EcoMap Glossary


ADAPT    To make adjustments to the environment over time that help you to better survive.

ALEVIN    A newly hatched salmon with the yolk sack still attached.

ALGAE    A group of plants including microscopic plants and seaweeds. Algae have no true roots, stems or leaves.

ALPINE    The mountainous area above the treeline (the last line of trees).

ANTIDOTE    Something given to counteract a poison.

ANTISEPTIC    A substance that stops the spread of disease-causing bacteria and other tiny organisms.

ANTLER    The bony growth from the head of a deer, moose, elk or other hoofed animal.

AQUATIC    Growing or living in or frequenting water; taking place in or on water.

ADAPT    Make adjustments to the environment over time.


BARK    The protective cover on tree trunks and branches.

BASAL    Leaves growing at the base or lower part of a plant.

BOUGH    A branch of a tree, usually one that has leaves on it.

BRACT    A special leaf, either small and scale-like on a cone, or large and petal-like on a flower.

BREED   To produce offspring.

BROWSE    To feed on the shoots and leaves of a plant.

BURROW    A hole dug for shelter.

BY-CATCH    Harvest of fish or shellfish that are not what a trap or net was set for. E.g. Dolphins are accidentally caught in tuna nets.


CANOPY    The upper part of the forest where a cover of branches and leaves is formed collectively by the crowns of adjacent trees. There may be several canopy layers.

CAPSULE    In mosses, the dry case containing the spores.

CARNIVOROUS    To eat only animals.

CARRION    The dead flesh of an animal.

CATKIN    A droopy, long clusters of male or female flowers that have no petals, usually on willows, alders and birches.

CDC    The Conservation Data Centre in BC. The CDC determines if an animal or plant is considered Yellow (not at risk), Blue (Special Concern), or Red (Endangered or Threatened). For more information, visit the Conservation Data Centre website

CHEMICAL FERTILIZER    A food for plants, especially crops, that contains nutrients, like pure nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium, which are separated from their natural state in dirt and organic (living) material. A non-chemical fertilizer is made up of organic materials like manure, compost and other decomposing plant materials.

CHICK    A young bird.

CLEARCUT LOGGING    Cutting all the trees in an area of land.

CLIMATE    The average weather conditions of a region throughout the seasons.

CLIMATE CHANGE    The current processes where the temperate, weather and other process are changing on the planet, partially because of natural planetary cycles but mostly because of human activities.

COAT    The natural covering of a plant or animal.

COLONY    A group of individuals, usually from one species, that are at least partially organized into a community.

CONIFEROUS    A kind of tree that produces seeds in cones and has needle-shaped or scaly leaves.

COSEWIC    The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada. COSEWIC is responsible for deciding if an animal is Not At Risk, Threatened or Endangered. For more information, visit the COSEWIC website

CRUSTACEAN   A group of animals that are mostly aquatic, with a hard shell, six legs, two grasping pinchers and two antennae.


DECIDUOUS    A kind of plant, usually a tree, that sheds its leaves each year at the end of the growing period.

DEGRADATION    The process of damaging or wearing an area land down, especially by erosion or human-caused damage.

DELAYED IMPLANTATION    A process where a female animal can have a fertilized egg, but not allow it to start developing until she is ready, which can be up to six months. This is seen in an animal called a marten.

DEN    An animal’s protected home, usually a cave, hollow or hole.

DORMANT   Inactive or not growing.


ECHOLOCATION    A method to locate objects or prey where an animal sends out sounds that are reflected back to them. Whales, dolphins, and bats use echolocation.

ECOSYSTEM   A community of living things as well as everything that affects their survival.

EMBRYO   An animal that has not been yet been born and is in its first stage of growth. This can also mean a plant still contained inside the seed.

ENDANGERED    In danger of becoming extinct.

EVERGREEN    A tree that keeps a cover of leaves throughout the year.

EXTINCT SPECIES    A species which no longer exists.


FAT RESERVES    The weight an animal puts on through the warm season that will help it survive the cold season.

FAWN   A young deer.

FERTILE    Able to bear or produce young or offspring.

FIRST NATIONS    The first peoples of North America.

FLEDGLING   A young bird that is just learning to fly.

FLOODPLAIN    Level land on either side of a river or other body of water. This land will be covered with water if floods happen.

FOLIAGE   The leaves on a plant or tree.

FROND    A flattened leaf or group of leaves growing off a stem; often used to describe seaweed or fern leaves.

FRY    A recently hatched fish. In salmon, a fry is the stage after an alevin has lost its yolk sack.


GERMINATE    To sprout from a seed.

GRAZE   To feed on plants, especially grass.


HABITAT   The place in the environment where an animal or plant lives, which provides all its essentials for life and includes food, water, shelter and space.

HAKE    An ocean fish similar to cod; also called Pacific Whiting.

HEMISPHERE    Half of a sphere or globe. Canada is in the Northern Hemisphere.

HERBIVORE    A species that eats only plant materials.

HIBERNATE   To pass through a cold period in a state of inactivity, similar to a very deep sleep.


ICE AGE    A time where glaciers and ice fields cover parts of the earth.

IMMUNE-STIMULATING    Strengthening the immune system and helping the body fight off infection and disease.

INCUBATION    The time between laying and hatching eggs, while the parent bird sits and warms them.

INFERTILE    Not able to produce offspring.

INTRODUCED   A species that has been introduced from one area into a new area where it does not belong. The opposite of this is a native species.


LANDSCAPE   The natural scenery seen in a view, including mountains, trees, etc.

LARVA    An animal in a young but active state that looks different from an adult. A caterpillar is an example of a larva.

LEAFLET   A small leaf, usually growing with other leaflets to make a larger leaf.

LICHEN    A fungus and an algae growing together as one, in a symbiotic (helping each other) relationship.

LIFECYCLE   All the stages of the life of an organism, from its birth or germination to its death.


MAMMAL   A warm-blooded animal with a backbone that usually gives birth to live young.

MATING SEASON    The time of year when males and females join to create offspring.

METAMORPHOSIS   The change from an immature young individual into an adult individual.

MIGRATE    To move from region to region with changing seasons.

MOULT    To shed the outer layer of the body to allow growth or change.

MUDFLAT    A flat muddy area lying just below the water surface, or that is covered and uncovered by the tide each day.


NATIVE SPECIES    Species that are found in the area where they originally grew or lived. The opposite of this is an introduced species.

NEEDLES   Long, narrow, leaves found on conifer trees.

NEOTENY     When an animal can reproduce while it is still in the young or larva stage; or when an adult animal still has some characteristics of its young stage.

NOCTURNAL    Active at nighttime.

NURSE LOG   A fallen tree which provides sustenance for young trees and other plants.

NUTRIENT   A substance (like food) that an organism needs in order to grow and develop.


OINTMENT   A substance used on the skin for healing or soothing purposes.

OMNIVOROUS    To eat both plants and animals.

OLD-GROWTH FOREST    A forest with many trees at various stages of growth including many very old trees. They are marked by trees of at least two species, including several large, living coniferous trees that are at least 200 years old or more than 80 cm in diameter, a multi-layered canopy, standing dead trees and large fallen trees on land and in streams.

ORGANISM   A living thing.

ORNAMENTAL    For decoration.

OVERWINTER  To go through a period of dormancy during the cold season.


PARASITE    An organism that lives in or on another organism without giving it anything in return.

PARR    A young salmon less than two years old; parr grow into smolts and then start their journey to the sea.

PERENNIAL   A plant that grows for three years or more, usually flowering and producing fruit each year.

PERMAFROST    Permanently frozen soil. Permafrost is usually found in arctic areas.

PESTICIDE   A chemical used for killing pests and other unwanted animals.

PHOTOSYNTHESIS    A process that plants use to make their own food using energy from the sun, carbon dioxide from the air, and water.

PIONEER SPECIES  A plant or animal that is one of the first species to grow in a bare or disturbed area.

PITCH   A thick liquid that flows inside coniferous trees (like spruce and fir); sometimes pitch leaks from holes or scrapes in the tree, and then it hardens into a gummy or rock-like substance.

PLUMAGE    A bird’s feathers.

POLLINATE    To bring pollen from one plant to another.

POULTICE    A hot, soft pad put on a sore part of the body, often made from plants.

PREDATOR    An animal that feeds on other animals.

PREY   An animal that is hunted for food.

PUP   A young dog or other member of the Canus (dog) family.


RAM    An adult male sheep.

RANGE  The area of land that an animal moves in while it is finding food and shelter.

RAPTOR  A bird of prey; for example a hawk, owl or eagle.

REDDS    The spawning ground or nest of a fish.

RESIN   A light-coloured liquid from the sap of a plant, often used in varnishes or medicines.

RHIZOME   A creeping underground stem. It is different from a root in that it has buds, branches or scale-like leaves. Rhizomes are important in food storage and producing new stems.

ROOKERY    The nest or breeding place of a colony of birds or mammals.

ROOST     A place where a bird rests. This can be a nest or some other perch.

RUMP  The rear part of an animal’s body.

RUT   The time each year when animals, especially male hoofed animals, are competing for mates.


SCARCE    Not very common.

SCAVENGE    To find and feed on dead animals, garbage or carrion.

SCENT GLANDS    Animal glands (organs that send out a substance) that give off particular scents to either attract or repel another animal.

SHOOT  The new growth on a plant.

SHRUB   A woody plant that usually has many stems and grows less than 10 metres tall when mature.

SILT    Fine-grained sandy particles, small enough to be deposited or carried by water.

SMOLT    A young salmon about two years old; smolts have the silver colour of adult salmon.

SNAG    A sharp or ragged broken-off tree; often snags are dead trees that are excellent wildlife habitat.

SPAWN   To produce a mass of eggs.

SPECIES    A group of organisms composed of related individuals that resemble one anther and are able to breed among themselves, but are not able to breed with members of another species.

SPORE   A tiny seed-like body, produced by a lichen, moss or fern, capable of growing a new plant.

SUCKER  A shoot growing from an underground stem. Some plants grow by producing suckers around the parent plant.

SUSCEPTIBLE  Easily affected.


TAPROOT    A main root that grows downward, from which smaller roots grow.

TEMPERATE RAINFOREST    A forest that grows in areas of high rainfall and moderate temperatures, presently covering less than 0.1% of the earth’s land surface. See also Old-Growth Forest.

TERRITORY    The land that an animal protects as its own to live, feed and find mates in.

THREATENED   A species that is likely to become endangered and, if not protected, could become extinct.

TOOTHED   Having teeth or a jagged edge.

TORPOR    A state of inactivity, similar to hibernation but not as deep. During torpor, an animal’s body temperature drops, its breathing rate slows, and it is sluggish and slow.

TREELINE    The highest, last line of trees in a mountainous or northern area.

TUBER   A thick plant root, often where food reserves are stored. For example, a potato is a tuber. Tubers can be dug up and replanted to produce a whole new plant.

TWIG  A small shoot or branch, usually without leaves.


UNDERSTORY   The middle layer of the forest above the forest floor and below the canopy of leaves.

URBAN SPRAWL   The spreading of urban development (houses, malls, and stores) on undeveloped land near a city.


WETLANDS   Ecosystems dominated by water-loving plants and having wet or saturated soils, such as a bog, swamp, slough, pond or marsh.

WHORL   An arrangement of similar leaves or branches in a circle around the same point on a stem.

WINGSPREAD    The distance between the two tips of a bird’s wings.

Click on any of the letters below, or scroll down through the glossary to find the word you’re looking for.


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