This glossary is a FREE SERVICE to assist the student and enthusiast alike to get a better understanding of scientific terms, wildlife industry jargon and ecological concepts.
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aardvark an unusual, nocturnal mammal, specialising in ant eating, see Mammal Module

abdomen rear body segment of an insect, or the posterior section of any other animal

abiotic factors non-living components of an ecosystem e.g. soil, water, sunlight

abomasum the fourth compartment of a ruminant's stomach. It is the animals true stomach, it is glandular and produces enzymes

abscission shedding leaves

abyssal plain Flat areas of the ocean floor

acacia typical thorn trees, generally with a flattened crown

acari an Order in Class Arachnida, ticks and mites See Module # 2

acaricide any chemical applied to animals specifically for the removal of ticks

acclimation morphological and or physiological changes that an animal or plant undergoes in response to the physical changes of its habitat

acclimatisation changes which occur in the physical conditions of an animal after being exposed to different natural environments

acheulian period Division of the Stone Age, extending from about 1.65 million to about 200 000 years ago

adaptations flexible structures that facilitate living organisms survival under given conditions e.g. , camouflage

adolescence The stage when females begin to ovulate and males produce sperm; also called sexual maturity.

aestivate The equivalent of hibernating (i.e. a state of torpor) in a warm climate.

agate Very fine-grained quartz, usually showing concentric colour banding; formed in cavities in rock (often gas bubbles trapped in lava)

aggressive mimicry resemblance of a predator or parasite, to a harmless species to deceive potential prey

agonistic behaviour a broad class of behaviour patterns including all types of attack, threat, appeasement and fight

agouti Grizzled appearance of the coat resulting from alternating light and dark banding of individual hairs. (See also brindled.)

alates winged, reproductive termites

albinism a state caused by the absence of pigmentation in the body covering of an organism. The animal usually appears white with pink eyes

algae Algae are a very large and diverse group of simple, typically autotrophic organisms, ranging from unicellular to multicellular forms, such as the giant kelps that grow to 65 meters in length

alien (species) describes a species that does not occur naturally in an area e.g. ,the Australian Black Wattle, Acacia mearnsii in South Africa

alkaline describing a liquid (usually) that has a pH above 7. It is the opposite of acidic, may be known as 'basic' or 'base'

alkaloids the largest class of secondary plant compounds(chemicals).

allelochemistry the influence that chemicals secreted by a plant has on other organisms.

allelopathy The secretion by plants of chemicals, such as phenolic and terpenoid compounds, that inhibit the growth or reproduction of other plant species, with which they are competing.

allo-grooming grooming behaviour involving more than one animal

allopatric having different areas of geographical distribution, possessing non-overlapping areas

allopatric speciation speciation that occurs when an ancestral population of an organism becomes separated by some form of geographic barrier

alluvial material that has been transported by flowing water

alluvial plain Broad, flat region formed by coalesced river floodplains

alpha (first letter in gk. alphabet). The top-ranking member of a dominance hierarchy.

altricial requiring care or nursing after birth At birth these animals are usually helpless, usually with eyes and ears closed and partially naked

altruism act of assisting another animal at the expense of your own health or circumstances

alum substance used in licks to control tick infestation

amber fossilised tree resin

amble A walking gait in which the legs on the same side are moved together (also called a parallel walk), in contrast to a cross-walk.

ametabolic This is a term applied to insects not undergoing any metamorphosis

ammonite Extinct diverse group of floating or swimming marine molluscs with coiled, chambered shells used for regulating buoyancy; closely related to modern squids, cuttlefish, octopus and Nautilus

amniotic sac The membranes surrounding a foetus and containing the fluid in which it floats.

amoeba one-celled aquatic or parasitic protozoans, having no definite form and consisting of protoplasm containing one or more nuclei surrounded by a flexible outer membrane. It moves by means of pseudopods.

amphibia the Class to which frogs and toads belong

amphibian Four-limbed vertebrates that remain dependent on water for egg-laying and breed- ing, including modern frogs, newts and sala- manders; the ancestral group to reptiles

amphibious an organism that spends portions of its life both in and out of the water, e.g. , hippopotamus

amygdales Former gas bubbles in lava (vesicles) that have become filled by minerals

anaerobic It refers to an environment devoid of oxygen. It is also frequently associated with a group of animals, for example anaerobic bacteria, which describes bacteria that live in oxygen free environments.

anaphylaxis advanced state of allergic reaction characterised by cardio-vacular distress, anaphylactic shock

anaplasmosis also called "gallsickness". A protozoal disease causing fever and anaemia in cattle. Wildlife are generally carriers of the disease

anapsid Anapsid skull - characterized by having no opening in the temporal region of the skull

anapsid (2) Member of a group of reptiles having a skull structure in which there are no accessory openings behind the eyes to accommodate jaw muscles

andesite Fine-grained igneous rock (volcanic) consisting mainly of amphibole (calcium, aluminium, iron and magnesium silicate) and plagioclase (calcium, sodium, aluminium silicate)

anemia pale looking

angiosperm seed protected within an ovary; division of seed bearing plants

annual a plant that completes its lifecycle from germination to death in only one season

antbear see aardvark

antennae sensory appendages found on the head of many arthropods specifically insects. Also known as 'feelers'

anterior toward the front

anthelminthic a product which is used to remove worms from the digestive tract

anthrax a highly contagious bacterial disease of wild and domestic animals

anthropomorphic human-centred; assigning human characteristics to non-human species

anti-venom drug administered intravenously to counter the effects of envenomation by snakes, scorpions, spiders and insects

antibiosis The release of chemicals from the root of a plant that inhibit the growth of other plants adjacent to it

antioxidant a chemical that destroys free radicals

antiparasiticides products applied externally to animals to control tick infestations

apatite Mineral consisting of calcium phosphate

apex tip of a leaf, or the terminal point

aphelion the furthermost point of a planet's orbit from the sun

apis This is the Geniric name for bees in the Family Apidae. "Api" is from the Latin for bees, thus apiology, the study of bees, apicology, the ecology of bees etc.

apocrine gland a large sweat gland that produces both a fluid and an apocrine secretion; in human beings located in hairy regions of the body

aposomatic warning colouration. Usually contrasting yellow, red or orange against black, it advertises the fact that the organism is either poisonous, toxic, distasteful or harmful in some manner, e.g. bees

appendages A part or organ, such as an arm, leg, tail, or fin, that is joined to the axis or trunk of a body.

aquatic living in water

arachnid Member of the group of arthropods to which spiders and mites belong, characterised by having four pairs of legs and an external skeleton of chitin

arachnida the Class to which spiders, scorpions, ticks and mites belong

arachnophobia the fear of spiders

arboreal living in or adapted to living in trees

archaean eon Period of Earth history extending from 4 600 million to 2 500 million years ago

archaebacteria [Archaea] Primitive form of bacteria

archosauria The so-called Ruling Reptiles that include the ancestors of all crocodiles, dinosaurs and birds, characterised by two accessory openings in the skull behind the eye to accommodate jaw muscles; many showed a strong trend towards a bipedal (two-legged) running gait

arctica Early continent that consisted of parts of North America, Siberia and Greenland, believed to have formed between 2 500 million and 1 500 million years ago

areola Apex of a mollusc shell

argasid a group of ticks representing those tick species which have soft bodies

arid zone A region of low rainfall with characteristically sparse vegetation, intermediate between desert and savanna.

arthropod an animal that has a segmented body and jointed legs and is covered in a hard exoskeleton, e.g. , arachnids, myriapods, insects

arthropod (2) Member of the great group of invertebrate animals that includes crustaceans (shrimps, lobsters, crabs, etc.), arachnids (spiders, mites) and insects, all characterised by having an external skeleton made of a hard substance called chitin, and a variable number of jointed legs; many insects also develop wings in the adult stages and can fly

arthropoda (arthropod) an animal that has a segmented body and jointed legs and is covered in a hard exoskeleton, e.g. arachnids, myriapods, insects

artiodactyla Even-toed ungulates. Members of this mammalian order are characterised by either two or four weight bearing toes on each foot. Examples include the antelope and warthogs.

aspect an objects fixed position in relation to direction E.g. north facing

assimilation the transformation or incorporation of a substance by organisms; absorption and conversion of energy and nutrient intake into constituents of an organism

association a natural unit of vegetation characterised by its composition and often dominated by a particular species

asteroid Small bodies (less than 1 000 km diameter) orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter

asthenosphere Zone within the Earth between depths of about 70 and 200 km possessing relatively lower seismic velocities, probably due to its very plastic nature; also referred to as the Low Velocity Zone (or Layer) or LVZ

astrology study of 12 principle star constellations and their relevance to mankind

astronavigation the use of star constellations, the moon or other cosmic features to determine position and direction. Used by certain birds in long distance migration

astronomy study of stars, moons, planets, galaxies and other cosmic phenomena

ataxic the failure of muscular co-ordination, also known as ataxia or ataxy

atlantica Early continent that consisted of parts of eastern South America and western Africa, believed to have formed about 2 000 million years ago

atmosphere the layer of gas surrounding the earth

autecology ecology of an individual organism or species

autotomy voluntary breaking off of part of the body by an animal in an attempt to escape predation

autotrophic self nourishing, e.g. , photosynthesis in green plants

aves the Class of animals distinguished by feathers and wings

avifauna birds

avivorous feeding on a diet of birds

axillary The armpit area.

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