AP Biology : Understanding Darwin

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Biology

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Example Questions

Example Question #1817 : Ap Biology

What conclusion did Darwin draw from the finches he observed at the Galapagos Islands?

Possible Answers:

Finches will all live in the same area of a tree, regardless of species type.

The larger organisms have a large advantage in nature and will out-compete the smaller organisms.

Birds reserve a herd mentality, and will aspire to remain similar in appearance to one another.

Organisms will evolve in order to fill unoccupied niches in their environment.

Correct answer:

Organisms will evolve in order to fill unoccupied niches in their environment.

Explanation:

Darwin observed that the finches found on the Galapagos had adapted different sized beaks to eat different diets. By doing this, the birds had evolved to eat diets that would be inedible by other finches. This concept of a "niche" means that different species will exploit and use their environment in different ways.

Example Question #4 : Theorists And Evidence

Which of the following statements reflecting Darwin's theory of evolution is false?

Possible Answers:

Accumulation of adaptations leads to speciation

All answer choices reflect correct statements about Darwin's theory of evolution

Genetic variations can be inherited

Members of a population produce more offspring than the environment can support

Correct answer:

All answer choices reflect correct statements about Darwin's theory of evolution

Explanation:

Darwin's Theory of Evolution can be described by the following statements.

1) Individuals of any population vary from one another in many characteristics, due to mutation.

2) Genetic variations can be inherited.

3) Members of a population produce more offspring than the environment can support, leading to competition for resources

4) Those individuals whose inherited characteristics fit them best to their environment are likely to leave more offspring than less fit individuals.

5) Over generations of natural selection, favorable adaptations are perpetuated in a species. Accumulation of these favorable changes eventually results in speciation.

Example Question #5 : Theorists And Evidence

Charles Darwin described four key observations pertaining to natural selection from his voyage around the world. Which of the following is NOT one of Darwin’s observations of nature?

Possible Answers:

All species are capable of producing more offspring than their environment can support

Individuals of a population evolve through interaction with their environment

Traits are inherited from parents to offspring

Members of a population often vary greatly in their traits

Correct answer:

Individuals of a population evolve through interaction with their environment

Explanation:

During his travels, Darwin essentially developed the fundamental principles of evolution. Included in these observations were that traits are inherited from parent to offspring, members of a population exhibit genetic diversity (numerous traits), and that organisms are capable of producing more offspring than the environment can support. The fourth observation was that, owing to a lack of food or other resources, many offspring do not survive. Together, these observations helped shape Darwin's theories of natural selection and biological fitness to explain the trends that he had seen.

A key point about natural selection is that it is the population that evolves over time, not individual members of a population lifetime. Individuals that may have inherited advantageous traits are likely to produce more offspring than other members of the population, which drives natural selection within the context of the environment. Environmental pressures can affect the forces of natural selection, but cannot directly result in the production of new traits or the inheritance of those traits.

Example Question #6 : Theorists And Evidence

Which of the following was not part of Darwin's theory of evolution?

Possible Answers:

The inheritance of traits in discrete units called alleles

Over time, traits that are beneficial to an organism in a given environment are likely to accumulate in a population

None of these - Darwin did not develop a theory of evolution

Organisms of the same species display a variety of different traits

Organisms that are best adapted to their environments are most likely to survive and reproduce

Correct answer:

The inheritance of traits in discrete units called alleles

Explanation:

The inheritance of traits through discrete units called alleles was not a part of Darwin's theory of evolution. A monk named Gregor Mendel developed the theory of inheritance through alleles. Darwin's theory did not propose a method of inheritance, and Darwin was unaware of Mendel’s work. The works of Darwin and Mendel were later combined by scientists to create the modern theory of evolution.

Example Question #11 : Theorists And Evidence

Darwin described his theory of natural selection as which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Inheritance of acquired characteristics

Descent with modification

Survival of the fittest

Punctuated equilibrium

Correct answer:

Descent with modification

Explanation:

Darwin described his theory as "descent with modification," meaning that offspring inherit their genetic material from their parents, but with slight modifications. Darwin proposed that those slight modifications which provided a fitness benefit (made it more likely that an organism would reproduce) were more likely to be passed on.

Example Question #2 : Understanding Darwin

Charles Darwin is well-known for his work on Galapagos finches. He found that the finches' beaks had different sizes and shapes that corresponded to their preferred food source. Which of the following phenomenon does this best illustrate?

Possible Answers:

Heredity

Adaptation

Stabilizing selection

Acclimation

Correct answer:

Adaptation

Explanation:

The finches' beaks are highly adapted to their preferred diet. Therefore, this is an excellent example of adaptation. Acclimation occurs on a very short-term basis and does not apply to speciation. Stabilizing selection decreases the amount of genetic diversity among a population, and does not promote speciation as seen among finches. Heredity is simply the degree to which a parent's genes are passed to its offspring and is not demonstrated by this example.

Example Question #12 : Theorists And Evidence

Charles Darwin's voyage to the Galapagos islands and study of the beak shape of finches was integral to his research and subsequent ideas about __________ through __________

Possible Answers:

natural selection . . . evolution

phenotypic degradation . . . selection pressures

sympatric speciation . . . evolution

evolution . . . natural selection

temporal isolation . . . predator-prey relationships

Correct answer:

evolution . . . natural selection

Explanation:

Charles Darwin studied finches in the Galapagos, which prompted his work on natural selection. This was observed as only the finches who were evolutionarily prepared reproduced, thus increasing their traits in the gene pool 

Example Question #13 : Theorists And Evidence

Why do biologists not normally distinguish between micro- and macro- evolution?

Possible Answers:

They are differences between population change and speciation, and the term "species" is impossible to define.

The terms "micro" and "macro" do not apply to the biological process.

The line between "micro" and "macro" is mostly arbitrary and depends on the individual's definition.

"Micro" vs. "Macro" evolution is an outdated principle of Lamarckian evolution.

"Micro" and "macro" are terms only used to try to disprove evolutionary theory.

Correct answer:

The line between "micro" and "macro" is mostly arbitrary and depends on the individual's definition.

Explanation:

Both "microevolution" and "macroevolution" are driven by the same biological process: natural selection. While the former refers to change within species and the latter refers to change to a new species, the line between what constitutes a species change is difficult to define. Since both terms refer to the same process of natural selection, the term evolution applies to both, whether as a single adaptation or a series of adaptations that culminate into a single species.

Example Question #14 : Theorists And Evidence

What aspect of the environment did Darwin hypothesize had caused the Galapagos mockingbirds to differentiate into four different species?

Possible Answers:

None of these

What Darwin had mistaken to be new species were actually the same species with slight colorations depending on the environment.

Each species was found on a different island. Because the populations were separated from each other, they acquired different changes from each other over time.

Because each species had a different food source, each parent bird acquired advantageous changes during its lifetime for accessing that food source, which it passed onto its offspring.

Each bird species had been created separately from the other, with little variation over time.

Correct answer:

Each species was found on a different island. Because the populations were separated from each other, they acquired different changes from each other over time.

Explanation:

Speciation occurs when two populations are separated from each other and accumulate different changes due to different environments. When the birds migrated to the Galapagos and made homes on each island, they became physically different from each other over time. This was one observation to the theory of natural selection.

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