Practice Exam Questions:

Note: there are many questions on this practice exam. The real exam will not have as many questions, and there will be more specific instructions provided.

A. Briefly define and explain the relevance to environmental science of the following terms. For purposes of studying for the midterm, be sure you know these terms and their relationship to other material presented in class.

1. primary productivity
2. sustainability
3. food webs
4. nonpoint source pollution
5. mercury
6. tragedy of the commons
7. energy
8. nutrient cycle
9. atom
10. element
11. law of conservation of matter
12. thermodynamics
13. potential energy
14. matter quality
15. hypothesis
16. biogeography
17. natural selection
18. gene flow
19. genetic drift
20. speciation
21. extinction
22. greenhouse effect
23. ozone
24. troposphere
25. stratosphere
26. nitric oxide, nitrogen dioxide
27. biogeochemical cycle
28. estuary
29. wetland
30. coral reef
31. upwelling
32. photochemical smog
33. euphotic zone
34. endemism
35. thermal inversion
36. thermocline
37. exotic species
38. endangered and threatened species
39. ecological extinction
40. food web
41. energy pyramid
42. trophic level

B. Multiple Choice: Choose the one best answer for each question.

1. The mercury cycle is similar to the nitrogen cycle in the following aspect:

a. they both have ammonification as a process
b. they both can be bioconverted
c. they can both biomagnify in organisms
d. neither are toxic

2. Ecology

a. is the science that studies the evolution of life.
b. integrates both social and natural sciences to help us understand how the earth works.
c. is the study of the relationships between organisms and their environment.
d. is the study of the environment in the absence of humans.

3. Economic resources and ecological resources are mutually exclusive.

a. True
b. False

4. Climate change is cuased by which of the following root causes of environmental problems?

a. Attempting to manage and simplify nature.
b. Sustainable resource use.
c. Rapid population growth rate.
d. All of the above.

5. A nonrenewable resource is one that

a. can be used only once.
b. is an element.
c. is involved in a biogeochemical cycle.
d. are depleted much faster than the rate at which they are formed.

6. What is the importance of the concept of population from an evolutionary perspective?

a. Populations are made up of individuals, which vary.
b. Populations evolve, not individuals.
c. All the genes in the population make up the gene pool.
d. All of the above are true.

7. Consider the biosphere and the stratosphere. Choose the answer that best describes their interaction.

a. The stratosphere contains ozone, which protects the biosphere from harmful UV rays.
b. The biosphere obtains oxygen from the stratosphere for respiration.
c. The stratosphere is where alll weather originates.
d. The stratosphere is important in nutrient cycles, upon which the biosphere depends.

8. Organic compound

a. always contain oxygen.
b. always contain carbon.
c. contain carbon-carbon or carbon-hydrogen bonds.
d. contain carbon-carbon or carbon-oxygen bonds.

9. What is the role of genetic variation in natural populations?

a. Genetic variation causes mutations, which are important for evolution to occur.
b. It is essential for genetic drift to occur.
c. It allows for organisms to adapt to all environments.
d. Genetic variation allows for differential reproduction, which leads to adaptation.

10. Which phrase best describes natural selection?

a. survival of the fittest
b. differential reproduction
c. individuals evolve over time
d. progress towards perfection

11. Ground level ozone is a pollution problem because

a. pollution is defined as an addition to any sphere that threatens life, and that is what is happening with ozone.
b. vehicles emit ozone in exhaust and it builds up in the atmosphere.
c. factories emit sulfur dioxide, which is converted to ozone by sunlight and nitrogen oxides.
d. none of the above.

12. The following are all pollutants in the atmosphere, with one exception. Choose the exception.

a. carbon monoxide
b. nitrogen dioxide
c. nitrogen gas
d. ozone

13. All of the following are greenhouse gasses, except

a. carbon tetrachloride
b. carbon dioxide
c. methane
d. nitrous oxide

14. Is there really an extinction crisis?

a. No, we don't even know how many species there are, so it is impossible to estimate current extinction rates.
b. No, extinctions are rarely documented, so that must mean that they didn't happen, especially for species we've not catalogued yet.
c. Yes, all evidence points to extinction rates being greater than estimated background extinction rates.
d. Yes, most evidence suggests that extinction over the past half century have been increasing for many groups of organisms.

15. Swamps

a. are wetlands dominated by trees.
b. play a role in filtering pollutants.
c. make up a very tiny percentage of Earth's surface.
d. can absorb excess water during floods and release water during droughts.
e. all of the above.

C. Short Answer/Essay: Be concise and relevant (to environmental science).

1. Explain how the value of biodiversity may be both an economic and biological determination.

2. How might nutrient cycling be affected by stressed ecosystems? Give an example of this effect.

3. What are two factors (one natural and one caused by humans) that may limit a species range? Explain the concept of a limiting factor.

4. What are life's support systems, and why may they be considered an artificial classification scheme?

5. In one sentence, describe how either a more developed country (MDC) or a less developed country (LDC) fits the following equation: I = P C T.

6. What are two features of sustainable economic growth?

7. Give two environmental examples of the Tragedy of the Commons.

8. Explain the difference between an environmentally sustainable society and an unsustainable society. Give examples of each in terms of resources, economy, attitudes, and technology.

9. Define a category of resource and give an example of that type of resource.

10. Define a type of pollution and give an example of that type of pollution.

11. List three root causes of environmental problems. For each, provide one sentence explaining what environmental problems the root cause produces.

12. Explain the cyclic nature of the process of science.

13. Explain how the laws of thermodynamics and conservation of matter affect a high-waste (or high-throughput) society versus a low-waste (or sustainable) society. Include consideration of both matter and energy, as well as types of resources and their by-products.

14. What is the difference between potential and kinetic energy?

15. Illustrate, using a diagram, one method used to represent energy flow through an ecosystem. Explain the relevance of the second law of thermodynamics to your diagram.

16. Distinguish between mass extinction and background extinction. What is one possible cause of a past mass extinction?

17. How does an adaptive radiation lead to recovery of biodiversity after a mass extinction?

18. Extinction is a natural process, and we shouldn't worry about the current increased loss of biodiversity. Respond to this statement by either supporting it or refuting it in a clear, logical argument.

19. What is climate and how does it affect people?

20. Explain the formation of ocean currents and how these currents affect terrestrial ecosystems.

21. Select one type of grass-dominated biome and one type of tree-dominated biome (forest). Identify your choices. Compare and contrast the climates of those biomes and the adaptations of the dominant vegetation to that climate. Compare primary productivity within those two biomes.

22. List one input control and one output control to clean up each of the following: ground-level ozone, cultural eutrophication, greenhouse gases.

23. What are some possible effects of a warmer world? Be specific.

24. What are some characteristics of a species that is more prone to speciate? to become extinct?

25. Biodiversity is valuable to human society. Defend that statement, using specific examples.

26. What are the greatest threats to terrestrial biodiversity?

27. What are the greatest threats to aquatic biodiversity?

28. What is the value of identifying hotspots of diversity?

29. Describe the process of cultural eutrophication? Explain how more nutrients may not always be good for a lake.

30. What are the three most important limiting factors in streams? oceans? lakes? wetlands?


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