Glossary (Q - Z)

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Raceme - A cluster of many flowers packed tightly in a long, skinny column.

Raptor - Larger bird of prey. Raptors include hawks, eagles, ospreys, and owls.

Regenerate - The ability to grow back part of a body that was lost. Crayfish can regenerate a lost leg, and earthworms can regenerate lost segments.

Regurgitate - Throw up. Some animals regurgitate their food to get rid of parts they can't digest, such as bones and hair. Some birds swallow food and then regurgitate it for their young to eat.

Reproduce - The way animals, plants, or other organisms make new versions of themselves.

Reptile - Cold-blooded, scaly animals from the Chordate Phylum. This class of animals breathes air and lives mostly on land. It includes turtles, snakes, and lizards.

Rhizome - A stem of a plant that grows sideways underground. Many plants spread with rhizomes, since they can send up new stems and leaves as they grow. This way, a colony of plants may start with many of the same species in an area.

River - A body of moving water, usually larger than a stream. Rivers flow until they empty into a larger river or other body of water, such as a bay or ocean.

Roost - A perch where an animal, especially a bird, rests or sleeps.

Root - The underground part of a plant that pulls in water and nutrients from the soil. Roots also help keep soil in place so it doesn't wash away (erosion).

Rootlet - A small root, or a branch of a larger root. Vine rootlets are often above ground and used to grab onto tree trunks and other structures so the vine can climb. Many birds use these rootlets as nest material.

Rosette - A group of leaves, making a circle, reaching out from a central spot. Rosettes usually are mostly flat and close to the ground. Biennial plants grow a rosette thier first year.

Saliva - Watery body fluid in the mouth of an animal; spit. Sometimes certain animals have chemicals in their saliva which helps them eat.

Samara - Fruit of certain trees, such as maples and elms. Samaras have a seed and a "wing." Sometimes they are called "keys" because their shape is similar to the shape of a key. The wing helps the seed travel by wind, since it is wide and lightweight and catches the air.

Sap - Liquid from a plant. Sap can be in a trunk, stem, leaf, or fruit. Some saps are poisonous.

Scat - Animal poop. Many scats can be identified by thier shape, size, and color.

Scavenger - An animal that eats dead or decaying material.

School - A small or large group of fish swimming together. Fish can work together to trap prey or protect themselves from predators.

Scientific Name - Every organism (animal, plant, fungus, protist, moneran) is given a scientific name. This way, scientists and other people from around the world can talk about the same thing. Many countries also give an organism a "common name." For example, the species Rana catesbeiana is called "Bullfrog" in America.

Seed - The part of a plant that can make another plant. Usually a plant makes flowers, then once the flowers have been pollinated, they turn into fruit. The seeds are inside the fruit. Seeds can be spread by wind, water, or animals. Then, when they are in a new place with water and nutrients, they can grow into a new plant. Sometimes an animal eats some fruit, then poops the seeds out someplace, and a new plant grows there!

Shelter - A place where an animal lives and is protected. Shelter is one of four parts (along with food, water, and space) that make up an animal's habitat.

Shrub - A woody plant of lower height than a tree. Shrubs usually have many thick stems instead of one big trunk. Some plants are considered shrubs if they don't grow to their full size, and trees if they are able to become fully grown. Examples of this are Eastern Redcedar and American Holly.

Silt - Particles of dirt in ponds, lakes, rivers, streams, and marshes. Silt moves around a lot when it is disturbed. Too much silt in the water is a problem, since it can cover and destroy eggs of fish, amphibians, and other organisms.

Sociable - When a species of animal likes to be around others of the same species. Since goldfinches like to be around other goldfinches, we call them "sociable."

Songbird - A small bird, usually in the Passeriformes Order (perching birds). Songbirds include well-known birds such as cardinals, sparrows, and bluebirds. Larger birds, such as hawks, owls, ducks, and herons are not considered songbirds. Most songbirds live in forests, parks, fields, yards, or marshes. Most of them also build nests in trees or shrubs.

Sori - Part of a fern that makes spores. Sori are the equivalent of flowers on other plants.

Spawn - To produce eggs (especially fish).

Species - The seventh and smallest group that scientists classify living things into. Actually, only one organism is in this group. Each genus is split into species. Also, a particular species of organism must reproduce (mate) with another organism of the same species (Example: A Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) must mate with another Bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana)). Each species has a scientific name. The ancient language of Latin is used to give each species a specific name so that everyone around the world, no matter what language they speak, can refer to the same organism. A species has a first and last name. The first name is also the name of the genus it is in. (Example: Rana catesbeiana (Bullfrog) and Rana clamitans (Green Frog) are in the same genus (Rana)).

Spiracle - One of many holes on the abdomen of an insect, used to breathe air.

Spore - A small, dust-like particle which travels from a mushroom, fern, or moss. Much like a seed, a spore can grow a new version of the organism it came from.

Stalk - 1. A short plant stem which leaves, flowers, or fruit grow on. 2. The main trunk of a mushroom.

Stand - A group of trees or tall plants.

Stream - A small body of moving water. Also called creek, brook, and spring, depending on location and size. Smaller than a river.

Symbiotic Relationship (Symbiosis) - A close relationship between organisms living side-by-side. See the Relationships page for more explanation.

Tadpole - The larva stage of frogs and toads. Tadpoles hatch from eggs laid in water. They breathe through gills and resemble fish. Later they will grow legs and lungs, lose their tails, and become adults.

Talon - Bird claw; especially a bird of prey, such as an owl, hawk, or eagle.

Taxonomy - The system that scientists developed to classify (put in order) all living things. There are seven groups (Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species). Scientists started by putting all living things (organisms) into Kingdoms. There are five Kingdoms (Animal, Plant, Fungi, Protist, and Moneran). Then, each Kingdom is split into smaller groups, called a Phylum. Each Phylum is then split into smaller groups called Classes. Each Class is split into smaller groups called Orders. Each Order is split into smaller groups called Families. Each Family is split into smaller groups called a Genus. Each Genus is split into Species. Species aren't really groups, because the scientists have finally narrowed it down to one particular organism. The way that scientists decided which organism goes in which group is by comparing them to see what they have in common. For example: All the organisms that can move around by running, flying, swimming, etc. went into the Animal Kingdom. Then, all the animals that have backbones went into the Chordate Phylum. Then all the animals with backbones that had hollow bones and feathers went into the Bird Class. And so on. . . This system allows us to organize and keep track of all living things.

Teeth - On a leaf, teeth are the bumps or points along the leaf's edge.

Tendril - A twisting, root-like structure that a vine uses to grab onto trees and branches for support.

Tentacle - Long, flexible sense organ on a slug or snail. These animals use their tentacles to explore their environment.

Terrestrial - Describes an organism that lives and grows on land (not water).

Territory - The area which an animal lives. Some animals are "territorial," meaning they protect their territory from other animals of the same species. This is so they don't have to share food or mates.

Thicket - An area filled with close-growing plants, including shrubs, small trees, vines, grasses, ferns and/or others. A thicket is usually difficult to walk through, and provides great shelter for birds and other animals.

Thorax - The middle section of an insect's body. The legs and wings attach here.

Tolerate - Able to put up with. A plant may be able to tolerate shade, meaning it can live under other plants. A tree that tolerates drought can go a long time without water.

Tree - A large plant with a sturdy main trunk which lives for many years. Most trees are one of two types: deciduous or conifer. Deciduous trees have broad leaves that die in the Fall. Conifers are evergreen trees, usually with needles for leaves. Most animals depend on trees for food and shelter.

Trunk - The main, central, mostly straight part of a tree or shrub, which the branches grow from. Some trees have more than one trunk.

Twig - A small branch on a tree or shrub that is connected to a larger branch. Leaves, flowers, and fruits grow from buds on a twig. Most trees and shrubs can be identified by thier twigs, especially in Winter.

Understory - An understory tree is a tree that can grow underneath taller trees. An understory tree must be able to tolerate shade. American Beech and Flowering Dogwood are good examples of understory trees. They grow very well underneath taller oaks or hickories.

Vegetation - Plant life. Many small and large animals need vegetation to hide and live in.

Venom - A liquid injected by one animal into another which causes pain or destruction of body tissue. Some venoms are lethal (cause death), depending on the animal (or person) being injected. Honey Bees, Channel Catfish, Copperheads, some caterpillars, and most spiders have venom, but most of these are mild to humans and only cause a stinging sensation. Venom can be injected by stingers, fangs, or spines.

Vine - A plant with a weak stem that relies on other plants or structures for support. These plants use different ways of wrapping themselves around other plants to climb upward. Some vines in our area are Poison Ivy, Virginia Creeper, and Wild Grape.

Waste Place - Area where plants have been removed and the soil disturbed. Common waste places include roadsides, areas with buildings, deserted lots, and areas where fire occurred.

Waterfowl - Birds that swim and live near water, including ducks, geese, and swans.

Weed - Any plant that is considered undesirable. One person might think a plant is beautiful and grow it in her garden. Another might think the same plant is a weed and pull it out of his garden. Most plants people call "weeds" are plants that cause problems for many people, such as crabgrass, clover, and plantain.

Whorl - A group of three or more leaves branching out from the same spot.

Wildflower - Any flowering plant that grows on its own, without the help of people. Some people consider certain wildflowers to be weeds.




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