Important Terms Related to Environment and Ecology

environment terms eduhyme

Environment is the sum total of all conditions and influences that affect the development and life of all organisms on earth. The living organisms vary from the lowest micro-organisms such as bacteria, virus, fungus, etc. to the highest, including man. Each organism has its own environment (physical and biological). The word environment originates from environ which means things that surround.

Also Read:

As per definition of the Environment Protection Act, environment includes all the physical and biological surroundings and their interactions.

Below is the list of some useful and important terms related to Environment and Ecology:

  1. Age-structure: Percentage of men and women in the young, adult and old age group in the population.
  2. Acid Rain: Rain water containing mixtures of acids (nitric, hydrochloric and sulfuric acid) from polluted air is known as acid rain. It damages lakes, forests and marble sculptures.
  3. Air Pollution: Various gaseous pollutants from natural and man-made source enter the atmosphere and have adverse effects on the normal properties of air. This leads to air pollution, which is harmful for man and environment.
  4. Air Pollutants: Gases and particles which cause air pollution are called air pollutants.
    Air Quality: Each pollutant in air has a limiting concentration, which if exceeded, causes public health hazards.
  5. Aquifer: A highly permeable layer of sediment or rock containing water.
  6. Anthropogenic: Caused by man or man-made things.
  7. Bioaccumulation: Accumulation of non-biodegradable substances in the body (e.g., lead, mercury, DDT etc.) through food chain.
  8. Biodiversity: Genetic variety among individual species and between species of plants, micro-organism and animals. There are about 10 million species of plants, micro-organisms and animal on earth. These living natural resources are essential for the welfare of mankind.
  9. Biogeochemical Cycles: Circulation of nutrients in cycles among air, soil, water and micro-organisms.
  10. Biomagnification: Increase in concentration of non-biodegradable substance (e.g., lead, mercury, DDT) at successive trophic levels in a food chain.
  11. B.O.D.: Biological oxygen demand—amount of dissolved oxygen required by micro-organisms to breakdown organic matter present in water.
  12. Biomass: Organise matter produced by living organisms.
  13. Biome: A broad region-based ecosystem with distinct climate, soil, flora and fauna.
  14. Biosphere: Composite environment consisting of land, air, water, micro-organism, plants, animals and man. Biosphere and environment have close interaction with each other.
  15. Biosphere Reserve: World heritage sites, identified by ICECN, due to their high biodiversity and unique ecosystem e.g., Silent Valley (Kerala).
  16. Carcinogen: Chemicals promoting cancer e.g., benzo-αpyrene, arsenic, DDT etc.
  17. Carrying Capacity: Maximum population size that a given system can support over a given period of time.
  18. Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC): Used as solvent, refrigerant, fire retardant etc. Responsible for ozone hole and greenhouse effect.
  19. Community: Population of various species living and interacting in a given area.
  20. Compost: A nutrient rich soil produced by decomposition of organic matter under aerobic conditions. animals. There are about 10 million species of plants, micro-organisms and animal on earth. These living natural resources are essential for the welfare of mankind.
  21. DDT: Pesticide useful in agriculture and eradication of malaria.
  22. Doubling Time: Period during which population doubles itself. It is about 100 years in developed countries and 40 years in India.
  23. Dependency Ratio: Ratio of people 65+ (above 65) and 15 (under 15) to the rest of the population.
  24. Ecology: Study of interactions of living organisms with their biotic and abiotic environments.
  25. Ecosystem: A biological community and its physical environment exchanging matter and energy.
  26. Environment: Something that environs i.e., encircles all our surroundings—the natural world in which we live — the living and non-living objects around us in our day-today living.
  27. Environmental Studies: The studies of the quality of environment and all aspects of human environment, their degradation etc. comprise environmental studies.
  28. Eutrophication: Over nourishment of water bodies due to excessive nitrates and phosphates received through runoff—it is harmful for the water bodies.
  29. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA): A systematic analysis of the effects of a major development project on environment.
  30. Extinction: Loss of species on earth as natural or manmade process.
  31. Fauna: All the animal species present in a given region.
  32. Flora: All plant species present in a given region.
  33. Food Chain: A feeding series in an ecosystem e.g. plants→animals→man.
  34. Fossil Fuels: Fuels produced by fossilization of plants/animals such as petroleum, coal, natural gas.
  35. Gasohol: Mixture of gasoline and alcohol is known as gasohol, used as a fuel in Brazil for running cars and buses.
  36. GNP (Gross National Product): An index of a country’s economic status based on consumerism i.e., commodities purchased per year, consumer durables and financial status of consumer.
  37. Greenhouse Effect (Global Warming): Rise in temperature of the earth’s surface due to increase in the levels of greenhouse gases viz., carbon dioxide, methane etc. The latter trap heat from the earth’s surface and returns it thereby raising the earth’s surface temperature. This phenomenon is similar to trapping of heat in glasscovered green house (used for growth of vegetables and flowers during winter) and hence called greenhouse effect.
  38. Greenhouse Gases: Gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, water vapour etc. which absorb earth’s infra-red radiation, return it to the earth’s surface thereby raising the temperature (global warming).
  39. Groundwater: Water held in aquifers 50% below the earth’s surface. This is the major source (0.66%) for freshwater.
  40. Heterotroph: Organism that can’t synthesize its own food and derives its nourishment by feeding on other.
  41. Humus: A dark amorphous substance that is partially degraded and serves as a major source of nutrients to plants.
  42. Hurricanes: Cyclonic storms with heavy rains and wind at speed exceeding 120 km/per hour.
  43. Infant Mortality: Number of infants born per 1000 who die before their first birthday.
  44. Life Expectancy: Average number of years a new-born baby is expected to survive.
  45. Lithosphere: Outer shell of the earth’s crust, made of the mantle of rocks. It includes the soil which covers the rock’s crust in many places.
  46. Magma: Molten rock below the earth’s surface.
  47. Monoculture: Cultivation of a single crop of tree.
  48. Natural Gas: Underground deposits of gases containing mainly methane and small amounts of propane and butane. It is a cleaner fuel than fossil fuel as it produces less carbon dioxide on burning.
  49. Natural Hazards: Hazards from natural sources (earthquake, volcanic eruption etc.) which destroy or damage human lives, houses etc.
  50. Neutron: Nuclear particle with zero charge and mass, (relative to it).
  51. Nitrogen Cycle: Continuous exchange of nitrogen within the ecosystem: air-soil-water.
  52. Nitrogen Fixation: Conversion of atmospheric nitrogen gas into ammonia by nitrogen-fixing bacteria/cyanobacteria.
  53. Nuclear Fission: Splitting of nucleus (uranium/plutonium) into two or more fragments with release of tremendous amount of energy. This is the source of nuclear power (electricity generation).
  54. PAN (Peroxyacyl Nitrate): A toxic product of photochemical smog reactions.
  55. Particulate Matter: Solid particles or ligand droplets suspended in air. Examples are smog particles from combustion of fossil fuels.
  56. Photosynthesis: Synthesis of food (carbohydrates) by green plants in the presence of sunlight using carbon dioxide from air and water from soil.
  57. Phytoplankton: Small plants like algae, bacteria found floating on the surface of water.
  58. Photovoltaic Cell: Solar cell that converts, solar energy into electricity.
  59. Population Explosion: Excessive growth of population as in developing countries, to a size that exceeds the carrying capacity.
  60. Primary Pollutants: Gaseous and particulate pollutants discharged directly into the atmosphere by automobile exhaust emissions. The gases thus discharged are carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, and hydrocarbons.
  61. Residence Time: Length of time for which a chemical or molecule stays in the environment. For example, the residence time of CFC (chlorofluorocarbon) molecule in the stratosphere is 100 years.
  62. Sanitary Landfill: Waste disposal site on land in which solid waste is spread with fresh layer of clay.
  63. Secondary Pollutant: Harmful pollutants generated from primary pollutants air, for example, sulphonic acid is a secondary pollutant, produced by the primary pollutant sulphur dioxide by reaction with water vapour in air.
  64. Sustainable Development: Improvement in quality of life over a long-term without degrading the environment or compromising the needs of future generations.
  65. Tectonic Plates: Huge blocks of earth’s crust which slide along slowly.
  66. Transpiration: Loss of water from plant surfaces.
  67. Troposphere: The bottom region of the atmosphere at an altitude of 0-11 km. It contains 70 per cent of air masses which are always in motion. Here temperature decreases with increasing altitude.
  68. Stratosphere: This region is above the troposphere at an altitude of 11-50 km above the earth’s surface. Here ozone acts as a protective shield against ultraviolet radiation from space and thus protects life on earth.
  69. Urbanization: Increasing population in cities by migration from villages and other states. India has a huge urban population (about 300 million).
  70. Water logging: Saturation of soil with irrigation water or excessive rain whereby water table rises close to surface.
  71. Watershed: Land area from which water drains under gravity to a common drainage channel.
  72. Wetlands: Ecosystems with stagnant water pool and having rooted vegetation.
You may also like:

Related Posts

Leave a Reply