Biodiversity publications archive

Biodiversity and its value

Biodiversity series, Paper no. 1
Biodiversity Unit
Department of the Environment, Sport and Territories
, 1993
ISBN 0 642 19904 3

Glossary and abbreviations

Abiotic
Non-living, eg. rocks or minerals.
Biological diversity
The variety of life forms: the different plants, animals and microorganisms, the genes they contain, and the ecosystems they form. It is usually considered at three levels: genetic diversity, species diversity and ecosystem diversity.
Biogeography
The scientific study of the geographic distribution of organisms
Biota
All the organisms, including animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms in a given area.
Chromosome
Body found in the nucleus of living cells, composed mainly of DNA and protein, in a linear sequence of genes. Exchange of genes during sexual reproduction is facilitated by splitting of chromosomes during fertilisation.
CSIRO
Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation
DEST
Commonwealth Department of Environment, Sport and Territories (formerly DASET)
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid)
The genetic material of most living organisms, which is a major constituent of the chromosomes within the cell nucleus and plays a central role in the determination of hereditary characteristics by controlling protein synthesis in cells.
Homology
The condition of being homologous. Homologous refers to organs or structures deriving from the same evolutionary origins. For example, the forelimb of a quadruped, the human arm and the wing of a bird are said to be homologous.
Ecological processes
Processes which play an essential part in maintaining ecosystem integrity. Four fundamental ecological processes are the cycling of water, the cycling of nutrients, the flow of energy, and biodiversity (as an expression of the process of evolution).
Ecosystem
A dynamic complex of plant, animal, fungal and microorganism communities and associated non-living environment interacting as an ecological unit
Endemic
Restricted to a specified region or locality.
Fauna
All of the animals found in a given area.
Flora
All of the plants found in a given area.
Gene
The functional unit of heredity; the part of the DNA molecule that encodes a single enzyme or structural protein unit.
Genus (genera)
A category used in the classification of organisms that consists of a number of closely related species.
Habitat
The place or type of site where an organism naturally occurs.
Heterozygous
Having two different alleles or gene-forms at a given locus of a pair of chromosomes.
Hydrological cycle
Water cycle, involving the exchange of water between the atmosphere, water-bodies, the Earth's crust and living organisms. Operates on a global to microcosm level.
In-situ
In its original place or environment.
Mutualism
An interaction between two species in which both species benefit.
Phylogenetic
Pertaining to the evolutionary history of a particular group of organisms.
Phylum
In taxonomy, a high-level category just beneath the kingdom and above the class; a group of related, similar classes.
Recombination
The rearrangement of genes that occurs when reproductive cells (gametes) are formed. Recombination results in offspring that have a combination of characteristics different from that of their parents.
Selection
Natural selection is the differential contribution of offspring to the next generation by various genetic types belonging to the same populations.
Species
A group of organisms capable of interbreeding freely with each other but not with members of other species.
Taxon (pl. taxa)
The named classification unit to which individuals, or sets of species, are assigned, such as species, genus, order etc.