AP Environmental Science : Rangelands

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Environmental Science

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Rangelands

Freerange cattle are both healthier and more delicious. However, cattle can overgraze rangelands, compact the soilT and even eat tree seedlings, hindering the growth of new stands. How can this problem be combatted while also maximizing the amount of freerange cattle that can be raised?

Possible Answers:

Confine the cattle to a small parcel of rangeland, limiting their detriment to the grassland ecosystem in the big picture. 

Till the rangelands regularly to prevent cattle from compacting and disturbing the soil. 

Subdivide rangeland with fencing, moving the cattle from one location to the next periodically. 

Only raise a few cattle on a large parcel of rangeland. 

Only raise large herds of cattle on large parcels of rangeland. 

Correct answer:

Subdivide rangeland with fencing, moving the cattle from one location to the next periodically. 

Explanation:

subdividing rangeland and rotating where the herds of cattle graze allows for grasslands to regenerate naturally and prevents excessive disturbance of the soil while also maximizing the number of cattle that can graze in a certain area. 

Example Question #2 : Rangelands

In terms of efficient land management, which of the following ecosystems would be most practical to utilize for grazing?

Possible Answers:

Fertile river delta

High-precipitation temperate forest

Low-precipitation prairie/grassland

High-precipitation grassland

Low-precipitation boreal forest

Correct answer:

Low-precipitation prairie/grassland

Explanation:

In regions of the U.S. that have insufficient rainfall for growing crops (Eastern Colorado, West Texas, etc.), the land is often utilized for grazing livestock. Dry grassland ecosystems are best used for grazing because tilling the soil for cultivation creates a heightened risk for wind-carried soil erosion, as was demonstrated by the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

Example Question #3 : Rangelands

All of the following are types of rangelands EXCEPT __________.

Possible Answers:

Chaparral

Desert

Tundra

Tallgrass prairies

Savanna

Correct answer:

Desert

Explanation:

A rangeland is an biome categorized by native, grassy plants on which wild and/or domestic animals feed. It can be a desert shrubland, a tundra, a grassland, or another biome, as long as it is not barren.

Example Question #4 : Rangelands

Which of the following rangeland ecosystems is most susceptible to soil erosion by overgrazing?

Possible Answers:

A rangeland atop a mesa, consisting of deep-rooted hardwood shrubs in an area that is prone to regular, strong gusts

A rangeland consisting exclusively of annual grasses with shallow root systems with a narrow, fast-flowing creek running through the area

A rangeland consisting mostly of hardwood shrubs with outwardly-extending root systems in an area with strong seasonal gusts

A rangeland consisting of a mixture of annual grasses with short root systems and perennial bunchgrasses with deeper root systems

A rangeland consisting exclusively of annual grasses with shallow root systems and strong seasonal gusts

Correct answer:

A rangeland consisting exclusively of annual grasses with shallow root systems and strong seasonal gusts

Explanation:

Annual grasses with shallow root systems not only provide little structural integrity to the organic and topsoil layers of the soil, but are also very desirable to grazing livestock such as cattle. Cattle generally prefer annual grasses to shrubs and semi-woody bunchgrasses, which—when combined with strong seasonal gusts—can put a rangeland at serious risk of wind erosion and loss of topsoil. Woody shrubs and bunchgrasses typically have deeper or further-extending root systems and provide more structural integrity for the soil, which prevents further erosion. 

Example Question #5 : Rangelands

Potentially harmful runoff from grazing on rangelands continues to be a pressing issue in prairie communities. E. coli and excess nitrogen in the watershed can pose a serious risk to public health, and both of these pollutants can be traced back to grazing cattle. Which of the following is the best possible solution for this issue that considers ecosystem health, public health and economic well-being of ranchers?

Possible Answers:

Provide water purifiers to the people who live in the nearby community. As long as they get clean water, the grazing of livestock can continue. 

Create man-made watering holes for cattle and livestock away from the naturally-occuring rivers and lakes where people get their drinking water from. 

Ban cattle ranching in the rangelands. The grassland ecosystem is better off untouched and we don't really need to eat beef. 

Limit the ranchers to graze their herds in areas sufficient distance from any watershed or waterway. 

Limit livestock access to rivers and tributaries, create man-made watering holes and establish healthy riparian plant communities along waterways. 

Correct answer:

Limit livestock access to rivers and tributaries, create man-made watering holes and establish healthy riparian plant communities along waterways. 

Explanation:

Manure from livestock containing E. coli can potentially contaminate a local watershed. Limiting access to watersheds by livestock will prevent direct contamination by feces, while establishing man-made watering holes will allow continued access to drinking water for livestock. Maintaining a healthy riparian plant community also abates water contamination, because high-density riparian plant communities can prevent leaching of contaminants into the waterway. 

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