Resources for Teachers

The Fragile Fringe - Glossary

AQUIFER - an underground layer of rock and sand that contains water

BARRIER ISLAND - long, narrow strips of sand forming islands that protect inland areas from ocean waves and storms

BOTTOMLAND HARDWOOD FORESTS - forested, periodically flooded wetlands found along rivers

BRACKISH MARSH - marshes occurring where salinity ranges from 3-15 parts per thousand (ppt); dominated by Spartina patens (wiregrass)

CARNIVORE - any organism that eats other consumers (sometimes referred to as "meat eaters")

CHENIER - a ridge formed by the lateral transport and reworking of deltaic sediments, usually containing large amounts of shell deposits; named for the oak trees (chene -French for oak) found growing on the ridges

COMPOUND LEAF - a leaf composed of multiple leaflets; note that leaflets do NOT have an axillary bud at their base (view leaf pattern diagram)

CONSUMER - any organism that cannot produce its own food and must, therefore, get its energy by eating, or consuming, other organisms

DECOMPOSER - organisms such as fungi and bacteria that feed on dead material causing the chemical breakdown of the material

DELTA - an area formed from the deposition of sediments at the mouth of a river

DETRITIVORE - any organism that consumes detritus

DETRITUS - dead, decaying plant material

DREDGING - the removal of sediment from a channel to produce sufficient depths for navigation

DUNE - a low hill of drifted sand in coastal areas that can be bare or covered with vegetation

ESTUARY - an environment where terrestrial, freshwater, and seawater (saline) habitats overlap

FOOD CHAIN - transfer of food energy from plants to one or more animals; a series of plants and animals linked by their food relationships

FOOD WEB - a series of linked food chains

FRESHWATER MARSH - grassy wetlands that occur along rivers and lakes; dominated by grasses, reeds, rushes, and sedges

GLOBAL WARMING - an increase of the earth's temperature by a few degrees resulting in an increase in the volume of water which contributes to sea-level rise

HERBIVORE - any organism that eats only producers (plants)

INTERMEDIATE MARSH - a marsh occurring where the salinity is about 3 parts per thousand (ppt) - a transitional area between fresh and brackish marshes; common plants are bull tongue, roseau cane, and wiregrass

MARSH - an environment where terrestrial and aquatic habitats overlap; a wetland dominated by grasses

MUDFLAT - a muddy, low-lying strip of ground usually submerged, more or less completely, by the rise of the tide; found in association with barrier islands and cheniers along the gulf coast

NONPOINT SOURCE POLLUTION - indirect or scattered sources of pollution that enter a water system such as drainage or runoff from agricultural fields, airborne pollution from cropdusting, runoff from urban areas (construction sites, etc.)

OMNIVORE - any organism that eats both plants and animals

PALMATE VENATION - vein arrangement with veins radiating outward from the base of the leaf like fingers spread out from the palm of the hand (view leaf venation diagram)

PARALLEL VENATION - vein arrangement with veins parallel from the base to the tip of the leaf (view leaf venation diagram)

PINNATE VENATION - vein arrangement with one main vein extending from the base to the tip of the leaf and smaller veins branching off the main vein (view leaf venation diagram)

POINT SOURCE POLLUTION - pollution originating from a single point such as pipes, ditches, wells, vessels, and containers

ppt - parts per thousand - a unit used to indicate salinity

PREDATOR - an animal that lives by capturing other animals for food

PREY - an animal that is killed and eaten by another animal

PRODUCER - any organism that is capable of producing its own food, usually through photosynthesis

SALTWATER INTRUSION - the invasion of freshwater bodies by denser salt water

SALTWATER MARSH - saltwater (15-18 parts per thousand or greater) wetlands occurring along the coast; dominated by saltwater grasses such as Spartina alterniflora (oyster grass)

SCAVENGER - an animal that eats the dead remains and wastes of other animals and plants

SEA-LEVEL RISE - a rise in the surface of the sea due to increased water volume of the ocean and/or sinking of the land

SIMPLE LEAF - a leaf composed of a single blade (view leaf pattern diagram)

SPOIL - the material removed from channels and canals by dredging

SUBSIDENCE - a gradual sinking of land with respect to its previous level

SWAMP - forested low, spongy land generally saturated with water and covered with trees and aquatic vegetation; may be a deepwater swamp, such as the cypress tupelo, which has standing water all or part of the growing season or bottomland hardwood forests which are only flooded periodically

TOPOGRAPHIC MAP - a line and symbol representation of natural and artificially created features in an area

WATERSHED - an area drained by a river

WETLANDS - land areas that are wet due to a close relationship to a body of water or groundwater, or land areas that are flooded regularly; they support vegetation adapted for life in saturated soil conditions