Internships with the ELC



· LESSON ONE: River Basins

Biodiveristy: Biological diversity-variety of each species, genetic variability among individuals within each species, and variety of ecosystems.

Ecological address: The unique environmental characteristics of where you live.

River basin: A portion of land drained by a river and its tributaries. It encompasses all of the land surface dissected and drained by many streams and creeks that flow downhill into another, and eventually into one river.

Sediments: Matter that settles to the bottom of a liquid.

Watersheds: Land area that delivers the water, sediment, and dissolved substances via small streams to a major stream (river).


Bedrock: Solid rock that lies under the soil and fragmented rock.

Climate: A description of the long-term pattern of weather in a particular area.

Horizons: Any of the reasonably distinct layers of soil or its underlying material in a vertical section of land.

Inorganic Matter: Elements or material not containing carbon, a basic component of all living things.

Organic Matter: Elements or material containing carbon, a basic component of all living things.

Organism: A living being.

Parent Material: A material that is weathered to become the mineral part of the soil.

Porosity: The amount of space or pores within soil or rock, relative to the total volume of that substance.

Soil Particles: Sand, silt and clay.

Subsoil: The layer of weathered material that lies under the surface soil.

Texture: How something feels (the amount of sand, silt and clay particle in the particular soil.

Top-soil: Surface soil usually including the organic layer in which plants have most of their roots and where the soil is usually the most fertile.

Topography: The location of a soil on a landscape can affect how the climatic processes impact it. Soils at the bottom of a hill for example will get more water than soils on slopes that do not.

· LESSON THREE: The Water Cycle

Accumulate: Built up matter, energy or information in a system.

Biodegradable: A form of matter capable of being broken down by decomposers.

Biogeochemical Cycling: The many nutrient circuits, which involve both living and nonliving components of ecosystems.

Condensation: The changing of a substance from a gas to a liquid, usually as a result of cooling.

Evaporation: The changing of a substance from a liquid to a gas by exposure to the air and/or heat.

Evapotranspiration: Loss of water from a land surface through transpiration from plants and evaporation.

Gas: (Indivisible water vapor): A fluid that has neither independent shape nor volume but tends to expand indefinitely.

Greenhouse Effect: The warming of the earth due to the atmospheric accumulation of carbon dioxide, which absorbs infrared radiation and slows its escape from the irradiated earth.

Groundwater: Water that sinks into the soil and is stored in slowly flowing and slowly renewed underground reservoirs (aquifers).

Infiltrate: Water moving downward through soil.

Liquid (clouds, oceans, ponds, and streams): A fluid (as water) that does not have an independent shape but does have a definite volume.

Non-point (sources of pollution): Pollution that can not be traced to a single location.

Precipitation: Water in the form of rain sleet or snow that falls from the atmosphere onto the earth and onto bodies of water.

Runoff: Freshwater from melted ice or precipitation that flows on the earthís surface into nearby streams, lakes, wetlands, and reservoirs.

Solid (ice): A geometrical figure or element (such as a cube or sphere) having three dimensions.

States of Matter: One of three physical forms of matter: solid, liquid, or gas.

Transpiration: Process in which water is absorbed by the root systems of plants, moves up through the plants, passes through pores in their leaves or other parts, and then evaporates into the atmosphere as water vapor.

Xylem: The tube-shaped, nonliving part of the plant that carries water and minerals from the roots to the rest of the plant.

Water cycle (hydrologic cycle): The continuous journey of water through Earthís systems.

· LESSON FOUR: Predator/Prey Relationships

Ambient: Surrounding.

Carnivore: A meat eating organism.

Consumer: An organism that obtains energy and nutrients by feeding on other organisms or their remains.

Decomposers: Organisms (such as bacterial and fungi) that break down plant and animal remains into forms once again usable by producers.

Food Chain: A linked feeding series; in an ecosystem, the sequence of organims through which energy and materials are transferred, in the form of food, from one trophic level to another.

Herbivore: A plant eater. Example: deer.

Heterotrophs: (consumer) organisms that cannot make their own food and must obtain energy by eating other living things.

Organic compounds: A compound in which carbon is nearly always bonded to itself, to hydrogen, and often to other elements.

Overfishing: Harvesting so many fish of a species (especially immature fish) that there is not enough breeding stock left to replenish the species, such that is not profitable to harvest them.

Phytoplankton: Microscopic, free-floating, autotrophic organisms that function as producers in aquatic ecosystems.

Piscivorous: Fish-eating.

Planktivorous: Plankton eating.

Plankton: The usually microscopic plants and animals that live free-floating in water.

Primary Consumers: An organism that feed directly either on all parts of plants (herbivore or on other producers).

Primary producers: An autotroph, which collectively make up the trophic level of an ecosystem that ultimately supports all other levels; usually a photosynthetic organism.

Secondary Consumer: An organism that feed on primary consumers. Some are plants, but most secondary consumers are animals.

Trophic cascading is the idea that direct effects at one trophic level indirectly affect trophic levels below.

Trophic Feeding: Feeding; thus, pertaining to energy transfers.

Trophic Level: Step in the movement of energy through an ecosystem; an organismís feeding status in an ecosystem.

Zooplankton: Passively floating or weakly swimming animals living in water.

· LESSON FIVE: Symbiosis

Biological Community: Organisms interacting in an area at a particular time.

Coadaptions: Mutual adaptation especially by natural selection.

Commensalism: One partner benefits without significant effects, neither negative nor positive, for the other species in the partnership.

Cynobacteria: Photosynthetic, oxygen-producing bacteria, formerly called blue-green algae.

Edge Effects: A change in species composition, physical conditions, or other ecological factors at the boundary between two ecosystems. Some organisms flourish at this boundary and benefit from processes such as habitat fragmentation that increase edge area, other organisms are harmed by increasing edge effects.

Heirloom: Something of special value handed on from one generation to another.

Host Organism: An organism that provides lodging for a parasite.

Interspecific Interactions: Different species coming into contact with one another.

Lichens: An organism formed by the symbiotic association between a fungus and a algae.

Life Cycle: The series of stages in through which an organism passes in its lifetime.

Mutualism: A relationship in which both partners benefit.

Obligate: Biologically essential for survival.

Parasite: An organism that lives in or on another organism, deriving nourishment at the expense of its host, usually without killing it.

Parasitism: Interaction between species in which one organism, called the parasite, preys on another organism, called the host, by living on or in the host.

Ruminant: An animal, such as a cow, with an elaborate stomach specialized for a herbivorous diet.

Seed Banks: Viable seeds that have accumulated in the soil.

Species: A group of populations reproductively isolated from other such groups.

Symbiosis: Intimate coexistence such as parasitism or mutualism.

· LESSON SIX: Pollination

Angiosperm: Flowering plant.

Anther: The terminal pollen sac of a stamen, inside which pollen grains with male gametes form in the flower of an angiosperm.

Carpel: The female reproductive organ of a flower, consisting of the stigma, style, and ovary.

Complete flower: A flower that has sepals, petals, stamens, and carpels.

Filament: Stalk of the stamen that bears the anther.

Imperfect flowers: Flowers that contain either male (stamens) or female (pistil) reproductive structures, but not both.

Incomplete flower: A flower lacking sepals, petals, stamens, carpels.

Perfect flower: Flowers that contain both male (Stamen) and female (pistil) reproductive structures.

Petals: White or colored lamina surrounding (or growing from the top of) the ovary in the flower.

Pollination: The placement of pollen onto the stigma of a carpel by wind or animal carriers, a prerequisite to fertilization.

Sepals: A whorl of modified leaves in angiosperms that enclose and protect the flower bud before it opens.

Sporophytes: A vegetative body that grows, by mitotic cell divisions, from a plant zygote and spore bearing structures.

Stamens: The pollen-producing male reproductive organ of a flower, consisting of an anther and filament.

Style: Stalk at the top of the ovary that carries the stigma at the upper end.

· LESSON SEVEN: Environmental Citizen

Environmental Citizen: a person who cares about the environment and turns that caring into action.

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©Environmental Leadership Center of Warren Wilson College 2004

Internships with the ELC

The Environmental Leadership Center
of Warren Wilson College
Campus Box 6323
PO Box 9000
Asheville, NC 28815-9000

Phone: 1.828.771.3006
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