Lecture 8: Metapopulations, plant community composition
1. Describe the population persistence of the endangered Fender’s Blue butterfly.
2. In the mining ghost town of Bodie, CA, pika live in the tailings piles leftover.
a. What are tailings piles?
b. Describe pika populations separately in the north, middle, and south regions of patches. Coupled?
3. What are some ways model populations can be driven to extinction? (3/4)
a. How are these tendencies countered? (2)
4. Differentiate between the organismal and individualistic hypotheses of species associations.
a. Describe environmental gradient curves that would suggest each hypothesis.
b. Which would you consider continuous or discrete?
c. Describe multiple lines of evidence for the individualistic hypothesis in plants.
d. Why might this change for animals?
Lecture 9: Spatial ecology, plant communities, and disturbance
1. What are community dynamics?
2. What are pioneer species? How do they get there? What type of strategists are they?
3. Describe the classic successional sequence. (3)
4. Differ between primary and secondary succession. What is a disturbance?
5. Describe the primary succession on lava flows in Hawaii. (5)
6. Describe secondary succession in an abandoned field. (7)
a. How do plants deal with the canopy? (2)
7. How is succession autogenic? Describe the 2 main drivers of terrestrial succession.
a. Where is each especially important?
8. Describe the stable climax configuration that Clements thought all soils would reach.
9. Describe why in each of the following areas, it is unlikely a climax-type equilibrium will be reached:
a. Boreal forest
b. Acid, sandy soils
c. Fire-prone ecosystems
d. Transient substrates
10. Describe succession in tropical rainforests. (3, What is this type of succession called?) Pine trees. (2) SoCal
11. Differentiate between crown and ground fires. Why are ground fires innocuous? How do crown fires start?
12. Describe serotiny as it applies to pine cones. How is it an adaptation to fire?
13. What are disturbance regimes? Why is spatial scale important to a habitat’s disturbance?
14. What is the intermediate disturbance hypothesis?
Lecture 10: Trophic relationships in communities
1. What are the primary producers; primary, secondary, tertiary consumers; detritivores?
2. Differentiate between food chains and food webs.
3. Describe a removal experiments involving beetles and goldenrod. How does this determine interaction
4. Explain the HSS paper on trophic cascades.
5. In a food web where lizards eat beetle-eating spiders and the beetles, and the beetles ate plants, how can we
determine whether the lizards are harming or helping the plants?
6. In a web involving fish eating larval dragonflies, dragonflies eating bees, and bees pollinating St. John’s
wort, what can we expect to be different wrt the wort when fish are removed?
a. What is the keystone consumer in this example? 7. Why is it difficult to be a herbivore (2)? Describe the coevolutionary race between plants and insect
8. Describe the defense of milkweed. How are monarch butterfly larva milkweed-feeding specialists?
9. How do the larva use the milkweed to their advantage?
10. Why are chemical defenses more effective against generalists than specialists? How have specialists
evolved to use these defense chemicals?
11. What are the functions of alkaloids, and other secondary chemicals?
12. How do graminoids differ from forbs? (2) How do ungulates (like cows) deal with forbs?
13. How do horses and cows differ in digesting eaten grasses? How have they evolved to specialize in eating
14. What characterizes a problem plant for ranchers? Why do ranchers with sheep avoid Veratrum? Why do
skin cancer researchers use Veratrum?
15. How do pikas manipulate toxin levels and preserve winter food?
16. What is the Janzen-Connell hypothesis? Discuss seed shadows and the “rain of death”.
17. Why can’t the physical environment produce the extraordinary species diversity we see? What does?
Lecture 11: Putting things together: Species interactions in subalpine meadows
1. Describe the structure of the glacier lily (3). Where in the mountains do they grow?
2. What is an elaiosome? Do glacier lilies have them? How well do glacier lilies disperse? In what type of soil
did glacier lilies germinate in? Is it iteroparous or semelparous? *What does this mean?
3. How is gopher activity quantified?
4. Explain why seedlings and plants were not found in the same area despite the lily’s dispersion pattern.
What is the rock-refuge hypothesis?
5. Why don’t glacier lilies evolve elaisomes? (there is a similar species that has them)
6. What did Cantor and Whitham conclude about aspen and gophers? What is the keystone species then?
What are the gophers preventing in the meadows? How are gophers thus helping and harming the lilies?
7. What is the increase in heat being trapped in the atmosphere by GHGs as a result of anthropogenic
combustion of fossil fuels doing to ecosystems? (2) Explain the effect polar bears and pika? Describe the
trends in pika populations in The Great Basin, a series of small mountain ranges in a matrix of desert.
Lecture 12: Introduction to Evolutionary Biology
1. Differentiate between observational, theoretical, comparative, and experimental approaches used in
2. List some assumptions about evolution verified by scientific study. (3/5)
3. What is biodiversity? What is adaptation (state and process)?
4. Describe the differences between micro and macroevolution? (2)
5. Who is Theodosius Dobzhansky?
6. Why are water hyacinths the world’s worst weed? Why do they only flower near the edge of a canal? (3)
7. Why is the S-form of the water hyacinth restricted to the Amazon? (unlike the L- and M-forms)
8. How do water hyacinths differ in their native and introduced ranges?
9. How do Old World and New World birds differ in pollination? What is the evolved adaptation in Rat’s Tail?
What happens when the unbranched inflorescence is removed is removed?
Lecture 13: Darwin’s big idea and how it changed biology
1. Why do we say “evolution has no purpose”? Why was this controversial?
2. What did Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck do? What was the name of the mechanism he proposed and why was it
wrong? How would Lamarck explain the evolution of the giraffe’s neck? How would it be wrong?
3. What is August Weisman’s Germplasm Theory? (3)
4. Along with Darwin, who else discovered the correct mechanism for Natural Selection? Why did Darwin
become more famous?
5. What are the 2 main components of The Origin of Species?
6. How did Charles Lyell’s book Principles of Geology influence Darwin?
7. What was the significance of mockingbirds to Darwin?
8. How did Malthus’s Essay on the Principle of Population? 9. What are the 3 requirements for Darwin’s theory to work?
10. Why is scientific creationism NOT science? (3)
1. Compare the species diversity and amount of biotic interactions in the tropical forests in Brazil, relative to
woodlands in England, where Darwin was from. Describe the pest and disease pressures on plants in these
forests. What is the reason for this?
2. Differentiate between tropical trees and temperate trees’ pollination method. Explain this difference.
3. Describe the work of Daniel Janzen. Explain his pest pressure hypothesis.
4. Describe the ant-plant mutualism in Acacia. Discuss beltian bodies, extrafloral nectaries, and thorns.
What about ant-plant mutualism in Devil’s garden? Discuss nest sites.
5. How are epiphytes an example of convergent evolution? How are they dispersed?
6. How can multicoloured flowers be an adaptation? How can this be tested? How can red, juvenile leaves be
an adaptation? What is the hypothesized function of red bracts?
7. What did Darwin see in Patagonia? Give some examples.
8. Describe the Galapagos Islands’ flora and fauna. (2) How did prickly-pear cacti end up on these islands?
9. What were Darwin’s finches considered the best example of natural selection in the world? What work did
Peter and Rosemary Grant do?
10. What is adaptive radiation? What are the 4 features that commonly identify adaptive radiation? Describe
adaptive radiation in the Galapagos island giant tortoise. Differentiate between marine and terrestrial
iguanas on these islands.
11. What is special about Australia? What is endemism?
12. Describe the dominant tree group in Australia, Gum Trees. (2) How have koalas developed a specialized
diet to their leaves? How is the banksia pollinated? Labs
1: Insect Diversity and Adaptation
1. What is an adaptation? Fitness?
2. Describe the process of evolution.
3. Aside from natural selection, describe 2 other mechanisms that may result in differences between
populations (not necessarily adaptations).
4. What is viability? List some adaptations that increase viability (and thus result from viability selection)
a. Describe the viability adaptations of camouflage, life in water, feeding.
5. Describe sexual selection. Describe the sexual adaptations of intra-sexual competition, and mate choice.
What are secondary sexual characteristics? Sexual dimorphism?
6. Differentiate between complete and incomplete metamorphosis. What is the benefit to butterflies and
caterpillars of complete metamorphosis? how is this physically reflected?
7. How do monarch butterflies warn off predators?
8. Identify 3 adaptations that enable a waterstrider to move about on the water’s surface. What are the
locomotive functions of each of its 3 pair of legs? What adaptations do waterstriders possess to aid in
9. How do female Australian leaf insects differ from males? Explain. Why are the wings on males brightly
coloured? What are some behavioural adaptations of stick and leaf insects? (3)
10. What are the pros and cons of parthenogenesis?
11. Why do Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches hiss when handled or pursued? What mouthparts would you
expect to find on these vegetable-matter consuming cockroaches? What adaptive function does the dorsal
prothorax of these cockroaches serve?
12. Why do male stag beetles have larger mandibles? (2) Why do rhino beetles have horns? Why don’t they
evolve larger and larger horns? (2)
13. Describe the paternal care in Giant Water Bugs. What adaptations do Giant Water Bugs possess for life in
water? (3) What adaptations do both Giant Water Bugs and Praying Mantids possess for capturing prey?
14. What was being investigated in the West African assassin bugs? What were the functions of each of these
2: Phenotypic Variation I: Polymorphisms of Caenorhabditis elegans
1. Differentiate between genotype and phenotype.
2. What is a locus? Polymorphism?
3. How can genetic variation affect population dynamics? Give an example.
4. How do C. elegans reproduce? (3 different situations)
5. How did the differences in the alleles affect C. elegans behaviour?
6. What is a copulatory plug? Why can only some C. elegans produce it?
3: Phenotypic Variation II: Phenotypic Plasticity of Plant Defenses
1. What is phenotypic plasticity? Give an example. What is acclimation?
2. Differentiate between discrete and continuous plasticity. Give an example of each.
3. What is the reaction norm?
4. Describe the relationship between reversibility and plasticity.
5. Describe a case where phenotype becomes fixed by environmental variation at a young age.
6. Why aren’t all traits phenotypically plastic?