Glossary

Amberat

Urine-covered piles of collected vegetation, bones, sticks and other items that has hardened over time, giving a glossy, hard yellow appearance. Packrats make these and paleoecologists examine them to see what plants and animals were around in the past.

 

Amphibian

Organisms that can leave the water for extended periods of time, but still are required to return to the water to survive. Frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts are all types of amphibians.

 

Aquatic

Deals with water. Used to describe anything that lives in the water, or uses water habitats.

 

Carnivore

An animal that feeds on other animals. Typically mammals such as mountain lions, river otters, and wolves; but can also include snakes and raptors.

 

DNA

Stands for DeoxyriboNucleic Acid. The chemical blueprints that dictate what an organism is. Typically found in the nucleus of each cell of an organism. Can be used to identify organisms and relationships between organisms.

 

Ecosystem

A collection of organisms and the natural surroundings they interact with.

 

Endemic

A species that is confined to a specific place or location. Used to describe rare or endangered species, since their small native range make them susceptible to extinction.

 

Extirpation

To remove, exterminate, or eradicate for an area. Many of the large predators in Grand Canyon National Park have been lost due to hunting and trapping. The humpback chub are on the verge of being removed because of exotic fish.

 

Fauna

Term used for animals. Word derived from Roman mythology. Fauna was the sister of Faunus, the God of Animals.

 

Geomorphology

The studies of landscape features and how they were created.

 

Habitat

The area an organism uses to live. Includes the area used for foraging food and shelter.

 

Herbivore

An organism that feeds on plant matter. These include animals like the bighorn sheep, beaver, and many types of insects.

 

Herpetology

The study of amphibians and reptiles.

 

Invasive Species

A species that causes harm to communities or ecosystems that it is not a native of. This harm can be ecological, economic, or even a threat to human health.

 

Invertebrate

A large branch of animals that do not have a spinal column. Some examples of Invertebrates are insects and crustaceans.

 

Logistics

Term used for the process of gathering, managing, and moving equipment and people.

 

Mammal

The collection of vertebrate animals that nurse their young with milk.

 

Midden

Packrats build a protective abode known as a midden. This midden is a fortress of tangled vegetation, bones, sticks and other items that are held together by organic glue, the urine of the packrat.

 

Montane

Environments found in, or related to, mountainous regions.

 

Nocturnal

Term used to describe organisms that are active primarily at night. The opposite of this is Diurnal, organisms that are active during the day.

 

Physiology

The study of the role and function of organisms, or the parts of an organism.

 

Pleistocene

The period of time ranging from 1.8 million to 11,000 years ago. This is the time period paleoecologists are getting a better understanding about from examining the contents of preserved packrat middens.

 

Predator

An animal that preys upon other animals for food.

 

Reptile

Animals that are vertebrates, breath air, and are covered in scales. This includes snakes and lizards.

 

Researcher

A person who follows the scientific method to answer a question. On these expeditions, researchers are trying to answer questions about the wildlife in the Grand Canyon.

 

Soil

The interface between rocks and plants. Medium that is made of both organic and inorganic material.

 

Subsistence

The required items an organism needs in order to survive.

 

Taxonomy

The classification of life (plants and animals) into groups of related features.

 

Terrestrial

Deals with land. Organisms that live on land are described as being terrestrial.

 

Ungulate

The group of mammals that have hooves. Bighorn sheep, elk, deer, and bison are all ungulates.

 

Vascular Plant

Plants that have conducting systems to transport water and nutrients to cells. The xylem and phloem are parts of the conducting system.

 

Vertebrate

The branch of animals that have a spinal column. Mammals, reptiles, fish, and birds are all vertebrates.

 

Volunteer

A person who volunteers their service to helps others without benefit of pay. Volunteers are vital to the success on these research expeditions.

 

Grand Canyon Site Links

Introduction

Life in the Canyon

Purpose of the Expedition

Planning the Expedition

The Wildlife Research

Goals of the Research Expedition

Challenge Your Understanding

Credits

Main Site Links

Views of the National Parks Main Index

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