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UNIT 1: Intro to Environmental Science and Science Review
 Chapters 1,2
Chapter 1 Objective Questions
Define exponential growth. Describe the connection between exponential growth and environmental problems.
1. Distinguish between living on principal and living on interest. Analyze which of these behaviors humans are
currently illustrating. Evaluate the possibility of continuing to live in our current style.
2. Distinguish between developed countries and developing countries. Describe changes in the wealth gap
between these groups of countries.
3. Distinguish between the following terms: physically depleted and economically depleted resources;
nonrenewable, renewable, and potentially renewable resources; reuse and recycle. Draw a depletion curve.
Explain how recycling and reuse affect depletion time.
4. Define sustainable yield. Describe the relationship between sustainable yield and environmental degradation.
Describe the tragedy of the commons. Summarize how most environmentalists alleviate this type of tragedy.
5. Distinguish between the following terms: point source of pollution and nonpoint source of pollution;
persistent, nonpersistent, and nondegradable pollutants. Distinguish between pollution prevention and
pollution cleanup. Evaluate the effectiveness of these two approaches in decreasing pollution.
6. Summarize underlying causes of environmental problems. Describe a simple model of relationships among
population, resource use, technology, environmental degradation, and pollution. Evaluate which model is most
useful to you. Assess which model would be most useful in explaining these relationships to young children
and which more closely resembles reality.
7. Understand the cultural changes that have increased the human impact on the natural environment.
8. Summarize strategies humans can use to work closely with the earth.
Chapter 2 Objective Questions
1. Describe how science works. Distinguish between frontier and consensus science. Summarize the limits of
environmental science.
2. Define matter. Distinguish between forms of matter and quality of matter.
3. Define energy. Distinguish between forms of energy and quality of energy.
4. Define and explain mathematical models and how they are useful in predicting the behavior of a complex
5. Describe synergistic interactions within a complex system.
6. Describe how the law of conservation of matter and the law of conservation of energy govern normal physical
and chemical changes. Briefly describe the second law of energy (thermodynamics).
7. Define radioactivity. Distinguish between natural radioactivity, nuclear fission and nuclear fusion.
8. Define high-throughput economy. Explain where you would expect to see this type of economy.
9. Define low-throughput economy. Explain where you would expect to see this type of economy.
Compare the sustainability of the two different types of economies for future generations of
UNIT 2: Ecology
 Chapters 3,7
Chapter 3 Objective Questions:
1. Define ecology. List and distinguish among five levels of organization of matter that are the focus of the realm of
2. List the characteristics of life.
3. Distinguish among lithosphere, hydrosphere, atmosphere, and ecosphere. 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.
4. Define soil horizon. Briefly describe six soil layers. Using Figure 4-25 on p. 73 in the text, compare soil
profiles of five important soil types.
5. Describe a fertile soil. In doing so, be sure to refer to soil texture, porosity, loam, and acidity.
6. Distinguish between an open system and a closed system. Name and describe three types of biogeochemical
7. Define abiotic component of an ecosystem. List three important physical factors and three important chemical
factors that have large effects on ecosystems.
8. Summarize the law of tolerance. Compare limiting factors in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.
9. 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; aerobic respiration and anaerobic respiration.
10. What is biodiversity? Why should we care about the reduction in biodiversity? What is HIPO and how does it
relate to biodiversity?
11. Distinguish between food chains and food webs; grazing food web and detrital food web. 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.
12. Evaluate which ecosystems show the highest average net primary productivity and which contribute most to
global net primary productivity.
13. Discuss the major cycles of matter on earth. (Water, Carbon, Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Sulfur) How doe
humans impact these cycles?
14. Briefly describe the historical development and distinguishing features of three approaches ecologists use to
learn about ecosystems: field research, laboratory research, and systems analysis.
Chapter 7 Objective Questions
15. Describe the three characteristics that describe a biological community.
16. Distinguish among the following roles played by species and give one example of each: native species,
nonnative species, indicator species, keystone species. Explain why these labels are important.
17. Distinguish among the following species interactions and give one example of each: interspecific competition,
predation, and symbiosis. Distinguish between interference competition and exploitation competition. Summarize
the competitive exclusion principle. List two strategies species use to reduce competition.
18. List two strategies that predators use to capture their prey. List at least five strategies that prey use to defend
themselves against predators.
19. Distinguish among three forms of symbiotic relationships and give one example of each: parasitism,
mutualism, and commensalism.
Define succession. Distinguish between primary and secondary succession. Describe how
humans affect communities.
UNIT 3: Evolution and Biodiversity
 Chapters 4,5,6
1. Briefly describe the evolution of life from chemical evolution to the development of eukaryotic cells.
2. Identify the major time periods and which organisms thrived during those periods. (Ex. Cenozoic, Mesozoic,
Paleozoic, etc.)
3. Describe the tools available to researchers for learning the evolutionary history of life.
4. Briefly describe the theory of evolution, being sure to include the roles played by variation within the gene pool
and natural selection, extinction, speciation, and adaptive radiation.
5. Define natural selection and the three conditions that are necessary for evolution of a population by natural
6. Summarize and address two common misconceptions about evolution.
7. Define coevolution.
8. Distinguish between a specialist and a generalist. Evaluate the conditions that favor these two approaches.
9. Define ecological niche.
10. Distinguish between condition and resource; fundamental niche and realized niche.
11. List the factors that determine the realized niche.
12. Define speciation and compare allopatric speciation with sympatric speciation.
13. Indicate which of these mechanisms is more common.
14. Define extinction and distinguish between background extinction and mass extinction.
15. Discuss the role of humans on the rate of extinction at present.
16. Discuss the pros and cons of artificial selection and genetic engineering.
17. Consider the possible environmental impacts on resource use, pollution and environmental degradation.
18. Indicate what it is that has allowed humans to have such a profound influence on their environment.
1. Distinguish between weather and climate.
2. Summarize how warm fronts, cold fronts, high-pressure air masses, and low-pressure air masses affect weather.
3. Describe at least five different factors that contribute to global air-circulation patterns.
4. Describe how ocean currents generally redistribute heat.
5. Define greenhouse effect.
6. Name five greenhouse gases, their relative amounts in the atmosphere and their effectiveness compared to CO 2.
7. State the significance of the greenhouse effect.
8. Describe the general effects of the following microclimates: windward and leeward sides of a mountain,
forests, cities.
9. Describe how climate affects the distribution of plant life on Earth.
10. Draw connections between biomes and the following plants, which are particularly adapted for different
biomes: succulent plants, broadleaf evergreen plants, broadleaf deciduous plants, coniferous evergreen plants.
11. Compare the climate and adaptations of plants and animals in deserts, grasslands, and forests.
12. Describe the distinctive qualities of a chaparral ecosystem.
13. Be sure to distinguish among the three major kinds of forests.
14. Compare the biodiversity and stratification in the three major kinds of forests.
15. Describe how a mountain ecosystem is like an "island of biodiversity."
1. Summarize the distribution of light, salt, and temperature in different aquatic life zones.
2. Evaluate the significance of the ecological contributions of the oceans.
3. Briefly describe the characteristics and ecological significance of coral reefs.
4. Describe environmental and economic problems of coral reefs.
5. Distinguish between coastal and inland wetlands.
6. Describe the ecological functions performed by wetlands.
7. Describe environmental problems associated with coastal and inland wetlands.
8. List and compare the four zones of a lake.
9. Distinguish between oligotrophic and eutrophic lakes.
10. Describe stratification and a turnover in a lake.
11. Define watershed.
List and distinguish the three zones of a river system.
UNIT 4: Population Dynamics
 Chapters 8,9
Chapter 8: Population Ecology
12. Describe the various types of population distribution patterns that can occur in nature and comment
on which is most common and why.
13. Define birth rate, death rate, immigration, and emigration.
14. Write an equation to mathematically describe the relationship between these rates and the rate of population
15. Define limiting factor. Give an example of a resource that would be limiting in an ecosystem.
16. Define exponential growth.
17. Compare a J-shaped growth curve with a S-shaped growth curve and comment on the factors that produce the
sigmoid (S-shaped) curve.
18. Define carrying capacity and explain what determines the carrying capacity of an ecosystem.
19. Explain density-dependent population controls and density-independent population controls.
20. List the four general types of population fluctuations in nature. Indicate which of these is most common.
21. Discuss the relationships between predators and prey and the possible interactions upon each other.
22. Define r-selected species and K-selected species and compare the two. Give an example for each type of
species reproductive pattern.
23. Describe the three general types of survivorship curves in nature.
Chapter 9: Applying Population Ecology: The Human Population and its Impact
24. Define birth rate, death rate, emigration rate, and immigration rate.
25. Write an equation to mathematically describe the relationship between these rates and the rate of
population change.
26. Distinguish between replacement-level fertility and total fertility rate.
27. Describe how total fertility rate affects population growth.
28. List at least five factors that affect birth and fertility rates and five factors that affect death rate.
29. Summarize changes over time in the U.S. population growth rate.
30. Give reasons for the high rate of teen pregnancy in the United States compared to the rate in other
industrialized countries.
31. Draw connections between population growth and environmental degradation in California.
32. Define infant mortality rate.
33. Explain why it is considered a good indicator of quality of life.
34. Compare rates of population growth in developed countries and developing countries. Explain the
differences you find.
35. Using population age structure diagrams, explain how the age structure of a country creates
population growth momentum.
36. Summarize problems associated with a baby boom and a declining population.
37. Summarize key factors used to influence population size: immigration policy, family planning,
economic rewards and penalties, empowering women.
38. Summarize the current attitudes toward immigration policy in the United States.
39. List the four stages of the demographic transition.
40. List social, biological, political, and economic issues that can be addressed to help developing
countries undergo a demographic transition.
41. List three factors that may limit the effectiveness of a demographic transition in influencing
population size.
42. Compare and evaluate the population policies of India and China.
43. Summarize what we have learned from decades of trying to influence human population growth.
List the major goals of the UN Conference on Population and Development.
UNIT 5: Energy Resources and Uses
 Chapters 15,16,17
1. List three types of mineral resources, and give one example of each.
2. Clarify the relationship between identified resources and reserves.
3. Distinguish between subsurface and surface mining.
4. Briefly describe the environmental impacts of mining.
5. Draw a hypothetical depletion curve.
6. Project how this curve would be affected by the following changes in assumptions: (a) recycling of the resource
is increased, (b) discoveries of new deposits of the resource are made, (c) prices rise sharply, (d) a substitute for
the resource is found.
7. Visually illustrate distribution of the world's nonfuel mineral resources.
8. State which foreign sources are most critical to U.S. needs.
9. State which of those sources are potentially politically unstable.
10. List environmental impacts of extracting, processing, and using mineral resources. Summarize the U.S. 1872
Mining Law.
11. List seven ways to reform this law.
12. How much of the total energy used to heat the earth and earth's buildings comes from commercial energy?
13. List five key questions to ask about each energy alternative to evaluate energy resources.
14. Define net energy and state its significance in evaluating energy resources.
15. Distinguish among primary, secondary, and tertiary oil recovery.
16. List the advantages and disadvantages of using conventional oil, oil from oil shale, and oil from tar sands to heat
space and water, produce electricity, and propel vehicles.
17. Distinguish among natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, liquefied natural gas, and synthetic natural gas. List the
advantages and disadvantages of using natural gas as an energy source.
18. List and describe three types of coal. Indicate which is preferred for burning and which is most available.
19. List and briefly describe three methods for extracting coal.
20. List advantages and disadvantages of using coal as a fuel source.
21. Briefly describe the components of a conventional nuclear reactor.
22. List advantages and disadvantages of using conventional nuclear fission to create electricity.
23. Be sure to consider the whole nuclear fuel cycle, including disposal of radioactive wastes, safety and
decommissioning of nuclear power plants, and the potential for proliferation of nuclear weapons.
24. Summarize current thinking about disposal of low-level and high-level radioactive wastes.
25. List and briefly describe three ways to decommission a nuclear power plant.
26. List findings of a 1987 commission which bring the credibility of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to
safeguard the nuclear power industry into question.
27. Describe the potential use of breeder nuclear fission and nuclear fusion as energy sources.
28. List the advantages and disadvantages of improving energy efficiency so that we do more with less.
29. Define life cycle cost and cogeneration and describe their potential for saving energy.
30. Describe changes which can be made in industry, transportation, buildings, lights, and appliances which would
improve energy efficiency.
31. List the advantages and disadvantages of using direct solar energy to heat air and water for buildings.
32. Distinguish between active and passive solar heating.
33. Compare the following solar technologies and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each: solar power
tower, solar thermal plant, nonimaging optical solar concentrator, solar cooker.
34. List the advantages and disadvantages of using water in the forms of hydropower, tidal power, wave power,
ocean thermal currents, and solar ponds to produce electricity.
35. List the advantages and disadvantages of using wind to produce electricity.
36. List the advantages and disadvantages of using biomass to heat space and water, produce electricity, and propel
37. Consider burning wood, agricultural wastes, and urban wastes as well as conversion of biomass to biofuels.
38. List the advantages and disadvantages of using hydrogen gas to heat space and water, produce electricity, and
propel vehicles.
39. State the energy source that is needed to produce hydrogen to create a truly sustainable future.
40. Describe constraints to a solar-hydrogen revolution.
41. Distinguish among dry steam, wet steam, and hot water sources of geothermal energy.
42. List the advantages and disadvantages of using geothermal energy for space heating, high-temperature industrial
heating, and electricity production.
43. Analyze the interactions of economic policy and energy resources.
44. In particular consider the results of using free-market competition, keeping energy prices low, and keeping
energy prices high.
45. List four ways that the United States could build a more sustainable energy future.