Discovery Alphabet

An alphabet inspired by out Disovery Day Adventres!

Adaptation: a special shape, behavior, or body part that helps an organism survive. 

Algal Bloom: large, visible masses of algae (plant-like organisms) that develop in bodies of water typically during warm weather.

Amphibians:  cold-blooded, usually smooth skinned vertebrates of the class Amphibia, characteristically hatching as an aquatic larva with gills and then transforming into an adult having air-breathing lungs. 

Aquatic: living or growing in water.

Biodiversity: the existence of a wide variety of plant and animal species in their natural environments.

Camouflage: a color or pattern that conceals an organism from predators by matching its background.

Carnivore: an animal that receives nutrition by eating other animals.

Cattail: a genus of about 30 species of tall reedy marsh plants with a unique flowering spike, flat blade like leaves that reach heights from 3 to 10 feet.

Conservation: the careful preservation, management, and  protection of plants, animals, and natural resources.

Carapace: is the scientific term for a turtle’s top shell. Photo: Jim Schmidt

Community: interdependent populations of organisms living together in an ecosystem.

Decomposer: an organism that receives its nutrition by breaking down other matter or organisms into basic parts.

Diversity: the number of different species found in a given area.


Ecology: the study of interrelationships between living beings and their non-living surroundings.

Ecosystem: the relationship between many parts of an area; this includes relationships between living things like animals, plants, people, and microorganisms, and non-living things like water, soil, and sunlight.

Erosion: the movement of soil or sediment away from an area due to weathering, mainly from water.

Forb: the name for any flowering herb that is not a member of the grass family.

Forest: an ecosystem dominated by trees.

Frog: largely aquatic leaping anuran amphibians that have slender bodies with smooth moist skin and strong long hind legs with webbed feet.

Geology: the study of the Earth and its physical properties.

Germinate: to sprout or develop into a plant.

Habitat: the area in an ecosystem where a particular species lives.

Herbivore: an animal that feeds primarily on plants.

Invasive Species: a species that does not naturally occur in a specific area. When introduced, they may cause harm.

Marsh: low, soft, wet land that is often treeless and generally characterized by a growth of many plants including grasses and sedges.

Metamorphosis: a series of changes in body structures from the egg stage to an adult stage.

Migration: when an animal travels from one place to another because of a change in environment or resources.

Native: belonging to the area in which something lives. Cardinals are birds that are native to Illinois; flamingos are non-native birds.

Niche: an organism’s physical location and its role/function within that ecosystem.

Nutrient: something an organism takes in to promote growth and development.

Omnivore: an animal that receives nutrition from both plants and animals.

Organism: a living thing.

Photosynthesis: the process by which plants and other producers take nutrients out of the atmosphere using the sun’s energy to convert them to sugar.

Prairie: a type of habitat that is dominated by grasses, sedges, forbs, and was once found in abundance throughout Illinois.

Precipitation: any form of water that falls to the earth after accumulating in the atmosphere. (Rain, snow, sleet, hail)

Predator: an animal that kills and eats other animals.

Prescribed Burn: a management technique for habitats, in which fire is used to burn away excess biomass, help control invasive species, and more.

Prey: animals that are killed and eaten by other animals.

Producer: an organism that can produce its own food, most often through the process of photosynthesis.

Runoff: excess water from rain or melted ice/snow that runs off the land into streams, ponds, or other surface water. Runoff can carry potentially harmful pollutants.

Scat: the feces or poop of an animal; scientists can tell what animals have been in an area by identifying types of scat.

Sedge: a grass-like plant that grows in wet places.

Soil: substance of the earth containing a variety of small rock particles and decaying organic matter.

Taxonomy: the scientific study of naming and grouping living things.

Toad: anuran amphibians that are distinguished from the related frogs by being more terrestrial in habit, though returning to water to lay their eggs, by having a build that is squatter and shorter with weaker and shorter hind limbs, and by having skin that is rough, dry, and warty rather than smooth and moist.

Watershed: an area of land that contains a set of streams and rivers that all drain into one larger body of water.

Wetland: land that is covered with water all or part of the year. (Swamps, bogs, marshes, river/stream banks)