AP Environmental Science : Ecological Impacts

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Environmental Science

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Example Questions

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Example Question #21 : Pollution

Small fish eating bacteria and phytoplankton, which both contain relatively high levels of mercury, is an example of:

Possible Answers:

bioremediation

bioaccumulation

biomagnification

phytoextraction

phytoremediation

Correct answer:

bioaccumulation

Explanation:

When small fish eat bacteria and phytoplankton which contain relatively high levels of mercury, they accumulate the mercury into their tissues. This describes the process of bioaccumulation.

Example Question #22 : Pollution

Why is acid rain so harmful to marine species?

Possible Answers:

Many fish species will produce a thick mucus lining over their gills to protect themselves against the lower pH; however, this can result in eventual suffocation

Microbes and viruses thrive in waters with a lower pH; marine species eventualy succumb to disease and die off

Their skin or exoskleton becomes thin and easily punctured, usually leading to death from blood loss

Marine species become weak and disoriented in waters with higher levels of acidity, making them easier prey

Water takes on a more opaque quality when contaminated with pollutants such as sulfuric and nitric acids, making food difficult to find

Correct answer:

Many fish species will produce a thick mucus lining over their gills to protect themselves against the lower pH; however, this can result in eventual suffocation

Explanation:

"Acid shock" typically occurs during the spring time, when snow (which has retained and accumulated pollutants) begins to melt and runoff into lakes and rivers. Another detrimental effect of acid shock occurs during the spawning/developing stages of aquatic animals. For example, some salamanders and frogs prefer to lay eggs in "vernal pools", or temporary puddles of water only present in the spring. Acid shock can cause these pools to become too acidic; the eggs cannot properly develop, and they die off.

Example Question #23 : Pollution

Which definition best describes the process of eutrophication?

Possible Answers:

Nitrogen-rich agricultural runoff results in exponential growth of aquatic flora, which provides a more abundant food source for aquatic wildlife. The resulting overpopulation by aquatic wildlife creates a hypoxic environment, which causes fish and other aquatic animals to suffocate.

Nitrogen-rich agricultural runoff enters aquatic ecosystems, with exponential increases in aquatic vegetation growth resulting from increased nutrient availability in the watershed. Oxygen is consumed when when the bloom of aquatic vegetation dies off and decomposes, resulting in hyperoxia and die-off of aquatic wildlife.

Nutrients from agricultural runoff enter the watershed and the resulting algal bloom limits availability of sunlight and oxygen production, resulting in a hypoxic aquatic ecosystem and wildlife die-offs.

Nitrogen-rich agricultural runoff enters aquatic ecosystems, resulting in increased nutrient availability and algal blooms. The now-overpopulated aquatic plants consume most of the oxygen available in the watershed, resulting in hypoxia and die-off of aquatic wildlife.

Nitrogen-rich agricultural runoff enters aquatic ecosystems, with exponential increases in aquatic vegetation growth resulting from increased nutrient availability in the watershed. Oxygen is consumed when when the bloom of aquatic vegetation dies off and decomposes, resulting in hypoxia and die-off of aquatic wildlife.

Correct answer:

Nitrogen-rich agricultural runoff enters aquatic ecosystems, with exponential increases in aquatic vegetation growth resulting from increased nutrient availability in the watershed. Oxygen is consumed when when the bloom of aquatic vegetation dies off and decomposes, resulting in hypoxia and die-off of aquatic wildlife.

Explanation:

The algal blooms that result from agricultural runoff do not consume oxygen when they are living. The resulting die-off from overcrowding and lack of sunlight availability and decomposition process is what consumes oxygen in the ecosystem, causing fish to suffocate. 

It is also important to recognize that hypoxia is the result of insufficient oxygen in the ecosystem, while hyperoxia is when there is too much oxygen. (Consider the meanings of the prefixes "hypo-" and "hyper-".)

Example Question #24 : Pollution

In the United States, garbage—municipal solid waste—most commonly exists in which of the following forms?

Possible Answers:

Paper

None of these

Textiles

Plastic

Correct answer:

Paper

Explanation:

As of 2013, paper products made up 27 percent of the United States' municipal solid waste.

Example Question #25 : Pollution

Reducing the occurrence or frequency of a disaster or issues is best defined as? 

Possible Answers:

Preservation

Remediation 

Mitigation

Restoration

Correct answer:

Mitigation

Explanation:

Mitigation is defined as actions taken to prevent or reduce the occurrence of natural disasters and damage to an environment. Restoration is the renewal of an environment or ecosystem after it has been almost or completely destroyed. Preservation is a collection of efforts aimed at sustaining a vulnerable or unstable ecosystem. Remediation is often the clean up or removal of contaminants from an environment. 

Example Question #26 : Pollution

The clean up of chemical in a polluted area is representative of which kind of sustainability effort? 

Possible Answers:

Restoration

Remediation

Preservation

Mitigation

Correct answer:

Remediation

Explanation:

Mitigation is defined as actions taken to prevent or reduce the occurrence of natural disasters and damage to an environment. Restoration is the renewal of an environment or ecosystem after it has been almost or completely destroyed. Preservation is a collection of efforts aimed at sustaining a vulnerable or unstable ecosystem. Remediation is often the clean up or removal of contaminants from an environment. 

Example Question #27 : Pollution

Efforts to sustain a susceptible environment or organisms population most closely resembles which kind of human ecological action? 

Possible Answers:

Restoration

Remediation

Mitigation

Preservation

Correct answer:

Preservation

Explanation:

Mitigation is defined as actions taken to prevent or reduce the occurrence of natural disasters and damage to an environment. Restoration is the renewal of an environment or ecosystem after it has been almost or completely destroyed. Preservation is a collection of efforts aimed at sustaining a vulnerable or unstable ecosystem. Remediation is often the clean up or removal of contaminants from an environment. 

Example Question #1 : Ecological Impacts

Efforts to reclaim a dry riverbed into a flowing source of water is an example of what kind of human ecological action? 

Possible Answers:

Preservation

Restoration

Mitigation

Remediation

Correct answer:

Restoration

Explanation:

Mitigation is defined as actions taken to prevent or reduce the occurrence of natural disasters and damage to an environment. Restoration is the renewal of an environment or ecosystem after it has been almost or completely destroyed. Preservation is a collection of efforts aimed at sustaining a vulnerable or unstable ecosystem. Remediation is often the clean up or removal of contaminants from an environment. 

Example Question #2 : Ecological Impacts

It's known that pollution can have negative impacts on human health, economics, and ecological communities. Which of the following is not an effect of pollution?

Possible Answers:

Ozone depletion

Contaminated water

Acid rain

Biodiversity conservation

Correct answer:

Biodiversity conservation

Explanation:

The correct response is biodiversity conservation. Pollution alters ecological communities by adding harmful chemicals, substances, and abiotic factors into the environment. This has a negative effect on biodiversity - not a positive effect. Thus, we would not except for species to be conserved in a region with pollution. We know that pollution can lead to acid rain, contaminated water, and ozone depletion so those answer choices are incorrect.

Example Question #3 : Ecological Impacts

Which of the following most accurately describes the dominant theme of Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring?

Possible Answers:

A push for legislation to protect declining wildlife populations and their habitat

The potential loss of biodiversity, particularly bird species as a result of climate change

The adverse affect of habitat loss from development and logging on migratory bird populations

The potential risk of pesticide application to human health, particularly with air and drinking water quality

The adverse affect of pesticide use on the ecosystem, particularly on songbird populations

Correct answer:

The adverse affect of pesticide use on the ecosystem, particularly on songbird populations

Explanation:

Rachel Carson's Silent Spring focused primarily on the widespread application of pesticides, the lack of government regulation of said pesticides (especially DDT), and their negative impacts on bird populations (i.e. songbirds that were at risk and would result in a spring lacking their songs). The book challenged industry claims that downplayed toxicity of their products and triggered a grassroots environmental movement that helped create the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

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