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As you read about threatened and endangered species you may need to check some of the meanings of the words you find. (Adapted from the Glossary of the American Museum of Natural History.)

ADAPTATION: biological characteristic that improves the chance of survival of an animal and its descendants

BIODIVERSITY: the entire variety of life on this planet. Bio is short for biological which means life and diversity means variety.

BIRDING: to watch birds

BIRD SONG: the notes repeated by a bird in a regular pattern which it uses to defend territory and attract mates

CAMOUFLAGE: protective coloring that helps hide an animal

CAPTIVE CONSERVATION: keeping small numbers of animals in protective isolation, to insure reproductive success

CARNIVORES: carnivores feed strictly on meat

CLUTCH: a nest of eggs or the number of eggs produced or incubated at one time

CONSERVATION: the management and protection of the natural world

COVER: the vegetation or plants, trees and debris that provide areas to hide

DEFORESTATION: removal of forests, usually rapidly and over large areas

ECOLOGY: Ecology is the study of the relationships that exist among plants and animals in their natural environments.

ECOLOGIST: is someone who examines the effects of environmental conditions on plants and animals

ECOSYSTEM: a community of interacting organisms (plants and animals) and their physical environment

ENDANGERED: in danger of extinction in the near future

ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT (ESA): legislation, passed by Congress in 1973, which protects listed species

ENDANGERED SPECIES LIST: list of species protected under the Endangered Species Act

EXTINCT: a species that no longer exists

FAUNA: the animal life of a particular region, geological period, or environment

FLORA: the plants of a particular region, geological period, or environment

HABITAT: the environment in which specified plants and animals live ; the natural environment which provides food, water, shelter and space for animals

HERBIVORES: herbivores feed only on plants

NICHE: Each organism has a specific role (or job) referred to as its niche

OMNIVORES: feed on both plant and animal matter

ORNITHOLOGY: branch of zoology that deals with the study of birds

ORGANISM: any living thing including plants, animals or bacteria

POPULATION: a group of organisms of one species, occupying a defined area and usually isolated from similar groups of the same species

PREDATOR: animal that preys on others

PREENING: to clean, straighten and fluff feathers

RANGE: the area naturally occupied by a species

RESERVE: an area of land set aside for the use or protection of a species or group of species

ROOKERY: colony of breeding animals (usually birds or seals)

SPECIES: a class or specific type of organism; a group of individuals related by descent, and able to breed among themselves but not with other animals

THREATENED: a living thing that may soon become endangered as the number of them is growing smaller

WARM-BLOODED: maintaining a constant internal body temperature regardless of external conditions

YOLK: the food source in an egg for the developing bird

February 1999 Carla Schutte
Technology Specialist,
Moton Elementary