Term name Description
PaleomagnetismThe study of the magnetic polarity of rocks when they formed millions of years ago, indicating that the position of the continents has changed over time
ParishThe smallest unit of local government, found in rural areas and often corresponding to long accepted units of land for which census data have been collected – including the statistical accounts. There are 16 core church parishes in the Cairngorms area – Strathdon, Crathie & Braemar, Glenmuick, Lochlee, Cortachy, Glenisla, Inveravon, Kirkmichael (Banffshire), Abernethy, Alvie, Duthill, Kingussie, Cromdale, Kirkmichael (Perthshire), Blair Atholl and Moulin.
PasserineA small perching bird, e.g. chaffinch, sparrow, warbler
PhytoplanktonVegetable plankton
Piste basherA wide, heavy machine for reorganising snow on ski 'pistes', flattening out moguls (bumps), compacting soft snow areas, to provide wide, flat runs
PlateauA flat–topped mountain area
PlutonA mass of rock that has which has solidified from magma below the Earth's surface. A very large mass is also known as a
PodsolisationThe most severe form of soil leaching. The removal of sesquioxides and clay minerals from upper soil horizons by means of soluble organic substances, under acid conditions
Polar FrontThe 'frontier' between polar and tropical air between latitudes of 40° and 60° N and S, along which depressions (cyclones) form and circulate rain–bearing clouds eastward, over the continents
Precautionary principleOne of five principles guiding sustainable use of the natural heritage – wise use, carrying capacity, environmental quality, shared benefits and precautionary principle. It recognises the need for good science in decision–making. This principle also recognises that environmental complexity and consequent uncertainty limit the scope for obtaining scientific proof of impacts within decision–making time scales
PredatorAn animal that stalks, kills and feeds on other animals – a carnivore
PreyAn animal that is stalked and killed by another animal
PsammiticOf rocks, originating from sand grains

Pegmatite is a very coarse-grained igneous rock that has a grain size of 20 mm or more; such rocks are referred to as pegmatitic. Most pegmatites are composed of quartz, feldspar and mica; in essence a "granite".

Pollen analysis

This is the study of vegetation history using microfossils (pollen grain and spores) found in the area.

Pollen grains

Pollen grains are basically microscopic spherical or oval / disc shaped structures.  Each pollen type has its own unique set of characteristics which allows species or plant families to be identified.


This is the process of converting light energy to chemical energy and storing it.  This process occurs only in green plants and some algae and these are the only plants that produce oxygen and make food


sloping sides with rounded base (cross between U & V) for the scientific definition see

Plant succession

Plant succession is the natural change in plant communities that occurs over time. However, soil conditions, climate and other forces may affect the pattern of succession.