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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sahel : a region in Africa, between the Sahara to the north and a more humid zone (Sudan) to the south. It's a transitional zone of several hundred kilometres between semiarid deserts in northern Africa and the open woodland savanna to the south. It extends over 6000 kilometres from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea.

salmonellosis a disease caused by bacteria of the Salmonella genus causing severe diarrhoea

saprophyte a plant that grows on dead organic matter

sarcocystosis heteroxenic protozoal disease causing cysts in herbivores and mild gastro-intestinal upsets in carnivores

saurischia Largely carnivorous branch of the two great dinosaur lineages, which possessed a three-pronged (tri-radiate) pelvic structure, and included such well-known forms as Compsognathus, Allosaurus, Velociraptor, and Tyrannosaurus, etc.; this line includes the ancestors of the birds; one saurischian line consisted of plant-eaters: the prosauropods and sauropods

sauropoda Group of well-known gigantic herbivorous dinosaurs of the Mesozoic Period, including such familiar forms as Brachiosaurus, Brontosaurus, Seismosaurus, etc.

savanna vegetation consisting of grass and scattered trees Primarily a grassland biome

scat the faeces or droppings of carnivores

scavenger an animal that eats dead and decaying animals

scorching effect woody vegetation is burnt during its active growing phase. This reduces its density.

scutes a layer of keratin scales. Found in the on the shells on chelonia and on pangolin

sea-floor spreading Theory that new ocean floor (oceanic crust) is being created at, and is spreading away from, mid-ocean ridges

seamount Conical mountain rising from the sea floor; probably submerged volcanoes

secondary compounds Toxic chemicals manufactured by plants to keep animals from eating them. Tannin, phenol, terpene, latex, oxalic acid, morphine, and caffeine are examples.

sedated an animal which has been exposed to a high or excessive dose of tranquillizers

sedentary inactive species that exhibits very little movement e.g. mussels, or species remaining within a small homerange for extended periods of time

sedge a grass-like plant growing in marshes

sedimentary rock formed from material deposited in layers

sedimentary rock Rock formed by the accumulation and consolidation of sediment

sedimentary structure Structure (e.g. ripple marks, cross bedding) that formed in sediment at the time of deposition; often preserved in the sedi- ment after it has been converted to rock

seep-line the line on a slope where soil and clay meet and where water can come out on to the surface

segment a distinct plate or part of an insect's skin or armour

seismic discontinuity An interface within the Earth at which the velocity of seismic waves suddenly changes

seismic wave Vibration within the Earth created by release of energy either on or below the surface

seizures convulsions

selection pressure Any feature of the environment that results in natural selection, through differential survival and reproductive success of individuals of different genetic types.

selective feeder an animal that is selective with regard to species and length of grass eaten by preference

selective feeder / grazer an animal that feeds by carefully selecting the species being eaten

senescence the process of ageing leading ultimately to death

serology the properties and reactions of antibodies

serum artifically produced and administered chemical compound

sessile An organism that spends its entire lifecycle fixed to one site Eg. Plants

sex ratio The ratio of males to females in a population(1:1. Tends to remain equal in monogamous species, but adult sex ratios usually become skewed in favour of females,in polygynous species (1:2 1:3 1:5)

sexual dimorphism Differences in form between males and females, usually resulting from development of male secondary characters in response to sexual selection favouring larger size and showier display organs.

sexual selection Selection of genotypes through competition between members of the same sex (especially males) and mating preferences by members of the opposite sex (oeustrally female choice). Cf natural selection.

sexually dimorphic When the male and female of the same species can be easily separated on the basis of external morphology features). e.g.male impala have horns, females do not - this species is sexually dimorphic.

shaman Priest, witchdoctor or diviner

shatter cone Nested conical joint surfaces in rock

shield volcano Large volcano shaped like a circular, medieval shield, constructed by repeated flows of fluid lava (usually basalt); the slopes seldom exceed 10 degree

siblings Offspring of the same mother and father. Signal. Any behaviour that conveys information from one individual to another, whether ritualized or not (cf display).

silicate mineral Mineral in which silicon is a major constituent

sill Sheet-like body of igneous rock intruded between layers of older rock

sinistral left-handed or pertaining to the left

sirenians the Order of mammals containing the manatees, sea lions and dugong

sks (da) Special Knowledge and Skills (Dangerous Animals). This is FGASA level # 4 qualification. It is also a course offered by WildlifeCampus.

slaframine a toxic alkaloid secreted by a specific fungus species

slangkop type of plant containing cardiac glycosides; harmful to animals especially in spring

slashing a habitat management technique for cutting grass

slough to shed (skin) associated with snakes

smectites clay materials which have swelling properties

smoker Hot spring on the sea floor where cooling of the spring water induces precipitation of dissolved solids, producing smoke-like clouds in the water; particles are often black (termed a black smoker)

snotsiekte Bovine Malignant Catarrhal Fever

sodium chloride Also known as salt, common salt, table salt

solitary an animal that generally chooses to live alone

sounder the collective noun for warthog

sour grass grass that is not readily digestible and is usually only eaten by grazers when it is young and tender

sour veld grazing that looses its palatability and nutritional value at maturity

south african sub region Southern Africa including Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, Lesotho and South Africa

speciation the evolution of a species

species Population(s) of closely related and similar organisms which are capable of interbreeding freely with one another, and cannot or normally do not interbreed with members of other species.

species diversity the relative abundance of species in a specific area/ region/habitat/biome or community in relation to another

species richness the physical number of species in a specific area/ region/habitat/biome or community

species-specific Characters that serve to distinguish a species, such as its shape and markings.

spermatophore genetic material produced by the male

spherule Spherule Spherical particle, often concentrically layered

spiracles holes on the sides of an arthropod through which gas exchange occurs

sporangia (pl.), sporangium (sing.) Hollow uni- cellular or multicellular structure in a plant, in which spores are produced

spore Reproductive cell of a plant, usually unicellular, capable of developing into an adult without fusion with another cell; reproduction in seedless plants is by spores, and in seed plants by pollen fusing with an egg cell

stabilimenta a zig-zag thickened conspicuous web stand in the centre of a web to warn animals or birds of the web’s presence

stability when pertaining to an ecosystem it is how the system is able to resist change

stamen the male reproductive structure of a flower

stigma a part of the female reproductive structure of a flower

stolon a creeping stem of a plant which runs along or just beneath the surface of the ground

stoma (sing.) Minute opening bordered by guard cells in the epidermis of leaves and stems of plants through which gases pass (critical for photosynthesis and respiration)

stomata (pl.) Minute opening bordered by guard cells in the epidermis of leaves and stems of plants through which gases pass (critical for photosynthesis and respiration)

stotting Also pronking; a distinctive bounding gait in which the animal bounces off the ground with straightened legs, propelling itself by flexing the pastern) joints. Performed by many antelopes when alarmed

strata (pl. ) Layer of sedimentary rock

stratification layering within an ecosystem

stratigraphy Study and documentation of rock sequences

strato-volcano Conical volcano made up of alternating layers of lava and volcanic ash

stratum (sing.) Layer of sedimentary rock

stridulate To produce a shrill grating, chirping, or hissing sound by rubbing body parts together, as certain insects do, notably the crickets, grasshoppers and Locusts Order Orthoptera.

stridulation the act of an arthropod scraping an appendage along its exoskeleton to produce sound. Used either as a warning of its presence or to attract a conspecific

stromatolite Mound-like growth of carbonate rock, due to accumulation of calcium carbonate crystals on slimy algal or bacterial colonies

stylets modified mouthparts of parasitic Arthropoda

stywesiekte (stiff sickness) plant poisoning disease with symptoms like inflammation of the hooves and liver necrosis.

sub-species geographical unit of a species population distinguishable by certain morphological and physiological characteristics

subduction Subsidence of the edge of a plate into the mantle

subgroup Term used in stratigraphy to denote a related group of layered rocks: subordinate to a Group

substratum The surface off which an organism lives, eats or otherwise interacts. Dependant on the context.

succession the changes in species diversity through which plant communities colonise an area May advance or retrogress

super-species Populations of closely related species that have become morphologically different enough to be considered separate species, i.e. a step beyond subspecies.

supercontinent Single continent formed by the amalgamation of several previously separate continental masses

supergroup Group of rock strata formed during a single, major and widespread episode of rock accumulation

supernova Tremendous stellar explosion involving the almost total destruction of a star

supplementary feeding the artificial provision of nutrients lacking in natural veld conditions

sustainable utilisation the use of a natural resource without depleting its reserves

sustainable yield the amount of a natural resource that be used or taken without depleting its reserves

suture line of junction between two adjoining geological terranes

swamp a wooded wetland where the water is either near to or above the ground

sweet grass grass that is palatable and chosen by grazers as food when it is available

sweet veld a low lying, frost free area where grazing (grass) maintains its palatability and nutritional value throughout their life cycle.

sylvatic cycle Natural cycle, may pertain to disease in its resivior form

symbionts organisms in a symbiotic relationship with another species

symbiosis a relationship between two different types of living organisms where both benefit and the association is compulsory

sympatric Overlapping geographic distribution; applies to related species that coexist without interbreeding (reverse of allopatric).

synapsid Member of the group of reptiles characterised by the presence of only one accessory opening in the skull behind each eye, to accommodate jaw muscles; includes all mammals and their extinct ancestors, pelycosaurs and therapsids

synecology the study of groups of different organisms which are associated together as a unit.

systematics The classification of organisms in an ordered system based on their natural relationships (Taxonomy).

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