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APES Study Guide
Chapters 1-3
Chapter 1 - Environmental Problems, Their Causes, And Sustainability
1. Define natural capital, natural resources, and natural services. Be prepared to give examples of each.
Draw an exponential growth curve. Distinguish between exponential growth and linear growth. Describe what has
happened to the length of the doubling time over the course of human history.
Distinguish between developed countries and developing countries. Discuss relative population size, affluence and
resource consumption in each.
Distinguish between the following terms: nonrenewable, perpetual, and potentially renewable resources; reuse and recycle;
point-source pollution and nonpoint-source pollution; degradable, slowly degradable, and nondegradable pollutants.
Define biological diversity. Briefly describe its four components. Analyze the relationship between biodiversity and
human life. Describe the “tragedy of the commons.”
Define sustainable yield. Describe the relationship between sustainable yield and environmental degradation.
Distinguish between pollution prevention and pollution cleanup. Evaluate the effectiveness of these two approaches in
decreasing pollution. List five root causes of environmental problems.
Describe a simple model of relationships among population, resource use, technology, environmental degradation, and
Briefly describe hunter-gatherer societies, focusing on division of labor and power, the relationship of humans to nature,
and the impact of their societies on the environment.
10. Describe the major cultural changes that have occurred in humans. Include the approximate timeframes for each and their
relative impacts on the environment.
Chapter 2 - Science, Matter, And Energy
1. Briefly describe how science works. State the questions science tries to answer. Summarize scientific methods.
Distinguish between science and technology, and between frontier science and consensus science.
Define environmental science. Describe two problems that arise when science is used to address environmental problems.
Define model. Explain the conditions under which mathematical models are particularly useful to environmental science.
Define matter. Distinguish between forms of matter and quality of matter. State the law of conservation of matter. Discuss
the properties of pollutants.
Define energy. Distinguish between forms of energy and quality of energy.
Distinguish among physical, chemical and nuclear changes. Distinguish between nuclear fission and nuclear fusion.
State the first and second laws of energy.
Describe the implications of the laws of matter and energy for a long-term sustainable-Earth society.
Distinguish among high-waste, matter-recycling, and low-waste societies.
1. Define ecology. List and distinguish among five levels of organization of matter that are the focus of the realm
of ecology.
2. Distinguish among the following terms: atmosphere, hydrosphere, geosphere, and biosphere. Briefly describe
how the sun, gravity, and nutrient cycles sustain life on Earth. Compare the flow of matter and the flow of
energy through the biosphere.
3. Name and describe five types of biogeochemical cycles.
4. Define abiotic component of an ecosystem. List three important physical factors and three important chemical
factors that have large effects on ecosystems.
5. Summarize the law of tolerance. Compare limiting factors in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
6. Define biotic component of an ecosystem. Distinguish between producers and consumers. List and distinguish
four types of consumers. Distinguish among scavengers, detritus feeders, and decomposers. Distinguish
between photosynthesizers and chemosynthesizers, and between aerobic respiration and anaerobic respiration.
7. Distinguish between food chains and food webs. Apply the second law of energy to food chains and pyramids
of energy, which describe energy flow in ecosystems. Explain how there may be exceptions to pyramids of
numbers and biomass, but not energy.
8. Evaluate which ecosystems show the highest average net primary productivity and which contribute most to
global net primary productivity.
9. Briefly describe the three approaches ecologists use to learn about ecosystems: field research, laboratory
research, and systems analysis.
10. Apply the law of conservation of matter to biogeochemical cycles, which describe the flow of matter through
ecosystems. Briefly describe the following cycles: carbon, nitrogen, phosphorous, and sulfur. Summarize the
major ways that humans affect each cycle.
11. Briefly describe the hydrologic cycle. Distinguish among the following: evaporation, transpiration,
condensation, precipitation, infiltration, percolation, and runoff.
12. Draw and label the nitrogen cycle.