The Web of Life Sabino Canyon  

These are challenging words that are used on this Web site. You can also look up these words in a paper or online dictionary.
abiotic Abiotic means not living. Some of the abiotic elements of an ecosystem community are the landforms, the soil, and the weather.
algae Algae are one-celled organisms that contain chlorophyll, the green chemical in plants. We sometimes call algae "pond scum" or "seaweed."
aquifer The aquifer is the natural underground rock formation that carries water to wells and springs.
bajada Bajada (pronounced ba-há-da) is a Spanish word that means "slope" or "skirt".
biotic Biotic means living. A biotic community includes plants and animals. Biotic communities are named for the main plants that grow in them. An example from Sabino Canyon is the saguaro-paloverde community.
bobbed Bobbed means cut off or short. The bobcat has a bobbed tail. In the familiar song "Jingle Bells," the line says: "Bells on bobbed tails ring." Some sleigh horses' tails are cut short so they won't get tangled in the driving lines.
camouflage Animals are camouflaged when the colors, patterns, or shapes of their bodies help them blend in with their surroundings. Camouflage helps them hide from other animals.
carnassial In carnivores, the carnassial teeth are the last upper premolar combined with the first lower molar teeth. The carnassials are used for shearing meat.
carnivore A carnivore is an animal that eats mainly meat. In Sabino Canyon, a bobcat would eat pack rats and quail.
cicadas Cicadas are insects that are similar to locusts. They make a high-pitched buzzing sound and can often be heard singing loudly during the heat of midday.
consumer An animal that feeds on other animals or plants is called a consumer. Primary consumers eat plants. Secondary consumers eat animals that eat plants.
deciduous Deciduous plants lose their leaves for part of the year. Some deciduous trees lose their leaves whenever the soil gets very dry. Some desert trees, like paloverdes, are like that. Along Sabino Creek, the fall-deciduous trees (the ones that lose their leaves in the fall season) are the Arizona sycamore, the Arizona walnut, the Fremont cottonwood, Goodding willow, and the velvet ash.
decomposer A decomposer like bacteria or fungi turns dead matter into food (nutrients) for producers (plants).
desert A desert is a place that is so dry it severely limits the amount of vegetation (plants) that can grow there. Some deserts, like the Sonoran Desert, are hot, but others, like in Antarctica, are very cold.
dynamic equilibrium There is a balance or equilibrium in nature . However, that balance is always changing. That means it's dynamic.
ecology Ecology is the study of the interrelationships between plants, animals, and their habitats.
ecosystem An ecosystem is made of up all the living (biotic) things of a community and how they interact with the non-living (abiotic) things.
endangered Endangered species are animals or plants that are likely to become extinct (disappear from our planet) unless we protect them.
foliage The leaves of a plant are its foliage.
food chain A food chain is a simple way of thinking about energy moves through a community of living things. The sun's energy is transferred from plants (producers) through animals (consumers) and finally returned to the soil by decomposers that feed on the dead and waste products. An example from Sabino Canyon is: grass, cottontail rabbit, coyote, dead coyote eaten by maggots (fly larvae).
food web A food web is more complex than a food chain. A food web is made up of many food chains, linked together and branching. It's more like real life, because it shows how energy can take many different paths. The cottontail rabbit in the food chain example (above) is not only prey to the coyote; bobcats, rattlesnakes, and other animals eat cottontails, too.
habitat A habitat is the area in which a plant or an animal lives. A habitat must have enough food, water, and shelter to meet an animal's needs. It must have the right amount of light, water, and type of soil to meet the plant's needs.
herbivore An herbivore is an animal that eats mostly plants. In Sabino Canyon, a white-tailed deer would eat the leaves and branches of mesquite trees.
larvae Larvae are one stage of growth for insects and some other animals. Insects that reproduce through complete metamorphosis have these four stages: egg, larva or nymph, pupa, and adult. A caterpillar is a butterfly larva.
mammal A mammal is an animal with a backbone that feeds its young with milk from the mother's body. Mammals are endothermic which means they make most of their body heat themselves by burning their food. They have hair and fat to help retain heat.
muck Muck is made up of dead leaves, dead animals, and other decaying material that collects on the bottom of a creek or stream. Muck is the breeding and feeding place for many insects. In Sabino Creek, mayfly nymphs and mosquito larvae known as "wrigglers" feed on muck. "Muck" isn't really a scientific word, but it's fun!
omnivore An omnivore is an animal that eats both plants and animals. In Sabino Canyon, a coyote would eat both prickly pear fruits and round-tail ground squirrels.
parasite A parasite is a plant or animal that lives off another plant or animal and gets food from it. Desert mistletoe is an example of a hemi-parasite (a partial parasite) because even though it makes its own food, it puts its root-like parts into the branch of a tree and takes its water from that tree and not from the soil.
photosynthesis In the chemical process known as photosynthesis, plants use green chlorophyll to convert the sun's energy into stored energy in food. In the process, plants give off oxygen. Because plants produce their own food directly from the sun, they are called producers.
predator A predator is an animal that feeds upon an other animal.
prey A prey animal is one that is hunted and eaten by another animal.
producer Plants are producers because they can make their own food. This is done through a process called photosynthesis.
ravine A ravine is a natural rainwater run off channel. A ravine is larger than a wash.
riparian The word "ripa" means shore or bank in Latin. The riparian woodland is found along Sabino Creek. It has the greatest variety of birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects. It is where the fall-deciduous trees grow.
species A species is a group of living things that breed with each other in nature and produce offspring that can also breed. Coyotes can breed together, and the pups can breed when they grow up, so all coyotes are one species. Bobcats can't breed with coyotes, so they're a different species. In nature, living things in the same species usually look pretty much alike.
threatened If a species is "threatened," there is a chance it will become endangered. If a species is "endangered", it's in danger of becoming extinct. Threatened and endangered species need people to take action to prevent them from becoming extinct.
wash A wash is a natural rainwater run off channel. A wash is smaller than a ravine.
watershed A watershed is the land that drains into a creek, river, or body of water. The Santa Catalina Mountains drain rainwater and snow melt into Sabino Creek.
Web of Life The Web of Life is like a spider's web. It is made up of the interactions between plants and animals and their environment.

Last updated: 10 July 2012


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