Study Questions Assignment

Study questions assignment rules and formatting requirements.


Chapter 1
  1. Define the terms
    • population
    • community
    • ecosystem
    • landscape
    • biome
    • biosphere
  2. What is a hypothesis? Give two examples.
  3. What is the role of hypotheses in science?
  4. What is a model? Give two examples.
  5. What is the relationship between hypotheses and models?
Chapter 2
  1. What is photosynthetically active radiation (PAR)?
  2. What causes seasons?
    • Discuss changes in solar elevation and length of day and use the mid-latitudes in summer and winter as a specific example.
    • What are the minimum and maximum sun angles experienced in NYC and at the equator?
    • How long is the length of day at the following latitudes on the summer solstice and winter solstice (create a table)?
      • equator
      • 30 degrees north
      • 40 degrees north
      • 60 degrees north
      • 80 degrees north
  3. What is the greenhouse effect and how is it changing  as greenhouse gasses increase?
  4. Why is it colder at the top of a mountain?
  5. Describe the temperature and relative humidity (RH) changes as air moves up a mountain slope.
  6. Why are the coastal waters of the southeastern US warmer than the coastal waters off of southern California? (Assume similar latitudes.)
  7. What are the intertropical convergence zone (ITCZ) and subtropical high (STH) and how do they affect global precipitation?
Chapter 4
  1. Assume that two forests at the equator on the equinox have the same quantity of leaves (leaf area index. In one forest, however, the eaves are oriented horizontally (parallel to the forest floor). In the other forest, the leaves are positioned at an angle of 60o. How would the availability of light at the forest floor differ for these two forests at solar noon? In which forest would the leaves at the bottom of the canopy (lower in the tree) receive more light at mid morning and why?

Radiation Intensity Table


Chapter 1
  1. Define the following:
    • humus
    • soil texture
    • adsorption
    • profile
    • horizon
  2. What is the difference between texture and structure? Why do they matter?
  3. Which is easier the change in a soil, texture or structure. How would you change the easier one?
  4. What do plans, microbes and soil do for each other?
  5. What five major factors affect soil formation? Explain each one.
  6. What role does weathering play in soil formation? Describe mechanical and chemical weathering and give two examples of both.
Chapter 2
  1. What is clay in the context of soil science? Discuss size, texture class and as a mineral.
  2. Why are clay minerals important to soils, how do they influence soil characteristics? How do humans use clay?
  3. What is soil organic matter?
  4. How does soil structure influence soil porosity? Include details about pores and how pores influence movement of air and liquids.
  5. What pore characteristics are important besides pore volume? Describe each one in detail.
Chapter 3
  1. Define the following in terms of soil:
    • diffusion
    • mass flow
    • cation
    • anion
    • field capacity
    • saturation
    • hydrogen bonding
  2. What is plant available water?
  3. How much water is in a clay soil, compared with a sandy soil, at field capacity and the permanent wilting point? At field capacity which soil has more plant available water? Why. At the permanent wilting point which soil has more plant available water? Why?
Chapter 4
  1. Define the following:
    • specific heat capacity. Compare the specific heat of water with dry and wet soil.
    • thermal conductivity of soil.
  2. Why does a thermometer exposed to the sun give incorrect readings of the temperature of the surrounding air?
  3. Why does field soil temperature show little diurnal variation at a depth of 50 cm (20 inches) below the ground surface? Why does the seasonal temperature variation at that depth lag behind the seasonal mean air temperature?
  4. On a frosty night, orchard owners sometimes turn on sprinklers or large fans to try to prevent their trees from freezing. Explain these practices.
Chapter 5
  1. Describe the normal pattern of water removal from field soil by plants.   
  2. What soil properties influence a pedon's water storage properties?                    
Chapter 7:
Soil Organisms
  1. Explain the meaning, in detail, of the following:
    • rhizosphere. Include information about all of the structures and organisms that interact and how they interact.
    • symbiosis
    • root nodule. What kind of bacteria live here and discuss in detail what these bacteria do.
    • mycorrhiza
  2. Why do so many different kinds of organisms inhabit the soil?
Chapter 6
  1. Define autotroph and heterotroph.
  2. What is the function of respiration?
  3. How does diffusion control the uptake of carbon dioxide and the loss of water from a leaf?
  4. How does the availability of water to a plant constrain the rate of photosynthesis?
  5. What is the advantage of the C4 photosynthetic pathway as compared to the conventional C3 pathway? How might these advantages influence where these plant species are found?
  6. What is the advantage of a lower light compensation point (LCP) for plant species adapted to low-light environments? What is the cost of maintaining a low LCP?
  7. How do plants growing in shaded environments respond to increase their photosynthetic surface area?
  8. For a given opening of the stomata (referred to as stomatal conductance), how will an increase in atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide possibly influence the rate of photosynthesis? How might this effect the water-use efficiency of the plant?
Chapter 21
  1. Define and relate the following terms to each other
    • gross primary productivity
    • autotrophic respiration
    • net primary productivity
  2. Compare and contrast net primary productivity and standing biomass for an ecosystem.
  3. What two factors are the primary influences on productivity in terrestrial ecosystems and how do they influence productivity?
  4. What are the two major food chains and how are they related?
Chapter 22
  1. How does the type of carbon compounds present in dead organic matter influence its quality as an energy source for decomposers?
  2. How does lignin concentration influence the decomposition of plant litter?
Chapter 23
  1. How are the processes of photosynthesis and decomposition involved in the carbon cycle?
  2. In the temperate zone, is the concentration of carbon dioxide higher during the day or night? Why?
  3. Define and characterize the following processes in the nitrogen cycle:
    • fixation
    • ammonification
    • nitrification
    • denitrification
Chapter 24
  1. What are the major strata in the tropical rainforest? Discuss how the strata affect transmission of PAR to ground level
  2. How does the warm, wet environment of tropical rain forests influence rates of net primary production and decomposition?
  3. What distinguishes savannas from grassland ecosystems? Discuss the climate types associated with both ecosystems.
  4. What types of leaves characterize the trees of the following ecosystems and why?
    • Mediterranean
    • temperate forests
  5. What is permafrost and how does it influence the structure and productivity of boreal forest ecosystems?
  6. Explain why the soils of rain forests are poor for agriculture.
  7. How do plants in tundra differ from plants in other biomes in terms of size, growth form, and contribution to belowground systems? What specific environmental constraints are organisms in this environment exposed to, and how does their form and function allow them to survive in this area?