Environmental science chapter 3 practice quiz
Terms in this set (11)
Define atom and element. Are these terms interchangeable?
Element--substances that can't be broken down further
Atom--smallest particles that have characteristics of an element.
Yes, they are interchangeable.
Your body contains vast numbers of carbon atoms. How is it possible that some of these carbon atoms may have been part of the body of a prehistoric creature?
Carbon is recycled through the carbon cycle. There is carbon in oil, which is made of prehistoric creatures, and this carbon is released into the air during combustion. Carbon is then taken in by plants in the form of CO2, which we then eat.
What are six characteristics of water that make it so valuable for living organisms and their environment?
1) High specific heat--harder to change its temperature (takes longer to heat up), so it stays within range of livable temperatures
2) High heat of vaporization--takes more energy for it to vaporize, so it doesn't evaporate from us constantly, cooling our surfaces
3) Universal solvent--(almost) everything dissolves in water, so we get a lot of nutrients
4) Cohesion and adhesion--(cohesion=water sticks to itself, adhesion=water sticks to other things), cohesion creates surface tension, adhesion allows water to creep up surfaces (like plant veins)
5) Surface tension--creates ecosystems
6) Ice density--Ice is less dense than water, so it floats, insulating the water below and making life possible
In the biosphere, matter follows a circular pathway while energy follows a linear pathway. Explain.
Matter is recycled--we eat it, then excrete it out or die, and the matter is recycled back into the earth to be taken up by other pathways. Energy is constantly transferred, and each time it is transferred a bit of energy is lost.
The oceans store a vast amount of heat, but (except for climate moderation) this huge reservoir of energy is of little use to humans. Explain the difference between high-quality and low-quality energy.
Low-quality: energy that is diffused, dispersed, and low in temperature (hard to gather. E.g. ocean)
High-quality: intense, concentrated, high temperature (useful in carrying out work. E.g. fire)
Heat is released during metabolism. How is this heat useful to a cell and to a multicellular organism?
Heat is essential for cellular processes.
Ecosystems require energy to function. Where does this energy come from? Where does it go? How does the flow of energy conform to the laws of thermodynamics?
1) The energy comes from the sun, unless you're a deep-sea thermal vent deriving energy from chemosynthesis
2) Organisms use this energy to create chemical reactions and break down or create materials
3) The energy is neither created nor destroyed, and organisms lose energy with each chemical process as energy is released. heat is released from your body as you work.
Photosynthesis and cellular respiration are complementary processes. Explain how they exemplify the laws of conservation of matter and thermodynamics.
Respiration recycles the energy made in photosynthesis by breaking down glucose, which conserves energy, and also reduces the chemical energy of photosynthesis into heat or kinetic energy.
What do we mean by carbon-fixation or nitrogen-fixation? Why is it important to humans that carbon and nitrogen be "fixed"?
Fixation: turning these elements from their gaseous forms into solid ones that organisms can use in chemical processes essential to life.
We can't fix elements, so we depend on eating plants that can fix elements in order to get these materials.
The population density of large carnivores is always very small compared to the population density of herbivores occupying the same ecosystem. Explain this in relation to the concept of an ecological pyramid.
More and more energy is lost as matter progresses up the food chain, so herbivores get more energy from their food and also require less of it, while carnivores get less energy from their food and also require more of it. There isn't enough energy in an ecosystem to support more carnivores.
A species is a specific kind of organism. What general characteristics do individuals of a particular species share? Why is it important for ecologists to differentiate among the various species in a biological community?
Members of a species can interbreed and produce viable offspring, so they have genes that allow them to do that. Having different species helps biologists distinguish between organisms with different functions, niches, etc., so that they can better understand an ecosystem.
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