Glossary

Glossary

The jargon associated with mangroves can be an impediment to comprehension. MAP is in the process of developing a dynamic glossary that will facilitate the understanding of this site. In the meantime, we are making available static glossaries for your use.

MAP Curriculum Glossary

adaptation

Structural or functional changes to an organism in response to a new condition or environment; evolutionarily speaking, the organism is better suited to reproduce and survive due to these changes. For example, ducks have webbed feet that help them to swim.

algae

(singular:  alga)
Simple unicellular or multicellular plants that have no vascular tissue and therefore no leaf, stem, or root systems.

amphipod

A crustacean of the order Amphipodos that includes scuds or sideswimmers, which are found in most pond or mangrove water.

arthropod

An invertebrate animal characterized by jointed legs, a segmented body, and an exoskeleton of chitin; includes lobsters, crabs, shrimp, and insects.

bacteria

(singular:  bacterium)
Minute single-celled organisms, most of which are parasitic; bacteria are the primary organisms responsible for decay and fermentation.

biodegradable

Having the ability to be broken down into simpler components by living organisms.

biological diversity

The diversity of life on Earth, reflected in the number and variety of species and populations, and the communities that they form.

bloom

Sporadic occurrence of huge populations of algae.

brackish

Salty water, but less salty than seawater.

breed

To produce young, to propagate.

burrow

A hole or passageway beneath the surface, or to make such a hole.

calls

Bird vocalizations that are not songs; made during courtship, feeding, and migration, as well as to warn.

camouflage

Protective coloration or shape that helps to hide an animal from its predators or prey.

carnivore

Meat-eating animal.

cell

The basic unit of which all living organisms are composed, usually consisting of a nucleus and a mass of cytoplasm bound by a membrane.

chlorophyll

Green pigment in plants that absorbs light energy needed in photosynthesis.

clutch

The number of eggs laid by a female during one nesting cycle.

cold-blooded

Having a body temperature that varies with the temperature of the surroundings. For example, fish are cold-blooded.

community

A group of living organisms in a given area that interact with each other; the living component of an ecosystem.

competition

The struggle among organisms for food, space, and other requirements for existence.

conservation

The protection, management, and wise use of all living and non-living cultural and human resources.

crop

A sac at the bottom of the esophagus in many birds used to store food for later digestion.

currents

Movements of water created by winds, tides, or differences in salinity or temperature between water masses.

decomposers

Organisms, primarily bacteria, which breakdown dead organic matter into simpler substances.

detrivor

An animal that feeds on detritus.

detritus

Material resulting from the decomposition of dead organic matter.

diatoms

Microscopic algae with a two-part siliceous cell; important members of the phytoplankton.

dissolved oxygen

Molecular oxygen present in water (not the O in H2O.)

down

Soft feathers next to a bird’s body which provide insulation.

dredge

To remove sand, sediments, mangroves, etc. from the bottom using a scoop or shovel-like device or large suction pipe.

ebb tide

The movement of the tidal current away from shore; a decrease in the height of the tide.

endangered species

A species that is in immediate danger of becoming extinct.

endoskeleton

A skeleton that is produced within the body and remains embedded there.

environment

All the conditions or influences within a particular ecosystem that affect the organisms of that ecosystem.

estuary

Brackish water influenced by the tides, where the mouth of the river meets the sea.

excrete

To discharge.

exoskeleton

An external skeleton, like the shells of mollusks or arthropods.

extinct

No longer living. The Dodo is an extinct species.

fauna

All the animals living in a particular place.

filter-feed

A type of suspension feeding in which food particles are obtained by filtering them from a water current. For example, mangrove oysters filter-feed.

fledge

To take the first flight. Birds that have just fledged are often called fledglings.

flora

All the plants living in a particular place.

food chain

The passage of energy (food) from producers (plants) up to herbivores and carnivores.

food web

Many interlocking and interdependent food chains.

fossil fuels

Coal, oil, and other energy sources formed over millions of years from the remains of plants and animals. The burning of fossil fuel is a major source of pollution.

gastropod

A snail, limpet, nudibranch, or sea slug.

gizzard

The muscular part of a bird’s stomach which grinds hard-to-digest food.

global climate change

The predicted change in the Earth’s climate brought about by the accumulation of pollutants in the atmosphere. The effects of global climate change include altered weather patterns and rising sea levels.

greenhouse effect

The trapping of heat by gases, such as carbon dioxide, in the Earth’s atmosphere.

groundwater

Water which fills the spaces between rocks and soil particles underground. Groundwater is replenished when rainwater trickles through the soil. Surface water, such as lakes and rivers, is often replenished by groundwater.

habitat

The specific physical place where an animal or organism lives, e.g., in a hole, under a rock, on a mangrove root.

herbivore

A plant-eating animal.

host

An organism in which, or on which, another lives; in certain symbiotic relationships the host is the larger of the two partners.

immature

Not fully developed.

ingest

To take into the body, especially solid substances.

insectivore

An animal which eats insects or other invertebrates.

intertidal zone

A coastal area between the high-tide and low-tide zones which is alternately covered with water and exposed to the air.

introduced species

An animal or plant which has been brought into areas where the species never lived before. Introduced species often compete with and cause problems for native species.

invertebrate

An animal without a backbone.

larva

(plural:  larvae)
The juvenile stage of many animals. The larva is usually different in appearance from the adult and may lead a very different way of life.

leaching

The process by which materials on or in soil are dissolved and carried by water seeping through the soil. Leaching may contaminate groundwater supplies.

macroplankton

Zooplankton over 1 mm in size.

mandible

In birds, the two halves of the beak. In other vertebrates, the lower jaw.

mangrove

A general term applied to several tropical and subtropical salt-tolerant plants.

mature

Fully developed, adult.

megaplankton

Very large plankton such as jellyfish and sunfish.

metabolism

Energy changes which sustain life within an organism.

metamorphosis

A change in form that an animal undergoes as it develops from egg to adult.

mollusks

Invertebrates including gastropods (such as conch and snails), bivalves (clams and mussels), and cephalopods (squid and octopus).

migration

Seasonal movement from one region to another. For example, a warbler might migrate from the North America to South America for the winter.

moult

To shed and regrow an exoskeleton or other outer body coverings; for example, when a crab sheds and replaces its carapace.

mucus

A slimy secretion containing protein, which serves to moisten and lubricate membranes; is often used by filter- and suspension-feeders for trapping food particles.

native species

A species which occurs naturally in an area.

niche

The place where an organism lives and the activities it carries out; its address and “job”. For example, the niche of a Whistling-Duck could be described as: nighttime feeder in ponds, plant eater, daytime rooster in trees, ground-nester, non-migrator.

ornithology

The study of birds. An ornithologist is a scientist who studies birds.

overgrazing

The process which occurs when cattle, sheep, goats, or other animals graze too much in too small an area for too long a period. Overgrazing often results in soil erosion, the destruction of vegetation, and other problems.

pectoral muscles

The breast muscles. In most birds, the pectoral muscles are very powerful. They raise and lower the wings during flight.

photosynthesis

The manufacture of complex chemicals from carbon dioxide and water using light as the source of energy. This is usually a property of plants, the green pigment chlorophyll being essential in the process.

plankton

The collective name for small, drifting plants (phytoplankton) and animals (zooplankton). These aquatic organisms are the basis of mangrove and ocean food webs.

plumage

A bird’s feathers referred to collectively.

pneumatophore

An air-containing organ. In black mangroves it is a vertical extension of the root which contains air; in a Man-o-War (frigatebird) it is an air-filled bladder inflated to attract a mate.

poach

To hunt, kill, or collect a plant or animal illegally.

point pollution

Pollution which comes from a particular source, such as from a factory or a sewage treatment plant. Non-point pollution, which doesn’t come from a single identifiable source, includes materials that wash off streets, yards, farms, and other surfaces.

pollution

A human-caused change in the physical, chemical, or biological conditions of the environment which creates an undesirable and harmful effect on living things.

population

Members of the same species living in a community.

predator

A carnivorous animal. Its victim is called the prey.

preen

When a bird cleans, straightens, and fluffs its feathers.

prey

An animal that is killed for food.

producer

An organism which can produce organic substances from inorganic ones; plants.

propagule

Seeds of mangroves resulting from the pollination of flowers. They start to germinate while they are still attached to the tree and remain on the tree until they are mature, when they fall and are dispersed by water until finding a suitable substrate to settle.

prop roots

Roots growing out from stems, often tree trunks, at an angle that tends to support the plants. Red mangrove trees have many prop roots.

radula

The file-like tongue of many snail-like mollusks, used for rasping their food.

raptorial

Adapted for seizing prey.

rare species

A species that has a small number of individuals and/or has a limited distribution. A rare species may not be threatened or endangered.

reef

An offshore ridge of materials such as rocks or coral which lies close to the surface of the water.

regeneration

In invertebrates, the regrowth of a missing part or the restoration of a new individual from part of the original.

rhizome

In plants, a horizontal stem on or under the ground that produces stems and roots; in animals (coral), a horizontal outgrowth which gives rise to new individuals.

rookery

Breeding ground of gregarious birds or mammals. Gregarious means they live or nest in groups.

roost

A place where birds rest at night, often in large numbers.

salinity

The saltiness of water, measured in parts per thousand.

salt marsh

An area of soft, wetland periodically flooded by salt water.

scavenger

An animal which feeds on dead or dying organisms.

school

Many similar aquatic organisms swimming together.

sea squirt

A type of tunicate (invertebrate) which may attach to another object such as a Red mangrove root.

sediment

The material which settles through the water column to the bottom.

seed

In flowering plants, an embryo covered by a seed coat.

sessile

Attached to the bottom of rocks, pilings, Red mangrove roots, and so on.

shell

Hard exoskeleton of certain animals, especially mollusks and marine arthropods.

song

The notes repeated by a bird over and over in a regular pattern. Birds use song to help defend territories and sometimes to attract mates.

species

A basic taxonomic group consisting of individuals of common ancestry who strongly resemble each other physiologically and who interbreed, producing fertile offspring.

spray zone

Zone above the high tide line which is regularly wet by the salt spray of the surf.

spring tide

Tide of maximum range occurring at the new and full moon.

stinging cell

In coelenterates (such as coral or jellyfish), cells that contain stinging structures.

sublittoral

Pertaining to the zone below the low-tide line.

subtropical

Nearly tropical in location and climate.

subspecies

A subdivision of a species consisting of individuals different from the rest of the species but which can still interbreed with other members of the species.

substrate

The bottom, which may be muddy, rocky or sandy; also called the substratum.

subtidal

Pertaining to the zone below the low-tide mark.

succession

The evolutionary sequence whereby plant and animal communities replace one another until they reach a stable “climax” community; for example, a saltwater pond filling in and becoming a land-based community.

suspension feeding

Feeding upon particles, either plankton or detritus, suspended in the water.

symbiosis

An association in which two dissimilar organisms live closely together.

tactile

Pertaining to the sense of touch.

temperate zone

Two intermediate latitudinal zones of the Earth’s surface:  between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle, and the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circles.

territory

The space an animal or bird defends from other animals or birds (usually the same species) for mating or feeding.

thorax

In invertebrates, the region of the body between the head and abdomen.

threatened species

A species whose numbers are low or declining. A threatened species is not in immediate danger of extinction, but is likely to become endangered if it isn’t protected.

tidal range

The difference in amplitude (height) between consecutive high and low tides.

tidal wave

Tsunami, or a huge sea wave caused by an oceanic disturbance.

tide

The periodic ebb and flow of ocean waters caused by the gravitational pull between the Earth and the moon and the Earth and the sun.

tidepool

Depression in a rock (or created by rocks) within the intertidal zone which traps water as the tide recedes.

tissue

Cells of similar structure which are grouped together and perform a specific function.

toxic

Poisonous.

tropics

The region between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn.

tunicates

Sedentary filter-feeding animals whose larvae superficially resemble tadpoles, and which have many features which link them to the vertebrates.

unicellular

Composed of one cell.

univalve

A mollusk with a one-piece shell; a gastropod.

valve

In invertebrates, a distinct piece of a shell.

vertebrates

Animals with backbones, including fish, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals.

warm-blooded

Being able to maintain a constant body temperature independent of the outside temperature. For example, all birds are warm-blooded.

waste

Material eliminated from the body.

zooplankton

The animals of the plankton.