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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macro-climate the physical climatic conditions that affect a large area i.e. the macro-climate of the Lowveld

macro-elements elements that animals require in moderate quantity

maggot leg-less larva of a fly

magma Molten rock before it erupts on surface

magma chamber Large space below the Earth’s surface occupied by molten rock

maize corn

malaria a disease transmitted by mosquitoes. Symptoms include a high fever, aching joints, headache, nausea and shivering. Three million people die from this disease annually in Africa

mammal an animal that gives birth to live young, and suckles its young

mammal-like reptile Common name used for the group of primitive synapsid tetrapods that are the distant ancestors of mammals; comprises two groups, pelycosaurs and their descendants the therapsids

management (habitat) the efforts of humans to oversee nature wisely so as to conserve it

mandibles set of biting mouth parts of insects

mangrove swamps A Mangrove swamp is a coastal marine swamp of tropical or subtropical regions that is dominated by mangrove trees

mantle Region of the Earth’s interior between the base of the crust and the core

mantle plume Hot, buoyant mass of material that rises from deep within the Earth to the base of the lithosphere

marsupial a pouched mammal endemic to Australia

matriarch a female that is the leader of her herd, pride, flock

matrix Relatively finer-grained material occupying the spaces between larger particles in a rock

mealie maize (corn)

meandering river River channel pattern characterised by broad loops Relatively small (30-cm-long) anapsid marine reptile that lived during the Early Permian Period; its remains are known only from Brazil, Namibia and South Africa

melanism a state in which too much melanin pigment is formed, resulting in a black coloured population of animals e.g. Gabar goshawk

mesophyte a plant suited to temperate living conditions which are neither too wet or too dry

mesosphere Zone of the Earth’s mantle below the asthenosphere

metabolisable energy energy available to the animal after the energy lost in the urine and gas products is subtracted.

metabolism chemical reactions that take place inside living organisms

metabolites chemicals

metamorphic belt Linear zone on the Earth’s crust underlain by metamorphic rocks

metamorphic rock Rock formed from pre-existing rocks that have been subjected to elevated temperature and pressure (and usually involving hot fluids), such that their mineral composition has undergone change

metamorphism Alteration of mineral composition of rock caused by exposure to elevated temperature and pressure (and possibly hot fluids)

metamorphosis a series of morphological changes that insects undergo that gradually changes them from a juvenile to adult form and allows them to become reproductively active

metazoa Sub-kingdom of animals whose bodies are made up of many specialised cells grouped together into tissues, and that have a centralised, co-ordinating nervous system

meteorite Particle of natural material that has fallen to Earth from Space

micro elements elements that animals require, but in minute quantities only

micro-climate the physical environmental condition confined to a very small area or location i.e. the micro-climate of a woodland dormouse hole, wild dog den or termite mound

micro-flora microorganisms living in the digestive tract

micro-habitat A smaller portion of a habitat. eg. a tree is a microhabitat for smaller animals

micro-organisms any organism of microscopic size

microbes micro-scopic organisms

microbiota Microbiota is a monotypic genus of evergreen coniferous shrub in the cypress family Cupressaceae, containing only one species, Microbiota decussata (Siberian carpet cypress, Russian arbor-vitae). The plant is native and endemic to a limited area of the Sikhote-Alin mountains in Primorsky Krai in eastern Siberia (Russian Manchuria).

microclimate A microclimate is a local atmospheric zone where the climate differs from the surrounding area.

microfossil Microfossil Remains of tiny plants or animals that require the use of a microscope to be studied; includes fossil bacteria, algae, pollens, spores, protozoans, microscopic crustaceans, etc.

microhabitat A smaller portion of a habitat. eg. a tree is a microhabitat for smaller animals

mid-ocean ridge Mountain range on the sea floor where tectonic plates separate

midden a regularly used site for depositing of dung

migmatite Rock consisting of an intimate mixture of metamorphic and igneous rocks (usually granite)

migration the movement of animals over long distances, associated with birds and certain ungulates

mimicry The resemblance of one organism to another. Taking on another organism's colour, vocalisation, action or attribute.

mineral Naturally occurring chemical compound

mineral lick an artificially produced nutritional material used to supplement natural grazing of wildlife. Licks may be nutritive, salt or medicinal

mites tiny ecto- or endo-parasites which may be herbivorous

mitre drain A cutting across sand roads to facilitate the drainage of excess rain water. A tractor scrapes the mitre towards the road from in the bush. The accumulated material can be used to build bolsters.

mixed feeder animals that both browse (leaves) and graze (grass)

mixed veld a transitional zone between sweet and sour veld, suitable for grazing 6 - 10 months of the year depending on location

mobbing response Cooperative attack by members of a group, triggered by behaviour of the attacked animal or by a signal from a group member (e.g. a distress cry).

mobile belt Term often used synonymously with Metamorphic belt

moho See Mohoroviˇci´c discontinuity

mohoroviˇci´c discontinuity Shallowest major seismic discontinuity below the Earth’s surface, which marks the base of the Earth’s crust; it arises from the difference in chemical com- position between the crust and the mantle

mollusc bilaterally symmetrical unsegmented invertebrates consisting of a head, muscular foot and visceral hump e.g. snails

monoculture farming Monoculture is the agricultural practice of producing or growing a single crop or plant species over a wide area and for a large number of consecutive years. It is widely used in modern industrial agriculture and its implementation has allowed for large harvests from minimal labour.

monoecious a plant possessing both male and female organs in the same flower

monogamy mating of an animal with only one member of the opposite sex at a time

monotreme an egg-laying mammal. Only two species exist, both endemic to Australia, the echidna and duck-billed platypus

montane Referring to African mountain habitats, including forest, grassland, bamboo zone, moorland, etc.

mopane Tree of variable growth forms, Colospermum mopane, which often forms pure stands in parts of the Southern Savanna and South West Arid Zone.

morbidity rate refers to the percentage of animals infected by a disease but not dying from the disease

moribund A reference to grass that has not been utilised by either fire or grazing. It is nutrient poor.

morphology the physical external features of an organism

mortality rate the percentage of animals which die as a result of a disease or particular activity

moult the shedding of skin, hair or feathers

mountain belt Long mountain chain (e.g. Andes)

muscular dystrophy a muscular disease causing the animal incoordination, restricted movement, leading to muscle damage

musth The period when male elephants are seeking mates. During this time they are often aggressive. For a fuller description, please do the WildlifeCampus Free Lesson on elepahnts

mutualism a non-obligatory relationship in which both organisms benefit

myiasis the presence of fly maggots on a body or carcass

myocardial The muscular tissue of the heart or relating to the myocardium (heart muscle tissue)

myremecophagic subsists on a diet of ants (Hymenoptera) or termites (Isoptera)

myriapoda a defunct zoological term that unites all Arthropoda that have elongated bodies, multiple legs and a distinct head e.g. millipedes and centipedes

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