Skip to main content

U.S. Forest Service



Adapt – To grow and change in response to environmental conditions.

Adaptation – Special body features or behaviors adapted to the environment.


Biodiversity – The diverse variety of life forms: different plants, animals and micro-organisms; and the eco-systems they form. Genetic diversity, species diversity and ecosystem diversity.


Carnivore – (Secondary Consumer) Animals that don’t eat plants, but feed on animals that do eat plants.


Decomposer – Animal that breaks down dead or decomposing plant materials, thus recycling important nutrients and returning them to the environment.


Ecosystem – A dynamic system of plant, animal and micro-organism communities and non-living components interacting as an ecological unit.

Endangered – Animal or plant species in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of their range due loss of habitat, over exploitation, competition or disease.

Environment – Complex web of inter-relationships between living organisms and non-living components, which sustain all life on earth.


Fauna – All of the animals found in an area.

Flora – All of the plants found in an area.

Food Web – A group of interlinked food chains. Involves herbivores, omnivores, carnivores, scavengers and decomposers, so that no available source of energy is allowed to go to waste.


Habitat – Place where an animal or plant lives which provides food, water, shelter.

Herbivore – (Primary Consumer) Animals that eat primarily plants.


Metamorphosis – The process of change from young to adult.

Migration – The seasonal, usually 2-way movement from habitat to another to avoid unfavorable climatic conditions.


Native – Indigenous to and dwelling within a specific area for an entire lifespan.

Nectar – A sugary fluid produced by flowers to attract animal pollinators.


Petal – Colorful flower parts that surround the floral reproductive structures.

Pistil – The collective female floral reproductive parts including the stigma, style and ovary.

Pollen – Pollen bears sperm for plant reproduction.

Pollen Tube – Tube formed after germination of the pollen grain. It carries the male reproductive information to the ovule.

Pollinated – A flower in which the female parts of a flower have received pollen from the male parts of the same flower, or another flower.

Pollination – The spreading of pollen from the male parts to the female parts of a flower of the same species, resulting in the production of seeds and fruits.

Pollinator – Animal that carries pollen from the male parts of flowers to the female parts, fertilizing plant “eggs” with plant “sperm.”

Primary Producer – All food chains begin with green plants (“primary producers”) with a process called photosynthesis. Energy from the sun lands on plants and is collected by chlorophyll, with which plants make sugar and oxygen, food for other animals.


Seed – Part of the plant that is capable of growing (germinating) and producing a new plant.

Stamen – Name for the male floral reproductive parts, including the anthers and filaments.


Threatened – Species likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future, without special protection and management efforts.