Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
ECOSYSTEM: A community of organisms and their physical environment.
FAMILY: See species.
FEN: A wetland fed year-round by nutrient rich water and underlain by peat. Prevailing vegetation varies from low grassy plants to tall shrubs. They are usually found on sloping river valleys.
PEAT: An accumulation of partially decayed plant matter. In North Dakota, these accumulations are as thick as 16 feet.
SPECIES: All plants and animals are divided into groups with similar characteristics. The basic building block for this division is the species. Organisms of the same species can interbreed. Species with common characteristics are grouped into a genus (plural genera). Genera with similar characteristics are grouped into a family.
Each species is given a scientific name of two words, the genus and species. These names are latin so they can be recognized worldwide. Common names, on the other hand, vary from nation to nation, and even within a nation.
Both the Mallard and Pintail are in the same genus Anus and are also grouped into the family of ducks, geese, and swans.
SUBSPECIES: Species are sometimes divided into subspecies, or distinct populations. Subspecies are usually separated geographically. For example, the Giant Canada Goose, a subspecies of Canada Goose, breeds in North Dakota. The Lesser Canada Goose. a smaller subspecies of Canada Goose, breeds in the Arctic.