AP Environmental Science : Food Webs and Pyramids

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Environmental Science

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Example Questions

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Example Question #11 : Food Webs And Pyramids

You receive a summer internship to study a rare organism of which is little is known. Through visual observation, you note that the organism is an herbivore because it only eats autotrophs. What type of consumer is this organism?

Possible Answers:

Secondary consumer

Tertiary consumer

Quanternary consumer

Primary consumer

The organism is not a consumer

Correct answer:

Primary consumer

Explanation:

The correct response is primary consumer. The primary consumer is any organism that eats autotrophs (photosynthetic organisms). A secondary consumer feeds on the primary consumer, and so on and so forth.

Example Question #12 : Food Webs And Pyramids

Ecosystem ecologists do research to understand energy flows within ecosystems. They create food webs for interactions between producers and consumers. If an ecologist visually observes an organism that eats dead animals or fallen leaves, which type of organism are they observing?

Possible Answers:

Tertiary consumer

Detritivore

Primary consumer

Secondary consumer 

Carnivore

Correct answer:

Detritivore

Explanation:

The correct response is detritivore. Organisms classified as detritivores break down organic matter from dead animals and leaves. Primary consumers feed on autotrophs, and secondary consumers feed on primary consumers. Carnivores primarily eat meat. While detritus does contain animal matter, it also contains plant and microbial matter that carnivores tend not to eat.

Example Question #13 : Food Webs And Pyramids

Between each trophic level of a food web (for example, from producer to primary consumer), what percentage of energy is lost?

Possible Answers:

90%

50%

33%

25%

10%

Correct answer:

90%

Explanation:

From one trophic level to the next, only 10% of energy is transferred. The other 90% is lost through metabolic processes, like heat. This means that for every 10,000 kcal produced by producers, a tertiary consumer (three trophic levels above) will only receive 10 kcal.

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