Vocabulary: One State, Many Places

Definitions and Context

Adaptation: traits developed over time that help organisms meet their basic needs and survive.
Context: The adaptation of thorns discourages animals from munching on juicy cactus.

Aquifer: an underground layer that carries groundwater.
Context: Wells draw water from the aquifer.

Bay: an indentation in a shoreline, smaller than a gulf and larger than a cove.
Context: A protected bay is a good place for a boat dock.

Bayou: a slow moving tributary to a larger body of water.
Context: Muddy, swampy bayous can be great alligator habitat.

Canyon: a deep valley made by running water.
Context: Palo Duro Canyon was formed by a fork of the Red River.

Diversity: variety of plants and/or animals occurring in one place
Context: The animal diversity in Texas includes both rare and common species.

Ecosystem: the system of living and non-living components of an environment that interact with each other.
Context: In a desert ecosystem the temperature and soil type influence what plants can live there.

Endangered species: an animal or plant species in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.
Context: Since there are only about 100 ocelots in Texas, they may become extinct in Texas; they are endangered.

Estuary: a body of water that mixes fresh water from rivers with salt water from the ocean.
Context: Drought upstream can cause an estuary to be saltier than usual.

Inherited trait: an inborn characteristic or behavior that is passed from parent to offspring.
Context: Adaptations are inherited traits.

Marsh: low-lying grassy land that often is wet or flooded.
Context: An inland marsh will be a freshwater environment, but one along the coast may be a salt marsh.

Migrate: the act of an annual move from one region to another because of food, nesting needs or temperature.
Context: Monarchs and songbirds migrate across the Gulf of Mexico to South America for the winter.


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