AP Environmental Science : Niches

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Environmental Science

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Niches

Which of the following is a habitat and way of life to which a particular organism is adapted?

Possible Answers:

Community

Habituation

Niche

Biome

TerritorialityTerr

Correct answer:

Niche

Explanation:

 A niche is a habitat and way of life to which a particular organism is adapted. It is the role of a particular species within an ecosystem, including all aspects of its interaction with the living and nonliving environments.  Habituation is a common form of simple learning, defined as a decline in response to a repeated stimulus. The ability to habituate is adaptive. Humans habituate to many stimuli: city dwellers to traffic sounds, and country dwellers to the sounds of nature. A biome is a terrestrial ecosystem that occupies an extensive geographical area and is characterized by a specfic type of plant community. A community is all the interacting populations within an ecosystem. Terrioriality is the defense of an area in which important resources are located. 

Example Question #2 : Niches

Giraffes use their incredibly long necks and tough, prehensile tongues to expertly remove acacia leaves from their spiky branches. Honey badgers are opportunistic and will chase other predators away from carcasses to eat carrion. They will also destroy beehives with their huge claws to reach honey. Additionally, they can use their claws to dig burrows and find yams. Gerenuks will stand on their back legs to reach the tops of grassland shrubs, which is a unique trait among grass eating antelope. Last, aardvarks have immense nails and sticky tongues that they use to open termite mounds and consume thousands of termites and ants in a given night.

Using this information, which of the following species would best be described as a niche generalist? 

Possible Answers:

Aardvark

Giraffe

Gerenuk

Honey badger

Correct answer:

Honey badger

Explanation:

A species generalist can survive in a wide variety of environmental conditions and make use of varying resources. Honey badgers are generalists because they eat proportionally smaller amounts of many types of food over their lifetime. The other species listed are specialists and eat a proportionally large amount of one or few types of food over their lifetimes.

Example Question #3 : Niches

Which tree is an important element of marsh ecosystems and serves as protection for young marine life?

Possible Answers:

Mangrove

Palm

Fig

Pine

Correct answer:

Mangrove

Explanation:

Mangrove roots grow densely in salt water and form nurseries for young marine life before they are large enough to move into more open waters. Mangroves have many special adaptations for surviving in marshy environments.

Example Question #4 : Niches

A species' __________ is its unique role and position in its ecosystem.

Possible Answers:

habitat

niche

livelihood

ecosystem

evolution

Correct answer:

niche

Explanation:

A species' niche is its unique role and position in its ecosystem. This could be the type of home it builds, the food it eats, or anything unique to that species' position in life. In balanced ecosystems, species' niches are diverse with only minor overlap to reduce unnecessary competition.

Evolution is the process that creates diverse species. Though evolution can be tracked through fossils, it can also be observed in modern times. A habitat is an organism’s home, which provides the organism food, water, and shelter. Last, an ecosystem is a community of organisms (plants and animals) and their nonliving environment (air, soil, water).

Example Question #5 : Niches

Every species has a different range of habitat in which it can exist. A healthy species that is found only in a specific region (i.e. Hawaii) is said to be __________ to that region.

Possible Answers:

endemic

eutrophic

endangered

extinct

None of these

Correct answer:

endemic

Explanation:

“Endemic” is the only answer choice that makes sense.  An endemic species is defined as a species found specifically in one region and nowhere else. The words "endangered" and "extant" refer to unhealthy species, and the question specifically uses the word healthy to describe the species. The word "eutrophic" has nothing to do with the question and relates to pollution related to algae blooms in nutrient rich biomes. 

Example Question #6 : Niches

The idea of the niche has been a useful tool in ecology to help scientists understand species interactions within an ecosystem. Which niche theory in ecology states that, "No two species can occupy the same niche in the same environment for an extended period of time"?

Possible Answers:

Predator Satiation Hypothesis

Intermediate Disturbance Hypothesis

Competitive Exclusion Principle

Metapopulation Theory

Correct answer:

Competitive Exclusion Principle

Explanation:

The correct response is Competitive Exclusion Principle. This is the only answer choice that is specific to niches and competition. 

Example Question #7 : Niches

Niche Theory allows us to understand the role a species plays in its environment. Niche Theory includes a species home range, life history, mating patterns, food sources, and many other characteristics. Which of the following terms is used to describe the whole range of areas a species can occupy within its environment?

Possible Answers:

Fundamental niche

Temporary niche

Realized niche

Actual niche

Correct answer:

Fundamental niche

Explanation:

The correct response is Fundamental niche. This fundamental niche describes all the possible locations that a species can live. The term realized niche is where a species actually lives in response to its predator-prey and competitive relationships. The other two answer choices are made up terms.

Example Question #8 : Niches

The process by which species are driven into different niches by availability of resources is called __________.

Possible Answers:

niche partitioning

niche coexistance

resource splitting

niche segregating

Correct answer:

niche partitioning

Explanation:

Niche partitioning occurs when species develop different patterns of obtaining resources to avoid overlapping and over-exploiting the same resource. A classic example is in nest-height preference in birds. Some are more adapted for and prefer lower parts of the tree while others prefer the treetops. This eliminates some inter-species competition.

Example Question #9 : Niches

Individuals who are better-adapted to a certain environment are more likely to survive and reproduce; thus increasing the the proportion of those individuals in a population. This process is called natural selection. 

Over time, natural selection can result in a population specializing to form what?

Possible Answers:

Adaptations

Ecological niche

Mutations

Inheritable variation

Reproductive success 

Correct answer:

Ecological niche

Explanation:

Adaptations improve an individual's chances of surviving and reproducing and are part of the natural selection process, not an end result. Inheritable variation and reproductive success, along with high reproductive capacity and differential reproductive success, are the observable factors supporting the theory of natural selection. Mutations are variations in the genes of individuals and are part of the natural selection process. 

Example Question #10 : Niches

The taiga habitat contains what type of soil?

Possible Answers:

Loamy

Acidic

Shallow and infertile

Deep and slightly basic

Poor and sandy

Correct answer:

Acidic

Explanation:

Taiga, otherwise known as boreal forest and found in Northern Europe, North America, and Northern Asia, contains mostly pine trees and other evergreens. The soil type is acidic, as is preferred by those trees.

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