Biodiversity Key Terms| Biodiversity UPSC KAS|Environment and Ecology UPSC notes - gk lokam

24 July 2022

Biodiversity Key Terms| Biodiversity UPSC KAS|Environment and Ecology UPSC notes


Biodiversity Key Terms| Biodiversity UPSC KAS|Environment and Ecology UPSC notes

Biodiversity Key Terms| Biodiversity UPSC KAS|Environment and Ecology UPSC notes

Acclimation: The process by which numerous physical and physiological
processes prepare the plant to survive in the adverse conditions.

Acid mine drainage: The outflow of acidic water from metal or coal mines.

Acid precipitation: Precipitation that is acidic as a result of both sulphur
and nitrogen oxides forming acids when they react with water in the
atmosphere; partially due to the combustion of coal; includes acid rain,acid snow and acid fog.

Adaptive radiation: The phenomenon by which a population of a species
changes as it is dispersed in a different habitat within a region.

Aerosol: Tiny particles of natural and human-produced air pollution; these
particles remain suspended in the atmosphere for days or even months.

Aersol effect: Atmospheric cooling that occurs where and when aerosol
pollution is the greatest.

Agroforestry:The use of agricultural and forestry techniques to improve
degraded soil and offer economic benefits.

Albedo: The proportional reflectance of sunlight from earth’s surface;
glaciers and ice sheets have high albedos, whereas the ocean and forests
have low albedos.

Algal bloom: The rapid and excessive growth of algae; generally caused by high nutrient levels combined with other favourable conditions. It can
deoxygenate the water leading to the loss of wildlife.

Alien species: A species occurring in an area outside of its historically
known natural range as a result of intentional or accidental dispersal by
human activities; also known as introduced species.

Altruism: Behavior that harms the individual who perform it but benefits
other individuals; parenting behaviors are altruistic behavior.

Big-bang: An explosion from a single point of super-condensed matter
about 15 billion years ago that was the start of our universe.

Bioaccumulation: The accumulation of a substance, such as a toxic
chemical, in the tissues of a living organism.

Biochemical oxygen demand (BOD): The amount of oxygen needed by
microorganisms to decompose the organic material in a given volume of
water; also called biological oxygen demand.

Biocoenosis: All the interacting organisms living together in a specific
habitat; also called biocoenose or biocenose.

Biodiversity hotspots: The small area of land that contain an exceptional
number of endemic species and are at high risk from human activities.

Biogas: Clean fuels whose combustion produces fewer pollutants than coal
or biomass; it is produced from the anaerobic digestion of organic material.


Biological magnification: It is also called bioaccumulation; is the process
whereby certain substances such as pesticides or heavy metals move up the
food chain.

Biome: A complex of terrestrial community of very wide extent,
characterised by its climate and soil; the largest ecological unit.

Biota: The total flora and fauna of a region.

Blue revolution: It refers to the management of water resources that can
steer humanity to achieve drinking water and crop irrigation security. It is
water equivalent of the green revolution.

Buffer zone: The region near the border of a protected area; a transition
zone between areas managed for different objectives.

Carbon credit: A way of reducing the impact of greenhouse gas emissions;
it allows an agent to benefit financially from an emission reduction. It
represents one tonne of carbon dioxide either removed from the
atmosphere or saved from being emitted. It is also known as emission

Carbon footprint: A measure of the carbon emissions that are emitted over
the full life cycle of a population, system, product or service and usually
expressed as grams of carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2-e).

Carrying capacity: The number of individuals within a population that can
be supported within a particular environment for an indefinite time.

Chaparral: Chaparral vegetation is characterised by small-leaved evergreen
shrubs and small trees. The climate of the region is mild, moist winters and
hot dry summers.

Chlorofluorocarbon: Compounds of chlorine, fluorine and carbon that have been contributing to ozone depletion.

Climate Feedback: A process that acts to amplify or reduce direct warming
or cooling effects.

Climax community: A community in which the mix of plants and animals
become stable; the last stage of succession.

Cline: A gradual change in the traits of a species over a geographical

Community: A group of mutually adjusted populations of plants and

animals inhabiting a natural area.

Comparative risk assessment: A methodology which uses science, policy,
economic analysis and stakeholder participation to identify and address
areas of greatest environmental risk; a method for assessing environmental
management priorities.

Composting: The biological decomposition of organic materials in the
presence of oxygen that yields carbon dioxide, heat, and stabilised organic
residues that may be used as a soil additive.

Conservation biology: A discipline of ecology which deals with identifying all species and to design long-term management programs based on ecological and evolutionary principles.


Decomposers: Organisms which digest or break down living material which has died.

Deme: Any local population of individuals belonging to the same species
that can inter-breed with one another.

Demography: The statistical analysis of human population.

Detritivore: An organism that obtains its energy from dead bodies and/or
waste product of other animals.

Detritus: The waste material of an ecosystem.

Ecological footprint: The amount of land and ocean needed to supply an
individual with food, energy, water, housing, transportation and waste

Ecological niche: The functioning of a species in relation to other species
and its physical environment.

Ecological succession: The sequential replacement of one assemblage of
populations by another in a habitat following some disturbance.

Ecotone: The transitional zone where two ecosystems or biomes inter-grade.

Ecotourism: A type of tourism in which tourist pay to observe wildlife in
natural settings.

Ecotype: A locally adapted variant of an organism, differing genetically
from other ecotype.

Endangered species: The species that face a very high risk of extinction in
near future.


Endemic species: The native or local species that are not found anywhere
else in the world.

Environmental carrying capacity (K): The number of individuals in a
population that the resources of a habitat can support.

Environmental contamination: The presence of toxic substance in a

Environmental ethics: It is the field of applied ethics that consider the
moral basis of environmental responsibility; it also considers how humans
should relate to the natural environment.

Ethology: An approach to study the animal behavior in the natural
environment. Examine the causes of the evolution of behavior.
Eutrophication: The addition of nutrient materials to a body of water,
which stimulates plant growth; resulting in changes in ecological processes
and species composition there in; the decomposition process, takes oxygen
from the water, leading to death of other species.

Evolutionary psychology: The science that explains the behavior of our
ancestors as a direct result of adaptive evolution.

Flora:All of the plants found in a given area.

Food chain: A portion of a food web, most commonly a simple sequence of
prey species and predator that consume them.

Food web: The complete set of food links between species in a community; a diagram indicating which ones are the eaters and which one are eaten.

Forb: Any broadleaf herbaceous plant growing in grasslands.

Founder effect: The extreme genetic drift because of isolation of a small
population from a large population.

Fundamental niche: The role an organism might play in an ecosystem in
the absence of competitor.

Gene-for-gene resistance: A mechanism for resistance to pathogens, in
which resistance is triggered by the specific interaction of the products of
the pathogens.

Green architecture: The practice of designing and building homes with
environmental considerations such as energy efficiency, recycling and
conservation of natural resources in mind.


Greenhouse effect: The heating of earth’s atmosphere by gases such as
water vapor, carbon dioxide and methane; such greenhouse gases are
transparent to sunlight and opaque to heat; thus sunlight-engendered heat
builds up at earth’s surface and cannot be dissipated into the atmosphere.


Greenhouse gas: A gas that absorbs infrared radiation; carbon dioxide,
methane, nitrous oxide, chlorofluorocarbons and troposphere ozone are all
greenhouse gases.

Habitat loss: The shrinkage and fragmentation of the habitat (the place
where the organism grows) in which the species lives.

Habituation: The ability of an organism to get used to certain types of

Halophyte: A plant that grows in a saline environment.

Hominins: All living and extinct human species, the only living hominines
is Homo sapiens.

Indicator species: Any biological species that defines a trait or
characteristic of the environment.

Keystone species: Species that have dominant influence on the composition of a community.

Biodiversity Key Terms ,Biodiversity UPSC KAS , Environment and Ecology UPSC notes

Landscape ecology: A sub discipline in ecology that focuses on connections among ecosystems in a particular area.

Macro consumers: Large organisms, mainly animals, which eat other
organisms or organic matter; also called phagotrophs.

Micro consumers: Micro-organisms, such as bacteria and fungi, which
break down the complex compounds of dead cells and absorb some of the
decomposed products; also known as saprotrophs or osmotrophs.

Municipal solid waste: The waste which includes paper, yard waste, food
waste, plastics, metals, textiles, glass wood etc; but does not include
agricultural and industrial wastes.

Nitrogenous waste: Nitrogen containing molecules that are produced as
waste by the breakdown of proteins and nucleic acids.

Omnivore: A living organism that consumes both plant and animal food.

Plankton: Free-floating small organism inhabiting the surface water of lakes

and oceans. Photosynthetic members of the plankton are referred as


Protobiont: Aggregates of abiotically produced molecules surrounded by
membrane; it cannot reproduce but do maintain internal chemical
environment that differ from their surroundings.

Reconciliation ecology: The practice of making exploited lands more

Red tide: A red, orange or brown coloration of water caused by a bloom or
population explosion of algae; red tides cause serious environmental harm
and threaten the health of humans and animals.

Restoration ecology: The science and practice of restoring damaged or
degraded ecosystems.

Secondary succession: Ecological succession after a disturbance that did
not eliminate all the organisms originally living in the site.

Seed-tree cutting: A forest management technique in which almost all trees are harvested from an area in a single cutting, but a few desirable trees are left behind to provide seeds for the regeneration of the forest.

Shelterwood cutting: A forest management technique in which all mature
trees in an area are harvested in a series of partial cutting over time.

Succession: It is a process of change during which a sequence of
communities replaces one another in an orderly and predictable way.

Trophic cascade: The progression over successively lower trophic levels of
the indirect effects of predator.

Understory: The small plants growing under the canopy of dominant plants.

Vulnerable species: A species which is likely to become endangered unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve

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