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LS2 Capstone Review
1. Define carrying capacity. What are factors that may result in a species reaching its carrying capacity?
Carrying Capacity is defined as the maximum number of individuals of a population that an
ecosystem can sustain.
2. Sketch a logistic growth curve below. How does this relate to carrying capacity?
This relates to Carrying Capacity because Carrying Capacity is the point at which the population
growth levels off due to the influence of limiting factors.
3. What is the difference between density dependent and density independent factors? Give 2-3
examples of each.
Density Dependent: the impact is greater as the population is larger. Examples include disease,
food, predation, stress from overcrowding, and competition
Density Independent: the impact is the same regardless of population size. Examples include
natural disasters like hurricanes or tornadoes that will destroy any size population regardless of
4. Describe a scenario in which density independent factors may lead to density dependent factors.
A density independent factor may lead to a density dependent factor if it impacts that factor
directly. For example, a hurricane may reduce fresh water supplies. This will lower the carrying
capacity and act like a density dependent limiting factor.
5. Which density dependent factor do you think is most detrimental to populations?
Answers vary
6. Define and give examples of the following terms:
a. Primary succession: when communities form where none had existed previously
b. Secondary succession: when new communities replace other communities that had
previously inhabited an ecosystem
c. Pioneer species: the first organisms that colonize an area with no other organisms.
d. Climax community: a population that remains stable in a new environment.
Compare and contrast primary and secondary succession. How can you tell the difference?
Compare: both are forms of the same process (succession), both will end up with the same climax
community and have the same organisms.
Contrast: Primary takes much longer and starts from rock. Secondary is shorter and starts from
existing soil.
7. What is the progression of species that you see in succession?
Answers vary. Example: Lichens, grasses/weeds, shrubs, small trees, large trees.
8. Explain why forests typically have more biodiversity than the tundra.
Due to the larger amount of water. This permits the growth of a wider variety of organisms.
9. Identify 2-3 scenarios that lead to primary succession and 2-3 scenarios that lead to secondary
Primary examples: volcano, glacial activity
Secondary examples: forest fire, human activity that removes organisms but leaves soil.
10. Why are there fewer smaller organisms, such as shrubs and grasses, in climax communities?
There are fewer smaller organisms because the larger organisms are better at competing for
limited resources. For example, a large tree is better able to compete for a finite amount of water.
11. Describe the process of desertification. What can be done to prevent desertification?
Natural vegetation is removed through human action or disease. The vegetation can no longer
hold the soil together through the root systems, and the vegetation will dry out when there is a
drought. Once the soil is dry and loose, winds will pick it up and carry it off, leaving behind
desert-like conditions.
12. What is global climate change? Describe the process and explain how CO2 contributes to climate
Global climate change refers to a gradual increase in the average global temperature, as measured
by government agencies like the national weather service. The process occurs when greenhouse
gases (gases that trap escaping heat in the atmosphere, like CO2) become more abundant and trap
more heat. Some of these excess greenhouse gases are produced by human activities like burning
coal, gas, and oil (fossil fuels).
13. Describe how the following could lead to habitat destruction:
a. Invasive species
Example: an invasive species like the Emerald Ash Borer causes damage to trees which
will destroy the trees.
b. Pollution
Example: an oil spill coats the surface of water and prevents oxygen from dissolving in
the water
c. Deforestation
Example: trees are cut down, removing the habitat for many birds, insects, and plants.
d. Overexploitation
Example: overuse of a resource, like water, removes that habitat for organisms that
depend on it (like fish).
14. What is biodiversity?
The amount, or variety, of different species in an ecosystem.
15. What type of ecosystem has the most biodiversity? Why?
Tropical rain forest, because it has high amounts of precipitation and warm temperatures that
promote growth of producers (the base of every food chain).
16. What type of ecosystem has the least biodiversity? Why?
Tundra, due to low moisture and low temperatures that do not promotes growth of producers
(the base of every food chain).
17. How can you reduce your carbon footprint? Explain your answer.
Answers vary: examples could include using less gasoline, lowering the temperature (winter)
in the house so as to burn less fuel in the furnace, raising the temperature in the house
(summer) to use less electricity. Any activity that reduces use of electricity (produced by
burning fossil fuels).