Unsure of its meaning? Use our glossary for short, clear descriptions of scientific terms.

This glossary is a tool for when you are unsure of the definitions of any of the scientific terms on our website, from the most basic to the more complicated. We are adding new definitions all the time - let us know if there are any terms you would like to see defined on this page and we will add them!

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Biological diversity, or ‘biodiversity’, describes the huge variety of life on earth. Conservation (protection of species) of this biodiversity can come in two forms: in situ (creating things like protected areas) and ex situ (where zoos and botanical gardens work towards conserving species outside of their natural habitat).
The scientific study of plants.

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To put organisms into hierarchical groups, almost like a family tree – eventually grouping them together with other more similar organisms.

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The scientific study of insects (though it can be widened to include arthropods like arachnids).
Evolution, in a biological sense, is the change in the inherited characteristics of organisms over time. Charles Darwin’s famous theory on the mechanism of evolution by natural selection was based on four principles: variation, inheritance, mortality and population size.

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Offspring inherit characteristics from their parents and often resemble them.

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The scientific study of pollen.

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The science of identifying, naming and classifying organisms (plants, animals, bacteria, fungi, etc.).

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Individuals within a species are not identical - they differ from each other in a number of ways. Differences can be anatomical, physiological or behavioural. Genetic or environmental factors can affect variation.

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The scientific study of any biological entity (plant, animal, bacterium, protest or fungus).

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The scientific study of animals.