Environmental Encyclopedia (1,2 vol) by Marci Bortman

By Marci Bortman

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For example, all finches in a particular forest are alike in many ways. But if many hard-to-shell seeds are found in the forest, those finches with stronger, more conical bills will have better rates of reproduction and survival than finches with thin bills. Therefore, a conical, stout bill can be considered an adaptation to that forest environment. Any specialized characteristic that permits an individual to 10 survive and reproduce is called an adaptation. Adaptations may result either from an individual’s genetic heritage or from its ability to learn.

Similarly, the building of tall smokestacks on power plants and smelters lessened local air pollution, but spread acid rain over broad areas of the countryside. Because of our lack of scientific understanding of complex systems, we are continually subjected to surprises. How to plan for “unknown unknowns” is an increasing challenge as our world becomes more tightly interconnected and our ability to adjust to mistakes decreases. Not all is discouraging, however, in the field of environmental science.

A. Corbitt. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1990. , K. Deeny, and T. Eckhoff. The Activated Sludge Process: Fundamentals of Operation. Boston: Butterworth Publishers, 1983. Acute effects Effects that persist in a biologic system for only a short time, generally less than a week. The effects might range from behavioral or color changes to death. Tests for acute effects are performed with humans, animals, plants, insects, and microorganisms. Intoxication and a hangover resulting from the consumption of too much alcohol, the common cold, and parathion poisoning are examples of acute effects.

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