Animal Info - Glossary S

Sahel
The ecoclimatic region that borders the Sahara Desert to the south in the 6000 km (3720 mi) long, 500 km (310 mi) wide strip crossing the continent of Africa from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea between the 100 mm (4") and 600 mm (24") isohyets of mean annual rainfall. It is characterized by low and erratic rainfall with little vegetation, most of which is seasonal. The word "Sahel" comes from the Arabic word for "edge".
Sal Forest
Tropical moist deciduous forest with the Sal tree (Shorea robusta), a large deciduous tree with shining foliage, being the dominant species.
Salt Lick
A salt deposit that animals regularly lick.
Savanna
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest.
Scansorial
An organism that climbs or is given to climbing.
Scat
Feces of an animal.
Scientific name
The "scientific name" of an animal consists of two levels of its taxonomic classification, the "genus" and "species." Scientific names are usually in Latin. They should be printed in italics, with the genus capitalized and the species not capitalized. Thus the scientific name of the tiger is "Panthera (genus) tigris (species)." Sometimes a species is further subdivided into subspecies, and the subspecies name (not capitalized) is added to the scientific name. Thus the Siberian tiger's scientific name is "Panthera tigris altaica". Once the scientific name of a species has been mentioned in a publication, the genus is frequently abbreviated in subsequent occurrences (e.g. the tiger's scientific name would be written "P. tigris").  Once the scientific name of a subspecies has been mentioned, the genus and species are frequently abbreviated in subsequent occurrences (e.g. the Siberian tiger's scientific name would be written "P. t. altaica").
Sclerophyll forest
A general term for hard-leafed forest, such as the eucalypt forest that covers much of Australia.
Scree
An accumulation of stones or rocky debris lying on a slope or at the base of a hill or cliff.
Sea Ice
Ice formed from ocean water that freezes.
Sedentary
1) Remaining in one area; 2) not migratory.
Sedge
A family of grasslike plants found in all parts of the world, especially in marshes of subarctic and temperate zones. Sedges differ from true grasses in having solid, angular (usually triangular) stems.
Seed Predation
Destruction of a seed as a result of consumption by a seed predator; e.g., a mouse eating grain.
Semelparity
Referring to a species whose animals only reproduce once.
Seral
Relating to a series of ecological communities that succeed one another in the biological development of an area.
Serengeti
An area of plains and open woodland in northern Tanzania and southern Kenya in East Africa.  It includes the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and the adjoining Masai Mara Park in Kenya. The Serengeti is just south of the Equator and has an area of about 25,000 sq km (about 10,000 sq mi).
Sexual dichromatism
A form of sexual dimorphism in which the sexes are identical in size but have different coloration.
Sexual dimorphism
See "Dimorphism".
Sibling
One of two or more individuals having one or both parents in common; a brother or sister.
Sierra
A range of mountains, especially with a serrated or irregular outline.
Silverback
An adult male gorilla, so called because of his coat coloring.
Sounder
The collective term for a group of pigs.
Species
A taxonomic division that generally refers to a group of animals which are similar in structure and descent and are able to breed among themselves.
Species Survival Plan
The Species Survival Plan (SSP) program is a cooperative population management and conservation program for selected species in zoos and aquariums in North America. Each SSP manages the breeding of a species in order to maintain a healthy and self-sustaining population that is both genetically diverse and demographically stable.  As of early 2003, 108 SSPs covering 159 individual species are administered by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association.
Specific density
See "Ecological density".
Spelunker
A person who explores and/or studies caves.
Spermatogenesis
The process of sperm production.
Spinifex
A grass which grows in large, distinctive clumps or hummocks in the driest areas of central and western Australia.
Sporangium (plural "sporangia")
A structure within which spores are produced.
Spore
A primitive, usually unicellular reproductive body produced by plants and capable of development into a new individual, either directly or after fusion with another spore.
Sporophyte
The individual or generation of a plant exhibiting alternation of generations that bears asexual spores. (compare "Gametophyte".).
Stamen
The male organ of a flower, composed of a filament topped by an anther (usually several in each flower).
Standard Deviation (abbreviated "SD" or "Std. Dev.")
The standard deviation is a measure of how spread out a group of data are.  The larger the standard deviation, the more spread out the data are.
Steppe
Open grassy plains in the temperate zone, characterized by low and sporadic rainfall and a wide annual temperature variation.
Stochastic
Random; exhibiting variability due to random events.
Stratum (plural: strata)
One of a series of layers or levels in an ordered system.
Subcutaneous
Under the top layer of skin.
Suboptimal
Not the most favorable or desirable.
Subspecies
Technically, a subgroup of a species that is allocated a Latin name. The number of subgroups recognized within a species and the allocation of names to them is something of an arbitrary procedure. Variations do occur within species, but there are no clear rules for identifying them as subspecies except that they must be: a) geographically distinct; b) populations, not merely a group of animals that differs in some morphological respect from other members of the species; and c) different to some degree from other geographic populations. (Allaby 1991)  
Substrate
The base that an organism lives on.
Succession
The progressive replacement of one ecological community by another until a relatively stable community occupies the area.
Successional
Referring to something that is undergoing the process of succession.
Succulent
A plant having fleshy tissues that conserve moisture.
Succumb
To die from the effect of destructive or disruptive forces.
Sundarbans
The Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna River come together in Bangladesh to form a 10,000 sq km (3850 sq mi) delta, the largest in the world. At the edge of the delta is the Sundarbans, the world's largest mangrove forest.
Super-group
A super-group forms when two or more groups of animals of a species (e.g. Drill (Mandrillus leucophaeus) or Mandrill (Mandrillus sphinx)) come together for short periods.
Swaybacked
Having a sagging back.
Symbiosis, Symbiotic
The intimate living together of two dissimilar organisms, frequently (but not always) in a mutually beneficial relationship.
Sympatric
Relating to two or more animals whose geographical ranges overlap (compare Allopatric).

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Last modified: April 23, 2006;

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