tem"): a community of organisms interacting with each other and their environment or surroundings.
 
 
ectotherm ("ec-toe-therm"): an organism whose body temperature depends on the environmental temperature. Sometimes people call them "cold-blooded" but ectotherms can be warm (like a lizard in the sun on a warm day) and they don't need to have blood (most plants are ectotherms).
 
  embyro  ("M-bree-O"): a plant or animal in its earliest stage of development just after fertilization.
 
  endangered  ("N-dane-ger-dah"): an organism that is in great danger of becoming extinct or dying out.
 
 
endemic  ("N-dem-ik"): an organism that is from a particular location, and is not found anywhere else in the world naturally. The black toad is endemic to Deep Springs.
 
 
endotherm ("en-doe-therm"): an organism whose body temperature is produced within the organism. Sometimes people call them "warm-blooded". You are an endotherm. As with ectotherms, they do not need to be warm or have blood to be endotherms. Hibernating ground squirrels (yes, they have blood, and yes, they are endotherms), can drop their body temperature to -2 degrees C!!! Skunk cabbage is a plant that maintains its own temperature at about 20 degrees C when necessary!
 
  environment: ("N-vi-ron-ment") surroundings
 
  environmental stress  ("N-vi-ron-ment-ul" "stres"): challenges to organisms, resulting from an organism's environment. High and low temperatures, lack of precipitation or water, too much precipitation or water, too much wind, shortage of food, too much sun, too little sun, and anything else that could impact organims in a bad way.
 
 
evaporate ("E-vap-or-ate"): to lose water from the Earth to the atmosphere. Or when a liquid becomes a gas.
 
  fertilize  ("fur-til-Is"): though it is sometimes used to describe adding nitrogen or nutrients to grass or the plant soil, we usually use this word to refer to when a sperm penetrates an egg to form an embryo. Pollination of flowers is also called fertilization, as the pollen is taken from the male flower organs and meets with female flower organs to form a plant embryo or seed.
 
  geneticist ("gen-et-es-ist"): a person who studies genes, heredity, and the passing of genes and traits.
 
 

geologist ("G-all-O-gist"): a person who studies Earth including minerals, rocks, topography/landforms, erosion, ground water, and other topics pertaining to the Earth.

 
  habitat  ("hab-ih-tat"): a particular living space where an organism naturally lives.
 
  haploid  ("hap-loyd"): only having half the normal number of chromosomes for a particular organism. Eggs and sperm are haploid. Most humans have 46 chromosomes. Their haploid number is 23, half of 46. Most human eggs and sperm have 23 chromosomes or half of a full genome.
 
 
herpetologist ("hurp-eh-tall-o-gist"): a person that studies amphibians and reptiles.
 
 

hybridize  ("hi-brid-eyes"): to breed two types of organisms that are similar, but not the same, to make an organism that is unlike either parent but has traits of both.

 
  inhabitant ("in-hab-it-unt"): an organism that lives in a specific location.
 
  inorganic ("in-or-gan-ik"): non-living material, like rock, minerals, salts, or water. Things that do not contain carbon.
 
  introduced ("in-troh-doo-dah"): an organism that is not naturally from a particular area but has been brought there as a result of humans or human activities. Some introduced species are also invasive.
 
  invasive ("in-vay-siv"): refers to an organism that is introduced and then damages the habitat. Bullfrogs for example tend to be invasive in desert habitats as they are not naturally occuring species. They often eat many of the other animals.
 
 
invertebrate  ("in-vert-eh-brate"): an animal that does not have a backbone or a spinal column. Insects, clams, worms, slugs and snails, lobsters, rotifers, crabs, are just a few examples of invertebrates.
 
 
juvenile ("joo-ven-I-L"): a young or not yet mature organism. You are a juvenile.
 
  lithoautotroph ("lith-O-auto-trofe"): an autotrophic organism that uses minerals or rocks as their source of energy containing chemical bonds... simply, an organism that eats rocks.
 
  magma  ("mag-mah"): hot liquid rock we often call lava that comes out of the ground through volcanic vents or volcanos.
 
  meiosis ("me-O-sis"): the cell division process that produces eggs and sperm. It is similar to mitosis (cell division) but results in a splitting of the total gene compliment so each haploid egg or sperm only gets one copy of each chromosome.
 
 

metabolism ("met-ab-o-lism"): the sum or total of all body processes or functions of the body.

 
  metamorphosis  ("met-ah-more-fose-S"): the change, usually drastic, from larval (baby that does not look like the adult) to adult form. Butterflies are famous for metamorphosing from caterpillar to winged adult.
 
 
microbe ("mike-robe"): an organism that is so tiny it must be viewed with a microscope. The term microbes is usually used to refer to bacteria and archaea.
 
  microbiologist  ("mike-row-by-all-O-gist"): a person that studies microscopic organisms, mostly bacteria and archaea, but some study other microorganisms like algae, protists (single celled eukarya like amoebas), and fungi.
 
 
Mojave ("mo-ha-vee"): the desert in the southwestern United States that includes Death Valley, Pahrump Valley, Amargosa Valley, Las Vegas Valley and surrounding areas. The region is named after a tribe of Native Americans that once inhabited the area.
 
  nematode ("neem-ah-toad"): a kind of round worm that lives in water, as a parasite in plants and animals, or as a saprophyte in the soil. They can be microscopic or as long as several meters! They are also an important food source for many aquatic organisms.
 
 
neurological ("nur-O-log-ic-ul"): relating to the brain. Something that has neurological effects is affecting the brain.
 
 
nucleus ("new-clee-us"): the membrane enclosed ball of goo in a eukaryotic cell that contains the genetic material or DNA of the cell. Think of a chicken egg, the white of the egg would be cytoplasm and the yolk, or yellow part, would represent the nucleus.
 
  omnivorous  ("ahm-niv-or-us"): literally means "all eating", these are organisms that eat both plant and animal material. Most people are omnivorous.
 
  organic ("or-gan-ik"): living material or derived of living material. Something that is carbon based. Dead things can be considered organic as long as they are from something that was once alive.
 
  organism ("or-gun-is-ums"): a living thing. Plants, animals and bacteria are all examples of organisms.
 
 
oxidize ("ox-ih-dize"): the act of chemically combining oxygen with metal to form an "oxidized" compound. You know oxidized iron as "rust". Most organisms oxidize compounds to survive. You oxidize sugar.
 
  parotid glands  ("pah-rot-id" "glands"): the poison-producing clusters of skin glands on the neck of some Anura. In Mammals, this name is used for the salivary (spit) glands in the lower jaw.
 
  parthenogenesis  ("par-th-en-O-gen-S-is"): a form of asexual reproduction. Involves the development of an organism from an unfertilized egg. The mother is basically cloning herself, so this process does not allow any male offspring or babies. It is fairly common among plants, zooplankton, some species of insects, and even some lizards are capable of parthenogenesis. It is otherwise rather rare in vertebrates and other complex organisms.
 
  parthenogenetic  ("par-th-en-O-gen-et-ic"): an organsim that is capable of parthenogenesis.
 
 
petroglyphs  ("pet-row-glifs"): ancient rock pictures produced by scratching away at the rock surface. Petroglyphs and pictographs are thought to have artistic, spiritual or communicative intent.
 
  pH ("p"-"h"): the acidity or basicity of a liquid. pH is measured on a scale from 1 to 14. 1 is the most acidic, while 14 is the most basic. 7 is concidered neutral. The water you drink has a pH of about 7. Lemons and soda pop are acidic at a pH of about 2-3 and hand soap is basic at a pH of about 9-10. Aquatic organisms like their environments at a particular pH.
 
  physiology ("fizz-E-all-O-G"): the study of how bodies work.
 
 
pictographs ("pic-toe-grafs"): ancient rock art produced by painting the rock surface with pigments. Petroglyphs and pictographs are thought to have artistic, spiritual or communicative intent.
 
  plankton ("plank-tun"): the collective name for microscopic organic material in water. Composed of microbes, algae, plant particles, and small animals like rotifers and Daphnia.
 
  population  ("pop-U-lay-shun"): the number of organisms of the same kind in a defined or particular area.
 
 
predator ("pred-ah-ter"): an organism that eats other organisms
 
 
prokaryote ("pro-care-E-oat"): an organism that does not have a nucleus or envelope to hold its DNA
 
  pupate  ("pew-pate"): to go through a pupal stage or be a pupa. A pupa is an individual, usually an insect that metamorphoses, that is no longer a larvae and not yet an adult. A pupating insect is in the middle of its metamorphosis.
 
  quiescent  ("koo-I-S-ent"): quiet, at rest, not growing and/or inactive.
 
  reproduce  ("re-pro-doos"): to make more of an organism, those produced can be genetically identical to the parents or a blend of multiple parents.
 
  ribosome ("ribe-O-zome"): the small protein complexes that make proteins from RNA.
 
  salinity  ("sah-lyn-it-E"): the amount of salt in a solution or a liquid.
 
  secrete ("sec-reet"): to let out or put out something from the body. Your body secretes oils and sweat.
 
  sessile  ("ses-I-L"): when an organism does not move on its own, or does not move at all. Often attached to something in the environment.
 
 
snout: nose. Often used to explain the front most portion of the body on an animal that moves in the horizontal position.
 
  species ("spee-sees"): a group of like organisms that look and act very much alike, having very similar genes. They are most often defined by their ability to breed together. There are exceptions to this definition.
 
  systematics ("sys-tem-at-iks"): the study of historical and genetic relationships among organisms.
 
 
tetrapod ("teh-trah-pod"): an animal with a backbone that either has, or has ancestors with, four limbs (legs/arms) with feet and toes, or has ancestors that had four limbs with fingers and toes. Birds, reptiles, mammals, and amphibians are all considered tetrapods even though some no longer have four legs with toes.
 
  thermophilic ("therm-O-fill-ik"): literally means "heat-loving", refers to organisms that thrive at high temperatures.
 
 
tinaja ("tin-ah-ha"): a Spanish word for "wine container", is also used to describe small temporary pools in the desert.
 
  topography ("tope-og-raf-E"): a geography term that means "lay of the land" or the shape of the land. It refers to the orientation of land forms like mountains, valleys, ponds, and other land features.
 
  turbulence ("ter-bU-lentz"): roughness. In science, it often pertains to roughness in a fluid such as air or water.
 
 
vegetation ("veg-ih-tay-shun"): plants, usually the term used for a group of different plants like shrubs and grasses all in one place
 
  vent: the opening some animals urinate out of, often used to mark the end of a body on an animal that walks on all fours or swims horizontally. It also marks the beginning of the tail in some organisms. Or can be used to describe a deep sea hot spring, as in hydrothermal vent.
 
 
zooplankton ("zoe-plank-tun"): the animals that make up plankton, like rotifers, Daphnia, or small animal larvae.