bug: The slang term for an insect. Sometimes it’s even used to refer to a germ. (in computing) Slang term for a glitch in computer code, the instructions that direct the operations of a computer.
citizen science: Scientific research in which the public — people of all ages and abilities — participate. The data that these citizen “scientists” collect helps to advance research. Letting the public participate means that scientists can get data from many more people and places than would be available if they were working alone.
climate: The weather conditions that typically exist in one area, in general, or over a long period.
climate change: Long-term, significant change in the climate of Earth. It can happen naturally or in response to human activities, including the burning of fossil fuels and clearing of forests.
conservation: The act of preserving or protecting something. The focus of this work can range from art objects to endangered species and other aspects of the natural environment.
coyote: This relatively long-legged member of the dog family (Canis latrans) is sometimes referred to as the prairie wolf. It is, however, notably smaller and its build more scrawny than a true wolf. Found from Alaska down into Central America, coyotes have lately expanded their range into all 50 U.S. states. Many now hang out in urban areas where they have no predators and can easily dine on rodents and scavenge trashed food.
data: Facts and/or statistics collected together for analysis but not necessarily organized in a way that gives them meaning. For digital information (the type stored by computers), those data typically are numbers stored in a binary code, portrayed as strings of zeros and ones.
database: An organized collection of related data.
eclipse: This occurs when two celestial bodies line up in space so that one totally or partially obscures the other. In a solar eclipse, the sun, moon and Earth line up in that order. The moon casts its shadow on the Earth. From Earth, it looks like the moon is blocking out the sun. In a lunar eclipse, the three bodies line up in a different order — sun, Earth, moon — and the Earth casts its shadow on the moon, turning the moon a deep red.
field: An area of study, as in: Her field of research is biology. Also a term to describe a real-world environment in which some research is conducted, such as at sea, in a forest, on a mountaintop or on a city street. It is the opposite of an artificial setting, such as a research laboratory.
light pollution: The intrusion of unwanted light into areas that would naturally remain dark. Light pollution interferes with our ability to view the night sky. It also alters the circadian rhythms of plants, animals and people.
Milky Way: The galaxy in which Earth’s solar system resides.
noise pollution: Harmful or annoying levels of noise. Too much traffic and other human-caused noises can make animals nearby change their behaviors — or even make them leave. Harmful levels of noise can also cause permanent damage to human hearing.
northern lights: Another name for the aurora borealis, a light display in the Northern Hemisphere sky caused by a collision between incoming energetic particles from the sun and gas molecules in Earth’s upper atmosphere.
prey: (n.) Animal species eaten by others. (v.) To attack and eat another species.
star: The basic building block from which galaxies are made. Stars develop when gravity compacts clouds of gas. When they become hot enough, stars will emit light and sometimes other forms of electromagnetic radiation. The sun is our closest star.
tag: (in conservation science) To attach some rugged band or package of instruments onto an animal. Sometimes the tag is used to give each individual a unique identification number. Once attached to the leg, ear or other part of the body of a critter, it can effectively become the animal’s “name.” In some instances, a tag can collect information from the environment around the animal as well. This helps scientists understand both the environment and the animal’s role within it.
taste: One of the basic properties the body uses to sense its environment, especially foods, using receptors (taste buds) on the tongue (and some other organs).
telescope: Usually a light-collecting instrument that makes distant objects appear nearer through the use of lenses or a combination of curved mirrors and lenses. Some, however, collect radio emissions (energy from a different portion of the electromagnetic spectrum) through a network of antennas.