practice ECOLOGY QUESTIONS
FROM RELEASED AP BIO EXAMS
Each of the questions or incomplete statements below is followed by five suggested answers or
completions. Select the one that is best in each case.
(1) Competitive exclusion is most likely to occur between two
(A) closely related species occupying different niches
(B) closely related species occupying the same niche
(C) related species occupying different habitats
(D) unrelated species occupying different niches
(E) populations of the same species
(3) In the food pyramid above, which of the following organisms are herbivores?
(A) humans (B) fish (C) minnows (D) copepods (E) algae
(4) Species that utilize the same source of nutrition within a food web can best be described as
(A) providing double links in a food chain (B) being homeothermic relative to energy flow
(C) occupying the same trophic level (D) being secondary consumers within a complex food web
(E) being autotrophs, heterotrophs, or omnivores
(5) A species of malaria-carrying mosquito lives in a forest in which two species of monkeys, A and
B, coexist. Species A is immune to malaria but species B is not. The malaria-carrying mosquito
is the chief food for a particular kind of bird in the forest. If all of these birds are eliminated
suddenly by hunters, which of the following would be the immediate observable consequence?
(A) increased mortality in monkey species A (B) increased mortality in monkey species B
(C) increased mortality in the malaria-carrying mosquitoes
(D) emergence of malaria-resistant strains in monkey species B
(E) emergence of malaria-sensitive strains in monkey species A
(6) In traveling from a forest ecosystem to a grassland, one notes that the trees gradually give way to
prairie grasses. The critical factor governing this shift is usually the
(A) length of the growing season (B) annual mean temperature (C) availability of carbon dioxide
(D) availability of water (E) availability of oxygen.
(8) A study of the metabolic rate in a terrestrial community shows that the energy released by
respiration exceeds the energy captured in photosynthesis. Which of the following situations
(A) Community biomass is decreasing. (B) Community biomass is increasing.
(C) A climax community has been reached. (D) The first law of thermodynamics is not in effect.
(E) The second law of thermodynamics is not in effect.
(9) Eutrophication in lakes is frequently the direct result of
(A) nutrient enrichment (B) industrial poisons (C) a diminished supply of nitrates
(D) an increase in predators (E) decreased light penetration
(11) Competition for food would probably be most severe between two
(A) closely related species in different niches (B) closely related species in similar niches
(C) unrelated species in different communities
(D) unrelated species in the same community occupying different niches
(E) ecological equivalents in different niches
(12) All of the following are density-dependent factors that limit animal populations EXCEPT
(A) weather (B) predation (C) birthrate (D) food competition (E) mortality
(13) Which of the following is true about secondary consumers in an ecosystem?
(A) They eat only plants. (B) They are eaten by primary consumers
(C) They are smaller and weaker than are primary consumers.
(D) They are fewer in number than are primary consumers.
(E) They contain the greatest total biomass in the system.
(14) In the nitrogen cycle, the transformation of gaseous nitrogen into nitrogen-containing compounds
is performed primarily by
(A) fungi (B) bacteria (C) green plants (D) herbivores (E) carnivores
(15) During the carbon cycle, which of the following carbon compounds would be utilized as an
energy source by heterotrophs?
(A) calcium carbonate (B) carbonic acid (C) organic molecules (D) carbon dioxide
(E) carbon monoxide
(17) An overlap in the niches of two species will most frequently result in
(A) interspecific cooperation (B) a hybridization of species
(C) a mutualistic symbiotic relationship (D) an increase in the biomass
(E) interspecific competition
(18) Which of the following is an important characteristic of the tropical rain forest biome?
(A) High light levels on the forest floor. (B) The dominance of a small number of tree species.
(C) More widely fluctuating temperatures than in most other biomes.
(D) Distinct rainy and dry seasons. (E) Rapid recycling of nutrients
(19) All of the following statements about the pyramid of biomass are correct EXCEPT
(A) Biomass is the total dry mass of the organisms present.
(B) The base of the pyramid generally represents primary consumers.
(C) The amount of biomass at a particular level of the pyramid depends on the amount of
(D) Certain toxins tend to become concentrated at upper levels of the pyramid.
(E) Biomass pyramids tend to vary for different ecosystems.
(20) Which of the following is characteristic of a fast-moving stream ecosystem?
(A) high levels of dissolved oxygen (B) high salinity (C) large numbers of anaerobes
(D) eutrophication (E) thermal stratification
(22) Which of the following is the most direct result of the heating up of pond water during the
(A) The water’s ability to hold oxygen decreases.
(B) The water’s ability to act as a buffer changes.
(C) The viscosity of the water increases.
(D) Hydrogen bonding at the surface of the water increases.
(E) Less light penetrates the surface of the water.
(23) The primary producers of the deep sea communities associated with hot water vents are
(A) plants (B) tube worms (C) photosynthetic algae (D) cyanobacteria
(E) chemoautrophic bacteria
(24) Which of the following best explains why many different species can live together within an
ecosystem with limited resources?
(A) Each species lives in a slightly different habitat. (B) Each species occupies a different niche.
(C) Each species inhabits a different biome. (D) Each species makes up a different population.
(E) Each species functions at a different trophic level.
(25) Fire has which of the following effects on a community?
(A) It causes all of the plants and animals in the community to become dormant.
(B) It recycles dead plant material, thus nutrients become available.
(C) It prevents reestablishment of the prefire community.
(D) It allows for increased mutation rates in the surviving species.
(E) It forces predators to become omnivores.
(26) A parasite may be described as an organism that derives nourishment from another living
(A) becomes necessary to the life of the host (B) is neutral in its effect on the host
(C) benefits the host nutritionally (D) provides a supportive structure for the host
(E) harms the host in the process
(27) In a simple ecosystem, a census of the populations in four successive trophic levels was
taken as shown above. If level 1 is composed of photosynthetic autotrophs, then the trophic
level with 780 individuals will most likely represent?
(A) primary consumers (B) secondary consumers (C) tertiary consumers (D) decomposers
(29) Which of the following is a symbiotic relationship that was probably present in the first
terrestrial plants and is still important for the mineral nutrition of present-day angiosperms?
(A) mycorrhizae (B) lichens (C) insects pollinating flowers
(D) carnivorous plants feeding on insects (E) epiphytes growing on a tree truck
(30) In the process of succession, which of the following is true of K-selected plant species?
(A) They keep their carrying capacity at a minimum level.
(B) They usually reproduce early in life.
(C) They are usually found in climax stages of succession.
(D) They are the dominant species in early stages of succession.
(E) They have a short lifespan.
Questions 31-38 XXXX
Each group of questions below concerns an experimental or laboratory situation or data. In
each case, first study the description of the situation or data. Then choose the one best answer.
Questions 39-41 refer to the food web below.
(39) Which of the following organisms is most likely to be located at the apex of the pyramid of
(A) grass (B) grasshopper (C) snake (D) mouse (E) hawk
(40) All of the following statements about the diagram are correct EXCEPT
(A) The grasshopper is an herbivore. (B) Only two trophic levels are depicted.
(C) The mouse and grasshopper are at the same trophic level. (D) The grass is a producer.
(E) All of the organisms except grass are consumers, regardless of position.
(41) The organic and inorganic materials in all of the organisms in the diagram will eventually
return to the environment by the action of
(A) decomposers (B) producers (C) primary consumers (D) secondary consumers
(E) top carnivores
Questions 42-44 XXXX
Questions 45-48 refer to the following information.
The illustrations below show the age and sex of the human populations in Country I and Country II.
The ages are groups by 5-year classes, and the sexes are represented separately. The percentages in the
different age classes are shown by the relative widths of successive horizontal bars.
(45) In Country I, approximately what percentage of the individuals were younger than fifteen years of
(A) 10% (B) 21% (C) 42% (D) 52% (E) It cannot be estimated from the graph.
(46) Which of the following best approximates the ratio of males to females among individuals below
fifteen years of age?
Country I Country II
(A) 1:1 1:1
(B) 0.75 : 1 0.75 : 1
(C) 0.5 : 1 0.5 : 1
(D) 1:1 0.5 : 1
(E) 0.75 : 1 1:1
(47) If, in Country I, infant mortality declined and the birth rate remained the same, then initially
the population would be expected to
(A) be more evenly distributed among the age classes
(B) be even more concentrated in the young age classes
(C) stabilize at the illustrated level for all age classes
(D) increase in the oldest age classes
(E) increase in the median age classes
(48) Over the next 10-15 years, the stabilization of Country I’s population at its current size would
(A) infant mortality be reduced to about half the present level
(B) the death rate be reduced drastically
(C) each couple produce fewer children than the number required to replace themselves
(D) about 15 years be added to the life expectancy of each person
(E) couples have an average of only 3 children
Questions 49-52 The graph below shows changes in a population of wild sheep that were introduced
to the island of Tasmania in the early 1800’s.
(49) The type of population growth represented by that portion of the graph line enclosed in the
bracket is most accurately termed
(A) stable (B) exponential (C) density-dependent (D) arithmetic (E) decelerating
(50) The graph indicates that the sheep population most likely is
(A) growing in excess of its carrying capacity, since fluctuations in population size occurred after
(B) headed for extinction because of the population explosion about 1930
(C) regulated by density-dependent factors, because there appears to be about a 10-year cycle
of sharp declines in size
(D) shifting from K-selected strategy to an r-selected strategy
(E) stable after 1850 under the effects of density-dependent regulating factors
(51) The dashed line on the graph represents the
(A) maximum population size (B) average birth rate (C) biotic potential of the population
(D) carrying capacity of the environment
(E) point of maximum effect for density-independent factors
(52) In the graphs below, the solid line represents the original population. The dotted line on which
graph best represent the sheep population that would have resulted from a sustained increase
in the primary productivity of the environment?
The diagram below shows a food web of a simplified rocky coastal ecosystem dominated by kelp
forests attached to rocky substrates by holdfasts (modified algal parts), which are eaten by sea urchins.
(53) The minimum number of trophic levels in a food chain ending with killer whales is
(A) 2 (B) 3 (C) 4 (D) 5 (E) 6
(54) Species that feed at only one trophic level include which of the following?
I. Zooplankton II. Planktivorous fish III. Killer whales
(A) I only (B) II only (C) III only (D) II and III only (E) I, II, and II
(55) If a fat-soluble but poorly metabolized substance such as DDT gets into this ecosystem, the
highest tissue concentrations will most likely occur in which of the following?
(A) Phytoplankton (B) Zooplankton (C) Abalones (D) Sea otters (E) Seals
(56) In similar rocky coastal ecosystems where sea otters have disappeared due to human harvesting
or killer whale predation, the kelp forests also disappear and the species diversity of the
community decreases drastically. In these ecosystems, the sea otter can best be described as
(A) top carnivore (B) keystone species (C) primary producer (D) secondary herbivore
(E) dominant species
An experiment was performed to test the conditions in which duckweed, a small aquatic plant, can
reproduce efficiently. Three duckweed plants were placed in each of four culture dishes at room
temperature with the following solutions: 1) distilled water, 2) pond water, 3) an N-P-K fertilizer
solution, and 4) a nitrate-enriched solution. The following graph summarizes the growth in numbers of
duckweed plants over a two-week period.
(57) After 10 days, the distilled water culture dish has approximately how many duckweed plants?
(A) 3 (B) 6 (C) 9 (D) 12 (E) 15
(58) In pond water, the duckweed population grows at an average rate of
(A) 1 plant per day (B) 2 plants per day (C) 1 plant per 3 days (D) 3 plants per day
(E) 9 plants per 15 days
(59) Duckweed vegetatively reproduced at the fastest rate in
(A) pond water (B) nitrate-enriched distilled water (C) pond water with added chlorophyll
(D) distilled water (E) N-P-K fertilizer solution
(60) Under which of the following additional conditions would the duckweed population be most
likely to grow faster?
(A) Oxygen gas bubbled through the culture dishes
(B) The addition of an organism that eats duckweed
(C) The addition of distilled water to every culture dish
(D) An increase in light intensity
(E) The addition of glucose to the culture medium
The graph shows the pattern of population growth for a particular species.
(61) The dotted line marked K indicates which of the following?
(A) The annual reproductive rate
(B) The proportion of a population that can be removed without destroying its ability to maintain
a stable population size
(C) The carrying capacity of the population
(D) The maximum number of offspring that each pair of parents can produce in a single year
(E) The intrinsic rate of reproductive increase of the population
(62) In which region of the curve is population size most likely to exhibit regulation by availability
of resources such as nutrients, nest sites, and places to hide from predators?
(A) I only (B) II only (C) I and II (D) II and III (E) III and IV
The graph below illustrates a logistic growth curve for a population of Euglena
(63) The population density at point Q indicates that
(A) exponential population growth is occurring
(B) predation is beginning to occur
(C) the reproductive rate equals the death rate
(D) the average age of individuals is decreasing
(E) the reproductive capacity for each individual is increasing
(64) The population would be most likely to remain at the level shown at Q under which of the
(A) All predators are eliminated.
(B) The population size is well below its carrying capacity.
(C) Euglena is a primary producer.
(D) Euglena is a primary consumer.
(E) Environmental conditions do not fluctuate.
AND MORE ITEMS
Each group of questions below consists of five lettered headings followed by a list of numbered
phrases or sentences. For each numbered phrase or sentence select the one heading that is most
closely related to it. Each heading may be used once, more than once, or not at all in each group.
(A) Deciduous forest (B) Tropical rain forest (C) Desert (D) Tundra (E) Taiga
(65) Long, cold, moist winters and short summers are typical of this biome dominated by
(66) A prolonged, relatively mild period with ample precipitation alternates with a cold period when
plants become dormant
(67) This biome has the greatest diversity of species
(68) This biome is dominated by dwarf shrubs, grasses, and sedges that can tolerate long dark winters
(A) Symbiosis (B) Law of tolerance (C) Energy pyramid (D) Ecological succession
(E) Net primary productivity
(69) The relationship of a fungus and an alga in a lichen
(70) The gain in biomass remaining after respiratory loss in plants
(71) Gradual transition over time from one type of biological community to another
The figure below represents a food web in a particular ecosystem. Each letter represents a species.
The arrows indicate the direction of energy flow.
(72) Which species would most likely represent humans if they were part of this ecosystem?
(73) A photosynthetic organism would be represented by which species?
(74) Members of which species are herbivores?
(75) Members of which species are most likely to be omnivorous?
(A) Grassland (B) Taiga (C) Deciduous forest (D) Tundra (E) Tropical rain forest
(76) This biome exhibits the greatest diversity of plant species.
(77) In this biome, agriculture is commonly practiced in a cut-and-burn-cultivate-abandon mode.
(78) This biome can be recognized by its coniferous forests and relatively infertile acidic soil.
practice ECOLOGY QUESTIONS
FROM RELEASED AP BIO EXAMS
(1) B (19) B (37) D (55) E (73) A
(2) A (20) A (38) E (56) B (74) D
(3) D (21) E (39) E (57) B (75) C
(4) C (22) A (40) B (58) C (76) E
(5) B (23) E (41) A (59) E (77) E
(6) D (24) B (42) B (60) C (78) B
(7) E (25) B (43) E (61) E
(8) A (26) E (44) A (62) E
(9) A (27) A (45) C (63) C
(10) B (28) B (46) A (64) E
(11) B (29) A (47) B (65) E
(12) A (30) C (48) C (66) A
(13) D (31) D (49) B (67) B
(14) B (32) E (50) E (68) D
(15) C (33) C (51) D (69) A
(16) E (34) A (52) A (70) E
(17) E (35) C (53) C (71) D
(18) E (36) B (54) A (72) C