Animal Info - Glossary A

Abiotic
Not living.
Ablation
Loss of a part (e.g. ice from the Arctic ice pack) by melting.
Adaptation
An anatomical structure, physiological process or behavioral trait of an animal that has evolved over a period of time such that it increases the expected long-term reproductive success of the animal (Wikipedia).
Adult
A fully developed and mature animal, physically capable of breeding, but not necessarily doing so until social and/or ecological conditions allow.
Aerobic
Deriving energy from a process requiring free oxygen (compare "Anaerobic").
Aestivate
To enter a state of dormancy in seasonal hot, dry weather, when food is scarce.
Agglutinate
To form an object by the clumping together of separate elements.
Agonistic
Referring to behavior between individuals of the same species that may involve aggression, threat, appeasement or avoidance. Agonistic behavior may arise from a conflict between aggression and fear.
Alga (plural "Algae")
A general name for the single-celled, predominantly aquatic, organisms that photosynthesize but lack the specialized reproductive structures of plants. Algae lack true roots, stems, and leaves.
Allee effect
A situation where the density of an animal population is so low as to cause adverse effects on the population. For example, adult animals may have trouble finding other adults to mate with because they are so scarce.
Allele
One of the forms of a given gene.
Alloparent
An animal behaving parentally towards infants or young that are not its own offspring.
Allopatric
Referring to a situation in which populations of different species are geographically separated (compare "Sympatric").
Alluvial
Referring to soil which has been deposited by running water. For example, alluvial floodplains are formed when a river overflows during a flood and deposits silt on its banks.
Alpha diversity
See diversity - alpha.
Alpha male
The dominant male in a social group of animals.
Alpine
Referring to conditions similar to those found in the Alps or other higher mountains (usually above 1500 m (4900')) .
Altricial
Refers to young mammals (e.g. rats, mice, cats, dogs, giant pandas) that are helpless at birth. Their eyes and ears are sealed, and they cannot walk, maintain their body temperature, or excrete without assistance. (Compare "precocial".) (Allaby 1991)
Amazon River habitat
Includes black water, white water, igapo forest and varzea forest.
Amphibious
Able to live both on land and in the water.
Anaerobic
Deriving energy from a process that does not require free oxygen (compare "Aerobic").
Antarctic Convergence
The region between 50 deg - 55 deg S where the Antarctic surface water sinks beneath the less dense and southward flowing subantarctic water.
Antelope
This is a general term without a strict definition, rather than a zoological term.  Antelopes have been variously classified as bovids with long slender limbs, an animal that chews its cud, or "all bovids other than cattle, buffaloes, sheep and goats." 
Anther
The sac-like part of a stamen containing pollen.
Antilles, Greater
The Greater Antilles are the four largest islands in the northwestern portion of the Caribbean Sea and include Cuba, Hispaniola (Haiti and the Dominican Republic), Jamaica, and Puerto Rico. The Greater Antilles together with the Lesser Antilles comprise the West Indies.
Antilles, Lesser
The Lesser Antilles include the smaller islands of the Caribbean - the Virgin Islands, Windward Islands and Leeward Islands. The Lesser Antilles together with the Greater Antilles comprise the West Indies.
Aphrodisiac
Something, such as a drug or food, that has the effect of arousing or intensifying sexual desire.
Aquatic
Referring to an animal that lives mainly in the water.
Arachnid
A species in a class of arthropods which includes mostly air-breathing invertebrates, including spiders, scorpions, mites and ticks, which have a body with two segments, with the front segment having four pairs of legs and no antennae.
Arboreal
1) Referring to an animal that lives in trees; 2) tree-climbing.
Archipelago
A group of islands.
Arctic
The term comes from the ancient Greek work "Arktikós", the "country of the Great Bear" (the constellation Ursa Major - the "Great Bear").
Arrhythmic
Lacking rhythm or regularity.
Arroyo
1) A watercourse (such as a creek) in an arid region; 2) a water-carved gully or channel (Merriam-Webster Online).
Arthropod
Referring to an insect, spider, crab or other member of a species with a hard, jointed exoskeleton and paired, jointed legs.
Artiodactyl
Referring to an even-toed ungulate (includes the cattle, pigs and ruminants).
Atoll
A coral reef surrounding a lagoon.

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Last modified: June 23, 2006;

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