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Ecosystems Key Words
Ecosystem: All of the living organisms and nonliving components occurring together, and the
interrelationships between them. These can be on a large or small scale.
Habitat: The place where an organism lives.
Population: All of the organisms of one species who all live together and can breed together to
produce a fertile offspring.
Community: All of the populations of the different species who live in the same area at the same
time that can interact with each other.
Niche: The role that a species plays in an ecosystem.
Producer: Photosynthetic organisms such as plants and algae that supply chemical energy to all
Consumer: Organisms that feed on plants or smaller organisms lower down the food chain. A
Primary consumer feeds on plants so is a herbivore whereas secondary and tertiary consumers are
Decomposers: These living organisms feed on waste material or dead organisms, such as
Succession: A directional change in a community of organisms over time.
Nitrogen Fixation: The conversion of nitrogen gas into a form such as ammonium ions, which is
usable by plants.
Carrying Capacity: The maximum size of a population that can be maintained over a period of time
in a particular habitat.
Intraspecific Competition: The competition between members of the same species. This can be
intense because individuals require the same resources and have the same methods of obtaining
Interspecific Competition: The competition between individuals of a different species. This can
happen when an organism migrates or is introduced into a new environment.
Coppicing: The cutting of a tree trunk close to the ground to try and encourage new growth.
Conservation: The maintenance of biodiversity, including diversity between species, genetic
diversity within the species and maintenance of a variety of habitats and ecosystems.