Urchin takeover underlies California’s vanishing kelp forests

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biology: The study of living things. The scientists who study them are known as biologists.

climate: The weather conditions that typically exist in one area, in general, or over a long period.

coauthor: One of a group (two or more people) who together had prepared a written work, such as a book, report or research paper. Not all coauthors may have contributed equally.

colleague: Someone who works with another; a co-worker or team member.

diet: (n.) The foods and liquids ingested by an animal to provide the nutrition it needs to grow and maintain health. (v.) To adopt a specific food-intake plan. People may adopt a specific diet for religious or ethical reasons, to address food allergies, to control their body weight or to control a disease such as high blood pressure or diabetes.

ecologist: A scientist who works in a branch of biology that deals with the relations of organisms to one another and to their physical surroundings.

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.

endangered: An adjective used to describe species at risk of going extinct.

environment: The sum of all of the things that exist around some organism or the process and the condition those things create. Environment may refer to the weather and ecosystem in which some animal lives, or, perhaps, the temperature and humidity (or even the placement of things in the vicinity of an item of interest).

forest: An area of land covered mostly with trees and other woody plants. The term can also be applied to any area covered by tall, upright structures.

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.

indigenous: Native to some region. (in anthropology) An adjective (and capitalized) for people that have lived for eons in some region, developing a culture that reflects the resources, climate and ecosystems of that place.

kelp: A type of large seaweed that is usually a type of brown algae. They grow underwater and can form large forests, providing habitat for many organisms. Some kelp forests are so large they can be seen from space.

link: A connection between two people or things.

maneuver: To put something in a desired or necessary position by using one or more skilled movements or procedures.

marine biologist: A scientist who studies creatures that live in ocean water, from bacteria and shellfish to kelp and whales.

mentor: An individual who lends his or her experience to advise someone starting out in a field. In science, teachers or researchers often mentor students or younger scientists by helping them to refine their research questions. Mentors also can offer feedback on how young investigators prepare to conduct research or interpret their data.

nutrient: A vitamin, mineral, fat, carbohydrate or protein that a plant, animal or other organism requires as part of its food in order to survive.

Pacific: The largest of the world’s five oceans. It separates Asia and Australia to the west from North and South America to the east.

persistent: An adjective for something that is long-lasting.

population: (in biology) A group of individuals from the same species that lives in the same area.

predator: (adjective: predatory) A creature that preys on other animals for most or all of its food.

recall: To remember.

reef: A ridge of rock, coral or sand. It rises up from the seafloor and may come to just above or just under the water’s surface.

resilient: (n. resilience) To be able to recover fairly quickly from obstacles or difficult conditions.

satellite: A moon orbiting a planet or a vehicle or other manufactured object that orbits some celestial body in space.

sea: An ocean (or region that is part of an ocean). Unlike lakes and streams, seawater — or ocean water — is salty.

sea otter: A member of the weasel family, sea otters have the densest fur known among animals. That helps keep them warm in frigid waters, because these marine mammals don’t produce blubber — a thick layer of fat — as do seals and walruses.

sea stars: Another name for starfish, these animals are not true fish. They are related to sand dollars, sea urchins and sea cucumbers.

species: A group of similar organisms capable of producing offspring that can survive and reproduce.

starfish: A type of sea creature that is shaped like a star. Starfish, also known as sea stars, are not true fish. They are related to sand dollars, sea urchins and sea cucumbers.

syndrome: Two or more symptoms that together characterize a particular disease, disorder or social condition.

urchin: Small, spine-covered sea animals without eyes or limbs which are related to sand dollars and starfish.

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