AP Biology : Evolution and Genetics

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Biology

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Understanding Lamarck

Who of the following scientists would postulate that giraffes have long necks because they wanted to eat the leaves of tall trees?

Possible Answers:

Lamarck

Darwin

Salk

Leeuwenhoek 

Watson & Crick

Correct answer:

Lamarck

Explanation:

Lamarck theorized that animals evolved into new forms based on need or utility, and thus he is the correct answer for this question.

Darwin was the father of the theory of evolution by natural selection (along with Alfred Russell Wallace), Watson and Crick discovered the structure of DNA (along with Rosalind Franklin), Leeuwenhoek pioneered microscopy, and Jonas Salk created the polio vaccine, so none of those are correct.

Example Question #1 : Evolution And Genetics

Which of the following theories representing Lamarckian evolution is false?

Possible Answers:

Principle of use and disuse

Inheritance of acquired characteristics

Theory of genetic chance

All of the choices are correct

Correct answer:

Theory of genetic chance

Explanation:

The principal of use and disuse suggests that organs you use get bigger while those you don't use get smaller or even disappear entirely. Inheritance of acquired characteristics sugegsts that proficiencies and traits can be passed down to succeeding generations. Lamarckian evolution is largely based on these two ideals.

Theory of genetic chance is not a real foundation of Lamarckian evolution.

Example Question #1 : Understanding Lamarck

The French scientist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck studied heritability and proposed the "theory of inheritance of acquired characteristics." With which statement would Lamarck most likely agree?

Possible Answers:

An average man develops powerful arms from his job working in a factory; his children will be born with unusually high arm strength

Most species develop new characteristics over periods of millions of years

A bird population might have a greater proportion of members with large beaks if large beak size is selected for by the environment

Rabbits with fur color that closely resembles the environment will survive to have young, while rabbits with more noticeable coloring will die before having offspring

The skills that an organism perfects during its lifespan have little to no effect on the ability of its offspring to perform those same skills

Correct answer:

An average man develops powerful arms from his job working in a factory; his children will be born with unusually high arm strength

Explanation:

The theory of inheritance of acquired characteristics was one of the earliest theories of evolution. Lamarck believed that traits were passed down to offspring when the parent showed increased use of those traits, and that traits that were not used by the parent were not inherited. The most common example of this "use and disuse" idea was a giraffe that, during its lifetime, often stretched its neck to reach leaves, and thus had a greater number of offspring with long necks.

This theory was shown to be incorrect in favor of Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection. Use or disuse during an organism's lifespan is not the driving force of evolution.

Example Question #1 : Understanding Lamarck

Which of the following scientists hypothesized that organisms can pass down traits acquired during their lifetimes?

Possible Answers:

Gregor Mendel

Carolus Linnaeus

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck

Charles Darwin 

Correct answer:

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck

Explanation:

Lamarck hypothesized, amongst other things, that organisms could pass down traits acquired during life from generation to generation. Under Lamarck's theory of use and disuse, a man who worked in a factory and developed strong arms would pass the strong arms trait to his offspring. This hypothesis has largely been rejected by modern genetics.

Gregor Mendel is the founder of modern genetics, developing our modern understanding of allelic inheritance. Charles Darwin developed important theories about evolution and natural selection. Carolus Linnaeus is best remembered for establishing binomial nomenclature, the system used today to officially name organisms.

Example Question #1 : Understanding Lamarck

What are parts of Lamarck’s theory of evolution?

Possible Answers:

Individuals gain characteristics they need

Individuals lose traits that they don't need

Acquired characteristics are heritable

All of these

Correct answer:

All of these

Explanation:

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck was an evolutionary theorist who was rejected by Charles Darwin. In his theory, Lamarck supported the idea that individuals could pass down acquired characteristics to their offspring, and that they lost un-needed traits and gained useful traits. The most recent theory of evolution, like Charles Darwin, rejects these claim.

Example Question #1 : Understanding Lamarck

Lamarck’s ideas on biological evolution contained correct and incorrect notions. Which of his ideas is correct?

Possible Answers:

Acquired traits can be passed on to offspring

Living forms become perfect with time

Nervous fluids are passed on from generation to generation

Evolution is related to changes in adaptation to the environment

Correct answer:

Evolution is related to changes in adaptation to the environment

Explanation:

While Lamarck had many revolutionary ideas on evolution, his most correct assumption was the importance of environmental changes on evolutionary adaptations. His theories on the inheritance of acquired traits and essentialsm do not fit into our current knowledge of evolution, DNA, and inheritance.

Example Question #1 : Evolution And Genetics

What conclusion did Darwin draw from the finches he observed at the Galapagos Islands?

Possible Answers:

The larger organisms have a large advantage in nature and will out-compete the smaller organisms.

Birds reserve a herd mentality, and will aspire to remain similar in appearance to one another.

Organisms will evolve in order to fill unoccupied niches in their environment.

Finches will all live in the same area of a tree, regardless of species type.

Correct answer:

Organisms will evolve in order to fill unoccupied niches in their environment.

Explanation:

Darwin observed that the finches found on the Galapagos had adapted different sized beaks to eat different diets. By doing this, the birds had evolved to eat diets that would be inedible by other finches. This concept of a "niche" means that different species will exploit and use their environment in different ways.

Example Question #1 : Understanding Darwin

Which of the following statements reflecting Darwin's theory of evolution is false?

Possible Answers:

Accumulation of adaptations leads to speciation

All answer choices reflect correct statements about Darwin's theory of evolution

Genetic variations can be inherited

Members of a population produce more offspring than the environment can support

Correct answer:

All answer choices reflect correct statements about Darwin's theory of evolution

Explanation:

Darwin's Theory of Evolution can be described by the following statements.

1) Individuals of any population vary from one another in many characteristics, due to mutation.

2) Genetic variations can be inherited.

3) Members of a population produce more offspring than the environment can support, leading to competition for resources

4) Those individuals whose inherited characteristics fit them best to their environment are likely to leave more offspring than less fit individuals.

5) Over generations of natural selection, favorable adaptations are perpetuated in a species. Accumulation of these favorable changes eventually results in speciation.

Example Question #1 : Evolution And Genetics

Charles Darwin described four key observations pertaining to natural selection from his voyage around the world. Which of the following is NOT one of Darwin’s observations of nature?

Possible Answers:

Individuals of a population evolve through interaction with their environment

Members of a population often vary greatly in their traits

Traits are inherited from parents to offspring

All species are capable of producing more offspring than their environment can support

Correct answer:

Individuals of a population evolve through interaction with their environment

Explanation:

During his travels, Darwin essentially developed the fundamental principles of evolution. Included in these observations were that traits are inherited from parent to offspring, members of a population exhibit genetic diversity (numerous traits), and that organisms are capable of producing more offspring than the environment can support. The fourth observation was that, owing to a lack of food or other resources, many offspring do not survive. Together, these observations helped shape Darwin's theories of natural selection and biological fitness to explain the trends that he had seen.

A key point about natural selection is that it is the population that evolves over time, not individual members of a population lifetime. Individuals that may have inherited advantageous traits are likely to produce more offspring than other members of the population, which drives natural selection within the context of the environment. Environmental pressures can affect the forces of natural selection, but cannot directly result in the production of new traits or the inheritance of those traits.

Example Question #1 : Theorists And Evidence

Which of the following was not part of Darwin's theory of evolution?

Possible Answers:

Organisms of the same species display a variety of different traits

Over time, traits that are beneficial to an organism in a given environment are likely to accumulate in a population

Organisms that are best adapted to their environments are most likely to survive and reproduce

None of these - Darwin did not develop a theory of evolution

The inheritance of traits in discrete units called alleles

Correct answer:

The inheritance of traits in discrete units called alleles

Explanation:

The inheritance of traits through discrete units called alleles was not a part of Darwin's theory of evolution. A monk named Gregor Mendel developed the theory of inheritance through alleles. Darwin's theory did not propose a method of inheritance, and Darwin was unaware of Mendel’s work. The works of Darwin and Mendel were later combined by scientists to create the modern theory of evolution.

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