AP Environmental Science : Forests

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Environmental Science

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Forests

What timber-harvesting method involves clearing the majority of mature trees in a stand while leaving some mature trees to provide seeds to replenish the stand?

Possible Answers:

Single-tree selection cutting

Group selection cutting

Shelterwood cutting

Clear-cutting

Seed-tree cutting

Correct answer:

Seed-tree cutting

Explanation:

Seed-tree cutting best fits this definition because most trees in this harvest method are cleared, but a few mature trees are left uncut so as to provide seeds for future stands to grow. 

Clear-cutting is when an entire stand is cut for harvest. Single-tree cutting is harvesting select mature trees. Shelterwood cutting is when the forest is "thinned" of more mature trees, and a group-selected cut is when a small patch of trees is selected and cut.

Example Question #2 : Forests

Oak is very profitable as a firewood, but oak stands take long periods of time to mature, often hundreds of years. Oak saplings aren't very shade-tolerant and soil erosion from over-logging is a very pressing issue. Oak saplings form in the immediate area to which the parent tree drops the acorns. Which of the following harvest methods would be optimal for both the hardwood ecosystem and timber yields?

Possible Answers:

Group-selection cutting

Shelterwood cutting

Seed-tree cutting

Clear-cutting

Single-tree cutting

Correct answer:

Shelterwood cutting

Explanation:

Clear-cutting puts the hardwood ecosystem at risk of soil erosion and depletes the resource, while single-tree cutting would reap little profit and dense stands could limit growth of shade-intolerant saplings. Seed-tree leaves too few slow-growing oaks to disperse seeds and group-selection cutting is not optimal for a tree whose saplings grow right where the acorns drop from the tree. 

Shelterwood cutting thins out the forest, allowing younger, sun-loving trees to grow. This method is often preferred for slow-growing hardwoods and limits soil erosion while maximizing yield.

Example Question #3 : Forests

From the 1930s onward, suppression of forest fires has been common practice in United States land management, particularly in the management of Western coniferous stands. Which of the following is NOT a consequence of this type of management?

Possible Answers:

When there are no regular wildfires, stands become too dense, resulting in a diminished understory of flora, which can cause soil erosion. 

Migratory populations can be halted, hindered and even dissapear from the regional landscape due to inability to find forage. 

When forests are not burned regularly, the canopy can become too crowded for new trees to get the sunlight and precipitation they need. 

Without regular wildfires, forests can become so dense that the resulting build-up of "fuel" can generate a more intense wildfire that could be more challenging to contain. 

When fire-adapted forests are not burned periodically, the understory can become overcrowded, making it difficult for animals to migrate, travel, hunt, etc. 

Correct answer:

When there are no regular wildfires, stands become too dense, resulting in a diminished understory of flora, which can cause soil erosion. 

Explanation:

The main concern with fire supression is the overcrowding of fire-adapted tree stands, which can be problematic for wildlife attempting to forage or migrate. A buildup of high-density wood fuel is also a high risk for a catastropic wildfire and is not befitting of a healthy ecological community. However, overgrowth of stands does not inherently pose a risk for soil erosion, as root systems from dense tree stands will likely hold the soil in place. 

Example Question #4 : Forests

Swidden agriculture is used mostly in rainforest areas. Plots that are made in this way are typically abandoned in only a few years due to poor soil quality.

Swidden agriculture is also known as __________.

Possible Answers:

intensive agriculture

slash and burn agriculture

terracing

desertification

Correct answer:

slash and burn agriculture

Explanation:

Slash and burn describes the process of clearing forested areas of vegetation and burning to provide cropland or rangeland. Terracing is the process by which a hill is converted into large "steps" of land, which are easier to farm. Intensive agriculture describes the large-scale, systematic production of food for distribution to heavily populated areas. Desertification, as the name suggests, involves land degradation in which an already dry area becomes increasingly dry, usually resulting in a decrease in biodiversity.

Example Question #5 : Forests

Skyler is a forest ranger in the Washington Parks. His job is to preserve a track of forest that has never been cut. What type of forest is this?

Possible Answers:

Second growth forest

Agroforest

Native forest

Old growth forest

None of these

Correct answer:

Old growth forest

Explanation:

The correct response is old growth forest. This refers specifically to a forest that has never been cut, or has been around for over a hundred years. Another term would be Virgin Forest. The term native forest just means that they forest contains natural vegetation to the ecosystem - it doesn't refer to whether the forest has been cut or not. Agroforest is the combination of agriculture and forest lands. Second growth forest is the regrowth of a forest after being cut down.

Example Question #6 : Forests

Which is the definition of "seed-tree cutting?"

Possible Answers:

Removing only mature trees individually or in small groups

Removing nearly an entire stand of trees, leaving only a few evenly distributed trees to regenerate the stand

A strip is clear cut, leaving a corridor narrow enough to allow regeneration within a shorter period of time

Removing all mature trees in a few cuttings over a period of ten years

Correct answer:

Removing nearly an entire stand of trees, leaving only a few evenly distributed trees to regenerate the stand

Explanation:

Strip cutting - a strip is clear cut, leaving a corridor narrow enough to allow regeneration within a shorter period of time.

Shelterwood cutting - removing all mature trees in a few cuttings over a period of ten years.

Selective cutting - removing only mature trees individually or in small groups.

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