Environment and Ecology Terminology – Terms related to Ecology and Environment

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Environment Terminology is the vocabulary of technical phrases and usage relevant to the community and other entities concerned with ensuring the integrity of the ecosystem, protecting natural resources, and preserving human health. We have provided you with a list of definitions of Ecology terms and related fields.

Candidates for the UPSC should be well-versed in Environment Terminology and its definitions. According to the UPSC exam, Environment and Ecology Terminology is among the crucial topics. Aspirants can download the PDF from the direct link below to get comprehensive notes on the terms used in Ecology.

Ecology and Environment Terminology

To ace the UPSC Exam, it is essential to understand the environment along with Environment Terminology. These terms are sometimes used interchangeably, and their application ranges vary. The conditions and factors that impact the growth and survival of all living things collectively comprise the term Environment. Ecology examines how living things interact with their natural surroundings.

Candidates could establish fundamental and advanced foundations in this particular portion by reviewing the Environment and Ecology UPSC Notes. Additionally, we have provided a PDF of Environment and Ecology Terminology that will be very useful for a quick revision.

Terms Used in Ecology

UPSC aspirants can check the list of Environment Terminology and related Ecology terms. The structural and operational unit of Ecology is an ecosystem. It is a colony of living things that interacts with abiotic elements through nutrition cycles and energy flows. The following are some of the most important Ecology Terminology with their respective definitions:

  • Abiotic Components: Non-living and inorganic components of an ecosystem constitute the abiotic components like soil, water, air, sunlight, etc.
  • Amensalism: This environment terminology is an interaction between the two species where one is harmed, and others remain unaffected. For example, penicillin and bacteria.
  • Atmosphere: The atmosphere is a physical mixture of atmospheric gases, water vapor, and suspended particulates surrounding the earth from all sides. It is bounded to the surface by the gravity of the planet.
  • Autotrophs: It means organisms that produce food from inorganic substances like CO2 and water are called autotrophs. They are also known as primary producers.
  • Auto Ecology: Ecological study of a particular individual or species for the environment is regarded as auto ecology.
  • Benthic Animals: This Environment Terminology means the animals that live at the bottom of the water body are benthic animals.
  • Bioaccumulation: It is the process of increase in the concentration of toxic elements within the body of a particular organism (i.e., it refers to how a part first made an entry into the food chain), and in general, the concentration of such pollutants becomes higher in the body of the organism compared to the external environment like air, water, etc.
  • Biodiversity: This Ecology term means the total of all plants, animals, and microorganisms representing an ecosystem’s biodiversity. It is also described in terms of interspecies and intraspecies variations of biotic components of an ecosystem.
  • Bio-Geochemical Cycles: The circular pathways from which the essential elements, like nitrogen, carbon, etc., circulate from organisms to the environment and vice versa are called biogeochemical cycles.
  • Biome: This Ecology Terminology means natural forests and grasslands connected with climatic regimes or the distribution of sunshine, temperature, and rainfall.
  • Biomass: The amount of living matter present in an organism at a given time is known as the biomass of that organism.
  • Biosphere: It is the most important ecosystem on the surface of the earth, and its presence indicates a continuous interaction and interdependence between all three spheres of the world, i.e., atmosphere, hydrosphere, and lithosphere.
  • Biotic Component: This Environment Terminology means the living components of an ecosystem form part of the biotic components of the ecosystem.
  • Brood Parasitism: A unique form of parasitism in birds where a parasitic bird lays its eggs in the host’s nest and lets the host incubate them.
  • Carnivores: Animals depending upon herbivores or primary consumers for food and energy are known as carnivores.
  • Climate Change: This Ecology Terminology means the shifting pattern of weather and climate parameters makes it uncertain, unpredictable, and fluctuating. This is climate change.
  • Climax: It is the last stage of the process of succession. The species at which the process concludes is known as a climax community.
  • Co-extinctions: It is a situation When a species becomes extinct, and the plant and animal species associated with it also become extinct.
  • Composting: This Environment Terminology means decomposing organic solid wastes under aerobic conditions (in the presence of oxygen).
  • Commensalism: A type of interaction between the two species When one of the organisms benefits and others remain neutral in an association. For example, epiphyte and mango; barnacles growing on the back of a whale.
  • Competition: Type of interaction between the two species where both are negatively impacted (harmed). Example- plants and herbivores.
  • Conservation: Judicious use of natural resources (both living and non-living) to prevent them from being lost, wasted, or extinct.
  • Cryosphere: This Environment Terminology means the area covered by the earth’s surface by ice and glaciers.
  • Detrivores: The microorganisms which decompose the detritus are detrivores.
  • Decomposer: Organisms like bacteria, fungi, etc., which are involved in the bio decomposition of dead plants and animals.
  • Deciduous: Trees that shed all their leaves for a certain period.
  • Demography: Statistical study of the population size of humans.
  • DDT: Organochlorine chemical used as an insecticide/pesticide in agricultural uses. Now, its use has caused havoc due to bioaccumulation.
  • Ecology: Scientific study of the relationship of living organisms with each other and their environment. A.G. Tansley introduced the concept of ecology.
  • Environment: This Environment Terminology means anything that directly or indirectly affects an organism’s existence throughout its lifetime constitutes the environment.
  • Ecosystem: The interaction and interdependence between biotic and abiotic components of an area that ensure the flow of mass and energy.
  • Ecosystem Services: A wide range of economic, environmental, and aesthetic goods and services the ecosystem offers.
  • Ecotone: Zone of the junction between two or more diverse ecosystems. For example, estuary, grasslands, etc.
  • Ecotype: This Environment Terminology means a plant or animal species that occupy a particular habitat that is adapted to local environmental conditions.
  • Ecocline: Gradual and continuous change in the composition of the species from one ecosystem to another along an environmental gradient with no clear-cut differences between the two. It is a physical transition zone.
  • Ecological Niche: Functional and ecological role played by the organism of an ecosystem. This Ecology Terminology means the sum of all relationships of an organism with the biotic and abiotic elements of its environment.
  • Ecological Succession: Gradual and relatively predictable change in the composition of the species of a given area.
  • Ecophene: A population with the same genotype but a different phenotype in a particular habitat is considered ecophene.
  • Ecological Efficiency/ 10% Law: Mass and energy transfer rate from one trophic level to another is just 10% of the previous level. This is a 10% energy law indicating an ecosystem’s ecological efficiency.
  • Ecological Footprint: The use and exploitation of natural and environmental resources concerning the environment’s carrying capacity or the environment or the ability of the environment to regenerate.
  • Endemic Biodiversity: The biodiversity of a region connected with a particular geographical condition having limited distribution on the surface of the earth.
  • Eutrophication: This Ecology Terminology means the overfertilization of water bodies due to excessive concentration of nitrates and phosphates, leading to algal bloom.
  • Euryphagic Organisms: The plants and animals with a wide range of tolerance for food are euryphagic.
  • Eurythermal Organisms: Eurythermal plants and animals with a wide range of temperature tolerance.
  • Euryhydric Organisms: The plants and animals with a wide range of tolerance for water are euryhydric.
  • EIA: This Ecology Terminology means analyzing the effects caused by the development projects on the environment.
  • Ex-situ Conservation: When a species is conserved outside the array of its natural habitat, it is known as ex-situ conservation. For example- conservation in the zoo, botanical gardens, etc.
  • Flora: A region’s plant community is that area’s flora.
  • Fauna: An animal community of a region is the fauna of that area.
  • Food Chain: An ecosystem’s linear and sequential mass and energy flow.

Environment and Ecology Terminology PDF

The Environment and Ecology Terminology PDF has been provided below for the UPSC Prelims and Mains exam preparation. Candidates are advised to download the Environment Terminology PDF and get familiar with the terms used in Ecology.

Environment and Ecology Terminology (Part 1) – Download PDF

Environment and Ecology Terminology (Part 2) – Download PDF

Environment Terminology UPSC

According to the UPSC exam, the topic of Environment Terminology is significant. Both the Preliminary and UPSC Mains exams may contain questions on this topic. The candidates will be better able to establish the fundamental ideas and select the appropriate exam options if they thoroughly understand environmental terminology.

According to the experts’ advice, applicants should practice UPSC Previous Year Papers to familiarise themselves with the key concepts and exam-relevant material. Candidates can also use NCERT Books for UPSC to develop a strong foundation in Ecology and Environment Terminology.

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