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Restoration Dictionary

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z

A
Algae bloom - proliferation of living algae on the surface of lakes, streams, ponds, estuary, bay, or ocean. Often associated with high nutrient levels in the water column.
Anadromous - anadromous fish are species that spawn in freshwater environments but spend at least part of their adult life in a seawater environment. Examples include salmon, river herring (alewife), and striped bass.
Anoxic - without oxygen. A state of oxygen depletion in the water column that makes it difficult or impossible for aquatic species to obtain the desired amount of oxygen from the water column as needed.
Antennae - a thin movable sensory organ found in pairs on the heads of some organisms, including insects and crustaceans.
Aquaculture - the cultivation of marine organisms in a controlled setting.
Aquifer - a geological formation or structure that stores and/or transmits water, such as to wells and springs. Use of the term is usually restricted to those water-bearing formations capable of yielding water in sufficient quantity to constitute a usable supply for people's uses.
Arthropod - an invertebrate with jointed legs, segmented body, and exoskeleton.

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B
Barbel - fleshy, sensory projection located near the jaw or mouth area of some fish.
Benthic - of, relating to, or occurring at the bottom of a body of water.
Bioaccumulation - an increase in the concentration of a particular substance, most often a toxin, in an organism as it consumes those lower on the food chain that have smaller concentrations of the same substance.
Bioassay - a laboratory test that uses organisms to evaluate whether a sample is toxic.
Biological effects - biological effects are measurements indicating that the health of animals living in the area (or evaluated in laboratory tests) has been adversely affected.
Biomagnify - the accumulation of certain chemicals (such as mercury and Polychlorinated Biphenyls) biomagnifies (increases) as they pass through the food chain. This means that a low amount of mercury might be present in fish that eat plants, but higher amounts will accumulate in fish or birds that eat fish. Adverse effects are more likely to occur in birds or fish that eat other animals.
Bioluminescence - the production of light by living organisms.
Bivalve - a mollusk with a two-part, hinged shell, such as a clam, oyster, scallop, or mussel.
Bloom - a dense concentration of phytoplankton that occurs under optimum growth factors, i.e., temperature, sunlight, and nutrients.
Brackish - containing a mixture of fresh and salt water that has a lower salt concentration than pure ocean water. Water with a salt content between 1000 and 4000 parts per million.
Burrow - a hole or passage in the sand or sediment created by an organism in which to live or hide.
Byssal thread - a strong threadlike fiber produced by mussels to attach themselves to a solid surface or substrate.

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C
Cannibal - an organism that will prey on and consume members of its own species.
Carapace - the portion of an organism's exoskeleton, or shell, that covers the head and thorax region.
Carnivore - a meat-eating organism.
Catadromous - catadromous fish are species that spawn (breed and lay eggs) in a seawater environment but spend at least part of their adult lives in a freshwater environment. An example is the American eel.
Caudal - refers to the tail end of a fish.
CERCLA - the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980 created the Superfund and the National Priorities List (NPL).
Chromatophore - a pigment cell that contracts and expands to produce immediate color changes in an organism.
Cilia - specialized cells containing short hair-like extensions for locomotion or movement of materials.
Compound eye - the eye that most insects and some crustaceans have, made up of several separate light-sensitive parts.
Copulation - sexual reproduction between a male and a female organism.
CRMC - Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council.
Crustacean - an organism belonging to the class Arthropoda, which includes crabs and lobsters.
Culvert - a drain pipe that crosses beneath a road.

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D
Decapoda - an order of crustaceans with five pairs of thoracic "walking legs." Includes crabs, shrimp, and lobsters.
Dabbling - the act of reaching with the bill to the bottom of shallow water in order to obtain food.
DEM - Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.
Denil fishways - A prefabricated alumninum chute with baffles inserted at an angle, generally larger than a steeppass and conveying more water.
Dermal denticles
- sharp, V-shaped scales found on the skin of sharks.
Desiccation - the drying out of an organism as a result of moisture deprivation.
Detritus - the material that is created from the decomposition of dead organic plant and animal remains.
Diatom - microscopic algae with a siliceous or glasslike cell wall.
DOE - Department of Energy.
Dormant - a state of inactivity, such as hibernation, that includes a lowered metabolic rate.
Dorsal - refers to the back or upper surface of an organism.
Dredge - a machine equipped with a continuous revolving chain of buckets, a scoop, or a suction device for digging out and removing material from under water.
Dredging - a method for deepening streams, swamps, or waters by scraping and removing solids from the bottom.

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E
Ecology - the study of the relationship between organisms and their environment.
Ecosystem - a community of organisms in their physical environment.
Elasmobranch - an organism belonging to a group of cartilaginous fish consisting of rays and sharks.
Emergent wetland - wetland that is characterized by plants growing with their roots underwater and leaves extending above the water. A salt marsh is an estuarine emergent wetland.
Enrichment - the addition of nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorus, or carbon compounds, into a lake or waterway to the point that the trophic state is greatly increased because of the stimulation of the growth of algae and other aquatic plants.
EPA - Environmental Protection Agency.
ERL - Effects Range Low (ERL) level. Below this level, contaminants in sediment are not likely to have adverse effects on animals that live in sediment.
ERM - Effects Range Median (ERM) level. Above this level, contaminants in sediment probably have adverse effects on animals that live in sediment.
Erosion - the wearing away of the land surface by running water, wind, ice, or other geological agents.
Establishment - the manipulation of the physical, chemical, or biological characteristics present to develop a wetland that did not previously exist on an upland or deepwater site. Establishment results in a gain in wetland acres.
Estuarine - present, living, or thriving in an estuary.
Estuarine wetland - wetland that is exposed to both fresh and salt water (i.e. they have tidal exchange).
Estuary - a water passage where salt water meets fresh water. Estuaries often contain salt marshes and other wetlands, which are important habitat for many species.
Eutrophic - a term that designates water enriched with a high quantity of nutrients resulting in a high growth of phytoplankton or seaweeds. The decaying of this plant matter sometimes results in the depletion of oxygen from the area, which can be toxic to other organisms.
Exoskeleton - a skeleton existing on the outside of an organism, such as the shell of a lobster or crab.
Eyestalk - a flexible stalk with a compound eye at the tip found in crustaceans and some mollusks.

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F
Fauna - the animals that live in a specific environment or place.
Flora - the plants that live in a specific environment or place.
Fertilization - the biological joining of a sperm and an egg.
Fill - any sediment deposited by any agent as to fill or partly fill a channel, valley, sink, or other depression.
Filterfeeder - an aquatic animal such as a clam, sponge, or baleen whale that feeds on particles or small organisms that it filters from the water.
Fish ladder - a device constructed to help fish swim upstream to spawn in rivers that have been blocked by dams or other obstructions.
Floodplain - lowland and relatively flat alluvial areas adjoining inland and coastal waters, including flood-prone areas of offshore islands.
Flood prevention - methods or structural measures used to prevent floods; generally means flood control.
Food cycle - all the interconnecting food chains n a community; also called the food web.
Forage - organisms that serve as food. Small fish are forage for larger fish and for fish-eating (piscivorous) birds.
Fresh water - inland waters. Water that contains little or no salt, or salinity.
Fringe - situated on the edge or away from the center of something.

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G
Gastropod - one-shelled mollusks (Phylum: Mollusca, Class: Gastropoda). These univalve invertebrates have a coiled shell, a flattened foot, and a well-developed head with tentacles. Snails, limpets, conchs, whelks, and slugs are all gastropods.
Green accounting - Green accounting makes adjustments to traditional economic measures, such as wealth and savings, to account for the depletion of natural resources and degradation of the environment.
Gill cover - a protective plate that lies over the gills of a fish.
GIS - Geographic Information System refers to a combination of computer hardware and software tools used for mapping and analyzing spatial data.

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H
Habitat - the place where a plant or animal species naturally lives and grows. Characteristics of the soil, water, and biologic community (other plants and animals) that make living in the area possible.
Habitat degradation - the overall decline in the quality and/or quantity of a plant or animal's natural home.
Herbivore - an organism that feeds exclusively on plants.
Hermaphrodite - an animal that carries both male and female sex organs.
Holoplankton - organisms that remain as plankton permanently and do not develop into a different larval form.
Hydrodynamic - the ability to propel easily through water without creating much resistance; streamlined.

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I
Injury - harm or adverse effects to aquatic organisms and the habitats they require to complete their life cycle.
Intertidal zone - the zone between the high and low tide marks.
Iridescent - displaying lustrous colors like the rainbow.

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L
Lateral line - a series of sensory detectors arranged along the sides of most fish. These detect vibrations and movements of other organisms in the water.
Lethargic - slow; sluggish.
Lophophore - ciliated feeding structures, usually round or U-shaped, found in some organisms.

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M
Marsh - an area of low-lying water logged land, often beside water, that is poorly drained and liable to flood, difficult to cross on foot, and unfit for agriculture or building.
Meroplankton - temporary members of the plankton community that are larval forms of organisms.
Migrate - the periodic or regular movement of animals from one place to another. Often animals migrate to feed or breed. Long journeys undertaken by many marine species for the purpose of successful feeding and reproduction.
Mitigation - "the restoration, creation, or enhancement of wetlands to compensate for permitted wetland losses" (Lewis, 1989). Under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act, wetlands may legally be destroyed, but their loss must be compensated for by the restoration, creation, or enhancement of other wetlands.
Mollusk - an invertebrate belonging to the phylum that includes bivalves, gastropods, and cephalopods.
Molting - the process of shedding and regrowing an exoskeleton.
Moratorium - a temporary cessation of an activity, such as fishing, in a particular area.
Mud flat - a muddy, flat intertidal area that is covered by water at high tide and exposed to the air at low tide. Mud flats form at the edge of salt marshes or at the mouths of estuaries.

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N
Nekton - pelagic animals such as adult squid, fish, and mammals that are active swimmers to the extent they can determine their position in the ocean by swimming.
Nematocyst - a specialized stinging cell that is used by an organism to capture prey.
Nitrogen - the gaseous, essential element for plant growth, composing 78 percent of the atmosphere, which is quite inert and unavailable to most plants in its natural form.
NMFS - National Marine Fisheries Service.
NOAA - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Nocturnal - active at night.
NPL - National Priorities List of hazardous waste sites.
Non-point source (NPS) pollution - pollution discharged over a wide land area, not from one specific location. These are forms of diffuse pollution caused by sediment, nutrients, organic and toxic substances originating from land-use activities, which are carried to lakes and streams by surface runoff. Non-point source pollution is contamination that occurs when rain water, melted snow, or irrigation washes off plowed fields, city streets, or suburban backyards. As this runoff moves across the land surface, it picks up soil particles and pollutants, such as nutrients and pesticides.
Nutrient pollution - contamination of water resources by excessive inputs of nutrients. In surface waters, excess algal production is a major concern due to high nutrient levels of such chemicals as nitrogen and phosphorus.
Nutrient - an element essential for growth and survival of a given organism; directly or indirectly, it has one or more roles in metabolism that no other element fulfills.

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O
Omnivore - an organism that eats both plants and animals.
Operculum - a lid or covering that closes the shell opening in snails, or the bony gill covering of a fish.
Ossicles - tiny calcareous skeletal fragments.
Overexploitation - the act of harvesting a species too quickly for the species to replenish itself.

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P
Palp - a small, blunt appendage present in invertebrates for feeding and sensation.
Pannes - Naturally forming bare patches in the marsh. These develop when dead vegetation washed up by the tides prevents sunlight from reaching the sediment below, causing all of the vegetation under the clump to die. Subsequent flushing with the tides leaves bare dirt patches encrusted with white salt crystals.
Parasite - an organism that lives on or in a host organism during all or part of its existence. Nourishment is obtained at the expense of the host.
Palustrine wetland - a swampy, non-tidal wetland where the soils are wet almost all the time.
Pectoral fins - a pair of fins near the gill cover on a fish.
Pelagic - the ability to live exclusively in the water column of the open sea or continental shelf waters, not on the bottom.
Pheromone - a chemical substance that is released by an organism for the purpose of communication between members of the same species.
Phragmites - a tall, erect grass, 6-14 feet high, usually forming dense stands. Habitat includes brackish and tidal fresh marshes (regularly and irregularly flooded zones), also upper edges of salt marshes and old spoil deposits; inland marshes, swamps, wet shores, ditches, and disturbed areas.
Phytoplankton - planktonic plant species; includes diatoms and dinoflagellates.
Plankton - free-floating, microscopic sea organisms with limited swimming abilities that float at the mercy of the tides and currents.
Point-source pollution - water pollution coming from a single point, such as a sewage-outflow pipe.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) - a group of synthetic, toxic industrial chemical compounds once used in making paint and electrical transformers, which are chemically inert and not biodegradable. PCBs were frequently found in industrial wastes, and subsequently found their way into surface and ground waters. As a result of their persistence, they tend to accumulate in the environment. In terms of streams and rivers, PCBs are drawn to sediment, to which they attach and can remain virtually indefinitely.
Pond - a small still body of water formed naturally or created artificially.
Predator - a carnivorous animal that feeds by killing other animals.
Proboscis - an elongated, extensible tubular structure some organisms use for feeding or sensing.
Propagules -the shoot, seed, or other method that plants use to spread or propagate (reproduce).

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R
Radula - a rasping tongue like organ present in mollusks, used to graze and break up food.
Reallocation or Replacement - these terms apply to activities in which most or all of an existing wetland is converted to a different type of wetland. For example, changing an emergent wetland to a pond converts the habitat from one wetland type to something quite different.
Regeneration - the ability of an organism, such as a sea star, to grow a portion of its body back after it has been damaged or severed.
Remediation - also known as clean up, remediation is taking action to reduce, isolate, or remove contamination from an environment with the goal of preventing exposure to people or animals. Examples include dredging to remove contaminated sediment, or capping to prevent contaminated sediment from contacting benthic organisms.
Restoration - return of an ecosystem to a close approximation of its condition prior to disturbance. This can include actions to recreate physical, chemical, or biological characteristics that previously existed on a site.
Riparian - beside or along the bank of a river.
Riprap - a rubble sustaining wall, often used along shorelines to prevent erosion.
Rostrum - a beak or beak-shaped part of something.
Runoff - that portion of the precipitation on a drainage area that is discharged from the area in stream channels; types include surface runoff, groundwater runoff, or seepage.

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S
Salinity - a measure of the total amount of dissolved salts in sea water. The total amount of salt dissolved in sea water; the units most often used are parts per thousand (ppt) but practical salinity unit (psu) is now the accepted standard in oceanography. An average salinity value for seawater is 35 ppt (psu) or 35 parts of salt in 1000 parts of water.
Salt marsh - low area adjacent to the sea that is covered with salt-tolerant vegetation and regularly flooded by the high tide; similar inland areas near saline springs or lakes, though not regularly flooded.
Salt pond - New Englander's term for a coastal lagoon; a body of salt or brackish water that is located behind a barrier beach or island and is connected to the sea by a natural (temporary) or man-made (permanent) opening called a breachway.
Sanctuary - a place or area of land where wildlife is protected from predators and from being destroyed or hunted by human beings (i.e. a bird sanctuary).
STB - Save the Bay (local environmental group in partnership with the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council and the Department of Environmental Management developing the Rhode Island Habitat Restoration website).
Scavenger - an animal that eats animal wastes and the dead bodies of animals not killed by itself.
Seagrass - rooted, vascular, flowering plants that, except for some flowering structures, live and grow below the water surface in coastal and estuarine waters in large meadows or small disjunct beds.
Sediment - usually refers to material in suspension in water or recently deposited from suspension. In the plural form, the word is applied to all kinds of deposits from the waters of streams, lakes, or seas.
Sedimentation - the process or action of depositing sediment.
Septic system - an underground system that breaks down sewage from homes. Septic systems are used where homes are not hooked up to a city (municipal) sewer system. The system includes a septic tank where solid sewage is broken down by bacteria and a leach field into which water flows from the tank. Also referred to as an Individual Sewage Disposal System (ISDS).
Shoaling - a large group of fish or other marine animals swimming together.
Siltation - the process of depositing silt.
Siphon - a tubular organ, especially of arthropods and mollusks, by which water is taken in or expelled.
Spartina - smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora). Low to tall, erect grass, 1-8 feet high. Habitat includes salt and brackish marshes (regularly and irregularly flooded zones). Spartina alterniflora is usually the only plant in the regularly flooded low marsh zone of salt and brackish marshes.
Spawning - to release and fertilize eggs, as done by a number of aquatic species (fish, oysters, etc.) to reproduce.
Steeppass fishways - a prefabricated aluminum chute with vanes along the sides and bottom that create turbulence to lower the velocity of the water.
Substrate
- the base of substance upon which an organism is growing. The bottom material of a waterway.
Superfund - federal program enacted to clean up hazardous waste sites around the United States. Superfund was created under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) and updated by the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986. Superfund is money collected from a special tax on chemical feedstocks and raw petroleum. When a responsible party cannot pay, Superfund money can be used by EPA to investigate, evaluate, and clean up the hazardous waste sites identified on the National Priorities List of Hazardous Waste sites.

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T
Tidal marsh - low, flat marshlands traversed by interlaced channels and tidal sloughs and subject to tidal inundation. Normally, the only vegetation present is salt-tolerant bushes and grasses. Also referred to as a salt marsh.
Tide - the daily rising and falling of the ocean's surface. This change in the water's height is caused by the combined gravitational pull of the moon and sun on the earth's surface.
Tide pool - a low spot in the rocks or sand that holds sea water when the tide is out.
Tributaries - secondary or branch of a stream, drain, or other channel that contributes to the primary or main channel.
Tributary - a stream feeding into a larger stream, lake, or other water body.
Trustee - a trustee for natural resources has the responsibility to care for, protect, and restore native organisms and their habitat on behalf of current and future generations of Americans. NOAA is a trustee for natural resources in coastal and marine areas (for example, migratory fish and marine mammals).

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U
Upland - land above sea level, particularly land some distance from the sea.
Urban Sprawl - Low-density and, usually, unregulated development spreading from an urban area to the undeveloped lands that surround it.
USACE
- United States Army Corps of Engineers.
USFWS - United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

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V
Vascular plant - a plant with a tissue that transports water, solutes, sugars, and other organic compounds through the plant body, well-developed roots, stems, and leaves.

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W
Wastewater - water that carries discharges from homes, businesses, and industries; a mixture of water and dissolved or suspended materials.
Watershed - all the land and tributaries draining to a body of water.
Wetlands - lands where wet conditions leads to the prevalence of specialized communities of plants and animals adapted to those wet conditions. These areas have a specific type of soil, can be covered by either fresh or salt water, and are heavily vegetated.

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Project Partner web pages - RIHRT, CRMC, NBEP, STB

This site was created through a partnership of the:

Coastal Resources Management Council
Narragansett Bay Estuary Program
Save The Bay®