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Contents
1.  What you can do
2.  Water
3.  Ecology
4.  Amphibians
5.  Environmental Issues
6.  Keystone species
7.  Get Wet!-
     Field Study Ideas

8.  The Zoo Experience
9.  Frogs & Friends
10. Case Studies
11. Resources
12. Glossary

GLOSSARY

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | L | M | N | O | P | R | S | T | U | V | W | X |

A

abiotic:
non-living part of an ecosystem such as water, light, and temperature
acid deposition:
fallout of acidic pollutants to the earth's surface in either wet or dry forms
acid rain:
formed when sulphur dioxide or other chemicals combine with water vapour causing the rain it forms to have lower the pH than normal
acid shock:
sudden increase in the acidity in aquatic ecosystems caused by such things as a heavy spring run-off containing water from acid rain/snow
aestivation:
(also estivation) During period of high temperatures and low/nil percipitation, some amphibians are adapted to survive by burying themselves underground and entering a state of tupor that creates body changes similar to hibernation (e.g. decreased heart rate and respiration).
adaptation:
the process by which an organism slowly or rapidly changes to better suit its environment
algae:
single-celled plants containing chlorophyll
algal bloom:
large populations of algae which form in nutrient-rich and polluted waters
alkaline:
water, soils or other substance that have a high pH (referred to as basic)
Ambystomatidae:
the Family of salamanders, commonly referred to as mole salamanders
Amphibia:
the Order in which all amphibians are classified
amphibian:
a cold-blooded vertebrate animal that usually spends the first stage in their life cycle in water, and the second stage on land
anaerobic:
obtaining energy for life activity from chemical reactions that do not involve oxygen
anomalous expansion of water:
the physical property of water where it contracts as it cools to 4 deg. celsius, but expands from 4 deg. celsius to 0 deg. celsius
Anthracosauria:
the Order of amphibians to which reptiles evolved
Apoda:
the Order of amphibians to which the caecilians belong
aquatic:
growing or living in water
aquifer:
a body of rock or soil that is filled to its capacity with water that can be used as a source of groundwater
autotroph:
an organism capable of producing organic material from inorganic chemicals and an energy source

B

bacteria:
a group of one-celled microscopic organisms that lack nuclei, most of which act as decomposers
bicarbonate:
a salt of carbonic acid that contains a base and hydrogen
bioaccumulation:
the process in which chemical substances are ingested and retained by organisms
biodiversity:
the variety of different plant and animal species in an ecosystem
biomagnification:
the buildup of a chemical sustance as it moves from organism to organism in a food chain
biomass:
the weight of all organic matter in an ecosystem
biotic:
the living components of an ecosystem
bog:
a wetland ecosystem characterized by layers of peat, acidic conditions, and Sphagnum moss (see "Wetlands" section)
brumation:
a dormancy period, brought on by either cold temperatures or warm temperatures
buccopharengeal respiration:
respiration exhibited by amphibians through the lining of the mouth and pharynx
buffering capacity:
the ability to resist changes in pH when either acidic or basic solutions are added
Bufonidae:
the Family in which toads belong

C

caecilian:
an amphibian that lacks limbs
camouflage:
the blending in with an organism's environment
carbon:
the basic element which makes up living organisms
carbon dioxide:
a heavy, colourless, odourless gas found in the atmosphere
carnivore:
animals that eat meat
carotene:
an orange pigment found in chloroplasts
catalyst:
a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction without being altered chemically itself
Caudata:
the Order of amphibians to which salamanders belong
chloride:
any of a group of chemical compounds which contain chlorine and a metal
chlorophyll:
a green pigment in plants which allows photosynthesis to occur
chloroplast:
the body in a plant cell which contains chlorophyll
Class:
a division or group within a Phylum
classification system:
a system that groups living organisms into seven different levels based on similarities
climax community:
the final stage in succession of plant and animal life, where a stable community is reached
cloaca:
the combined orifice of the digestive and urogenital tracts in amphibians
cold-blooded:
having a body temperature that is regulated by the environment
community:
different kinds of populations living in the same habitat
complete metamorphosis:
the development from egg to adult in four stages, none of which look like another
condensation:
a physical change in which a gas changes to a liquid
consumer:
organisms that eat other organisms
contaminant:
a foreign, undesirable chemical or biological substance introduced into the environment
control:
one setup in an experiment that is exactly the same as the other setup except for the factor being tested
COSEWIC:
the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife In Canada
crustacean:
the Class of arthropods which include shrimp, lobsters, and crabs
cryptic colouration:
coloration which disguises the body of an animal by breaking it up into visually distinct parts
cutaneous respiration:
respiration exhibited by amphibians through the skin
cytoplasm:
the thick fluid in a cell that surrounds the nucleus

 

          d
decomposers:
living things that obtain their food by breaking down the remains of plants, animals, or wastes
decomposition:
the breaking down or separation of a substance into simpler constituents
desmid:
a variety of a group of organisms called green algae
dendritic:
when referring to watersheds, a pattern that resembles the branching of a tree or the veins in a leaf
diatom:
a variety of a group of organisms called green algae
diffuse:
to move from an area where there is greater concentration to an area of lesser concentration
dissolved oxygen:
a gaseous state of oxygen found in water
dominant:
describing a genetic trait where a gene from one parent overpowers the effect of a gene from the other parent
dormancy:
a state in which amphibians become inactive, usually the result of temperature changes
dredge:
to remove or scrape up sand, gravel, or other surface deposits that are covered with water

E

ecosystem:
a self-supporting community in which living and non-living things interact
ectothermic:
regulating body temperature by external thermal conditions
edge:
the zone in which two or more different communities meet and integrate
eft:
the name of the terrestrial stage of the red-spotted newt
emergent plant:
a plant that is rooted in the soil with most of the stem above water
endangered:
a species threatened with imminent extinction or extirpation throughout all or a significant portion of its Canadian range
environment:
the external conditions, both living and non-living, that act upon an organism
erosion:
the carrying away of soil by wind or water
estivation:
see aestivation
evaporation:
a physical change in which a liquid changes to a gas
evapotranspiration:
the loss of water by evaporation from land and water surfaces, and transpiration of plants
excretion:
a process by which living organisms eliminate metabolic wastes
exotic:
any foreign organism which is introduced to an area
extinct:
a species that no longer exists anywhere
extirpated:
a species no longer existing in the wild in one location, but occurring elsewhere

F

fauna:
referring to animal life
fen:
a wetland dominated by sedges in which peat accumulates
floating plant:
a plant found in water depths ranging from a few inches up to nine feet that are rooted, but also have leaves that are free-floating
flora:
referring to plant life
food chain:
the transfer of energy when one living thing consumes another
food pyramid:
a quantitative representation of a food chain in which the producers form the base and the carnivores form the apex
food web:
a group of integrated food chains
fossil fuels:
oil, coal, and natural gas formed from plants and animals that existed millions of years ago
freshwater:
water that has not been impaired or contaminated
fungi:
simple plants that lack chlorophyll, roots, stems, and leaves, and obtain their food from other organisms

G

Gaia Theory:
a theory that the Earth is alive, and can be considered a system that functions and changes by feedbacks of information from its biotic and abiotic components
gene:
the basic unit of heredity that determines genetic traits
genotype:
the genetic makeup of an organism
Genus:
a division or group within a Family possessing similar species, or the first part in the two-name system for classifying living organisms
germination:
the growth of a seed under favourable conditions
glandular glands:
glands on amphibians that produce secretions that are used to ward off predators
global warming:
a natural process that traps heat in the atmosphere near the earth's surface, due to the interaction of sunlight and carbon dioxide, and other gases in the atmosphere. This process has been accelerated by humans.
glucose:
a simple sugar made by plants during photosynthesis
Gymnospermae:
the Class of plants in which the seeds are not enclosed in an ovary

H

habitat:
the place in which an organism lives
hardpan:
a relatively hard, often clayey layer in soil, produced by cementation of soil particles
hatchling:
a newly hatched bird
heat energy:
the energy created from the movement of the particles that make up an object
herbivore:
an animal that feeds on plant material
heterotroph:
an organism that relies on other organisms for food
hibernation:
the period of winter dormancy for certain organisms, characterized by a great decrease in metabolism
Hirudinea:
the Class to which leeches belong
homozygous:
containing two identical paired genes for a specific trait
humidity:
the state of the atmosphere with respect to the amount of water vapour in it
hydrogen sulphide:
a toxic decomposition gas found in wetlands, possessing a characteristic rotten egg smell
hydrology:
studying the movement of water
Hylidae:
the Family to which the treefrogs belong

I

incomplete metamorphosis:
the gradual change that some insects go through as they develop from egg to adult, occuring in three stages:
egg, nymph, and adult
indicator organism:
an organism that serves as an early warning that an ecosystem is being degraded
inorganic:
a material that does not contain carbon and was never living
Insecta:
the Class to which insects belong
intolerant:
refers to an organism that is unable or unwilling to endure specific environmental conditions
inversion layer:
a layer of dense, cool air trapped under a layer of dense warm air
invertebrate:
animals that do not have a backbone

J

juvenile:
refers to a bird after the downy stage and before sexual maturity

L

larvae:
an immature stage in the life of an animal
leaching:
the passing of a liquid through material (usually soil) which removes dissolved chemicals.
leguminous:
describing a plant that has the ability to fix nitrogen in the soil
life cycle:
the stages in an organism's development until adulthood is reached
logarithmic:
referring to the pH scale, that a one-unit increase or decrease in the scale represents a change by a factor of 10 in the acidity or basicity of a substance
LRTAP:
Long Range Transport of Airborne Pollutants

M

Mammalia:
refers to the Class to which mammals belong
marsh:
a nutrient-rich wetland, characterized by cattails and waterlilies
methane:
a colourless, odourless, toxic gas formed by decomposition
metabolism:
the sum of all the chemical processes that take place in an organism to sustain life
mitochondria:
rod-shaped cell parts that provide the energy for cell activity
Moneran:
a one-celled organism, including bacteria and blue-green algae
mucous gland:
a gland on amphibians which keeps the skin soft and moist
Musci:
refers to the Class to which mosses belong

N

native:
occuring naturally in a particular ecosystem
Necturidae:
refers to the Family in which the giant salamanders belong
neutralize:
to contain an equal number of hydrogen ions (H+) and hydroxide (OH-) ions
niche:
the role an organism plays to ensure the overall functioning of an ecosytem
nitrate:
a chemical used in fertilizer, which can cause water pollution
nitrogen:
a substance required by all living things to make protein
nitrogen cycle:
the movement of nitrogen in different chemical forms from the atmosphere to organisms, and then back to the atmosphere
nitrogen oxide:
the second leading gas contributing to the formation of acid rain
nocturnal:
describing organisms that are active at night
nutrient:
any element an organism needs to live, grow, and reproduce
nutrient cycle:
the movement of different nutrients in different chemical forms within an ecosystem
nymph:
the stage in the life cycle of some insects that resembles the adult but is smaller and wingless

O

omnivore:
an organism that feeds on both plant and animal material
organic:
material containing carbon as the result of once being alive
organic matter:
decayed plant and animal material that may be used to return nutrients to the ecosystem
organism:
a living thing
osmosis:
the movement of water through a selectively permeable membrane from an area of greater concentration to an area of lesser concentration
Osteicthyes:
refers to the Class to which fish belong
oxidize:
to add oxygen or remove hydrogen from a molecule

P

parasite:
an organism which lives by feeding off of other organisms
peat:
the accumulated remains of decayed plant material which forms the basis for bogs and fens
percolation:
the movement of water through the pore space of a soil
permeable:
referring to a membrane that allows substances to pass through it
pH:
a measurement of the acidity or basicity of a substance
phenolphthalein:
an indicator that remains colourless in an acid solution, but turns pink in a base solution
phenotype:
the appearance of inherited traits in an organism
phosphates:
chemicals used in fertilizer which can cause water pollution
photosynthesis:
the process by which green plants use energy from the sun to make food
pistil:
the female part of the flower
plankton:
a collective name for the minute, free-floating, one-celled organisms that form the basic link in aquatic food chains
Plethodontidae:
refers to the Family of lungless salamanders
pollutant:
any impurity, contaminant, or harmful substance found in the environment
pond:
a small wetland that is fed by rain, melted snow, water seepage, or the water table
population:
a group of the same species of organisms living in the same habitat
potential energy:
stored energy that is available to do work
precipitation:
the fall of rain, sleet, snow, or hail to the earth's surface
predator:
an organism that feeds upon another organism
prey:
an organism that is eaten by another organism
producer:
a green plant that uses the sun's energy to make its own food
productivity:
the amount of energy that accumulates in an ecosystem
propagate:
to produce offspring, or reproduce
protist:
a one-celled organism that possesses characteristics of plants and animals, yet does not belong to either group
protoplasm:
a colourless, jelly-like substance that is the living substance of all plant and animal cells
protozoan:
a microscopic, one-celled, animal-like organism
pulmonary respiration:
respiration exhibited by amphibians through the lungs

R

Ranidae:
refers to the Family of true frogs
recessive:
a gene or trait that is masked by that of another gene
renewable resource:
a living resource that can be replaced by nature or human actions
Reptilia:
refers to the Class of reptiles
respiration:
the process by which plants and animals release chemical energy to do work
rotifer:
a microscopic, multicellular animal which makes up the chief component of plankton

S

Salamandridae:
refers to the Family of salamanders known as newts
Salientia:
refers to the Order in which frogs and toads belong
salinity:
the amount of salt dissolved in a given volume of water
saturation:
the point at which a solute can not be further dissolved in a solution
scavenger:
an animal that feeds on dead organisms
scientific name:
the Latin name representing a genus and a species of an organism
secchi disk:
a circular black and white disk used for measuring turbidity
sediment:
loose, solid particles that settle to the bottom of an aquatic ecosystem
seepage:
water that trickles or leaks through sediment
silt:
very fine particles of sediment
species:
a group of organisms that are similar in structure and can mate and produce fertile offspring
soil permeability:
the rate at which water and air move from the upper to lower soil layers
soil separates:
the mineral matter which makes up soil, including sand, silt, and clay
spermatophore:
a gelantinous mass containing spermatozoa, which is deposited by the male salamander during breeding
stamen:
the male part of the flower which produces pollen
stigma:
the part of the pistil that receives the pollen grains
stomate:
a tiny opening on the surface of a leaf by which oxygen, carbon dioxide, and water vapour enter and leave the plant
stratosphere:
the upper region of the atmosphere, about 11 km above the earth's surface, in which the temperature increases with height.
submergent plant:
a plant which is rooted in the soil and grows underneath the water surface
succession:
the gradual change of plant and animal communities in an ecosystem
sulphur dioxide:
a gas which is the leading cause in contributing to the formation of acid rain
surface runoff:
water that flows off the land, eventually to an aquatic ecosystem
suspended matter:
sediment in an aquatic ecosystem that is light enough in weight to remain lifted off the bottom for indefinite periods
swamp:
a nutrient-rich wooded wetland

T

tactile:
having to do with the sense of touch
temporary pond:
a shallow wetland area with fluctuating water levels, fed mainly by surface runoff or the water table
terrestrial:
referring to the land
thermal pollution:
the addition of warm or cold water to an aquatic ecosystem, significant enough to raise or lower the temperature and cause stress on organisms
thermocline:
the layer in a thermally stratified body of water which experiences the greatest temperature fluctuations
threatened:
a species likely to become endangered in Canada if the factors affecting its vulnerability are not reversed
tolerant:
able to endure or resist the action of a chemical parameter or contaminant
toxicity:
a measure of the amount of poison which could cause illness or death to an organism
toxin:
any poisonous product of plant or animal metabolism, especially one of those produced by bacteria
transpiration:
the process by which water vapour is lost by plants
tributary:
a stream that flows into a larger stream or body of water
trophic level:
the classification of organisms in an ecosystem based on feeding habits, from first level autotrophs to several levels of heterotrophs
turbidity:
a measurement of the amount of suspended matter in an aquatic ecosystem
tympanum:
the brown, circular disc behind the eyes of frogs and toads which functions as an eardrum

U

ultraviolet light:
invisible rays or waves released by the sun that can have potentially harmful effects on plant and animal life

V

vent:
the opening from the cloaca
vertebrate:
an animal with a backbone
virus:
a tiny, non-cellular, disease-causing molecule
vulnerable:
a species particularly at risk because of low or declining numbers, small range, or some other reason, but not a threatened species

W

warm-blooded:
describing vertebrates that are able to maintain a constant body temperature no matter what the outside temperature is
water cycle:
the continual movement of water from the atmosphere to the earth and from the earth to the atmosphere
water pollution:
any impairment to surface water or groundwater that can make the water unfit for use by organisms
water quality:
the characteristic of water that represents the level of unsuitability
watershed:
the entire drainage area of a river or stream and their tributaries
water table:
the upper surface of the earht's crust in which all available pores in the soil are filled with water
water vapour:
the gaseous form of water which rises into the atmosphere in the water cycle
weathering:
the process in which solid rock on the earth's surface is worn, and changed to separate solid particles and dissolved material
wetland:
areas of land saturated with water all or part of the year, including ponds, marshes, swamps, bogs, and fens

X

xanthophyll:
a yellow pigment found in chloroplasts

 

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