Copy of `Radford University - Glossary of Biogeography`

The wordlist doesn't exist anymore, or, the website doesn't exist anymore. On this page you can find a copy of the original information. The information may have been taken offline because it is outdated.


Radford University - Glossary of Biogeography
Category: Sciences > Biogeography
Date & country: 11/09/2007, USA
Words: 117


Adaptation
a condition or character which afford fitness to a species in a particular environment.

Adaptive radiation
evolutionary divergence of members of a single phyletic line into many different niches.

Alien
a non-native species, especially one introduced to some part of the world through human action.

Allele
one of two or more different chemical codes possible for a given gene. Offer variation in a given trait.

Allen's Rule
The warmer the climate the longer the appendages (ears, legs, wings) of warm blooded animals in comparison with closely related taxa from colder climes.

Allopatric
literally, 'other country'; refers to distribution areas of different taxa that do not overlap.

Altitudinal zonation
the sorting of plant and animal species according to elevation in response to differences in temperature and precipitation patterns.

Annual
a plant with a lifespan of one year.

Bergmann's Rule
The colder the climate (thus, usually, the higher the latitude) the larger the body size of a warm blooded animal when compared to close relatives in warmer regions.

Biennial
a plant with a lifespan of two years. Often only flowers and sets seed during the second year.

Biodiversity
The total variation in life, including the number of species, the degree of genetic variation within species, the different types of ecosystems, and the all ecosystem functions.

Biogeography
the science that studies the distribution of life, past and present.

Biome
one of the largest recognizably distinct ecosystems on earth; the plant and animal communities and associated soils that are characteristic of a given regional climate type.

Boundary
the line or zone formed by the edges of two adjacent ecosystems.

Chromosome
rod-shaped bodies in the nuclei of cells that consist of a string of genes and maintain the structure or arrangement of the genetic code (DNA).

Circumboreal
found throughout the high latitude forests of the northern hemisphere; that is, in North America and Eurasia.

Circumpolar
refers to a distribution area that circles either the north pole or south pole.

Clade
in cladistics, a group with a common set of shared derived characteristics persumed inherited from a common ancestor

Cladistics
a methodology for reconstructing evolutionary relationships of taxa, both living and extinct, by using the distribution of shared derived characters.

Cladogram
in cladistics, a graphic depiction of evolutionary relationships based on shared derived characters

Class
a higher taxon consisting of one or more orders and distinct from other taxa of similar rank

Climber
a soft- or non-woody-stemmed vine that clasps the stems or branches of trees and shrubs to raise its foliage and flowers above the ground; a type of growthform.

Cline
a series of contiguous populations that exhibit gradual and continuous change of character in response to some environmental gradient.

Colonization
the establishment of a population in a place formerly unoccupied by that species. Colonization implies successful reproduction in the new area, not simply the presence of a species there.

Community
A group of populations of different species occupying a given place at a given time that are viewed as interdependent. An aggregation of interacting species. Sometimes used to refer to only the assemblage of populations of a particular class of organisms, such as the bird community, the herb community, and so forth.

Congeners
refers to species belonging to the same genus

Conspecific
refers to individuals or populations of the same species

Convergence
phenotypic similarity in distantly related (or unrelated) forms, presumably in response to similar selective pressures.

Corridor
a linear strip of habitat type that differs from that on either side of it.

Cosmopolitan
worldwide, or nearly so, in distribution.

Cryptogams
nonvascular plants such as lichens and mosses that make up the ground or surface layer of vegetation.

Cushion plant
low growing mat formed by tightly massed individuals of the same species of plant. Generally associated with tundra or high alpine communities.

Derived (character)
in cladistics, a feature shared among members of smaller groups or clades that is believed to have evolved at a later date than primitive features. Also called advanced.

Disjunct
refers to a fragmented distribution area with two or more geographically separated ranges.

Dispersal
the transport of propagules beyond the limits of a species' distribution area

Dispersal
(sensu ecology): the transport of propagules away from the parent.

Distribution area
the geographic range of a taxon.

Diversity
a) the total number of species present; b) some index which incorporates both the number of species and the relative abundance of each.

Ecogeographic rule
one of the statements from 19th century naturalists recognizing correlations between the morphology of warm blooded animals (mammals and birds) and climatic and/or latitudinal gradients.

Ecological succession
(according to the original theory): the development of an ecosystem through a predictable series of communities until a final, stable community (the climax community) in balance with the regional climate is attained. In its original form, the theory implied that each community altered the habitat and prepared it for invasion by the next, succeeding community.

Ecology
the science that studies the relationships between organisms and their environment. 'The study of the structure and function of nature' (Odum, 1971--Fundamentals of Ecology).

Ecosystem
A community of species together with the surrounding environment that function together as a coherent unit to maintain a flow of energy and to acquire, store, and recycle nutrients.

Edaphic factor
A permanent or nearly permanent condition of the substrate that influences the types of plants that grow in an area. For example, substrates may be permanently or seasonally waterlogged, droughty, deficient in essential nutrients, extremely thin, and so forth.

Edge
that part of an ecosystem near the perimeter that is influenced by the environment of the adjacent ecosystem so that it differs in some characteristics from the center of the ecosystem. Edge effect refers to changes in species composition, distribution and/or abundance found in the edge relative to the interior.

Endemic
describes a taxon restricted to and native to a particular area.

Environment
the totality of physical, chemical, and biotic conditions surrounding an organism

Environmental resistance
those factors of the environment which prevent reproduction or inhibit development of a species and hence limit the extent (or determine the borders) of its distribution area.

Ephemeral
an annual plant with an extremely short lifespan measured in a few weeks or very few months; characteristic growthform of desert forbs.

Epiphytea
plant which uses a rock or host plant merely as a place of residence and obtains its moisture and nutrients directly from the air; an air plant. A type of growthform.

Evolution
a change in the allele frequencies within a population

Family
a taxonomic level including one or more genera of common phylogenetic origin and distinct from taxa of the same rank. [The Latin names of animal families end in '-idae'.]

Fauna
the animal life of a given area. A list of all species of animals found in a given area

Feral
describes a species that was once tamed or domesticated and has since reverted to a free-roaming life in the wild.

Fitness
the measure of a species ability to survive and reproduce

Flora
the plant life of a given area. A list of all species of plants found in a given area., often listing diagnostic features.

Forb
a small, upright soft-stemmed or non-woody plant with broadleaves; the growthform of many common wildlfowers

Formation
a group of communities in a single region or continent with similar physiognomy (structure) and related climatic and environmental conditions. One of several regional or continental expressions of a given biome.

Founder Principle
a few individuals starting a new population may represent an atypical sample of the parent species' gene pool. This 'sampling error' leads to the founder effect: rapid changes in allele frequencies in the colonizing population and divergence from the parent population.

Function
refers to action, how something works. In the case of ecosystem functions we look at photosynthesis, nutrient cycling, population control, dispersal mechanisms, temporal patterns of flowering , breeding, dormancy, and so forth.

Gene
the segment of DNA at a particular locus on a particular chromosome that controls production of proteins and enzymes and influences the development of a specific trait.

Gene flow
the transfer of genes (actually, alleles) from one population to another.

Gene pool
the totality of genetic information in a given population at a given time

Genetic drift
allele frequency changes in populations caused by random events rather than by natural selection, especially the effects of sampling error on the gene pool of small populations.

Genotype
the genes (or alleles) present in an individual

Genus
a taxonomic category including one or more species with a presumed recent common ancestor.

Geographic isolation
the separation of a population from the rest of its species due to some physical barrier, such as a mountain range, an ocean, or great distance.

Golger's Rule
The drier the climate, the lighter the color of animals relative to closely related taxa of more humid regions. (Yellows and light browns predominate in arid regions; dark browns and blacks in humid regions.)

Graminoid
an herb with grass-like morphology; a growthform typified by true grasses (Graminae) and by sedges (Cyperacaeae).

Grass
a member of the Graminae family of flowering plants.

Growthform
the overall morphology of a plant species, including its stature, leaf type, and habit. The most basic growtforms are trees, shrubs, forbs, and graminoids; but there are many more specialized growthforms such as epiphytes, lianas, and stem succulents.

Heath
a member of the Ericaceae or heather family. Usually leathery-leaved shrubs preferring acidic or low-nutrient substrates and often tolerant of cold.

Herb
any non-woody vascular plant; a category of plants including both forbs and graminoids. Hence the term 'herbaceous' layer .

Individual variation
phenotypic diversity within a population.

Kingdom
One of the major subdivisions of life; based upon basic similarities in cell structure. Five kingdoms are recognized: Monera, Protoctista, Fungi, Animalia, and Plantae.

Landscape
a mosaic of repeated ecosystems in a given geographic area. The land is heterogeneous, but there are structural and functional relationships among the matrix and the various patches and corridors.

Landscape Ecology
the study of patterns of ecosystems of a given area and the interactions among those various ecosystems.

Liana
a woody-stemmed vine. Lianas are rooted in the substrate and use trees or shrubs as support; often their leaves and flowers reach the canopy of layer of the vegetation. A type of growthform.

Life Zone
belts of vegetation that are similar in structure and species composition in both latitudinal and elevational expressions.

Locus
a specific place or location on a given chromosome. The genetic information encoded there is a gene.

Matri
xthe background land use or vegetation in a landscape: that ecosystem-type which is most extensive so that others appear as patches or corridors within it.

Native
a species which is a natural member of a biotic community. An indigenous species. (The term implies that humans were not involved in the dispersal or colonization of the species.)

Niche
the total requirements and tolerances of a species; its way of life, including how it traps energy and otherwise uses its habitat or microhabitat.

Order
a higher taxon consisting of one or more families and distinct from other taxa of similar rank.

Pantropical
refers to a distribution area that extends through the tropics (that is generally between 23° 30' S and 23° 30' N latitude).

Parasite
A plant without chlorophyll that obtains its nutrients by tapping into the branches, stems or roots of living green plants

Patch
a nonlinear habitat type that differs from the surrounding vegetation.

Perennial
a plant that lives more than two years

Phenotype
the totality of characteristics of an individual: the expression of the genotype.

Phreatophyte
A desert shrub with a long trap root that enables the plant to avoid reliance on rainwater by tapping into groundwater.

Phyletic gradualism
the belief that evolution (and especially speciation) occurs over considerable time through a slow accumulation of new alleles and changing allele frequencies.

Phylogeny
the evolutionary history of a taxon. The graphic representation of a phylogeny is called a phylogenetic tree.

Phylum
A subdivision of a kingdom encompassing all forms of life with the same distinctive body plan. [plural = phyla].

Pioneer species
a species that is an early occupant of newly created or disturbed areas. A member of the early stage communities in ecological succession.

Population
the individuals of a given species that occupy the same locality and form the interbreeding group in that location. A group of two or more populations that regularly exchange genes is known as a metapopulation..

Primitive (character)
in cladistics, a character shared among and defining members of a large group or clade and believed to have arisen early in the group's evolution.

Propagule
In animals, the minimum number of individuals of a species capable of colonizing a new area. This may be fertilized eggs, a mated female, a single male and a single female, or a whole group of organisms depending upon the biological and behavioral requirements of the species. In plants, a propagule is whatever structure functions to reproduce the species: a seed, spore, stem or root cutting, etc.

Punctuated equilibrium
the belief that evolution proceeds by spurts of change interspersed with long periods of stasis (genetic stability) where selection favors no change.

Relict
a distribution area that is a mere remnant of a formerly wider range.

Relict (taxon)
a taxon that remains from an earlier geologic time when environmental conditions were different than at present.

Reproductive isolation
a condition in which interbreeding between populations is prevent by intrinsic factors of the species themselves.