AP Environmental Science : Ecosystems and Biology

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Environmental Science

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Species Relationships And Diversity

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

Possible Answers:

Parallelism 

Mutualism

Commensalism

Parasitism

Predation

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 #1 : 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:

Camouflage

Symbiosis 

Batesian mimicry

Mullerian mimicry

Warning coloration

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.

Example Question #11 : Species Relationships And Diversity

Which of the following terms describes the array of living organisms, their assemblages, their evolutionary and natural histories, as well as their interactions with each other?

Possible Answers:

Biomagnification

Bioaccumulation

Disturbance

Biodiversity

Fragmentation

Correct answer:

Biodiversity

Explanation:

The correct answer choice is biodiversity. Biodiversity is the area within biology focused on understanding biological diversity. The terms "disturbance" and "fragmentation" are natural processes that can have impacts on species, but they do not describe species. The terms "biomagnification" and "bioaccumulation" describe how nutrients and contaminants accumulate over time. 

Example Question #11 : Species Relationships And Diversity

Land managers are responsible for conserving biodiversity within areas of natural habitat. By monitoring specific species in the habitat, land managers can tell whether or not they have a healthy ecosystem. Which do we call species that gives us information about the health of an ecosystem?

Possible Answers:

Indigenous species

Indicator species

None of these

Keystone species

Invasive species

Correct answer:

Indicator species

Explanation:

The correct response is indicator species. If the indicator species is healthy, then it tells or indicates that the ecosystem as a whole is healthy. Indigenous species are native to a certain location, while invasive species are those that are not native to a location and their introduction usually causes harm to the existing ecosystem. A keystone species is one that plays a critical role in the overall health of an ecosystem.

Example Question #12 : Species Relationships And Diversity

Which form of signaling is very important in marine ecosystems both in intraspecies and interspecies communication and is used by many reef fishes in conjunction with other senses to recognize places and receive warnings.

Possible Answers:

Olfactory

Mechanical

Audatory

Behavioral

Correct answer:

Olfactory

Explanation:

Olfaction in fish and other marine life is very important. Smells are carried on currents and can be used to identify and find prey, recognize familiar territory, attract mates, and warn predators and/or competitors of defense mechanisms.

Example Question #42 : Ecosystems And Biology

Of the following biomes, which contains the highest biodiversity?

Possible Answers:

Tundra

Tropical Rainforest

Temperate Grassland

Desert

Temperate Deciduous Forest

Correct answer:

Tropical Rainforest

Explanation:

Somewhere between 40% and 75% of all species are indigenous to rainforests, meaning that they are found nowhere else on earth. They contain half of the extant animal and plant species currently on earth, with a large majority of all flowering plants found there. Many of the world's natural medicines have been found in tropical rainforests, and with thousands of undiscovered species still lurking within them, it is likely that there are many more medicines waiting to be discovered.

Example Question #12 : Species Relationships And Diversity

Some species of barnacles live attached to the skin of whales. This allows them to travel vast distances through the ocean without ever actually moving, guaranteeing them a constantly changing supply of food. While this is tremendously beneficial for the barnacles, it doesn't really have any effect on the whales, which are large enough that the barnacles aren't even a minor annoyance. 

What kind of symbiosis does this describe?

Possible Answers:

Predation

Commensalism

Parasatism

Endosymbiosis

Mutualism

Correct answer:

Commensalism

Explanation:

In relationships based upon commensalism, one of the species benefits greatly, while the other is neither harmed nor helped. This is different from mutualism, where both species are benefited, and parasitism, where one species is benefited and the other is hindered. "Endosymbiosis" is the theory used to describe how mitochondria developed, and "predation" describes a situation where one organism feeds on another.

Example Question #1 : Biomes

Which of the following is not a reason for the fragility of desert ecosystems?

Possible Answers:

Nutrients are slow to cycle through the ecosystem

Plant growth is slow

Top predators are usually not checked in growth and can grow exponentially

There is a lack of water

There is a low species diversity

Correct answer:

Top predators are usually not checked in growth and can grow exponentially

Explanation:

Top predators will generally never "grow unchecked". By the very nature of their diet (dependent on other populations), predator population growth is limited by the availability of their food. The famous study of lynx-hare population fluctuations demonstrates how a predator population will adjust to lower prey populations.

Example Question #2 : Biomes

Which of the following does NOT characterize a tropical forest?

Possible Answers:

Little light reaching the forest floor

Highly diverse set of flora and fauna in the local biosphere

Over 2000 mm of annual rainfall

Nutrient-rich and pH-neutral soil

Consistently warm temperatures falling between 20-25oC

Correct answer:

Nutrient-rich and pH-neutral soil

Explanation:

Heavy decomposition of plant and animal matter contribute to highly acidic soil in tropical rainforests. Additionally, abundance of plant life in tropical rainforests results in "soil leaching," which means that the nutrients in the soil are drained and taken up by the plants themselves.

Example Question #1 : Biomes

The __________ is characterized by very low temperatures year round, nutrient-poor soil, and little precipitation, which usually occurs in the form of snow.

Possible Answers:

boreal forest / taiga

evergreen rainforest

coastal temperate forest

temperate coniferous forest

temperate deciduous forest

Correct answer:

boreal forest / taiga

Explanation:

Boreal forests have extremely low temperatures and are characterized by pines and other evergreens. "Temperate forests" are characterized by moderate and more fluctuating temperatures, whereas the taiga stays cold year round. Taiga is found in parts of the world such as Northern Alaska, Canada, and Siberia.

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