Wildlife Encounters - 9th - 12th grade
Lesson 2: Wildlife Populations

Key Words

Adaptation: Any alteration in the structure or function of an organism by which the organism becomes better fitted to survive and multiply in its environment.

Altricial Offspring: Offspring requiring extensive parental care at birth or hatching.

Camouflage: Coloring or other feature that conceals an organism and enables it to blend into its surrounding environment.

Community: All the organisms living within a specific area. The populations of these organism live close enough together that they are capable of interacting.

Crepuscular: Animals that are most active around dawn and dusk.

Crypsis: A form of camouflage where animals avoid being seen.

Ecosystem: All the organisms living within a specific area, and the non-living resources in that area that they utilize. It is a community and its physical environment.

Endangered: A species that will become extinct if humans do not make an effort to save it.

Extinct: A species that no longer exists. Extinction can be within part of the species' original range, or throughout the entire range.

Fecundity: Ability to produce offspring.

Fledgling: A young bird growing the feathers needed for flight. It is capable of surviving outside the nest, though still depends on its parents for food and is unable fly.

Food Web: A diagram or schematic representation of the interactions between different organisms. Specifically, a description of how different species in a community utilize other species in that community for food.

Generalist Species: A species that lives on a wide variety of food and can live in variety habitats. It has a widely defined niche.

Imprinting: When offspring learn behavioral characteristics from their parents during a critical phase early in life.

Interspecific Competition: Competition between different species. This is rare in nature, and is often a sign of disruption within an ecosystem.

Intraspecific Competition: Competition between members of the same species.

Memesis: A form of camouflage where animals are seen, but appear to be something different than what they are.

Migration: The seasonal movement of a complete population of animals from one area to another, usually in response to changes in temperature, food supply, and daylight.

Morphs: Members of the same species that have different appearances. Often, morphs describe color and pattern variations within a species.

Natural History: The life history of an organism. Describes how a species finds food, raises offspring, and the role it plays in its ecosystem.

Natural Resource: A source or supply that is necessary or useful to an organism's survival, such as food, water, and shelter.

Niche: A description of how a species uses all the living and non-living resources in its ecosystem. It is the role an organism serves within ecosystem.

Orphaned Wildlife: Wild babies who no longer have parents to care for them. These animals need to be rescued so humans can care for them.

Population: All members of a species that live in the same area.

Precocial Offspring: Offspring that are capable of moving within their environment and have at least minimal defenses against predators at birth or hatching.

Predator: An organism, usually a carnivore, that lives by capturing and consuming other organisms.

Prey: An organism hunted and captured by another organism.

Range: The large area where an entire species can be found.

Specialist Species: A species that needs very unique food or habitat resources to survive. These species have a tightly defined niche.

Territory: Any small area defended by an organism or group of similar organisms for purposes of mating, nesting, roosting, or feeding.

Threatened: A species whose population has declined to that point that it is at risk of becoming extinct.

Top Predator: The predator in a community that does not have any predators itself. These animals often have altricial offspring since there are few if any other animals that will target the offspring as prey.

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