AP Environmental Science Test: The Living World

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Question 1
This principle states that unless there are specific disturbing influences introduced, both allele and genotype frequencies in a population will remain constant from generation to generation.

A
Gauss's Law
B
Boyle's Law
C
The Hasse Principle
D
The Hardy-Weinberg Principle
E
Mendel's Law of Segregation
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Although the validity of the Hardy-Weinberg Principle relies upon a set of assumptions, it remains useful in providing an ideal scenario with which real world data can be compared. The equation: p² + 2pq + q² = 1, where p is the frequency of a dominant allele, and q is the frequency of a recessive allele is used to calculate the genetic variation in a population. In nature there are always disturbing influences, so the Hardy-Weinberg Principle is meant to provide a baseline to measure against the changes that are occurring.
Question 2
A symbiotic relationship between two living organisms in which one organism benefits and the other is neither harmed nor helped is known as:

A
Commensalism
B
Predation
C
Parasitism
D
Mutualism
E
Amensalism
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). In a mutualistic relationship, both organisms derive a benefit. In a commensalistic relationship, one organism benefits and one is not substantially harmed or helped. In a parasitic relationship one organism benefits at the expense of the other’s health. Predation occurs when one animal consumes another in order to extend its own survival. Amensalism (perhaps the end result of competition where one member of the interacting pair won) takes place when one organism is harmed and the other is unaffected by the relationship.
Question 3
Earthworms are a type of:

A
Scavenger
B
Parasite
C
Detritivore
D
Omnivore
E
Bottom Feeder
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Detritivores obtain nutrients by consuming decomposing organic matter, or detritus. Scavengers obtain nutrients from carrion or animal waste, they do not possess the enzymes required to utilize detritus for nutrients. Parasites rely upon a living host for their nutrients. Omnivores consume both plants and animals. Bottom feeders are generally aquatic animals that feed along the bottom of a body of water.
Question 4
A keystone species that creates or maintains a habitat for other species is known as a/an

A
Ecological engineer
B
Ecosystem engineer
C
Keystone structuralist
D
Keystone predator
E
Habitat engineer
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). An ecosystem engineer is a type of keystone species that creates or maintains a habitat for other species. These physical alterations that ecosystem engineers produce heavily influence the surrounding organisms, oftentimes facilitating increased biodiversity. Beavers are considered to be a classic example of ecosystem engineers.
Question 5
In an experiment, two groups of paramecium species are grown together in a contained environment. P.aurelia continued to grow well after 18 days, while P.caudatum declined to extinction over the course of 18 days. This result demonstrates which of the following?

A
Symbiotic relationship
B
Competition
C
Predation
D
Competitive exclusion principle
E
Resource partitioning
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The competitive exclusion principle states two species competing for the same limiting resource(s) cannot coexist. One of two species sharing identical, or nearly identical, niches, will be driven to, local, extinction.
Question 6
Which of the following factors does NOT affect species richness?

A
Latitude
B
Survivorship curves
C
Time
D
Habitat size
E
Distance from other communities
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). The species richness of a community is influenced by latitude, time, habitat size, and distance from other communities. Survivorship curves are NOT a factor that affects species richness. Survivorship curves are graphs that represent the proportion of surviving individuals as a cohort ages.
Question 7
Which of the following tree species is a pioneer species in North American forests?

A
Beech
B
Fir
C
Aspen
D
Maple
E
Oak
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). A pioneer species in North American forests is a species of tree that can colonize new areas quickly and thrive. The aspen tree is often referred to as a pioneer species because of its ability to colonize new environments rapidly and maintain its longevity regardless of potential fires.
Question 8
At which trophic level are cheetahs located?

A
Producers
B
Primary consumers
C
Secondary consumers
D
Scavengers
E
Detritivores
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Cheetahs are secondary consumers because they eat primary consumers, such as gazelle or hare.
Question 9
In which of the following ecosystems is net primary productivity the highest?

A
Temperate forest
B
Savanna
C
Swamps and marshes
D
Temperate grassland
E
Tiaga
Question 9 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Net primary productivity is highest where the temperature is warm, and where water and solar energy are most abundant.
Question 10
Use the trophic pyramid below to answer question 3.

What percentage of biomass is conserved at each trophic level?

A
1%
B
5%
C
10%
D
20%
E
100%
Question 10 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). This diagrams shows that 10% of the energy is conserved from one trophic level to the next. For example, if the amount of grass in an ecosystem represents 10,000 joules, then in that same ecosystem, the energy contained in the primary consumer level will represent 1,000 J. This is due to the fact that organisms use roughly about 90% of the energy they consume for cellular activities (such as respiration and growth).
Question 11
Which biogeochemical cycle depends on bacteria to make the nutrient usable by plants?

A
Nitrogen cycle
B
Carbon cycle
C
Phosphorus cycle
D
Potassium cycle
E
Water cycle
Question 11 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The nitrogen cycle depends on nitrogen-fixing bacteria to convert atmospheric nitrogen into a form usable by plants.
Question 12
Which of the following statements represents the intrinsic value of an ecosystem?

A
Ecosystems provide useful goods, such as lumber and crops
B
Ecosystems help regulate environmental conditions
C
Ecosystems are beautiful
D
Ecosystems provide ingredients for medicine
E
Ecosystems are inherently valuable
Question 12 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). Intrinsic values of an ecosystem are values that an ecosystem has in and of itself, instead of what they can provide for humanity.
Question 13
Which of the following terrestrial biomes is mostly made up of coniferous evergreen trees that can tolerate cold winters and short growing seasons, and is located in northern Europe, Russia and North America?

A
Tundra
B
Boreal forest
C
Woodland/shrubland
D
Temperate seasonal forest
E
Grassland
Question 13 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Boreal forests are found between 50° and 60° N in Europe, Russia, and North America. Most vegetation is made up of coniferous trees.
Question 14
Which type of aquatic ecosystem is made up of salt-tolerant trees which are important in stabilizing tropical and subtropical coastlines?

A
Salt marshes
B
Intertidal zone
C
Mangrove swamps
D
Freshwater wetlands
E
Coral reefs
Question 14 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Mangroves are the dominant vegetation in mangrove swamps. They are salt-tolerant and help to stabilize tropical and subtropical coastlines, as well as provide important habitat for marine organisms.
Question 15
Which of the following is the measurement used by ecologists to determine the biodiversity of a particular area?

A
Species richness
B
Species evenness
C
Genetic diversity
D
Ecosystem diversity
E
Species diversity
Question 15 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The number of species in a given area, such as a grassland, is known as species richness.
Question 16
Which evolutionary process takes place when disturbance causes a dramatic decrease in the population size, causing the genetic composition of the survivors to substantially differ from the original group?

A
Mutation
B
Genetic drift
C
Immigration
D
Founder effect
E
Bottleneck effect
Question 16 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). If a population is drastically reduced, the genetic composition may change. For example, if a natural disaster reduced the population to a small size, there will be fewer unique genotypes present in the remaining population. The offspring of these individuals will not be as genetically diverse due to the limited alleles present.
Question 17
Which of the following factors allows organisms to have a greater chance of adapting to environmental changes?

A
Rapidly changing environments
B
Low genetic diversity
C
Small population size
D
Long generation time
E
All the factors favor natural selection
Question 17 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Populations with the following factors have a greater chance of adapting: slowly changing environments, high genetic diversity, small population size, and short generation time.
Question 18
Which principle helps explain why it is not easy to dispose of hazardous materials because although matter can change forms, it cannot be destroyed?

A
Law of Conservation of Mass
B
First Law of Thermodynamics
C
Second law of Thermodynamics
D
Third law of Thermodynamics
E
Intermediate disturbance hypothesis
Question 18 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The law of conservation of matter states that matter cannot be created or destroyed, it can only change forms. So if we burn materials that contain heavy metals, the atoms from the metals don’t disappear. They change into a different form, and may become hazardous to the environment or humans.
Question 19
Rats are found everywhere on Earth except for the Arctic and they are not picky about their food source. Because they have such a wide distribution and tolerate a broad range of biotic and abiotic factors, they are considered:

A
Producers
B
Niche specialists
C
Omnivores
D
Keystone species
E
Niche generalists
Question 19 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). Niche generalists are able to tolerate a wide range of biotic and abiotic conditions. Therefore, rats are niche generalists.
Question 20
At which level of complexity does evolution occur?

A
Ecosystem
B
Community
C
Population
D
Species
E
Organism
Question 20 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). A population is a group of individuals of the same species. Evolution requires genetic variation and population is the lowest level of the organization of life at which such variation exists.
Question 21
At which level of complexity do different species interact with each other?

A
Biosphere
B
Ecosystem
C
Community
D
Population
E
Biome
Question 21 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Communities are different populations of organisms living in the same location and interacting with one another.
Question 22
What percentage of solar energy striking producers is captured by photosynthesis?

A
1%
B
25%
C
75%
D
90%
E
99%
Question 22 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Typically, producers are only able to capture 1% of the solar energy available through photosynthesis.
Question 23
Which biogeochemical process is most impacted by burning fossil fuels?

A
Water cycle
B
Carbon cycle
C
Nitrogen cycle
D
Phosphorous cycle
E
Sulfur cycle
Question 23 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Burning fossil fuels releases carbon into the atmosphere. This increases atmospheric carbon concentrations and thus promotes global warming.
Question 24
Which of the following biogeochemical process has the smallest atmospheric component?

A
Water cycle
B
Carbon cycle
C
Nitrogen cycle
D
Phosphorus cycle
E
Sulfur cycle
Question 24 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The phosphorus cycle has a very limited atmospheric component.
Question 25
Which biogeochemical cycle requires solar energy to move components from the earth into the atmosphere?

A
Water cycle
B
Sulfur cycle
C
Phosphorus cycle
D
Nitrogen cycle
E
Carbon cycle
Question 25 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The water cycle requires solar energy to evaporate water from the earth into the atmosphere.
Question 26
Which nutrient is a limiting nutrient in aquatic ecosystems and, when added to aquatic environments it typically causes algal blooms?

A
Hydrogen
B
Phosphorus
C
Sulfur
D
Potassium
E
Calcium
Question 26 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Phosphorus is held very tightly in soils, and very little is naturally available in river and streams. This makes phosphorus a limiting nutrient in aquatic environments. As a result, even very little anthropogenic inputs into aquatic environment can stimulate production by producers and cause an algal bloom and resulting eutrophication.
Question 27
Which of the following macronutrients is released by volcanic eruptions and is a component of acid precipitation?

A
Calcium
B
Magnesium
C
Potassium
D
Sulfur
E
Nitrogen
Question 27 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Sulfur is an important macronutrient. It exists in rocks and is released into soil and water during weathering. Volcanic eruptions are natural sources of sulfur dioxide. Burning fossil fuels also releases sulfur into the atmosphere, contributing to acid precipitation.
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