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46 Population Ecology
1. Consider a population undergoing logistic growth. When (KN)/K = 0, what does that imply about
the birth rate (b) and death rate (d)?
A) b > d
B) b < d
C) b = d
D) It is not possible to make an inference about b and d from this information.
2. As a population approaches its carrying capacity, how does its growth change?
A) The growth rate slows until N is 0.
B) The growth rate slows until N is close to K.
C) The growth rate slows until N is close to r.
D) The growth rate stays the same.
E) r changes until it is close to K.
3. Population _______ is the number of individuals of a species per unit of habitat area or volume at a
given time
A) dispersion
B) density
C) survivorship
D) age structure
E) demographics
4. Draw the survivorship curve of humans. Then draw the survivorship curve of a dandelion (small
flower; r-strategist species).

5. Consider the data in the Figure above illustrating the age structure of France and India. In many parts
of the world, the average age of reproductive maturity is increasing as humans move from urban to rural
environments. Suppose that the current average age of first reproduction is 15 years in India and 20
years in France. How would a 5-year increase in the average age of reproductive maturity in both
countries be expected to affect the per capita birth rate?
A) increase in per capita birth rate
B) decrease in per capita birth rate
6. Consider the data in the Figure above illustrating the age structure of France and India. Which
population is undergoing more rapid growth? How can you tell?
India is growing more rapidly, You can tell because there are a high proportion of young people so you
know the birth rate is high
7. If the major food source of the seals declines due to pollution or overfishing, which of the following
would likely occur?
A) The carrying capacity of seals would decrease, as would be the seal population
B) The carrying capacity of seals would decrease, but the seal population would remain the same.
C) The carrying capacity of seals would increase, as would the seal population
D) The number of seal deaths would increase, but the number of birds would also increase, so the
population size would remain the same.
8. Species that have many offspring at one time are usually:
A) r-selected
B) K-selected
9. Give an example of how density-dependent and density-independent factors might interact.
If there is a drought (density-independent) it could lead to intense competition for food or water (density

The figures above represent three hypothetical populations; each circle is an organism. Write
the letter (A, B, or C) of the pattern that you would expect to find in situations listed in
questions 10-13

10. Individuals establish exclusive territories to secure access to resources. A
11. Individuals are distributed randomly within the environment. C
12. Food is most abundant near waterholes in the desert. B
13. This is a social species. B

14. Fill in the cohort life table below.
Age Class
Population Size




















47 Communities, Species Interactions & Ecosystems

15. How might a food web change if all decomposers were eliminated from it?
Many important nutrients (from dead organisms) would not be returned to the soil. This could
potentially limit plant growth and in turn the effect might be seen at all trophic levels.

16. A symbiotic association in which organisms are beneficial to one another is known as
A) predation
B) interspecific competition
C) intra specific competition
D) commensalism
E) mutualism

17. Bright coloration that warns predators of prey toxicity is called

A) aposematism.
B) crypsis.
C) homotypy.
D) amensalism.
E) character displacement.
18. Although a species might be physiologically able to live under a wide range of resource conditions,
competitors may restrict its use of resources in a particular location. This is known as
A) mutualism.
B) interference competition.
C) fundamental niche.
D) realized niche.
E) character displacement.
19. Organisms higher in a food web eat everything that is lower in the food web. (TRUE OR FALSE)
20. There are more herbivores than carnivores because of the decreasing amount of energy available at
each level of the food web. (TRUE OR FALSE)
21. Which of the following best describes the kind of resource for which individuals may compete?
A) It will most likely be food or some form of nutrient.
B) It will most likely be related to space or shelter.
C) It will most likely be related to reproduction, such as access to mates.
D) It will most likely be related either to food, nutrients, space, or shelter.
E) It can be any resource that is limited in the environment.
22. Tropical leafcutter ants collect leaf cuttings which they transport to special underground chambers.
There, they chew the leaves to create nursery beds on which they grow a species of fungus they use for
food. When ant queens disperse to establish new colonies, they carry the fungus with them, dispersing it
as well (this benefits the fungus). In the ants nest, the fungus is at risk of being destroyed by another
fungal species that is able to grow in the same habitat, using the same limited resources. On their bodies,
the ants carry and provide a home for bacteria that produce antibiotics the ants use to kill this second
fungus and thereby protect their food supply. In this system, the relationship between the two fungal
species is:
A) interspecific competition.
B) mutualism.
C) predation.
D) parasitism.
E) commensalism.
23. In a coevolutionary arms race, after a plant evolves a novel chemical defense against an herbivore,
A) the herbivore can be expected to go extinct.
B) the herbivore can be expected to disperse to new habitats.
C) the herbivore can be expected to evolve resistance to the plant's defense.
D) the plant can be expected to colonize new habitats.
E) the plant can be expected to outcompete all other plants in the same environment.

24. Some argue that any members of the microbiota that take up space on our body surfaces and do no
harm are actually providing us a service, because they prevent the colonization of harmful species.
From this point of view, the relationship between the microbiota and their human is _________.
A) mutualism
B) an antagonistic relationship
C) commensalism
D) predation
25 Carbon Cycle
25. If plants consume CO2 during photosynthesis, why hasnt all the atmospheric CO2 been used up?
(Select all that apply.)
A) Photosynthesis also produces CO2 as a product.
B) Respiration produces CO2 as a product.
C) Both photosynthesis and respiration produce CO2 as a product.
D) Plants actually dont use CO2 during photosynthesis, they use O2.
E) Photosynthesis and respiration use one anothers products as reactants.
26. Which of the diagrams below best depicts the flow of carbon between primary producers,
consumers, and decomposers?
A) primary producers ! consumers ! decomposers
B) consumers ! primary producers ! decomposers
C) decomposers ! consumers ! primary producers
27. Photosynthesis results in the fixation of
A) carbon.
B) water.
C) nitrogen.
D) oxygen.
E) None of the above
26.4 Nitrogen Cycle -26.3
28. What would be the most likely effect on most plants (lacking symbiont microorganisms) if they were
given additional nitrogen gas?
A) The additional nitrogen gas would increase their growth rate.
B) The additional nitrogen gas would interfere with their photosynthesis, and thus would decrease their
growth rate.
C) The additional nitrogen gas would accelerate their metabolic rate.
D) There would be no effect, because plants do not require nitrogen.
E) There would be no effect, because plants cannot use nitrogen gas.
29. A rise in aquatic nitrogen and phosphorus levels leads to a strong increase in the population growth
rate of algae and cyanobacteria. This suggests that nitrogen and phosphorus are typically
_______________ in aquatic habitats.
A) always abundant
B) not at all present
C) the limiting factors for planktonic growth
D) unnecessary for planktonic growth

30. Explain how eutrophication leads to a decrease in oxygen in a body of water.

Increase N = Increased algae growth = increase decomposition = decrease oxygen
48 Global Climate Change & Conservation Biology
31. Consider the characteristics of biomes. Would you expect more biomass in a trophic pyramid from
the tropical rainforest compared to one from the tundra?
A) Yes, because there is higher productivity at the equator than at the poles.
B) Yes, because there is higher fungal diversity cycling carbon at the equator than at the poles.
C) Yes, because there are higher numbers of predators at the equator than at the poles.
D) No, because there are photosynthetic organisms in both biomes that support the trophic pyramids.
E) No, because there are other producers at the poles that dont require sunlight so make up the
difference in biomass that would be there if only sunlight was used as an energy source.
32. Climate change occurs because
A) carbon dioxide an other greenhouse gases react chemically to produce excess heat
B) earth has too many greenhouse and other glassed buildings
C) volcanic eruptions produce large quantities of sulfur and other greenhouse gases
D) carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases trap infrared radiation in the atmosphere
E) carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases allow excess heat to pass out of the atmosphere
33. Why might captive-breeding programs that reintroduce species into natural environments fail?
Many reasons One is that species might become too reliant on humans. Also, you might relseas
organisms back to the wild, but if the original threat is still there, then they still may not be able to
34. Which of the following processes increase(s) the amount of atmospheric carbon in the carbon cycle?
A) photosynthesis
B) cellular respiration
C) combustion
D) A & C
E) B & C
35. Introduced species that spread widely and become unduly abundant are known as _______ species.
A) spreader
B) invasive
C) super
D) extravagant
E) hammerhead
36. The American Prairie Foundation's practice of buying up ranches in Montana with the aim of
reintroducing bison and other species is an example of
A) habitat preservation.
B) restoration ecology.
C) invasive ecology.
D) biocontrol.
E) None of the above

37. The practice of using exploited lands in ways that sustain biodiversity is known as
A) restoration ecology.
B) reconciliation ecology.
C) reparative ecology.
D) fragmentation ecology.
E) Kubrick's principle.
38. The _______ rate of absorption of carbon dioxide in the oceans is causing them to become more
A) decreasing; acidic
B) decreasing, alkaline
C) decreasing; productive
D) increasing; acidic
E) increasing; productive
39. Which of the following will be a likely result of global warming?
A) Temperate-zone diseases moving to the tropics
B) Tropical diseases expanding to the temperate zone
C) Insects moving from high altitudes of the temperate zone to lowland areas
D) Both a and c
E) None of the above
40. If the oceans were able to absorb more carbon dioxide, the rate at which the Arctic sea ice melts
would likely ___DECREASE____.
41. Name three sources of atmospheric carbon.
Burning of Fossil Fuels
SOME SHORT ANSWER QUESTIONS: (these are from the book)
1. Name the four factors that affect population size.
A species population size is effectively determined by how many individuals enter into and exit a given
region. Thus, population size depends on birth rates and immigration rates (individuals entering into a
region), in addition to death rates and emigration rates (individuals exiting a region).

2. Draw an exponential and a logistic growth curve, and explain what accounts for their different
The exponential growth curve represents a population with a constant per capita growth rate. At this stage,
the environment can still support a growing number of individuals of one species. Neither the scarcity of
resources nor overcrowding has limited the population size. Thus, the curve keeps extending upward on the
right side of the graph. The straight line on the left side of the graph (representing a slight incline) has to do
with a population having relatively few individuals to start. A handful of individuals can only produce so many

offspring at once. However, if these individuals continue to reproduce, and so do their progeny (and so on),
population size can rapidly increase.
The logistic growth curve also contains a period of exponential growth; however, the curve levels off in a
horizontal line on the right side of the graph. This population size (where the graph levels offs) represents
the carrying capacity of a given environment. At this point, the environment does not have enough resources
to support any more members of a species. As a result, more individuals in a population die and the birth
and death rates equilibrate, leading to a (relatively) constant population size over time.

3. Name two density-dependent and two density-independent factors that can limit the size of a
Density-dependent factors that affect a species population size include inter- and intraspecific competition
for resources and space. For example, as resources are exhausted and competition intensifies, a
populations birth rate decreases but the death rate increases. However, competition isnt the only densitydependent factor that influences population size. As a population grows and its density increases, diseases
can also spread (increasing the death rate).
Density-independent factors that affect population size include natural disasters (e.g., floods, droughts,
hurricanes) and/or unexpected changes in temperature. Such occurrences can severely decrease the size
of a population, regardless of how many individuals inhabit a given area.

4. Draw a graph showing the age structure of a population that is growing rapidly and a graph of one
that is not.

5. Plot a survivorship curve for a species with high rates of predation early in life and one for a species
with high mortality late in life. Name the type of survivorship this species displays.

6. Explain how r and K strategies relate to the predictability of the environment and in what kinds of
environment each strategist would be more successful.
K- and r-strategists differ fundamentally in the number of offspring they produce, and in the amount of
resources and energy they dedicate to their progeny. r-strategists produce several offspring, but do not
invest much energy in the long-term raising or protection of their young. This is a particularly effective
strategy for a species that inhabits an area where resources are limited, or for a species that has multiple
predators. Thus, r-strategists tend to inhabit unpredictable environments, assuring that some of their
progeny will survive due to the sheer number they produce.
Conversely, K-strategists devote a large degree of energy and resources into raising their young, with the
trade-off of only producing a few offspring at a time. This strategy is employed by species living in
predictable environments, where resources are more readily available and predators are limited.

7. Describe what is meant by a trade-off in physiological functions and give an example.

A physiological trade-off is when an organism contributes more resources and/or energy to one particular
function over another (i.e., in plants, producing more seeds while sacrificing defensive structures such as

8. Give three examples of a habitat island and explain what makes them islands.
A "habitat island" is a region that can support a given species, but is surrounded by environments that
cannot support the same species. Thus, much like islands in the ocean, habitat islands are isolated areas.
For example, a lake would be considered a habitat island for trout, as these fish could not survive in the
forest surrounding the lake. Other examples of habitat islands include actual islands in the ocean (i.e., ants
on an island can't live in the surrounding ocean) or a valley surrounded by mountains (i.e., grasses able to
inhabit the valley would not be able to survive at higher mountain elevations).

9. Name factors that determine the diversity of species on a habitat island and explain the relevance of
these factors in managing the habitat of an endangered species.
The species diversity of a habitat island depends on the colonization and extinction rates of organisms
inhabiting (or attempting to inhabit) this area. Initial colonization rates depend both on the size of a habitat
island (more area means the potential to support a greater number of species) and its proximity to other
habitat islands (from which organisms can migrate). In turn, extinction rates depend on the types of species
colonizing a habitat island and their interactions with one another.
Many of the factors that influence species diversity on a habitat island can also be taken into consideration
during conservation efforts for an endangered species. Imagine that a conservationist wants to introduce
members of an endangered species into a new environment. She must evaluate what other organisms have
colonized this environment, and the extent of human activity in this area. She must also determine if the size
of this potential habitat is large enough to support the introduction of a new species. If few resources are
available and/or the species will be heavily hunted (either by humans or other predators), this will likely
result in the deaths of any endangered animals introduced into this environment. Furthermore, the


conservationist has to assure that she introduces enough animals into the environment so that they will be
able to find one another and mate (i.e., individuals must be in close proximity to one another). If steps are
taken to assure that the above conditions are met, there is a good chance that members of this endangered
species can take root and survive in this new habitat.

10. Choose an organism, such as an oak tree, and define its niche.
The niche of an oak tree depends of several pieces of information, including: what type of
climate/environment/resources can support an oak tree; what other types of vegetation are found alongside
oak trees (and how these different plant species interact); and what organisms either feed on oak tree
products, or require oak trees for shelter. An oak tree is found in a deciduous forest, which contains nutrientrich soil and experiences a moderate climate and defined seasons. These trees provide shade, which
creates an appropriate environment for underlying vegetation (i.e., ferns, shrubs). Oak trees also provide
nesting spots for a variety of birds and mammals, and provide food for a variety of insects (which feed on
oak leaves) and vertebrates (i.e., squirrels eat acorns).

11. Give an example of an antagonism and a mutualism, and in each case, describe the benefits and costs
to the participants.
The relationship between aphids and the bacteria that colonize them is an example of mutualism. Here, the
bacteria benefit because they are provided with a safe environment within the aphids, and aphids benefit
because their nutrient-poor diet is supplemented with products from the bacteria. Conversely, any predatorprey interaction is an example of antagonism. For example, take the relationship between seals and killer
whales. Here, a killer whale benefits by gaining energy from the seals it eats (energy which is used for
reproduction or other necessary life activities). Conversely, a seal that is consumed is certainly negatively
affected. Once killed, the seal no longer has the opportunity to mate and reproduce, and cannot continue to
spread its genetic information to the next generation.

12. Name three factors that help determine the species composition of a community.
A community encompasses all of the species within a given habitat. The composition of a given community
can be shaped by: 1) inter- and intraspecific competition; 2) the frequency of disturbances (like fires)
occurring within an environment; and 3) seasonal changes which result in different weather patterns, as well
as species migration.

13. Describe how a physical disturbance, such as a drought, can affect community composition.
When a disturbance occurs in a given environment, it can drastically alter the composition of that areas
community. A drought can seriously reduce the population size of species not equipped to deal with the
scarcity of water. This may have a similar effect as when a wildfire clears a portion of a forest. Such a
change allows for new species (adapted for dry conditions) to enter and colonize an area, leading to the
process of ecological succession. If droughts are common in a specific region, these disturbances can select
for organisms that can tolerate a lack of water and dry conditions. This, in turn, can limit the species diversity
in a given community.

14. Describe how herbivores can affect the abundances of organisms at higher and lower trophic levels.
Herbivores occupy the trophic level between primary producers (i.e., plants) and predators. If there is an
ample supply of vegetation, herbivores consume this plant material and reproduce. This increase in
herbivore numbers provides food for predators at higher trophic levels, and results in an increase in the
predator population. If herbivores exhaust the resources provided by primary producers, their numbers
decrease, resulting in less food for predators and a smaller predator population. In this manner, changes in
an herbivore population can influence predator and primary producer populations at different trophic levels.


15. Draw and explain the curve representing changing atmospheric levels of CO2 over the course of a
The curve representing changing atmospheric levels of CO2 over the course of a year oscillates with the
seasons because photosynthesis, which takes CO2 out of the atmosphere, is more active during the summer
months and less active during the winter months. Respiration levels, which return CO2 to the atmosphere,
remain constant throughout the year.

16. Trace the flow of carbon and energy through biological communities.


17. Name three sources of atmospheric CO2.

Carbon dioxide can be introduced into the atmosphere by both natural and man-made processes. The
burning of fossil fuels and forests (to make way for crops) are both major sources of man-made CO2. On the
other hand, volcanic eruptions are natural processes that introduce CO2 into the atmosphere.

18. Explain the relationship between atmospheric CO2 levels and mean temperature.
Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas that is normally present in the Earths atmosphere. This gas absorbs
solar radiation reflected off the Earths surface and re-emits it, ultimately warming the planet. The problem
arises when excess CO2 is introduced into the atmosphere by human activities (e.g., burning fossil fuels).
Excess CO2 in the atmosphere results in more of this reflected radiation being absorbed and re-emitted,
resulting in an increase in temperature. Thus, higher levels of CO2 in the atmosphere can translate into an
increase in mean global temperature.

19. Describe two ways in which organisms respond to changes in CO2 levels and temperatures.
CO2-induced changes in temperature (both in the atmosphere and in the ocean) and ocean acidity can have
serious consequences for many organisms. Some organisms can respond to temperature changes while
remaining in the same environment; often, these organisms have to modify their behavior (i.e., like plants
changing their flowering times). However, other organisms are forced to migrate to more suitable climates.
For example, recall that corals require symbiotic algae for survival. As sea temperature rise, these algae
migrate (presumably to waters with more favorable temperatures); however, the corals cant migrate with the
algae, as they build skeletons and are anchored to a particular location. Without the algae, the corals die.
Interestingly, corals are also susceptible to CO2-induced changes in ocean acidity. As the seas become
more acidic (the result of increased aquatic CO2 levels), corals cant construct their unique skeletons and
eventually die.


20. Describe the causes and consequences of eutrophication.

To increase crop yields, farmers often treat their land with nitrogen or phosphate-based fertilizers. However,
a large percentage of this fertilizer (and the nutrients it contains) is carried off by rainfall to rivers and lakes.
This nitrogen and phosphate-rich run-off unintentionally fertilizes bodies of water. As a result, the native
cyanobacteria and algae living in rivers or lakes experience population explosions. This overgrowth of
cyanobacteria and algae in response to excess (human-introduced) nutrients is known as eutrophication,
and can be remarkably detrimental to the environment. Excess cyanobacteria and algae provide a robust
food source for aquatic bacteria, and as bacteria feed they rapidly deplete the oxygen (via aerobic
respiration) in their environment. This process can result in the appearance of Dead Zones areas literally
devoid of life - in rivers or lakes. Without the proper amount of oxygen in the water, fish, crustaceans and
other aquatic life cant survive.

21. Give three examples of species that have benefited from human activity and three examples of
species that have been harmed by human activity.
Human activities can have positive or negative effects on specific species. Many invasive species, which are
introduced into new environments either inadvertently (e.g., through shipping) or purposefully (e.g., as food
sources), have been positively affected by human actions. Such species include the Zebra Mussel, the
Kudzu plant, and Brown Tree Snake. All of these invasive species have taken root in new environments
where natural predators do not necessarily exist, and where endogenous organisms are not equipped to
deal with competition from these invaders. As a result, the populations of these invasive species have
In contrast, many species are also negatively impacted by human activities. These include: 1) certain
species of frogs, whose life cycles are disrupted by the introduction of agricultural pesticides into the
environment; 2) corals, which experience bleaching in response to changes in ocean temperature (the
result of excess CO2); and 3) numerous species of trees in the rainforest, which have been negatively
impacted by deforestation.

22. Explain why amphibians are sometimes called canaries in a coal mine.
Both amphibians and canaries are remarkably responsive to certain changes in their environment. Much like
canaries once warned miners of excess carbon monoxide levels underground, so too can amphibians warn
us about dangerous levels of pesticides in the environment. In fact, we are already beginning to see the
effects of excess pesticides (such as atrazine) on the life cycles of frogs. Recall that over-exposure of frogs
to atrazine severely affects their ability to reproduce and/or results in deformed offspring. Such observations
in frogs warned scientists that atrazine may also negatively affect human reproduction, a hypothesis
confirmed by evaluating the response of human placental cells to atrazine exposure.