Mountains : Glossary

There are 30 documents in this section.


  • Fauna

    16 March 2001

    The animal life characteristic of a particular biome. The savanna biome, for example, supports large populations of herbivores, such as wildebeest, antelope and kangaroo, and predators in the form of lions, cheetahs, hyenas and dingoes that prey on them. Any change in a biome, whether natural or human-induced, has the potential to alter the associated fauna.

  • Endangered species

    16 March 2001

    Species of plants or animals threatened with extinction because their numbers have declined to a critical level as a result of overharvesting or because their habitat has drastically changed. That critical level is the minimum viable population (MVP), and represents the smallest number of breeding pairs required to maintain the viability of species.

  • Ecology

    16 March 2001

    Originally defined by Ernst Haeckel in 1866, ecology is the study of the relationships that develop among living organisms and between these organisms and the environment.

  • Conservation (nature)

    9 March 2001

    Protection against irreversible destruction and other undesirable changes, including the management of human use of organisms or ecosystems to ensure such use is sustainable.

  • Ecosystem

    9 March 2001

    A complex of plants, animals and micro-organisms and their surrounding environment. Ecosystems may be small and simple, such as a small isolated pond, or large and complex, such as a tropical rain forest or a coral reef in tropical seas.

  • Watershed

    24 January 2001

    A watershed is an area of land that is drained by a river system and its tributaries. Watersheds can be visualised as physical basins, the "rims" of which are ridges of high land that separate adjacent watersheds.

  • Catchment

    23 January 2001

    A drainage basin, or the area drained by a particular river system. Adjacent drainage basins are separated by watersheds. In North America, the term watershed refers to the entire drainage basin, and the height of land between basins referred to as a divide.

  • Ecological balance

    21 August 2000

    Stability in an ecosystem achieved through the development of equilibrium among its various components. This does not imply that the community is static. It is subject to natural variations associated with ecological succession and other influences such as fire, disease and climate change, but the system is normally sufficiently elastic to make the necessary adjustments without major displacement of the balance. Human intervention that includes the introduction or removal of plants and animals, pollution of the environment and destruction of habitat is now a main cause of imbalance in many ecosystems.

  • Biodiversity

    12 August 2000

    The term biological diversity, or biodiversity, refers collectively to the full range of species, genes and ecosystems in a given place.

  • Clear-felling

    12 August 2000

    The removal of an entire stand of trees from an area of forest: also known as clear-cutting.