AP Environmental Science : Species Relationships and Diversity

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Environmental Science

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Species Relationships And Diversity

Hummingbirds use their long beaks to drink nectar from flowers. In turn, they carry the pollen from flower to flower, assisting the reproduction of the flowers.

What relationship does this describe?

Possible Answers:

Resource Partitioning

Parasitism

Co-evolution

Mutualism

Competitive Exclusion

Correct answer:

Mutualism

Explanation:

Coevolution is a process by which two or more species evolve in response to one another, and generally describes competing species. While the hummingbird and the flower may evolve due to this relationship, coevolution more freqeucntly describes the evolution of defense mechanisms in response to a predator-prey relationship. Parasitism is the relationship in which one species benefits at the expense of the host. This can sometimes lead to coevolution, depending on how the host reacts. Neither species is being harmed in the given scenario, so this is incorrect. Commensalism is when one species benefits, but the other species is not impacted. In this case, both the hummingbird and the flower are benefiting, so this is not our answer. Resource partitioning is when species evolve together to share resources in a sustainable way. The hummingbird is using a resource that the flower provides, but they are not "sharing" in the sense of the definition of resource partitioning. Competitive exclusion describes the phenomenon when two species share the same niche, and the stronger one forces out the weaker competitor. 

Mutualism, the correct answer, describes a relationship wherein species exploit each other mutually. In this case, the hummingbird gains nutrition from the flower, and the flower gains a reproductive advantage from the hummingbird.

Example Question #2 : Species Relationships And Diversity

Why are sharks invaluable to the scientific community?

Possible Answers:

They have an extremely resilient immune system

Studying their cartilaginous skeleton holds a great deal of promise for the prosthetics industry

Their predatory tactics are unique

Sharks are very intelligent and could help us understand fish migratory patterns better

They have incredible sensory powers

Correct answer:

They have an extremely resilient immune system

Explanation:

Sharks have been shown to be very resistant to infection when they have been wounded. It is also notable how low cancer rates are in sharks—in fact, researchers from MIT have isolated a potential anti-tumor agent in sharks' skeletons that could further cancer research with regard to human patients. 

Example Question #3 : Species Relationships And Diversity

 

Which of the following best defines the interspecies interaction in the following situation?

Jackrabbit populations introduced to the Australian outback from Europe in the 1800s decimate communities of desert shrubs and grasses.

Possible Answers:

Amensalism

Parasitism

Commensalism

Mutualism

Predation

Correct answer:

Amensalism

Explanation:

The over-browsing by the invasive jackrabbit population has resulted in harm being done to the desert plant communities with no negative impact on the rabbits, resulting in amensalism.

Example Question #4 : Species Relationships And Diversity

Which of the following choices is best defined as the relative proportion of different species in a given area?

Possible Answers:

Species evenness

Phylogeny

Species diversity

Species richness

Correct answer:

Species evenness

Explanation:

Species evenness is a measure of diversity that takes into account the relative proportion of different species in a given area. Richness can also be classified as a measure of diversity; however, it refers to the number of different species in an area rather than proportion. Last, phylogeny refers to the construction of branched models that illustrate evolutionary pathways.

Example Question #4 : Species Relationships And Diversity

Globally, cheetahs possess a low genetic diversity. This is the result of a mass extinction event that occurred about 12,000 years ago. Unfortunately, low levels of genetic diversity have made cheetahs prone to kinked tails, poor sperm quality, and sensitivity to the same infectious diseases across the species.

Which of the following choices best characterizes the mass extinction of cheetahs?

Possible Answers:

Bottleneck effect

Genetic drift

Geographic isolation

Founder effect

Correct answer:

Bottleneck effect

Explanation:

Bottleneck effect occurs after a drastic reduction in population size due to events such as a natural disaster, or widespread disease. The remaining population lacks genetic diversity because there are fewer individuals and fewer genes present within the population. This is the correct answer. The founder effect is not correct because it is defined as the loss of genetic variation as a result of a few numbers of individuals establishing a population. Geographic isolation occurs when a population is isolated from others due to geographic boundaries such as mountains, cliffs, or large bodies of water; therefore, it is not the correct choice. Last, genetic drift refers to the change in frequency of gene variation due to random sampling and does not correctly answer the question.

Example Question #6 : Species Relationships And Diversity

Which of the following is not a type of species interaction?

Possible Answers:

Interspecific competition

Mutualism

Predation

Parasitism

Parallelism

Correct answer:

Parallelism

Explanation:

Parallelism can describe a type of evolution, but does not represent a type of species interaction. On the other had the other choices—interspecific competition, predation, parasitism, and mutualism—are types of species interactions. Interspecific competition occurs when members of species compete for the same resource or niche. Predation happens when one species (predator) feeds on another species (prey). Parasitism takes place when one organism lives off the body of another. This organism is a parasite and usually lives inside or on the host. Mutualism refers to interaction between multiple species for the benefit of all species members.

Example Question #7 : Species Relationships And Diversity

Species can interact in a variety of ways. A textbook example would be the interaction between bees and flowers. Flowers provide nectar for bees. The bees, in turn, provide fertilization services for flowers. Which of the following types of relationships best describes this scenario?

Possible Answers:

Facilitative relationship

Mutualistic relationship

Competitive relationship

Symbiotic relationship

Correct answer:

Mutualistic relationship

Explanation:

The question describes a mutualistic relationship in which both the bee and the flower benefit. Mutualistic relationships can be described as win-win interactions between species. Facilitative relationships occur when one species benefits and the other species is not impacted in any way. Competitive relationships are win-lose interactions where one species benefits and the other species is detrimentally impacted. 

Example Question #8 : Species Relationships And Diversity

Populations can lose genetic diversity over time. The change in genetic diversity (e.g. allele frequency) over time from random variation is referred to as which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Founder effect

Genetic drift 

Population bottleneck

Inbreeding depression

Correct answer:

Genetic drift 

Explanation:

The correct answer is genetic drift. This is the only answer choice that refers to random, natural process by which allele frequencies are reduced in general populations. All the other terms are events that occur in response to small population sizes or colonization.

Example Question #9 : Species Relationships And Diversity

Which of the following is not an example of species interaction?

Possible Answers:

Parallelism 

Predation

Mutualism

Commensalism

Parasitism

Correct answer:

Parallelism 

Explanation:

Species interact in many ways: 

Predation - one species (predator) preys on another species (prey).

Parasitism - symbiotic relationship between species where one species benefits at the expense of the other.

Mutualism - a positive symbiotic relationship where both species benefit.

Commensalism - a relationship between species where one benefits and the other remains unaffected. 

Example Question #10 : Species Relationships And Diversity

Many insects like bees or moths do not have many physically defensive abilities, so instead they closely resemble insects that do. This is an example of which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Batesian mimicry

Warning coloration

Mullerian mimicry

Symbiosis 

Camouflage

Correct answer:

Batesian mimicry

Explanation:

Batesian mimicry and Mullerian mimicry are easily confused. Batesian mimicry involves one organism taking on physical characteristics of a commonly known, dangerous organism. Mullerian mimicry happens when multiple poisonous species resemble each other.

Camouflage helps prey avoid predators by blending into their surroundings. Warning coloration is similar to Batesian mimicry. Since many poisonous organisms exhibit colorful exteriors, some non poisonous organisms can also be brightly colored and are still avoided.

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