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All of the following terms appear in the video or articles for this tutorial section on biodiversity and ecosystem function. The terms are arranged here in alphabetical order, and nouns are given in just their singular form unless the plural of the term is unusual.

abiotic: non-living

autotroph: an organism, such as a plant, that can make its own energy-rich food molecules from inorganic materials and an energy source such as sunlight; autotrophs are also called producers

binomial: when referring to species, the two-part scientific name that is unique for each type of organism; sometimes also called the Latin name

biodiversity: the variety of life on Earth or some other specified geographic region of the planet; the diversity of life occurs at the genetic level, at the species level, at the ecosystem level, and in evolutionary lineages

Biodiversity Ecosystem Function (BEF): an emerging field that studies how the biodiversity within an ecosystem is related to the ecosystem’s function

carnivore: an animal that eats meat (i.e., other animals)

chemosynthesizer: an organism that makes its own energy-rich food molecules from just simple inorganic chemicals without the use of sunlight; some bacteria are chemosynthesizers

commensalism: a type of symbiosis where one organism benefits and the other is not affected in a positive or a negative way

community: two or more different species occupying the same geographical area and interacting in some way

competition: a type of interaction where two organisms fight for the same limited resource such as food, sunlight or a mate; can occur between individuals of the same or different species

consumer: an organism, such as a cow or a shark, that must eat other organisms to obtain energy-rich food molecules because they cannot make the molecules themselves; consumers are also called heterotrophs

decomposer: an organism that breaks down organic material over time

detritivore: an organism that eats detritus or parts of dead things

ecosystem: the community of different species in a particular geographic area and all of their interactions with each other and the physical environment; ecosystems are also called ecological networks

ecosystem function: the processes that occur within an ecosystem that are related to species interactions, energy flow and the cycling of materials

ecosystem network: the interactions among organisms in an ecosystem and the diagram that illustrates these relationships and how matter and energy move from one species to another; also called an ecological network

frugivore: an herbivore that eats fruit

herbivore: an animal that eats plants; also called a primary consumer

heterotroph: an organism, such as a sea turtle or a hawk, that must eat other organisms to obtain energy-rich food molecules because they cannot make the molecules themselves; heterotrophs are also called consumers

individual: one organism

insectivore: a carnivore that eats insects

interspecific: occurring between members of two or more different species

intraspecific: occurring within a single species

mutualism: a type of symbiosis where both organisms benefit

omnivore: an animal that eats both plants and animals

organism: a living or formerly living thing

parasitism: a type of symbiosis where one organism (the parasite) benefits and the other (the host) is harmed

photosynthesis: the process of capturing the energy in sunlight to create energy-rich organic molecules from inorganic molecules; organisms that photosynthesize are called photosynthesizers

plankton: microscopic organisms that live in the ocean and other bodies of water; phytoplankton are plant-like and can photosynthesize; zooplankton are animal-like and cannot photosynthesize

population: all the individuals of a particular species that live in a specific geographic area; a species may be made up of one or more populations

predation: the act of one animal killing and eating another animal

predator: an organism that hunts, catches, kills, and eats other animals

prey: an organism that is caught, killed and eaten by a predator

primary consumer: an animal or other heterotroph that eats producers or herbivores

producer: an organism, such as a plant, that can make its own energy-rich food molecules from inorganic materials and an energy source such as sunlight; producers are also called autotrophs

scavenger: an animal that eats dead organisms or parts of dead organisms

secondary consumer: an animal that eats primary consumers

species: a distinct type of organism

species richness: the number of different species in a given geographic area

succession: in ecology, the change in the communities of organisms in a geographic area over time

symbiosis: a long-term relationship or interaction between individuals from two different types of species; the symbiotic relationship has a positive, negative or neutral impact on the participants

tertiary consumer: an animal that eats secondary consumers