Glossary

 

Help and support for your naturehood

Naturehood glossary


Please find below information on the terms used throughout our website:

A
Abdomen
The lower part of the animal’s body, particularly used in relation to invertebrates.
Acidifying
To change the pH from alkaline (pH8 – pH14) or neutral (pH7), to acidic (pH6 to pH1), by adding a substance. For example, to acidify an alkaline soil (eg clay soil) add organic materials such as compost or manure.
Algae
Algae is a non-flowering aquatic plant, that grows in water and has no stems, leaves or roots. Algae is eaten by many animals, including common frog tadpoles.
Amphibian
Amphibians are the group of animals that include frogs, toads, newts and other cold-blooded vertebrates. These species typically have a semi-aquatic lifestyle, with the larval stages being fully aquatic.
Annual (plants)
Annual flowers have a total life cycle of just one year, so they do not grow back again the following year.
Aphids
An aphid is a small invertebrate that feeds on sap from plants. They are also food for other creatures such as ladybirds.
Aquatic
Belonging to or living in water.

B
Biennial (plants)
Biennial plants have a total lifecycle of two years.
Brooding/brooded
Brooding is a term used to describe when animals protect their eggs to nurture them and encourage them to hatch.
Buzz Pollination
Bees can unhinge their wings, allowing the upper part of their body to vibrate, which creates the ‘buzz’ that we associate with bees. This vibration loosens the pollen in the flowers that they are trying to pollinate.

C
Chrysalis
A chrysalis is the dormant pupa stage of a butterfly. The term ‘cocoon’ refers to the dormant pupa stage of a moth.
Clutch
A group of bird eggs laid in the nest
Colonies (bees)
Bumblebees are social creatures and live in nests with a ‘queen’. The rest of the colony are made up of males and females (who are the workers).
Colonies (birds)
A collection of birds who group together and nest/roost in the same location.
Coniferous
Coniferous trees and shrubs are typically evergreen, meaning that they do not lose their leaves over winter. These trees often possess needle-like leaves, for example pine trees.
Coppiced/coppicing
Coppicing is the act of regularly cutting back trees or shrubs to ground level in order to encourage new growth.
Cultivars
A cultivar is a plant that has been produced to enhance or select particular desirable characteristics, for example a tolerance to frost, or a longer flowering season.

D
Deciduous
Deciduous trees and shrubs shed their leaves annually.
Decomposition
The process of rotting or decaying.
Dioecious
Dioecious plants are plants that have separate male and female versions.
Dormant
A temporary period of inactivity in animals or plants, during which their normal physical functioning is suspended or slowed-down (for example hibernation).

E
Ecosystem
An ecosystem includes all the living things (plants, animals and organisms) in a given area that are interacting with each other and with their non-living environments (weather, earth, sun, soil, climate, atmosphere). Examples – a pond, a woodland.
Emergent (plants)
Emergent plants can be found in ponds. They have roots that attach at the bottom of the pond, and leaves that float on, or grow above the water.
Evergreen
Evergreen trees and shrubs retain their leaves all year round.

F
Fledge
To fledge is when young chicks grow big enough feathers to be able to fly and leave the nest.
Foliage
A collective term for the leaves of a plant, shrub or tree.
Fungi/fungus
Fungi are a group of living organisms that are classified in their own kingdom. They are not plants, animals, or bacteria. Types of fungi include mushrooms and mould.
Fungicides
A type of pesticide that targets unwanted fungi – see pesticides.

G
Germinate
Germination is the process of a fertilised plant growing from a seed or spore.

H
Habitat
A habitat can be defined as a particular natural environment in which an animal or plant occupies for its lifestyle (where it breeds, nests, feeds, etc).
Herbicides
A type of pesticide that targets unwanted plants – see pesticides.
Hibernacula
A hibernacula is an area where wildlife can shelter, especially over winter. Hibernacula for animals such as reptiles and amphibians can be piles of logs, bricks and soil.
Hibernate/hibernation
Hibernation happens over winter, when animals don’t have much food available and the weather is cold. It is a long, dormant period of inactivity, or ‘sleep’, that lasts throughout the winter season. Before hibernation, animals typically eat a large amount of food so that they have enough energy to survive until the spring.
Hips (rose)
A rose hip is the accessory fruit of the rose plant. It can vary in colour, but is most commonly red or orange. These form after successful pollination, and ripen in late summer and autumn.

I
Impermeable
An impermeable surface is solid, and does not allow water to pass through it. For example tarmac. An impermeable fence that stops wildlife from moving could be made from brick or fence panels without any gaps.
Incubate
Birds sit on their eggs to keep them warm so that they can develop.
Insecticides
A type of pesticide that targets unwanted insects – see pesticides.
Invertebrates
These are animals without a backbone, such as worms.

J
Juveniles
Young offspring of an animal.

K

L
Larva/larvae
Larvae are the active, juvenile stage of an animal that differs from the adult stage (for example a caterpillar or a tadpole).

M
Mammal
Mammals are the group of animals that are typically defined by the following characteristics: warm-blooded vertebrates, provide milk for their young and generally give birth to live offspring.
Marginal (plants)
Marginal plants grow in shallow water on the edge of a pond, river or lake.
Metamorphosis
This is a process of physical changes that some animals go through to become adults. This can happen in insects and amphibians. For example, frogs go from spawn, to tadpoles, to froglets to adult frogs.
Migrate
Migration is the relatively long-distance movement of animals, usually on an annual or seasonal basis. Examples why animals migrate include to search for more plentiful food sources or to find mates.
Mimicry
Mimicry in the animal kingdom is where one species very closely resembles either another species of animal, a plant or an inanimate object.
Mulching
Mulching is a gardening term used to describe the act of covering the ground with bark chippings, straw, compost or other similar materials in order to reduce weed growth, retain moisture, add nutrients and prevent plant roots from freezing.
Molluscicides
A type of pesticide that targets unwanted molluscs (slugs and snails in particular) – see pesticides.

N
Naturespace
Your Naturespace is defined as your outdoor space that you have identified, in which you will conduct your wildlife surveys and Naturespace actions. This includes any outdoor space from window boxes and balconies, to gardens and your local green spaces.
Nectar
Nectar is the sweet liquid secreted by flowers, which is attracts animals and encourages pollination.
Nocturnal
Nocturnal animals refer to those that are mainly active at night, for example bats.

O
Organism
An organism is a single, living thing. This includes anything from bacteria and fungi, to plants and animals.
Overwintering
This is a term that describes surviving the winter season, particularly when conditions (weather, temperature) are difficult. Hibernation and migration are ways to successfully overwinter.

P
Parasite
A parasite is an organism that lives in, or on, another species and gains benefits such as food or protection, however it offers nothing in return to its host.
Perennial (flowers)
Perennial flowers are flowers that die off, but grow back every year.
Pesticide
Pesticides are a substance used for destroying insects, other organsism or plants that are often considered as “pests” or "weeds". This term is usually used in relation to farming, gardening and growing produce.
Plug plants
Plug plants are seedling that are grown in very small, thin containers, ready to be planted into a lawn or flower bed.
Pollen
Pollen is the fine, powdery substance produced by flowers that is required for pollination. Pollen is transferred from one flower to another by wind or animals.
Pollination/pollinating
Pollination is the process where the pollen from a male part of a plant is transferred to the female part of the plant. This enables the plant to produce seeds.
Predate
The action of a predator pursuing and feeding on prey.
Predator
An animal that preys on another.
Pupa/Pupae
Pupae are the inactive stage of an animal in between the larval and adult stages (for example a butterfly chrysalis).

Q

R

S
Scientific name
The scientific name of an animal or plant is an official classification name used by scientists to define the exact species.
Semi-aquatic
An animal that is semi-aquatic will spend part of their life in water and part of their life on land (for example a frog).

T
Terrestrial
An animal that is terrestrial will live entirely on land, for example cats and ants.
Thorax
The upper part of an animal’s body, particularly used in relation to invertebrates.
Turves (grass)
The plural of turf. A layer of matted earth, held together by grass and plant roots. Used for lawn areas.

U

V
Vegetation
A collective term for plants, trees and shrubs (especially when they are in one particular area).

W
Weaned
When an animal is weaned, it stops drinking milk from its mother, and moves on to solid food that is more similar to the adult diet.

X

Y

Z

©Earthwatch 2018  

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Unless otherwise credited, all illustrations © Chris Shields, and all wildlife photographs © Steven Falk
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