beetle: An order of insects known as Coleoptera, containing at least 350,000 different species. Adults tend to have hard and/or horn-like “forewings” which covers the wings used for flight.
birds: Warm-blooded animals with wings that first showed up during the time of the dinosaurs. Birds are jacketed in feathers and produce young from the eggs they deposit in some sort of nest. Most birds fly, but throughout history there have been the occasional species that don’t.
climate change: Long-term, significant change in the climate of Earth. It can happen naturally or in response to human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests.
Burmese: An adjective that describes something of, from, or related to the Southeast Asian nation formerly known as Burma (such as the Burmese python and Burmese cat, for example). Burma is now known as Myanmar.
average: (in science) A term for the arithmetic mean, which is the sum of a group of numbers that is then divided by the size of the group.
biologist: A scientist involved in the study of living things.
crop: (in agriculture) A type of plant grown intentionally grown and nurtured by farmers, such as corn, coffee or tomatoes. Or the term could apply to the part of the plant harvested and sold by farmers.
ecosystem: A group of interacting living organisms — including microorganisms, plants and animals — and their physical environment within a particular climate. Examples include tropical reefs, rainforests, alpine meadows and polar tundra. The term can also be applied to elements that make up some an artificial environment, such as a company, classroom or the internet.
egg: A reproductive cell that contains half of the genetic information necessary to form a complete organism. In humans and in many other animals, ovaries produce eggs. When an egg fuses with a sperm, they combine to produce a new cell, called a zygote. This is the first step in the development of a new organism.” erosion: (v. erode) The process that removes rock and soil from one spot on Earth’s surface, depositing it elsewhere. Erosion can be exceptionally fast or exceedingly slow. Causes of erosion include wind, water (including rainfall and floods), the scouring action of glaciers and the repeated cycles of freezing and thawing that occur in many areas of the world.
exotic: An adjective to describe something that is highly unusual, strange or foreign (such as exotic plants). feral: Animals that were once domesticated but now run wild. Examples may include feral dogs, horses or pigs.
habitat: The area or natural environment in which an animal or plant normally lives, such as a desert, coral reef or freshwater lake. A habitat can be home to thousands of different species. Hawaii: This central Pacific island chain became the 50th U.S. state on Aug. 21, 1959. Moving from west to east, its eight major islands are Niihau, Kauai, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, Maui, and Hawaii (also known as the Big Island). The entire crescent-shaped island chain spans some 2,400 kilometers (1,500 miles). Each of the state’s islands was created from one or more volcanoes that long ago sprang up from the ocean floor. The chain sits some 3,857 kilometers (2,397 miles) west of San Francisco, Calif., and 8,516 kilometers east of Manila, the Philippines.
litter: (in zoology) A group of young animals born at the same time to the same mother. macaque: A monkey with cheek pouches and a short tail that lives mainly in the forest.
life cycle: The succession of stages that occur as an organism grows, develops, reproduces — and then eventually ages and dies. Or the sum of all processes involved in creating a product, starting with the extraction of raw materials and ending with the disposal of the product when it’s no longer useful. Indeed, engineers describe this as the cradle-to-grave life of a product. invasive species: (also known as aliens) A species that is found living, and often thriving, in an ecosystem other than the one in which it evolved. Some invasive species were deliberately introduced to an environment, such as a prized flower, tree or shrub. Some entered an environment unintentionally, such as a fungus whose spores traveled between continents on the winds. Still others may have escaped from a controlled environment, such as an aquarium or laboratory, and begun growing in the wild. What all of these so-called invasives have in common is that their populations are becoming established in a new environment, often in the absence of natural factors that would control their spread. Invasive species can be plants, animals or disease-causing pathogens. Many have the potential to cause harm to wildlife, people or to a region’s economy.