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Species Glossary

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Adaptation

A physical characteristic or behavior that a plant or animal develops in response to its habitat.

Addled

Inviable. An egg that contains a dead embryo.

Aerie

A birds nest. Raptor nests are most commonly referred to as an aerie.

Altricial

Born in a relatively underdeveloped state as is the case of peregrine falcon chicks.

Amphipod

An animal belonging to the order (Amphipoda) of small crustaceans (such as a sand flea) having a thin, flattened body.

Anal scale (or anal plate)

In snakes, a scale or plate just in front of the cloaca. The scale can either be single or paired.

Antennae

A pair of appendages used for sensing by arthropods such as insects and crustaceans.

Anthropogenic

the result of human activity

Arctic

The region around the Earth’s North Pole, north of the Arctic Circle.

Asynchronous

In birds, the situation when a clutch of eggs do not hatch at the same time. Rather, the eggs hatch over a period of days. Many raptors exhibit asynchronous hatching. This is a natural adaptation where if food sources are scarce then only the strongest young survive to fledge.

asynchronously

In birds, the situation when a clutch of eggs do not hatch at the same time. Rather, the eggs hatch over a period of days. Many raptors exhibit asynchronous hatching. This is a natural adaptation where if food sources are scarce then only the strongest young survive to fledge.

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Baleen

A hard yet flexible substance made of keratin (the same material as hair, horns, scales and fingernails) that occurs in a series of comb-like plates suspended from the upper jaws of some whale species which filters and traps prey inside the mouth.

Barred

Streaking, lines or stripes on an animal. Barred owls exhibit vertical barring on their bellies and horizontal barring on their chest.

Bask

To lie or relax in a warm location; to bask in the sun.

Beak

Bill of a bird.

Biology

The science of living beings and life processes.

Biomagnification

When levels of substances build up and become concentrated as they work their way up the food chain.

Bivalve

A mollusk, such as an oyster, clam, or mussel, having two shells hinged together.

Brood

The number of young produced or hatched at any one time.

Brooding

To sit on or hatch eggs; to protect and care for young.

Bubble net

A hunting technique used by humpback whales where bubbles, exhaled by one or more whales, are used to herd or disorient schools of fish in order to make them easier to capture.

Bycatch

Unwanted marine creatures that are caught in fishing nets while fishing for another species.

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Cache

To store or bury food for future use. Animals such as squirrels or woodpeckers often exhibit caching behavior.

Calcareous

Mostly or partly composed of calcium carbonate, a chalk like substance.

Callosities

Raised, thickened, and roughened patches of skin on the head of a right whale. Callosities are generally home to large colonies of whale lice. The number, size, and configuration of callosities differ between individuals, allowing scientists to tell animals apart from each other.

carapace

A carapace is a dorsal (upper) section of the exoskeleton or shell in a number of animal groups, including arthropods such as crustaceans and arachnids as well as vertebrates such as turtles and tortoises

Carcass

The dead body of an animal.

Carrion

The carcass of a dead animal.

Carrying capacity

The carrying capacity of a biological species in an environment is the population size of the species that the environment can sustain indefinitely, given the food, habitat, water and other necessities available in the environment.

Cere

The soft, fleshy part of a raptors beak where the nostrils are located.

Chromosome

An organized structure of protein and DNA found in cells. Contains the genetic material that is passed on to offspring.

Cloaca

The posterior opening that serves as the only opening for the intestinal, reproductive, and urinary tract of certain animals such as birds, reptiles, and amphibians.

Clutch

A complete set of eggs produced or incubated at one time.

Cold-stun

A condition which occurs to sea turtles when they become immobile due to a dramatic decrease in water temperature (usually below 50°F). Without proper intervention, a cold-stunned sea turtle will inevitably die.

Competition

The contest between animals in an environment for available resources (food, shelter, etc.).

Coniferous

Needle-leaved or scale-leaved, evergreen, cone-bearing gymnosperm trees or shrubs such as pines, spruces, or firs.

Conservation

The wise use of natural resources.

Constrictor

A snake that kills its prey by constriction, or squeezing its prey to death.

Contaminant

Any physical, chemical, biological, or radiological substance causing an impurity in the environment.

Contiguous

In regards to forests, large areas of forested lands with no roads or low densities of roads and little or no human development. Ideally, these areas are connected to other forested areas and habitats. Contiguous forests are necessary for animals such as bobcats and birds such as wood thrush, scarlet tanager, and barred owl.

Contour feathers

The outermost feathers of a bird that give the bird its characteristic appearance.

Countershading

A color pattern, serving as camouflage, in which dark colors occur on the upper portion of the body and lighter colors occur on the underside.

Courtship

Specialized behavior that leads to or initiates mating.

Coverts

Feathers of a bird that cover other feathers. Coverts appear on the wings and tail of birds and help to smooth airflow over the wings and tail.

Crepuscular

Active at dawn and dusk.

Crustacean

A large group of arthropods which includes lobsters, crabs, crayfish, shrimp, and krill. Like other arthropods, they are invertebrates with an exoskeleton, jointed appendages, and a segmented body.

Cryptic

Camouflaged coloration used to help conceal an animal.

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DDT

DDT (from its trivial name, dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) is one of the most well-known synthetic pesticides. It is a chemical with a long, unique, and controversial history.

Deciduous

Typically used in reference to deciduous trees or forests; to lose leaves seasonally for some part of the year.

Demersal

Found on or near the bottom of a body of water.

Diadramous

A fish which migrates between fresh and salt water.

Disking

To cultivate (soil) with a disk harrow.

Dorsal

Applies to the back of an animal or anything on the back of an animal; a dorsal fin is the back fin.

Double Brooding

Producing two sets of young during the nesting season. Some birds species will incubate, hatch, care for, and fledge a one set of young and then renest and start the process over again, producing another set of young during the same nesting season.

Double-clutching

The process of taking a clutch of eggs early in the incubation period such that the birds renest and produce a second clutch. This allows a clutch of eggs to be used for reintroduction elsewhere.

Duff

Organic matter in various stages of decomposition on the floor of the forest.

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Ecology

The science concerned with the interaction of organisms and their environment.

Endangered species

Status given to a species whose prospect for survival within the state is in immediate danger due to one or several factors, such as loss or degradation of habitat, over-exploitation, predation, competition, disease or environmental pollution, etc. An endangered species likely requires immediate action to avoid extinction within NJ.

Estuary

Where rivers meet the sea; a partly enclosed coastal body of water with at least one river flowing into it, and with open access to the sea.

Extinct

The end of a species; when a species dies out it is classified as extinct.

Extirpated

Local extinction is where a species (or other taxon) ceases to exist in the chosen area of study, but still exists elsewhere. This phenomenon is also known as extirpation. Local extinctions are contrasted with global extinctions.

Extirpation

Local extinction is where a species (or other taxon) ceases to exist in the chosen area of study, but still exists elsewhere. This phenomenon is also known as extirpation. Local extinctions are contrasted with global extinctions.

Eyases

Young hawks.

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Falcon

Small hawk with long tapered wings especially adapted for fast flight and hunting.

Fallow

Used to describe a field or meadow that has been left unseeded or uncultivated for a season or more.

Feign

To fake an injury or death. Some birds such as piping plovers and killdeer, are known to fake or feign an injury to lead a predator away from their nest.

Fidelity (site)

When an animal returns to the same nesting site year after year or when an animal returns to its birth place to reproduce.

Fledge, fledgling

The stage of a young bird’s life when the wing feathers and muscles are strong enough to be capable of flight; a young bird that is just beginning to fly but is still dependent on its parents.

Fluke

The tail of a whale.

Food chain (food web)

A chain of organisms along which energy, in the form of food passes. An organism feeds on the preceding link and is in turn prey for the succeeding link.

Forage

To search for food; also can be used to describe the food that is eaten by animals.

Forbs

A herbaceous flowering plant that is not a grass, sedge, or rush. Is often used to describe wildflowers of an area. Sunflowers, clover, and milkweed are all examples of forbs.

Forewing

The front wing, and usually smaller wing, of an insect having four wings.

Fossorial

Describes an animal that spends much of its life underground.

Fostering

The process of providing chicks for infertile wild peregrines to raise.

Fragmentation (of habitat)

When a large region of habitat is broken down, or fragmented, into a collection of smaller patches of habitat.

Frons

The uppermost part of the head of an insect.

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Generalist

An animal or plant which is able to exploit a wide range of environmental conditions or food. Opposite of a specialist.

Gestation

Pregnancy.

Glean

To gather food from an area such as when a bird gathers food such as insects, from tree twigs, branches, bark, or leaves.

Glochidia

The larval stage of a freshwater mussel.

Gravid

Pregnant.

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Habitat

The environment in which an organism lives; its home. Food, water, shelter or cover, and space necessary for an animal to survive.

Hack boxes

Cages used in hacking.

Hacking

Chicks which are hatched in captivity are raised and released from cages where food is provided with little human contact until the birds can be released into the wild.

Hatchling

A baby bird that has emerged from an egg.

Herbaceous

A plant that has leaves and stems that die down at the end of the growing season.

Herbivore

An animal that feeds primarily on plants.

Hibernaculum

A place where an animal hibernates during the winter.

Hibernate

to spend the winter in a dormant condition.

Hindwing

The back wing of an insect having four wings.

Hybrid

The offspring of two different species.

Hybridize

To produce offspring from two different species.

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Immature

Not fully developed.

Incubation

Caring for eggs under conditions favorable for development.

Indicator species

a species whose presence or absence reflects on the quality of that environment

Indigenous

Native to an area.

Insectivorous

Feeding primarily on insects.

Instar

The stage in the development of an insect between any two molts.

Iridescent

Having rainbow colors that appear to move or change as the angle at which they are seen changes.

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Juvenile

Immature; young.

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Keeled

Refers to a scale that has a ridge running down the middle. Opposite of a keeled scale is a smooth scale.

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Larvae

A distinct juvenile stage that many animals undergo before metamorphosis into adults. The larva’s appearance is very different from the adult form. An example is a caterpillar that will turn into a butterfly.

Lores

The region between the eye and the bill on the side of a bird’s head.

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Malar

Area at the sides of a birds chin.

Mandible

Lower jaw. In birds, it refers to both the upper and lower beak.

Mast

Nuts, fruits, and other plant material that accumulates on the forest floor.

Metamorphose

To transform from a larval stage such as a tadpole to an adult stage such as an adult frog. First stage and last stage tend to look very different from each other.

Migration

A seasonal move from one place to another place (sometimes from one climate to another climate).

Millinery trade

Hatmaking; with regards to wildlife, pertains to the exploitation of bird feathers to adorn women’s hats.

Mollusk

Any invertebrate of the phylum Mollusca, typically having a shell of one, two, or more pieces that may wholly or partly enclose the soft, unsegmented body. Shells are mostly or partly calcareous, composed of calcium carbonate. This group includes snails, slugs, bivalves, squids, and octopuses.

Molt

To shed or lose hair, feathers, and skin periodically.

Monogamous

The state of having only one sexual partner at a time.

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Nacre

The inner portion of a mollusk’s shell.

Nape

The back of the neck.

Natal Site

Place of birth. Many animals will return to their place of birth (or natal site) to reproduce.

Neonate

A newborn.

Nesting

Preparing a nest for laying of eggs.

Nocturnal

Active at night.

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Omnivore

An animal that eats both animal and plant foods.

Opportunistic

Taking advantage of opportunities as they arise; feeding on whatever food is available.

Ornithologist

A scientist who studies birds.

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Pesticide

A chemical substance (e.g. an insecticide or fungicide) that kills harmful organisms and is used to control pests, such as insects, weeds or microorganisms.

Philopatry

Remaining in, or returning to, an individual's place of birth.

Phragmites

The common reed; a large perennial grass found in wetlands throughout temperate and tropical regions of the world.

Phyllopodia

Swimming legs.

Physiological

pertaining to functions and activities of a living organism and its parts

Pinelands

Pine Barrens; a heavily forested area of coastal plain stretching across southern New Jersey defined by sandy, acidic, nutrient poor soils.

Pinniped

From the Latin for “wing-footed” or “fin-footed”, this term is used when referring to seals, sea lions, and walrus.

Plankton

Microscopic plants and animals.

Plastron

The plastron is the nearly flat part of the shell structure of a turtle or tortoise, what one would call the belly, similar in composition to the carapace; with an external layer of horny material divided into plates called scutes and an underlying layer of interlocking bones.

Plumage

Refers to both the layers of feathers on a bird as well as the color, pattern, and arrangement of those feathers.

Pod

A group of dolphins, porpoises, or whales.

Polygyny

When a male animal mates with more than one female.

Precocial

Birds that are able to walk and feed themselves upon birth such as a piping plover.

Predator

An animal which hunts and eats other animals.

Prey

An animal that is killed and eaten by another animal.

Primaries (feathers)

The contour feathers that propel the bird through the air. They are the outermost wing feathers on a bird; the largest wing feathers and the furthest from the body. In most birds, there are 10 primary feathers on each wing.

Pronotum

The first of three segments in the thorax of an insect that bears the first set of legs.

Pupae

A lifestage of an insect undergoing complete metamorphosis. The pupal stage follows the larvae stage and precedes adulthood. The chrysalis is the pupal stage of a butterfly.

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Raptor

A bird that hunts and eats meat; also known as bird of prey. Raptors use their talons to catch their food and their strong, curved beaks for tearing food into bite-sized pieces. Falcons, hawks, eagles, and owls are raptors.

Rare

Present in a given location but unlikely to be seen because the species is found in small numbers or is not regularly found in a particular location

Remiges

Wing feathers that are used in flight.

Restoration

The repair of ecological damage to an ecosystem so that it is close to the natural condition prior to a disturbance and it can function as a normal self-regulating system. This is done through processes such as chemical cleanups, revegetation, and the reintroduction of native species.

Retrices

Tail feathers that are used in flight.

Reverse sexual dimorphism

When females are larger and heavier than males as is the case with most raptors.

Riparian

The area along a stream or river.

Roost

A perch on which birds can rest or sleep; a secure place where bats rest, sleep, and/or rear their young.

Rufous

Reddish brown or brownish red in color; rusty colored.

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scat

Animal excrement; dung; feces

Scrape

The type of nest made by many birds including peregrine falcons; a shallow depression in soil, sand, or gravel.

Scutes

Bony external plate or scale, as on the shell of a turtle, the skin of crocodilians, or the feet of some birds.

Secondaries (feathers)

Feathers connected to the forearm of a bird closer to the body than the primaries. Some birds can have as few as 6 secondaries (as in hummingbirds) or more than 40 (as in some species of albatross).

Sedge

A flowering plant that resembles a grass or rush but has a triangular stem with leaves that are arranged in a spiral pattern in three ranks; any plant in the Cyperaceae family.

Semialtricial

Young that are not mobile at hatching and are fed and brooded by parents

Sexually dimorphic

Differences in size and appearance between males and females of the same species.

Snag

A standing partly, or completely dead tree.

Special Concern

Animals that need special protection because they are vulnerable to environmental threats but they do not warrant an endangered or threatened status. This category would also be applied to animals that scientists know little about their population status in the state.

Specimen

A sample that is representative of a particular species or characteristic.

Spermatophores

A capsule or mass created by males of some species, containing sperm. Spermatophores are then transferred to the female during mating. Some species of salamanders such as the spotted and blue-spotted salamanders use spermatophores in reproduction.

Spicules

Tiny, spine like structures.

Stock

A group of marine mammals of the same species which occur in the same area and interbreed when mature.

Stoop

To descend swiftly in flight, or dive after prey. "A hunting peregrine falcon stoops after prey."

Stoop

A headfirst, bullet-like dive through the air, usually performed by raptors in pursuit of prey. Peregrine falcons can reach speeds of over 200 miles while in a stoop.

Subadult

Juvenile; an organism that has not quite reached adulthood.

Subsist

To survive or support oneself.

Substrate

The surface on or in which animals such as mussels or clams, live or gram; the material that is used to build a nest.

Succession

A sequence of events coming one after the other in time; ecological succession refers to a more or less predictable change in the structure of an ecological community

Synchronous

To occur simultaneously, or at the same time.

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Talons

The sharp, hooked claws of a bird of prey.

Taxonomy

The science of classifying organisms.

Territory

A geographical area defended by an animal against other animals of the same species or sometimes other species.

Thorax

A part of an animal 's body that lies between the head and the abdomen.

Threatened

Applies to an animal that may become endangered if conditions surrounding it begin to or continue to deteriorate.

Tiercel

The male peregrine falcon, thus named because it is about one-third the size of a female.

Trophic level

Different levels or steps in the food chain.

Tundra

An ecosystem (or biome) where the tree growth is hindered by low temperatures and short growing seasons.

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Understory

The lower level of trees and shrubs in a forest.

Undulating (flight)

A form of flight in birds that alternates flapping and gliding.

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Vegetation

A mass of plants growing in a particular place.

Venomous

An animal which is able to inflict a poisoned bite, sting, or wound.

Vernal pool

Natural or man-made wetland depressions that hold water for at least two consecutive months out of the year and are devoid of breeding fish populations.

Vertebrate

An animal with a back bone.

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Zooplankton

Plankton that consists of tiny animals, such as copepods, krill, and fish larvae.

Zygodactyl

In birds, having two toes pointing forward and two toes pointing backward such as in a woodpecker or osprey.

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