Aestivate -  To pass the summer in a certain manner or condition, often in a dormant or torpid state (Morris 1992). It is when animals, especially desert animals, go into a state of torpor or hibernation in response to very dry conditions or hot temperatures. They usually emerge for a period of activity in the fall of the year.

Altricial - refers to mammals born in a fairly undeveloped state; the young require close parental care for a period of time. Rabbits are born in an altricial state, whereas, hares are precocial.

Altruism - The principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others. 2)Altruistic - Unselfishly concerned for or devoted to the welfare of others (Stein 1966).

Anapsis -  Refers to reptilian skull in which there are no temporal openings.  A comparative common condition in fossil forms; in living reptiles, known only in turtles (Peters 1964).

Anthropomorphic - regarding animals as possessing human qualities (Morris 1992)

Antibodies - a proteins, produced as a result of the introduction of an antigen, that has the ability to combine with the antigen that caused its production (Morris 1992).

Antlers - antlers are found on members of the deer family (Cervidae). They consist of bone and are shed each year. New antlers grow each spring and are covered by skin (called velvet) which has blood vessels that carry nutrients to the growing antler. In the fall of the year the skin dies and is rubbed off on bushes and saplings. Antlers are typically found only on males, except in the caribou.

Arboreal - Pertaining to animals that live primarily in trees (Morris 1992)

Arch -  A bridge of bone in the skull, such as zygomatic arch (Peters 1964).

Autotomy -  The ability of certain lower animals, such as lizards and starfish, to cast off injured body parts, such as the tail and, usually, to regenerate new ones (Morris 1992).

Autotomy plane -  The zone or septum of soft tissue which passes through a caudal vertebrae, along which breakage takes place in autotomy (Peters 1964).


Basking -  Resting in the direct rays of the sun (Peters 1964).

Balancers -   Lateral appendages on the heads of some larval salamanders (Morris 1992).[image]

Bachelor - an unmated male

Biennial reproduction -  Having a two-year reproductive cycle (Morris 1992).

Bib - a patch of colored feathers under the chin of a bird

Bimodal foraging - having two modes of foraging

Binocular vision - having to do with or the use of both eye simultaneously (Morris 1992).

Boreal - Of or relating to the north (Morris 1992).

Botulism - Food poisoning by the neurotoxin botulin, characterized by vomiting, abdominal pain, difficulty of vision, central nervous systems, disturbances of secretion, dyspepsia, a barking cough, and ptsosis (Morris 1992).

Brackish - Describing water that is slightly salty; water whose salinity is between that of normal fresh water and normal sea water (Morris 1992).

Bracts - 1. a small modified leaf with a relative undeveloped blade, in the axil of which grows an inflorescence or flower. 2. a leaf or leaflike structure associated with a sporangium (Morris 1992).

Brood - The offspring of animals, usually a number of young that are produced or hatched at one time (Morris 1992)

Browse - 1. to eat; nibble at; eat from. 2. to graze; feed on; pasture on (Stein 1966). Browser - Mammals that feed predominantly on the growing shoots and buds of certain woody shrubs and trees. This includes many members of the deer family.

Bubonic Plague - The most common form of plague, characterized by an abrupt onset of fever, chills, weakness, and headache followed by pain, tenderness, and buboes associated with a marked hemorrahagic tendency, the development of of disseminated coagulation, necrotic purpura, and extensive symmetrical gangrene; severe complications include pneumonia and septicemia. The notorious Black Plague that devastated the population of Europe and Asia in the 1300s was a form of bubonic plague (Morris 1992).

Buff - Yellowish-brown; medium or dark tan (Stein 1966).


Cache - A collection of items kept in one location.

Caecum - refers to a sack or pouch connected to the intestine of mammals. A caecum is usually found in herbivorous mammals and they house bacteria, which help digest the plant material that the mammal eats.

Calcar - 1. a spur or spurlike process projecting from the leg of a bird. 2. a bony or cartilaginous process on the heel bone of bats, which helps to support the portion of the wing membrane lying between the legs (Morris 1992).

Cambium - In vascular plants, a layer of meristematic tissue that gives rise to the xylem, phloem and (in woody plants) bark (Morris 1992).

Carapace -  The dorsal component of the shell in turtles, usually composed of both epidermal and bony plates (Peters 1964).[image]

Carnivorous -  Of animals, meat eating (Morris 1992). It refers to mammals that are predominantly meat eaters. A good example is a bobcat and as well as other members of the cat family (Felidae), or members of the weasel family (Mustelidae).

Carrion - The decaying flesh of a dead body, esp. when regarded as food for scavenging animals (Guralnik 1970)

Castor - scent from the gland of a beaver

Caudal autotomy -  Breakage and loss of the tail in a spontaneous and intrinsic fracturing across an autotomy plane by convulsive contractions of tail muscle initiated by the animal (Peters 1964).

Cellulose - a polysaccharide that is the major complex carbohydrate in plants, especially their cell walls (Morris 1992).

Cenozoic - 1. the most recent geologic era, extending from the beginning of the Tertiary period (about 65 million years ago) to the present. 2. referring to the rock formed during that time (Morris 1992).

Chaparral - a type of vegetation characterized by low, thickly growing evergreen shrubs or bushes with flat, broad leaves and interlacing branches; the typical natural growth of many areas with a climate of cool moist winters and long dry summers, as in much of the western United States (Morris 1992).

Chironomids - minute, long-legged nonbiting two-winged flies with piercing mouthparts; the aquatic larvae of various species are green, blue, yellow, colorless, or red type called bloodworms (Morris 1992).

Circadian - refers to a 24 hour period. A "circadian cycle" would be a 24 hour period and a "circadian rhythm" would refer to the rhythm of activity of a specific mammal.

Cloaca -  The common chamber into which the intestinal, urinary and reproductive ducts discharge their contents (Peters 1964).

Clutch - A nest of eggs or a brood of newly hatched birds (Morris 1992)

Cones - visual receptors of the vertebrate retina that can distinguish different wavelengths of the visual spectrum and is especially sensitive to bright light (Morris 1992).

Congener -  An organism that is a member of the same genus as another animal (Morris 1992).

Coniferous - of or relating to the conifers (Morris 1992).

Convex - curving outward; the opposite of concave (Morris 1992).

Copulation - The act of sexual coupling by male and female (Morris 1992).

Coprophagy - the act of eating feces (Morris 1992).

Corridor - a connection between adjacent land areas that allows the passage of fauna form one area to the other (Morris 1992).

Costal grooves -  The deep, vertical  groove on the side of a salamander's body, indicating the position of a rib (Peters 1964)[image]

Crepuscular -  Active or primarily active at the time around dawn or dusk (Morris 1992).

Crown - The top part of the head (Morris 1992).

Cusps - one of the protuberances on or near the masticating surface of a tooth (Morris 1992).

Cycloid scales -  Scale resembling a circle (Morris 1992).


Deciduous - falling off or being shed during a certain season or at a partial stage of growth such as leaves or antlers (Morris 1992).

Defecate - to extrude feces from the bowel.

Detritus -  Organic matter produced by the decay or disintegration of a substance or tissue (Morris 1992).

Delayed implantation - usually, the fertilized egg implants in the wall of the female's uterus shortly after mating and fertilization. However, in delayed implantation, the fertilized egg does not implant in the female's uterus until much later, thus implantation is delayed. Once implantation occurs the fertilized egg quickly becomes a developing embryo. This process is found in family Mustelidae (weasel family) and family Ursidae (bear family).

Density - this is a term used to describe populations. It refers to the number of animals per unit area, such as the number of mice per acre or hectare.

Dentition - 1. the kind, number, and arrangement of the teeth of man and animals. 2. the development and cutting or eruption of teeth (Morris 1992).

Dermal - of or relating to the dermis of the skin (Morris 1992).

Desiccation - any process of moisture removal (Morris 1992).

Dewlap - a fold of skin hanging from the neck of some bovines, reptiles, and birds (Morris 1992).

Diatom -  The common name for the Bacillariophyceae, a class of unicellular microscopic algae with a symmetrical siliceous exoskeleton (Morris 1992).

Dichotomous key -  A device for identifying organisms based on the answers to a series of questions, with each question involving alternate choices (Morris 1992).

Dimorphism - the existence of distinct genetically determined forms of the same species, such as distinct male and female forms or distinct young and mature forms (Morris 1992).

Diptera - the true flies, an order of insects with sucking mouth parts; nearly all posses a hind pair of wings modified to serve as stabilizers during flight (Morris 1992).

Dispersal -(Dispersion) the movement of organisms or their spores or gametes throughout the ecological niche of that particular organism (Morris 1992).

Diurnal -  Relating to the daytime; occurring during daylight hours (Morris 1992). A mammal that is active mostly during daylight hours is said to be "diurnal". Voles tend to be diurnal rather than "nocturnal" which refers to the night.

Diversity - an assortment of species and or objects contained within a discussed environment.

Dorsal - of or lying near the back (Morris 1992).

Dorsolateral -  Pertaining to the side and the back (Behler 1988).

Duff layer - Organic matter in various stages of decomposition on the floor of the forest (Stein 1966).


Ecdysis -  The act of losing or removing the dead, keratinous, outermost layer of epidermis.  In snakes, the old skin is usually rolled off in one piece; in most other reptiles and amphibians it may come off in pieces, and is often pulled off with the teeth and then swallowed (Peters 1964).

Echolocation - the process whereby the distance and direction of objects is determined by the reception of the reflection of an ultrasonic pulse (Morris 1992).

Ecosystem - a local biological community and its pattern of interaction with its environment (Morris 1992).

Ecotone - a transition zone between two distinct habitats that contains species from each area, as well as organisms unique to it (Morris 1992).

Ectoparasites - types of parasites that live externally on their host; fleas and lice are obligate ectoparasites of man and animals (Morris 1992).

Ectothermic - capable of maintaining body temperature by gaining outside heat outside itself (Morris 1992).

El Nino - a complex set of changes in the water temperature in the Eastern Pacific equatorial region, producing a warm current; it occurs annually to some degree between October and February, but in some years intensifies and causes unusual storms and destruction of marine life and land ecosystems. (From Spanish for "the child;" meaning the Christ child; it typically begins at Christmas time) (Morris 1992).

Embryo - 1. the stage of multicellular organism that develops form a zygote before it becomes free-living. 2. specifically, in vertebrates, the period from after the long axis appears until all major structures are represented. In humans, this from about two weeks after fertilization to the end of the seventh or eighth week (Morris 1992).

Endangered Species Act - regulation that protects species of animal or plant that has been identified as in danger of becoming extinct because of harmful human activity or environmental factors (Morris 1992).

Endemic -  Native to a particular country, nation, or region (Guralnik 1970).

Endothermy - term describing the internal generation of heat by mammals

Epidermis -  The surface layer of the skin of a vertebrate (Halliday 1987).

Estrous Cycle - the recurring periods of heat, or estrus, in the adult female of most mammals and the correlated changes in the reproductive tract from one period to the next (Morris 1992).

Estrus - female mammals typically are receptive to mating with a male only when reproductive hormones and other physiological changes allow her to be receptive. Part of this process involves the release of an egg from the ovary (ovulation) which can then be fertilized by the male's sperm. Many of the larger mammals mate only once per year, thus the females reach the state of "estrus" just once, when they mate. Many small mammals, such as the mice, mate more than once each year, thus the females reach estrus more than once each year.

Evolution - all mammals and other living organisms change through time. Evolution specifically refers to change in organisms that is genetic; that is, frequencies of specific genes in the organism's genetic makeup change. This results in changes in genetic characteristics.

Ewe - an adult female sheep (Morris 1992).

Exoskeleton - an external covering or integument, esp. when hard, as the shell of crustaceans (Stein 1966).

Extant - in existence; still existing; not destroyed or lost (Stein 1966).

Extinction - the process of becoming extinct; dying out or coming to an end (Morris 1992).

Extirpation - removing, destroying, pulling up extermination or otherwise making extinct (Morris 1992).


Feces - waste materials, including undigested food and sloughed-off intestinal cells, that are expelled from the intestinal tract through the anus (Morris 1992).

Fertilization - 1. the union of a male and female gamete to form a zygote. 2. the act of insemination, impregnation, or pollination. 3. a process marking the beginning of conception, during which the nuclei of the sperm cell and the egg cell come together and their chromosomes combine (Morris 1992).

Flank - The fleshy part of an animal between the ribs and hip (Morris 1992).

Fledge - 1.  Of a young bird, to acquire the feathers needed for flight. 2.   to raise a young bird to maturity (Morris 1992)

Fledglings - a young bird that has recently fledged (Morris 1992).

Flock - A group of animals, especially birds, that remain together, as for defense from predators or efficiency in locating food (Morris 1992)

Forbs - term for any plant that is not a grass (Morris 1992).

Fossorial -  Adapted for digging or burrowing (Morris 1992). It often refers to animals that live predominantly underground. Pocket gophers are good examples of Fossorial mammals.

Frugivorous - Feeding mainly or exclusively on fruits (Morris 1992).


Gait - a manner of walking, stepping, or running (Stein 1966).

Gestation - refers to the length of time between when a fertilized egg implants in the wall of a female's uterus and birth of the young. In many small mammals, such as various mice, gestation is only about a month, while in larger mammals such as deer, it can be about 7 months.

Gill rakers -  Finger-like processes on the gill arches in fishes and larval amphibians (Peters 1964). [image]

Gorget - a patch on the throat of a bird or other animal, distinguished by color, texture, etc. (Stein 1966)

Graminoids - grasses

Gravid -  Describing a female that is carrying developing offspring within its body (Morris 1992).

Grazer - refers to a mammal that predominantly feeds on non-woody vegetation such as grasses and forbs (non-woody leafy plants). Elk are predominantly grazers except for a short period of time during the winter when they are browsers. Typically grazers do eat some browse, and browsers do eat some grass.

Gregarious - Living in herds or flock (Guralnik 1970)

Guano - a natural manure composed of chiefly of bat excrement

Gular fold -  A transverse fold of skin across the throat (Peters 1964).

Guttural -  Produced in the throat; harsh, rasping, etc.: said of sounds (Guralnik 1970).


Habitat - the place where an organism normally lives (Morris 1992).

Harem - the mating and association of several adult females with one male (Morris 1992).

Hemipenes -  The paired copulatory organs lying laterally in a cavity in the base of the tail in snakes and lizards (Peters 1964).

Hemiptera - the true bugs, a large order of insects including bedbugs, cicadas, and aphids, with mouth parts adapted for piercing and sucking and with mandibles in the form of long stylets lying in a trough-like labium (Morris 1992).

Hemoglobin - the oxygen-carrying pigment of the erythrocytes, formed by the developing erythrocyte in the bone marrow. It is a complex protein composed of four heme groups and four globin polypeptide chains (Morris 1992).

Herbivorous -  Feeding exclusively or mainly on plants (Morris 1992).

Herbaceous - 1. of or relating to an herb. 2. soft and green, rather than woody (Morris 1992).

Heterogeneity -the fact or state of being dissimilar, as in composition, source, quantity, dimensions, and so on (Morris 1992).

Hibernacula -  The places in which an animal hibernates or overwinters; winter quarters (Morris 1992).

Hibernate -  To pass the winter in a condition of hibernation (Morris 1992).

Hibernation -  A dormant, sleeplike state, with a lower body temperature and slower heart and breathing rate, that is characteristic of various animals during the winter months in cold climates, such as bears, bats, certain birds, snakes, frogs, and turtles; this state tends to protect against cold weather and to reduce the need for food (Morris 1992). Ground squirrels are good examples of hibernating mammals as some hibernate for about 9 months. Hibernators do arouse from hibernation periodically, but usually stay in their hibernation chamber or nest.

Horns - consist of an inner, boney core covered by an outer sheath that is much like our fingernails. Horns are not shed annually as are antlers. They are found in the Bovidae family (bighorn sheep and mountain goats), and in pronghorns.


Implantation - the embedding of a fertilized ovum (blastocyst) into the endometrium (Morris 1992).

Incubate - Of a hen, to sit on and hatch eggs (Morris 1992).

Inguinal amplexus -  Sexual embrace of anurans; the grasping of the female's body by the male's forelimbs from a dorsal position just above the hind legs.  The grip is usually quite strong, and is not released until oviposition is completed (Peters 1964).

Insectivorous - refers to an animal that feeds primarily on insects, such as bats.

Intercalary cartilage -  A phalanx-like cartilaginous element inserted between the ultimate and penultimate phalanges in the digits of the frog families (Peters 1964).

Internal fertilization - 1. broadly, the reproductive condition in animals, such as birds and mammals, when the egg is fertilized within the female's body. 2. specifically, the union of the nuclei of the egg cell and the sperm cell, resulting in the disappearance of their nuclear membranes and the combination of their chromosomes (Morris 1992).

Intrasexual competition - competition between the sexes

Intraspecific nest parasitism - The addition of eggs to another female's nest (Gill 1995)

Interspecific competition - One species subtly depresses another species' survival or breeding success through reduction of critical resources (Gill 1995)

Iridescent - displaying a shining, rainbowlike range of colors (Morris 1992).


Jerboas - a small, nocturnal, social rodent of the family Dipodidae found in Old World deserts, having enlarged hind limbs that are modified for leaping (Morris 1992).


Keratin - a hard, tough, non-soluble protein

Keratinized scale -  Scales containing keratin, which is a hard, tough, non-soluble protein produced in the epidermis of both reptiles and amphibians (Peters 1964).

Kleptoparasitised - An animal that obtained its food mainly by scavenging the food supplies of another species, especially one with which it habitually lives in close proximity (Morris 1992).


Labial scale -  Scale that borders the lip in reptiles (Peters 1964).

Lactate - to secrete milk. (Lactation) - the secretion of milk, especially in the nourishment of an infant (Morris 1992).

Laminae -  The scales for the epidermal plates of the shell of turtles (Peters 1964).

Lepidoptera - a large order of scaly-winged insects including the butterflies, skippers, and moths, often brightly colored and having a coiled sucking proboscis (Morris 1992).

Lethargic - the state of being abnormally drowsy or stupor (Morris 1992).

Lek - Communal courtship grounds (Gill 1995)

Lichen - the common name for any member of the group Lichenes, occurring as fungal and algae cells in symbiotic union and growing in various forms of rocks or trees (Morris 1992).

Litter - 1. multiple offspring produced at a single birth by a multiparous animal. 2. a spongy layer of twigs, leaves, bark and organic debris covering the floor of a forest (Morris 1992).

Littoral zone -  The area of shallow fresh water in which light penetrates to the bottom and nurtures rooted plants (Morris 1992).

Loam -  A rich soil (Morris 1992).

Loess -  An extremely fertile, fine-grained loam composed of quartz, feldspar, hornblende, mica, and clay; deposited by the wind during the Pleistocene Age.  It originates in arid regions from glacial outwash (Morris 1992).

Lungworm - the common name for any of various parasitic nematodes that infect the lungs of vertebrates, principally domestic animals (Morris 1992).


Mantle - The back, wings, and scapulars of a bird (Morris 1992).

Mast - the fruit of forest trees such as oak and beech used as fodder for hogs and other animals (Morris 1992).

Maxillary teeth -  Teeth located on the two principal dermal bones of the upper jaw in reptiles and amphibians (Peters 1964).

Melanistic - is a term that refers to the black color phase of some mammals. For example, some populations of marmots are melanistic or black.

Menziesia - a type of shrub

Mesic - 1.  Of or relating to organisms that require moderate amounts of moisture.  2.  describing a habitat with moderate moisture (Morris 1992)

Mesozoic - 1. the geologic era extending from the end of the Paleozoic era to the beginning of the Cenozoic era, dating form approximately 225 to 65 million years ago; included the Triassic, Jurassic, and Cretacious Periods. 2. the rocks formed during this era (Morris 1992).

Microtopography - topography on a smaller scale

Middens - a large refuse heap containing such materials discarded materials, food remains, bones, and so on (Morris 1992).

Migration -  1.  in general, any movement of an animal from one location to another.  2.  specifically, a predictable, recurring group movement that is characteristic of the members of a given species, and that occurs regularly in response to seasonal changes in temperature, precipitation, and so on (Morris 1992)

Mine Tailings - the decomposed outcrop of a bed or vein of valuable material (Morris 1992).

Mitochondria - self-replicating organelles, bounded by two membranes, that are found in the cytoplasm of all eukaryotic cells and produce cellular energy in the the form of ATP via the oxidative phosphorilation reactions (Morris 1992).

Molt - 1. to shed hair, outer skin, feathers, or horns before replacement of parts of new growth. 2. an act, instance, or process of molting (Morris 1992).

Monogamy - a mating pattern in which males and females are paired one to one for at least one reproductive season; usually associated with parental care by both parents (Morris 1992). (Monogamous) - Prolonged and exclusive pair bond with a single member of the opposite sex in order to raise young (Gill 1995).

Monoestrus - refers to a mammal having only one estrus cycle in a year. Elk are a good example.

Mortality - refers to death rate. We often use the term "mortality factors", which are factors that cause the death of an animal. Starvation could be a mortality factor.

Muskeg - 1. a bog characterized by scattered and stunted evergreens. 2. broadly, any area of wetland vegetation (Morris 1992).

Mycorrhizal Fungi - the symbiotic relationship between certain nonpathogenic or weakly pathogenic fungi and the living cells of roots of certain higher plants (Morris 1992).


Nape - the back of the neck (Morris 1992)

Naris -  The openings of the nasal cavity (Morris 1992).

Nasolabial groove -  A depression or trough running from the external naris (nostril) to the edge of the upper lip in Plethodontid (lungless) salamanders (Peters 1964). [image]

Natal - relating to or occurring at birth (Morris 1992).

Natality - refers to births. Specifically, it refers to the birth rate of an animal, while mortality specifically refers to the death rate.

Neonate -  Newly hatched or born (Peters 1964).

Neotony -  Retention of larval or embryonic characteristics past the time of reproductive maturity (Pough 1996).

Nesting density - The amount of bird nesting in the area.

Niche - the unique position occupied by a particular species, conceived both in terms of the actual physical area that it inhabits and the function that it performs within the community (Morris 1992).

Nocturnal -  Describing an animal that is active mainly or exclusively at night, rather than by day (Morris 1992).

Nomadic -a way of life in which there is no permanent residence site and the group moves from place to place according to the season, the available of food supply and other such factors; the route of travel often follows a traditional pattern (Morris 1992).

Noxious -  Harmful to the health (Guralnik 1970).


Obligate - restricted to a single mode of behavior or environmental condition (Morris 1992).

Omnivorous - Eating any sort of food, esp. both animal and vegetable food (Guralnik 1970)

Opercular chamber -  The closed cavity which covers the internal gills of the frog embryo, opening to the outside through a spiracle (Peters 1964).

Ossified skull -  Bony skull.

Osteoderm -  A bony deposit in the form of a plate or scale found in the dermal layers of the skin (Peters 1964).

Oviparous -  Laying eggs that develop and hatch outside the maternal body (Morris 1992).

Ovulation -the discharge of an ovum from a vesicular follicle of the ovary; this usually occurs on the 14th day after the first day of the last menstrual period (Morris 1992).


Paedomorphosis -  Condition in which a larva becomes sexually mature without attaining the adult body form. Paedomorphosis may be achieved by neotony or by progenesis(Pough 1996).  

Palatal complex - Bones and soft tissue that make up the palate.

Parasphenoid teeth -  In amphibians, teeth actually borne by the parasphenoid bone itself (Peters 1964).

Parity - the condition or fact of having borne offspring (Morris 1992).

Parotoid gland -  Large, swollen, glandular area lying behind the eye on the head, and extending in some species well onto the neck, in some species of anurans. Prominently developed in bufonid (toad) species, in many of which the glandular secretions are potent poisons (Peters 1964).

Parietal eye -  A sensory structure capable of light reception, located on the dorsal side of the diencephalon, and opening to the outside through the parietal foramen (Peters 1964).

Parthenogenic -  Having unisexual reproduction in which young are produced by unfertilized females (Morris 1992).

Parturition - the act or process of giving birth (Morris 1992).

Patagium - 1. in birds, a feathered web of skin that spans the angle in front of the elbow. 2. a fold of skin in flying squirrels, flying lizards, and other arboreal gliding animals that encloses the limbs on both sides from neck to tail, enabling the animal to glide (Morris 1992).

Pelage - the fur or other soft surface covering of a mammal (Morris 1992).

Pelt - the hide or skin of an animal (Stein 1966).

Penultimate phalange -  Next to last digit (Guralnik 1970).

Perennial - happening throughout the year or over a period of many years (Morris 1992).

Phalanges -  The bones of the fingers or toes (Morris 1992).

Phalanx -  Any one of the bones in the fingers or toes (Peters 1964).

Philopatric - Of or relating to species or groups that remain in or habitually return to their native regions or territories (Morris 1992).

Photoperiod - the amount of time per day that an organism is exposed to light (Morris 1992).

Plastron -  The ventral part of the turtle shell, consisting of a series of paired bones, overlain by series of laminae alternating with bones (Peters 1964).

Pleistocene Age - The geologic epoch of the Quartenary period extending from the end of the Pliocene to the beginning of the Holocene, and the rocks formed during that time (Morris 1992).

Plumage - the feather covering of birds, sometimes colored for purposes of camouflage, courtship display, etc., and divided in certain stages of a bird's growth to indicate age or maturity, such as natal plumage, juvenile plumage, first winter plumage, first nuptial plumage, and the like (Morris 1992).

Plumes - The conspicuous feather or feathers of a bird (Morris 1992)

Polychaets - A class of mostly marine worms in the Phylum Annelida, with anterior tentacles and palps and most segments bearing parapodia with bristles; free-swimming or sessile in tubes or burrows; often brightly colored, most 5-10 cm in length (Morris 1992)

Polyestrus - having more than one estrus cycle in a year. Many small mammals that have multiple litters each year are polyestrus.

Polyandrous - when one female mates with two or more males

Polygynous - of or relating to polygyny (Morris 1992). Polygyny - when a male mammal mates with more than one female during a breeding season.

Precipitation - any form of water particles, such as frozen water in snow or ice crystals, or liquid water in raindrops or drizzle (Morris 1992).

Precocial - being born in a relatively advanced state of development and some what capable of being independent shortly after birth. An example would be hares as compared to rabbits.

Precocious - appearing, developing, or maturing earlier than is usual (Morris 1992).

Predator Mutualism - two or more species of predators working together to capture prey

Primary Productivity - the productive capabilities of self-feeding organisms (Morris 1992).

Progenesis -  Accelerated development of reproductive organs relative to somatic tissue, leading to paedomorphosis (Pough 1996).

Promiscuous - a mating behavior in which the male and female do not form lasting pair bonds; one male may mate with several females, or one female with several males (Morris 1992).

Prostration - extreme physical weakness or exhaustion (Stein 1966).

Pterygoid bones -  In the skull of most lower vertebrates, four large, medially situated bones of the palatal complex that is located on the lower surface of the palatal cartilage (Morris 1992).


Quiescent - being at rest; quiet; still; inactive or motionless (Stein 1966).


Rabies - an acute, usually fatal disease, a form of viral encephalitis, that is transmitted through the saliva of an infected animal (usually a dog, cat, skunk, or raccoon) (Morris 1992).

Radiotelemetry - a method of tracking the movements of a specific species.

Reproductive Potential - the number of offspring a female of a given age can be expected to produce (Morris 1992).

Reticulate - Usually used in herpetology with reference to a color pattern, which has linear markings resembling the meshes of a net (Peters 1964).

Rimrock - 1. a ledge of cliff overlooking lower ground and formed by the outcropping of a horizontal layer of resistant rock on an elevated area. 2. a cliff or vertical face of an outcrop or rock in the canyon wall (Morris 1992).

Riparian - a general classification of habitat along streams, ponds and lakes or any water courses.

Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever - an acute, infectious, and sometimes fatal tick-borne disease caused by Rickettsia rickettsii; characterized by fever, bone and muscle pain, headache, and rash. The disease occurs only in North and South America(Morris 1992).

Rod - a rod-shaped cell in the retina that is sensitive to dim light (Morris 1992).

Roost - 1. a perch upon which birds or fowls rest at night. 2. a large cage, house, or place for fowls or birds to roost in (Stein 1966).

Rufous - Reddish-brown (Morris 1992)

Ruminant - mammals that have 4 stomachs and chew their cud are ruminants. They are herbivores and the plant material they eat is difficult to digest. In ruminants the 4 digestive chambers accommodate a large number of bacteria which help digest the plant material. Members of the deer family and mountain sheep and goats are all ruminants.

Rumination -the process of digestion of ruminants, whereby the animal swallows food quickly, and then regurgitates and chews it more thoroughly at a later time until digestion is completed (Morris 1992).

Rut - is a general term that refers to the breeding period of mammals, especially the deer, elk and moose. During the rut, males exhibit specific behaviors to establish harems or to attract females to mate with.


Saltatorial - refers to a form of locomotion in which the animal hops as it moves along. This is found in jackrabbits, the western jumping mouse, and even mule deer appear to utilize a form of saltatorial locomotion where all four feet are off the ground at the same time and they run in a springy fashion.

Scutes -  Large scales.  Usually means much the same as plate, lamina, shield (Peters 1964).

Sedentary - relating to or characterized by a sitting posture (Morris 1992).

Septum -  A partition or wall (Peters 1964).

Sexual dimorphism - is found in mammals when the male and female have distinct differences such as size or other characteristics that make them appear different.

Siltation - deposition of earthy matter, fine sand, or the like by moving or running water (Stein 1966).

Speculum - An iridescent patch of color on the wings of certain ducks and other birds (Morris 1992

Spiracle -  The small opening to the outside from the gill chamber in anuran tadpoles (Peters 1964).

Steppe - refers to arid lands having vegetation that is adapted to dry conditions, and having extreme temperature variations between the hot of the summer season and the cold of the winter season. In Idaho it often has considerable sagebrush.

Subnivean -  below the snow.

Sympatric - describing different species or populations that live in the same geographical area (Morris 1992).


Taiga - a region of boreal forest, the largely evergreen forest vegetation of northern areas of the Northern Hemisphere, below the arctic and subarctic tundra regions (Morris 1992).

Talus - a steep, concave, downward sloping formation, formed by the accumulation of coarse, angular rock debris at the base of the cliff or slope (Morris 1992).

Tawny -1. of a dark yellowish or dull yellowish-brown color. 2. a shade of brown tinged with yellow; dull yellowish brown (Stein 1966).

Torpid -  Characterized by a dormant, inactive condition or state (Morris 1992).

Torpor - A stress reaction resulting in lethargy (Morris 1992)

Trachea - the air tube supported by cartilaginous rings that stretches from the pharynx into the the thorax, where it divides into the bronchial tubes (Morris 1992).

Tragus - the cartilaginous projection in front of the external auditory meatus (Morris 1992).

Trichoptera - the caddis flies, and order of insects with two pairs of hairy, scaled wings and long antennae and legs; the wormlike aquatic larvae build cases of sand and other particles glued with secretions (Morris 1992).

Tubercle -  A small, rounded, discrete hump or bump in skin (Peters 1964).

Tularemia - a disease of rodents, lagomorphs, certain birds and sometimes humans, due to infection caused by the microorganism Pasteurella tularensis and transmitted by fleas and ticks; characterized by fever, headache, muscle pain, and nodule formations in the liver, spleen, and lymph nodes (Morris 1992).

Tundra - a vast , nearly level, barren, treeless region located in the Arctic; characterized by very low winter temperatures, short, cool summers, and vegetation consisting of various grasses, rushes, perennial herbs, lichens, and dwarf woody plants (Morris 1992).

Tympanum -  The membrane covering the external ear opening of the middle ear chamber or vestibule (Peters 1964).


Ultimate phalange -  The last digit.

Ungulate - a term that refers to hoofed animals. This includes Family Cervidae (deer) and Bovidae (sheep and goats) as well as the pronghorn. They typically have antlers or horns and are herbivores.

Urostyle -  A rod-like bone composed of fused tail vertebrae, present in frogs and toads (Halliday 1987).

Uterus - the hollow muscular organ in female mammals in which the fertilized ovum usually becomes embedded, and in which the developing embryo and fetus are nourished (Morris 1992).


Vector - the carrier of an infectious agent, which acts to transfer an infection from one host to another (Morris 1992).

Vestigial -  Smaller and of more simple structure than in an evolutionary ancestor (Halliday 1987).

Vibrissae - 1. any of the erectile, tactile hairs found on the face of most mammals except humans. 2. any of the feathers near the mouth of many birds that may help in keeping insects caught as food from escaping (Morris 1992).

Viviparous -  Bearing live young; having offspring that develop within the body and are born alive, rather than producing an egg that develops outside the body (Morris 1992).

Vomer - The narrow bone forming the lower and posterior half of the nasal septum (Morris 1992).

Vomerine teeth -  Teeth lying on the vomer, in the palate of amphibians (Peters 1964).


Wean - to accustom a child or young animal to food other than the mother's milk (Morris 1992).


Xeric -  1. describing a location or habitat with very little moisture.  2. describing an organism that lives in such an environment (Morris 1992).


Yard - lowland area with dense coniferous cover in areas.

Yarding - herding up in lowland areas with dense coniferous cover in areas called “yards.”

Yearling - an animal that is between one and two years old (Morris 1992).


Zygomatic arch -  The arch formed by the articulation of the broad temporal process of the zygomatic bone and the slender zygomatic process of the temporal bone (Morris 1992).

References Cited

Text conversion by Michael Legler and Stephen Burton, 1999, 2001.
Additional mammilian information by Donald Streubel, 2000
Design update and navigational javascript by Ean Harker,©2000.