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noun, plural: buffers

(1) (chemistry) A buffer solution : a solution containing either a weak acid and a conjugate base or a weak base and a conjugate acid, used to stabilize the pH of a liquid upon dilution.

(2) (biochemistry) An ionic compound that when added to a solution neutralizes both acids and bases without significantly changing the original acidity or alkalinity of a solution.

(3) (ecology) A buffer species: a plant or animal species that becomes an alternate prey to a predator that typically feeds on another species.

(4) Anything that cushions, shields or protects against harm, damage, etc., e.g. a high reproductive rate is an efficient buffer against population crashes.


In ecology, a buffer species is a plant or an animal that becomes an alternate prey to a predator. This happens when the predator's preferable, usual prey species is scarce or absent.

A buffer may also refer to a vegetated area near a stream that plays a conservatory role in the environment. Such buffer is particularly called a riparian buffer.

In biochemistry, a buffer, specifically a buffer solution, is essential for many biochemical processes. It serves to maintain the correct pH necessary as many enzymes work only under precise pH conditions.

Word origin: from obsolete buff, to make a sound like a soft body being hit, of imitative origin.

Related terms:

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