Glossary

absolute burden
Cumulative consequence of disease.
acclimatise
Adjust to new environmental conditions.
acquired or adaptive immunity
The second, stronger immune defence that prevents pathogens from attacking the body and retains a memory of previous infection for a quicker response to subsequent infections.
actin
An intracellular protein that forms microfilaments that have several functions, including in cell movement.
active ingredient
The component of a drug that exerts a direct effect in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of a disease.
adaptations
Traits (physiological, structural or behavioural) of an organism that allow it to adjust to its environment, which enable better survival and reproduction in that environment. See also: traits.
adjuvant
A substance that aids the stimulation of immune response by an antigen.
adventitious roots
Roots that grow from leaves and stems of plants.
allele
Variation of a gene present at a particular locus on a chromosome, producing variable phenotypes. See also: traits.
allopatric
Existing or occurring in isolation or geographic separation. See also: sympatric.
allotetraploid genome
The genome of a hybrid in which each parent contributes a homologous pair of chromosomes instead of a single chromosome. The hybrid has twice as many chromosomes as its diploid counterpart.
alluvial soils
Very fertile and porous soil deposited on the banks of rivers, in floodplains, and in deltas by flowing water.
anaemia
A condition in which red bloods cells do not function normally, usually resulting in reduced oxygen delivery to the body’s organs.
analogous
In reference to body parts or organs that have developed as independent adaptations to carry out similar functions, but do not share evolutionary origins. See also: homologous.
animal cell culture
Animal cells grown in controlled, artificial environments.
annual
Plants that complete their life cycle in one growing season.
anthesis
The period in a plant life cycle when the flower is entirely open and functional.
anthropogenic
Caused by or originating from human activity.
antibody
A Y-shaped protein produced by the body’s immune system that recognises and binds to specific antigens and deactivates them.
antigen
A protein, usually on the surface of a pathogen, that elicits the body’s immune response.
apoptosis
Programmed cell death.
arboreal mammals
Mammals that spend most of their time in trees.
artificial selection
The process undertaken by humans to identify desirable traits in organisms and arrange the reproduction of those traits in future generations. See also: traits.
aseptate
Cells that are not separated by walls/septa. See also: septum.
asexual reproduction
The mode of reproduction that does not involve the fusion of male gametes and female gametes.
asymptomatic
Not exhibiting any symptoms.
attenuated
Having a reduced effect; for example viruses that have been treated to reduce their virulence/harmfulness.
auxin
A plant hormone that is primarily responsible for root and shoot growth through cell elongation, but has other functions too.
bacteriology
The scientific study of bacteria.
barrage
A type of dam that enables the regulation of the water level in the river.
bioactive compounds
Substances that influence metabolic processes and can have beneficial impacts on human health.
biodiversity hotspot
A biogeographic region which is rich in biodiversity and has many species that are in danger of becoming extinct.
biogeographic realms
Any of the spatial divisions of the Earth’s land surface based on common biological evolutionary history and patterns of distribution of life forms.
biogeography
The study of the distribution of flora, fauna and other life forms across time and space, including the patterns and factors that are responsible for variations in the distribution.
biological oxygen demand
A measure of the amount of dissolved oxygen required by aquatic aerobic microorganisms to decompose organic material.
biological species concept (BSC)
A concept that defines a species as a group of organisms that can mate with each other and produce fertile offspring.
biomagnification
The process of accumulation of toxins in organisms as we move higher up a food chain.
biota
The plants and animals that live in a specific place, habitat, or time.
black soils
Mineral soils enriched in organic carbon, making them fertile and productive.
blood meal
Food supply consisting of the blood of another organism.
callus
A mass of undifferentiated plant cells whose growth can be artificially induced in the lab.
camera traps
Hidden, motion-detecting cameras that automatically click pictures when animals cross in front of them. Scientists use the camera trap images to collect data on the presence and absence of species of interest.
capital intensive
Requiring large monetary input.
capsid
The protein shell that encapsulates a virus.
carbon dome
The increased concentration of carbon dioxide that is found above cities due to anthropogenic activities, mainly combustion of fossil fuels.
carbon footprint
Total amount of greenhouse gases produced to support a given human activity.
carcinogen
Any substance that causes cancer.
catalyse
To increase the rate of a reaction.
catchment area
The area from which rainfall drains into a river.
cell line
Cultures of animal cells that are grown in controlled conditions (usually in laboratories) for many generations.
cell surface receptor
Proteins spanning the cell membrane that can bind to extracellular molecules and conduct signals into the cell.
cell theory
The theory that all organisms are made of cells, that cells are the most basic unit of life, and that each cell is derived from a pre-existing cell.
cerebrospinal fluid
A colourless body fluid found in and around the brain and spinal cord that cushions the brain from sudden mechanical shocks.
chemotropic microbes
Microbes that use inorganic chemicals in their environment as a sources of energy.
chromatography
A technique used to separate components of a mixture by allowing them to flow across a surface.
circadian clock
A natural process that occurs within organisms, regulating body functions with the 24 hour cycle. This internal clock is usually synchronised with natural light and temperature conditions and regulates sleep and hunger.
clade
A group of organisms that encompasses all the descendants that have evolved from a common ancestor.
clinical trial
A stage of medical research which involves testing of a treatment on a large number of humans in a controlled manner.
coenocytic
Referring to a cell that has multiple nuclei resulting from nuclear division without cell division.
commons
Natural or cultural resources that are accessible to all members of a society OR natural resources that groups of people manage for individual and collective benefit.
conservation
The study of the Earth’s biodiversity losses, such as species extinction and loss of genetic diversity. Conservation also involves enquiry into the causes of such losses, as well as techniques of protection and restoration.
control
An experimental setup that lacks the factor being tested while all other variables are held constant.
cotton gin
A machine used to separate cotton fibres from cotton seeds.
crop yield
The amount of a crop produced per unit of agricultural area for that crop.
cry genes
A family of genes in Bacillus thuringiensis that produce cry proteins which act against specific insect taxa.
cry proteins
Proteins produced by the cry genes from Bacillus thuringiensis that form toxins that result in the death of the target insect.
cultivar
A plant variety that is maintained through selective breeding.
cytokinin
A plant hormone that regulates cell division, among other functions.
cytoplasm
A thick solution that fills each cell.
cytoskeletal proteins
Proteins in the cytoplasm of a cell that help maintain its structure, provide mobility, and carry out mechanical functions.
dendrogram
A tree diagram representing hierarchical relationships among objects or groups of objects. In biology, a dendrogram shows taxonomic relationships among species or groups of species.
descent with modification
The theory that all new species are descended from an ancestral species, carrying an advantageous set of alleles from one generation to another.
deuteromycota
A division of Fungi in which sexual reproduction has never been observed. This group of fungi is no longer considered to be a valid taxon. Also known as: fungi imperfecti.
diagnose
Identify a disease from its signs and symptoms.
dichotomous key
A guide, typically with paired contrasting morphological characteristics, that helps the user identify an organism to the family, genus or species level.
dioecious
Plant species that have male and female flowers on different plants. See also: monoecious.
diploid (2n)
An organism or cell that has two sets of chromosomes, one inherited from the female parent and the other inherited from the male parent. See also: haploid.
diptera
Insects with two wings, for example, mosquitoes and flies.
directional selection
A type of natural selection where individuals at one end of the phenotypic spectrum have a survival advantage over others, leading to a shift in allele frequencies towards the favourable trait.
discriminant function analysis
A method used in statistics to predict membership in naturally occurring groups, in which the independent variable is a continuous variable and the dependent variable is a categorical group.
disease burden
The effect of a disease in terms of morbidity, mortality, and financial cost to a population.
disease surveillance
Collecting and analysing large amounts of data about various aspects of disease prevalence, generally used during epidemics and pandemics.
dissolved oxygen
The amount of oxygen dissolved in water.
DNA ligase
An enzyme essential for DNA replication that attaches DNA fragments together and facilitates the formation of the phosphodiester bond in the backbone of the DNA strand.
domestication syndrome
Process in which a wild predecessor is domesticated over many generations through the selection of desirable phenotypic traits that have a genetic basis.
dominant gene
A gene in which only one allele for a character is expressed in a heterozygote.
dominant species
A species that occurs more frequently in an ecosystem than other species.
drug resistance
Reduction of effectiveness of a drug when the bacteria or virus evolve in response to the use of that particular drug.
echolocation
A sensory technique in which animals emit sounds and detect their reflection from objects in their environment, allowing them to detect their physical environment.
ecological economists
People who study the trans-disciplinary field of ecological economics in which the embeddedness of the economy within the ecosystem is acknowledged and limits to economic growth are discussed.
ecological footprint
A method used to measure how much land and water area is required to fulfil our demand for consumption of resources and generation of waste.
ecological niche
Defines the ‘role’ of a species within their environment, including all the environmental (abiotic) factors and interspecies interactions that influence the population of that species.
ecological trap
Situations in which, due to rapid environmental changes, environmental cues are misleading and organisms choose poorer habitats even though better quality habitats are available.
ecosystem services
The benefits gained by human beings from the natural environment.
electrophoretic gel
The gel used in gel electrophoresis. See also: gel electrophoresis.
endangered
Species whose population size indicates a chance of going extinct in the wild. See also: vulnerable.
endemic
In animals and plants, endemic means a species that belongs to and is restricted to a particular region. In a disease, endemic means occurring regularly in a certain area or among certain people, animals or plants.
endocarp
The layer that surrounds the seed in a fruit.
endocrine disruptor
Natural or artificial chemicals that disrupt hormonal (endocrine) function.
endocytosis
A process by which a substance outside a cell is taken into the cell.
endonucleases
Enzymes that cut DNA.
endophytic fungi
Fungi that reside within plant tissues without harming their hosts.
energy flow
The flow of energy through the various components of a system.
enhancer
A section of DNA that binds to transcription factors and enhances or promotes transcription of genes.
enterocytes
Cells that form the lining of the intestine.
enzyme
Proteins that catalyse chemical reactions, usually within cells.
epidemiological profile
The disease burden in an an area in terms of demographic, geographic, cultural, socioeconomic, and clinical characteristics of infected people.
epidemiology
The study of the factors that determine presence of disease and other health conditions, and the distribution patterns of these conditions in a defined population.
epiphytes
Plants that grow on other plants and take nutrition from the surrounding environment without parasitising the host plant.
epoch
A period of time measured by geological strata (layers of rock).
escarpment
A steep slope formed between two relatively flat regions which are at different heights.
estuary
The region where fresh water from rivers and streams meets the salt water from the ocean.
eukaryote
Single-celled or multicellular organism whose cell contains a distinct nucleus surrounded by a membrane.
evenness
A measure of how close the species abundance values are for all the different species in an area. Also known as: relative abundance.
evolutionary constraints
Restrictions, limitations, or biases impacting adaptive evolution.
evolutionary history
Study of the history of life on Earth and its evolution through study of living organisms and fossils.
ex-situ conservation
Methods of conservation of flora and fauna outside of their natural environment, through the relocation of a target species. Such methods of conservation are useful for the rescue and maintenance of threatened species.
exon
The sequence of base pairs that encodes amino acids and is translated into a protein.
faecal-oral
A route of disease transmission which occurs through the ingestion of faecal particles.
fecundity
The measure of the maximum reproductive potential of an individual or population.
felids
Animals that belong to the family of cats.
fibroblast
A connective tissue cell that produces collagen and an extra-cellular matrix.
flagship species
A species that acts as an icon or symbol for its habitat.
fluorescent tag
A fluorescent molecule that is attached to a cellular molecule to improve the visualisation of the molecule, usually through microscopy.
fomites
Inanimate objects that have been exposed to an infectious agent and can carry and spread the infection.
formulation
A process in production of vaccines that involves the combination of adjuvants and antigens to optimise an immune response and ensure safety of the vaccine. See also: adjuvant.
fossil fuel
Coal, crude oil and natural gas produced through compression of dead organic matter (plants and animals) over millions of years.
frugivores
Organisms that feed primarily on fruits.
fundamental niche
All the environmental conditions in which an organism is able to live and utilise biotic and abiotic factors in the absence of competition or pressure from other species.
gallers
Wasps that induce fig plants to make galls.
gametes
Haploid reproductive cells, derived from gametocytes. See also: gametocytes.
gametocytes (germ cells)
Diploid reproductive cells that undergo meiosis to produce gametes. See also: gametes.
gastroenteritis
An infection in which the stomach and the intestine become inflamed, causing vomiting and/or diarrhoea.
gel electrophoresis
A method of separating DNA fragments based on their size and charge.
gene expression
Process by which the information encoded in our DNA is decoded to build proteins for cellular and body functions.
gene flow
The transfer of genetic material or alleles from one population to another of the same species, thereby altering the allele frequency or genetic variability of the receiving population.
gene redundancy
Presence of more than one gene that can be expressed to carry out the same function.
genetic drift
A mechanism of evolution that occurs by chance, in which some individuals with a specific allele reproduce more than other individuals, despite the survival value of that allele. See also: allele.
genetic polymorphism
Existence of two or more genotypes within a population, giving rise to phenotypic variation between individuals in a population.
genomically equivalent
The idea that all cells in an organism have the same genetic material, even though they express different genes and perform different functions.
genus (pl. genera)
A taxonomic level that groups different species.
germ theory
The theory that diseases are caused by microorganisms called pathogens or germs.
germination
The process of a seed sprouting shoots and roots.
Global North
The group of countries largely in the northern hemisphere of the globe that include the world’s richest and most industrialised societies. Continents such as Europe and North America are considered to be part of the Global North.
grow out test
A test of genetic purity in which a large number of plants are grown from hybrid seeds to evaluate whether desirable traits in the hybrid are reproducibly inherited.
guild
A multi-species group (often closely related) whose members rely on similar resources.
habitat
A place where a species lives.
haploid (n)
An organism or a cell carrying only one set of chromosomes. See also: diploid.
herd immunity
Protection achieved by a population when a large proportion of that population gains immunity to a disease, either through infection or vaccination.
hermaphrodite
Organism possessing both male and female reproductive systems and the ability to produce both male and female gametes.
heterosis
The enhancement of traits in a hybrid offspring that occurs from the mixing of the parents’ genes. Also known as: hybrid vigour.
heterospecific
Organisms that belong to different species.
hitchhike
Hitchhike means getting a free ride. Genetic hitchhiking is when allele frequency in a population changes not because of natural selection, but because it is near another allele that is undergoing selection.
Holocene period
The current geological epoch with significant human impact, that started approximately 11 700 years before the present. See also: epoch.
homologous
In reference to body parts or organs that share evolutionary origins but carry out different functions. See also: analogous.
horizontal/lateral gene transfer
The transfer of genetic material from one cell to another, usually of a different species, and involving plasmids.
hormone
Chemicals secreted by endocrine glands that regulate body processes.
host-pathogen interaction
The interaction that allows a pathogen to survive within its host.
host range (virus)
The range of organisms that a virus can infect and in which it can replicate itself.
host specificity
A life history trait of a pathogen that determines the number of host species it can inhabit or infect.
host
An organism that harbours a pathogen or a non-disease causing agent.
human–wildlife conflicts
The variety of interactions between people and wildlife species that result in negative outcomes for both or either parties, such as food insecurity and habitat disturbance.
hybridisation
Breeding between individuals of different species or genetically distinct individuals such as varieties of the same species.
hyphae
A long filamentous, vegetative structure of a fungus that branches underground. A network of hyphae is collectively known as mycelium.
hypothesis
A testable explanation for an observation or idea, based on available data. The hypothesis can be proved or disproved based on the results of investigation.
immunoassay
A test that measures presence and concentration of antigens through the use of antibodies.
immunochromatographic antigen detection (lateral flow test)
A test that uses the principle of capillary flow, by which antigen–antibody complexes can migrate across a surface, to test for presence of antigens.
in planta
Within the plant, instead of using tissue cultures.
in-situ conservation
Methods of conservation of flora and fauna within their natural environment, enabling biological diversity to maintain itself. For example, a wildlife sanctuary allows for the monitoring and management of a target species and its natural habitat.
in vivo
Processes that occur within a living cell or organism.
incubation period
Time taken for symptoms to be exhibited after infection.
indeterminate growth (plants)
Growth that occurs throughout a plant’s life and does not stop.
indigenous knowledge
Knowledge derived and possessed by an indigenous or local community.
inflorescence
A cluster of flowers on one flower stalk.
innate immunity
A generalised immune response occurring immediately after infection or injury which does not depend on memory to recognise the pathogen. See also: acquired or adaptive immunity.
insert
Also known as gene of interest, it is a fragment of DNA that is isolated from a source and inserted into a plasmid during molecular cloning.
interference competition
A type of direct competition between organisms for resources, goods, or mates, that may display aggression.
interspecific
Relating to or occurring between individuals of different species.
intraguild
Within a guild.
intraspecific
Relating to or occurring between individuals of the same species.
intron
A sequence of base pairs that does not code for any amino acids and is spliced out before the mRNA is translated into a protein. See also: splicing.
intussusception
A condition in which a part of the intestine slides into an adjacent part of the intestine, causing a telescopic effect which leads to blockage of the intestine.
IUCN
The abbreviation for International Union for Conservation of Nature, a global association formed by government and civil society organisations for the purpose of nature conservation and management across the world. IUCN holds an official observer status, granted by the United Nations General Assembly. See also: conservation.
keystone species
A species of plant or animal that plays a crucial role in ecosystem function. Its removal could have a cascading impact on the whole ecosystem.
kleptoparasites
Organisms that steal resources from other organisms.
land use/land cover
Land use is the purpose for which land is being used, such as agriculture. Land cover is the surface cover on the ground, such as urban infrastructure or bare soil. When used together, this term indicates the categorisation of both human activities and natural processes within a particular time frame.
life history
The pattern of survival, growth and reproduction of organisms in a population over time.
livelihood
Means of securing necessities for life such as food, water, a place to live, clothing.
longitudinal data
Data taken from a single sample or site that is studied over time.
lysed
Broken (or burst) cell.
macrophage
A type of cell produced by the immune system that engulfs and breaks down pathogens.
macroscopic
Objects that are large enough to be viewed with the naked eye.
mark-recapture method
A wildlife survey method used to estimate the size of a local population through multiple sampling schemes.
maximum parsimony
An approach that assumes that the most likely method through which evolution has occurred is through the smallest number of steps required for a species to evolve.
merozoite
A stage in the life cycle of Plasmodium in which it divides in human liver cells and then infects red blood cells. See also: sporozoites.
mesopredator
A predator of medium size that exists in the middle trophic level and whose population is influenced by the presence of top carnivores in the ecosystem.
meta-analysis
A statistical method of analysing previously published studies that all revolve around a central theme.
metapopulations
Regional groups of spatially exclusive populations of the same species that may or may not interact.
miasma theory
The theory that certain diseases, especially epidemics, were caused by ‘bad air’ or miasma.
microcosm
Translating to ‘little world’ in Greek, a microcosm is a small community that resembles a larger one.
microscopy
Using microscopes to study small objects.
model organism
An organism that has characteristics that make it useful for studying various processes in a laboratory.
mole
A scientific unit used to measure large quantities of very small particles such as atoms or molecules. A mole is 6.02 × 1023 molecules.
molecular cloning
A procedure used to replicate recombinant DNA within a host. See also: recombinant DNA and vector (biotechnology).
monocot
A category of flowering plants that carry seeds containing a single embryonic leaf (cotyledon).
monoculture
The agricultural practice of growing a single crop type within an area at a given time.
monoecious
Plant species that have both male and female flowers on the same plant. See also: dioecious.
monograph
A document (usually in the form of a book) that is written about a single scholarly topic, usually by a single author.
monopodial growth
Growth that occurs when the main stem of a plant grows vertically and new leaves grow at the apex. There is one primary apical meristem (the growing tip of a shoot). See also: sympodial growth.
mouth swab
Collection of saliva and epithelial cells from inside the cheek to test for the presence of pathogens or other substances.
mutualism
A relationship between two organisms in which both individuals benefit.
mya
Million years ago.
mycology
The study of fungi.
niche partitioning
Also known as resource partitioning, it is the evolution of two species competing for identical resources to have niches distinct to one another, thereby avoiding the negative effects of interspecific competition. See also: ecological niche.
niche
The abiotic and biotic conditions necessary for an organism to persist, and the organism’s role within the ecosystem.
Nobel Prize
Prize awarded to people in the fields of physiology or medicine, physics, chemistry, literature, economic sciences, and peace studies. Named after Alfred Nobel.
nutrient cycling
The flow of nutrients between the biotic and abiotic components of an ecosystem; nutrients are taken from the environment and pass through living organisms, only to be released eventually back into the environment.
obligatory
Compulsory.
Old World
Referring to the continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe.
oligophagous
Feeding on a diverse set of foods. See also: polyphagous insects.
oocyst
A structure that develops from the zygote of a parasite like Plasmodium.
open cast mining (open-pit mining)
Technique used to obtain minerals and ores that are relatively close to the Earth’s surface through an open pit. Also known as: open-pit mining.
organoids
Three-dimensional tissue cultures that are simplified versions of organs.
origin of transfer
A region of DNA that is transferred along with the DNA sequence when DNA from one host is introduced into another, as is done during molecular cloning.
outcrossing
A process by which reproduction occurs between two individuals with slightly different genetic material.
parameter
A property used to characterise something.
parasite
An organism that receives its nutrition from another organism by living in or on it and requires such a host for survival.
parasitoids
Organisms that develop in or on another organism, killing and using that host as a source of food.
perennial
Plants that have a life cycle longer than two years. See also: annual.
pesticide resistance
The resistance gained by a pest population that makes it less vulnerable to successive applications of pesticides.
phage
A virus that injects its genome into a bacterial cell and uses the cell’s molecular machinery to synthesise more phages.
phenology
The study of the timing of recurring life cycle events.
phylogenetic species concept (PSC)
Concept of a species as the smallest group of organisms that have descended from a common ancestor.
phylogenetics
The study of evolutionary relationships between organisms.
phylogeny/phylogenetic tree
A branching diagram representing a hypothesis about the evolutionary relationships among a group of organisms.
phytoplankton
Autotrophic (photosynthesising) microrganisms that are generally found drifting in the surface layer of water bodies.
pigmented bodies
Structures within malaria-infected red blood cells that accumulate hemozoin, a pigment produced by the malaria parasite.
point mutations
Mutations that occur in a single nucleotide involving deletion of a nucleotide, insertion of an additional nucleotide, or change from one nucleotide to another.
point-of-care testing
Testing that occurs on-site, where the patient is.
polyphagous insects
Insects that feed on plants of diverse taxonomic groups. They are voracious feeders and multiply in large numbers. See also: oligophagous.
polyphyletic
Organisms that share similarities, but evolved from different immediate ancestors.
polyploid
A cell containing more than two chromosomes per homologous pair of chromosomes. See also: haploid and diploid.
potency
The amount of drug that would need to be administered in order to obtain a desired effect in the receiver.
predator release
An increase in the population when a species is freed from predation.
primary pests
Pests that directly feed and breed on whole, undamaged plant parts.
primary productivity
The rate at which organic compounds are produced from the conversion of environmental energy.
proboscis
  1. (invertebrates) Organ used for feeding. 2. (vertebrates) Elongated nose.
prokaryote
Single-celled organism that does not have a distinct nucleus with a membrane.
promoter
A region of DNA that precedes a DNA sequence that is going to be expressed. Specific proteins bind to the promoter to initiate transcription of the sequence.
proprietary
Belonging to or being owned by an entity.
protein-coding genes
Genes that can be translated to mRNA, which is transcribed into proteins.
Protista
A kingdom of unicellular or simple multicellular eukaryotic organisms.
public health
The study of the health of a population (community, town, city, state or country) as a whole.
quadrats
Randomly chosen plots of habitat, usually sqaure in shape, used as samples to study plant or animal life. A quadrat can also refer to the frame or tool that is used to mark out the chosen area.
qualitative index
A tool used in social science research in which a single score or measure summarises the values of more than one qualitative variable such as an attitude or emotion.
quinine
Medicine derived from the cinchona tree that is used to treat malaria.
rapid diagnostic test
Quick and simple tests usually used to detect parasite-based infections.
rare species
A species that occurs at very low frequencies.
realised niche
The environmental conditions within the fundamental niche that it actually occupies in the presence of competition or limiting factors.
recombinant DNA
A DNA molecule artificially developed through the combination of genes from at least two different sources.
regression model
A statistical model used for quantitative analyses. A regression model first presents the relationship between dependent and independent variables, in which the independent variable is hypothesised to have a measurable effect on the dependent variable. With the help of relevant datasets for the chosen variables, the regression analysis allows us to determine the strength and character of the relationship between these variables. See also: hypothesis.
reproductive isolation
The process by which biological properties found in organisms prevent populations from interbreeding. Mechanisms of reproductive isolation include ecological isolation and temporal isolation, among others.
reproductive success
The number of offspring surviving and reaching reproductive maturity, measuring how successfully a gene passes on from one generation to the next.
restriction enzymes/restriction endonucleases
Enzymes that cleave the DNA strands at specific recognition or restriction sites.
rhizomes
Modified stems that grow undergound and have nodes from which roots and shoots emerge.
river reaches
A part of a river or stream that extends inland in a straight manner, which has constant hydrological conditions.
sampling
An estimation method that involves the collection of data of a subset of individuals from a larger population.
scan sampling
A method of field sampling in which the behaviour of individual animals is recorded at specific intervals of time. For example, at an interval of 10–15 minutes.
scanning electron microscopy
A type of microscopy that bombards a beam of electrons against the surface of a sample, producing an image of the sample.
scientific process
Process of gaining knowledge through observation, hypothesis formulation, hypothesis testing, analysis of obtained data, and inference from analysis.
sclerotisation
The process of hardening the cuticle of arthropods by cross-linking proteins.
secondary pests
Pests that can only feed on plant parts that have already been damaged by primary pests, or on processed grains.
selective sweep
As a new positively selected allele increases in frequency in a population, nearby neutral alleles also increase in frequency. See also: hitchhike.
septum
A wall that divides fungal hyphae into cell-like compartments.
Shannon’s diversity index
An index of species diversity in a community calculated by considering evenness and species richness. See also: evenness and species richness.
social-ecological justice
Social justice refers to the fair distribution of economic, political and environmental benefits, such as quality health services, the right to vote, or access to natural resources. Ecological justice refers to the protection of the ecosystem against the negative impacts of human activities. Together, this approach to justice recommends a fair participation in decision-making and a recognition of the ecological services provided by nature. See also: ecosystem services.
sodium ion channels
Transmembrane proteins that play an important role in electrical signalling in cells.
space for time substitution
Substitution of time with space in experiments in which the effect of the passage of time on a system cannot be observed. Assumes that variables that change across time will also change across space.
speciation
The evolutionary process by which a group within a species separates from other members of its species, develops its own unique characteristics, and forms a distinct kind of species.
species abundance
The number of individuals of a single species present in a region or community.
species richness
The number of different species that coexist in a region or community.
species
A group of organisms that share common traits and can interbreed with each other to produce fertile offspring. See also: biological species concept and phylogenetic species concept.
splicing
The process of cutting out introns and joining the exons of a precursor mRNA before it is sent for translation. See also: intron and exon.
sporozoites
A stage in the life cycle of Plasmodium that develops in the mosquito and is transmitted to humans with the mosquito’s saliva. See also: merozoite.
stabilising selection
A type of natural selection in which a median trait is selected for within a population.
stable coexistence
The long-term persistence of different competing species, despite fluctuations in resource availability.
staining
A technique used to highlight certain components of a cell or microorganism under the microscope with the help of a stain or dye.
staple length
The average length of a group of fibres.
stolon
A horizontal above-ground stem that produces new roots and shoots as it grows.
strangler fig
A type of fig that germinates on another tree, wrapping itself around and eventually causing the death of the support tree. Also known as: hemi-ephiphytes.
study design
The methodology used to obtain and analyse data.
style
The long portion of a flower’s female reproductive system that connects the stigma to the ovary.
subspecies
A group within a species that has unique phenotypic features which have arisen during geographic isolation.
sucrose gradient column
A column consisting of layers of sucrose representing differing densities used to separate small molecules like nucleic acids and proteins.
surface tension
The ability of the surface layer of a liquid to resist a certain amount of external force.
syconium
The fleshy inflorescence of figs that contains mutiple ovaries and develops into a fruit.
sympatric
Existing or occurring in the same geographical area. See also: allopatric.
sympodial growth
Growth form characterised by multiple stem branches or apical meristems. See also: monopodial growth.
synanthropic
An organism, usually an animal, that lives in close proximity with humans and gains benefit from this association.
synthetic
Artificial.
synurbisation
Adaptation of wildlife to specific environmental conditions created through urbanisation.
systematics
The study of the evolution of organisms and the relationships that exist between taxa.
taxon (pl. taxa)
A classification level used by taxonomists to group organisms that share defining characteristics.
taxonomic affiliations
Being associated with a specific taxonomic classification. See also: taxonomy.
taxonomy
The science of naming and classifying all living organisms in a hierarchical manner.
terminal transferase
A type of DNA polymerase that facilitates attachment of nucleotides to the 3’ end of a DNA strand.
tillers
Secondary shoots that grow off a main grass stem.
topography
The layout or nature of a region that highlights its physical features.
traits
Characteristics of organisms.
transformation
The transferral of exogenous DNA into the host cell through the cell membrane, leading to the genetic alteration of the cell.
trend
Pattern observed in descriptive, numerical or graphical data.
trophic cascade
An ecological imbalance produced in an ecosystem by the addition or removal of top predators, which in turn affects the relative populations of species in that ecosystem.
trophic level
The position an organism occupies in a food chain.
Tropic of Cancer
The line of latitude approximately 23.5°N of the equator. The sun is directly over the Tropic of Cancer during the northern hemisphere summer solstice.
tropical medicine
A branch of medicine that studies diseases occuring in tropical and sub-tropical regions.
Universal Immunisation Programme
A public health programme developed by the government of India to provide free vaccination and immunisation to pregnant women and children against diseases such as polio, rubella, diphtheria, and others.
urban metabolism
A model used to analyse how resources are used and energy flows within an urban system like a city.
variable
Any factor or property that can vary in an experiment.
variety
A group within a subspecies that covers a smaller geographic range than a subspecies.
vector (biotechnology)
A DNA molecule, like a plasmid, used to carry foreign genes into a cell so that they can be expressed in that cell. See also: host.
vector (disease ecology)
An organism that carries disease-causing microbes from one host to another. See also: host.
vertical gene transfer
The transfer of genetic material from a parent to its offspring.
virion
A single virus particle consisting of the outer protein capsule and the inner genomic material (either RNA or DNA).
virus strain
A genetic variant of a virus that has slightly different characteristics from the original virus.
vulnerable
A population of a species that is at high risk of human-induced extinction. See also: endangered.
western medicine
A method of treating diseases using evidence-based practices.
wildlife corridors
Areas of habitat, natural or artificially created, that connect other fragmented habitats, thereby facilitating natural processes such as migration and interbreeding of organisms.
zone of inhibition
The circular area surrounding an antibiotic in which bacterial colonies are inhibited.
zoonotic
An infectious disease that has jumped from non-human animals to humans.
zooplankton
Tiny invertebrate animals that drift in the water.
δ-endotoxin
An insecticidal toxin produced by B. thuringiensis and expressed in Bt cotton.