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Questions For Readings, Test Practice and Review

50% of the questions on an exam will be the same as or similar to the questions you see here or that you have seen in class handouts.

Lecture and Reading Questions

As you answer these questions, keep in mind the following:


  1. Give an example of confirmation bias.
  2. Name 3 enemies of good information.
  3. What are the 2 informal hedges against bad information?  What is the formal cure?
  4. Why is common sense (sometimes) the enemy of science?
  5. Six steps of scientific method.

6.      Scientists don’t like to say, “This is a Fact.”  Why?

  1. The wolf and coyote are in the same genus but why aren’t they considered the same species (include elements of the definition of a species in your answer)?
  2. Write the list of the 8 groups used in the classification of living things in proper order starting with Domain and ending with Species.
  3. If you had animal with a nucleus, which domain would it be in?
  4. A cougar is a PUMA CONCOLOR.  Rewrite the Latin names in the proper form.
  5. Where is your DNA? 
  6. Describe one non-geographical way that animals might be genetically isolated.
  7. Can sub-species mate and have fertile offspring?  Explain.
  8. Briefly discuss one of the five traits (don’t discuss fur) of mammals mentioned in this class.
  9. Give a living example of a monotreme, a marsupial and a placental.
  10. Why is the platypus interesting when considering the evolution of mammals?
  11. Some zoologists believe that warm bloodedness and fur are the traits most responsible for mammals achieving dominance in the animal kingdom.  Defend that point of view.
  12. Describe two functions of mammalian hair.
  13. What is keratin?
  14. What is the benefit of placental vivipary?
  15. Where do we get the word “mammal”?
  16. About 220 mya scientists noticed heterodonts rather than the typical homodonts.  What did this portend (i.e. indicate)?
  17. Why do mammals need more calories than other animals of similar size?
  18. Place the following three orders of mammals in sequence from the most primitive to the most advanced (recent): Marsupialia (pouched mammals), Insectivora, Monotremata (anteaters and platypuses).
  19. List the four groups (types) of teeth that might be found in mammal skull and explain the function of each type.
  20. Name a mammal with no pre-molars.
  21. What sub-class of mammals is the black bear in?
  22. What is the relationship between DNA and a snake’s poison or an enzyme that you need to digest food?  [This question could be what is the relationship between DNA and any protein an organism creates including poisons or enzymes].
  23. In what way is biodiversity nature’s insurance policy?
  24. Describe a situation where there is high biodiversity. 
  25. Describe a situation where there is low biodiversity. 
  26. Number one cause of lowered biodiversity.
  27. In lecture I discussed four ways to view biodiversity.  Explain.
  28. Your complete _________________ is found in every ________ of your body.
  29. Four ways to view biodiversity.
  30. Why did I bring up E.O. Wilson in lecture?
  31. Three enemies of biodiversity.
  32. What is the number one cause of lowered biodiversity? 
  33. Why was the term biodiversity only coined in the 1980s?  Why not in the year 1900?
  34. Why is the platypus interesting when considering the evolution of mammals?
  35. About 200 mya scientists noticed heterodonts rather than the typical homodonts.  What did this portend (i.e. indicate)?
  36. Name some genetic traits that a shepherd would want in a sheep dog.
  37. What is a mutation?
  38. I discussed a baby whale in the Puget Sound near Olympia.  What gene might be weak in that animal that allowed it to get isolated from its pod?  (I want you to engage in the same kind of speculation we did in class).
  39. What are homologous structures?  Defend the argument that homologous structures support the theory of evolution?
  40. What does vestigial mean?  Give an example of a vestigial trait in an animal.  How does that vestigial trait relate to the theory of evolution?
  41. How much of the DNA recipe book is shared between humans and chimpanzees?  (Answer with a %).
  42. Discuss the 4 lines of evidence that support evolution.
  43. Define evolution.
  44. Be familiar with the four requisites of evolution (from the reading article).
  45. Did mammals live at the same time as dinosaurs?
  46. Make a sketch of Protocetus
  47. Name and define the Latin sub-order of killer whales.
  48. Living in the ocean poses several problems for marine mammals.  Discuss three of the problems and how they are solved by whales.
  1. When did Protocetus live? 
  2. From lecture, what do 200, 67 and 88 represent?
  3. Are whales precocious?  Explain.
  4. Why do whales love the cold water?  It seems like is would be negative for their survival.
  5. Discuss biomagnification.
  6. How many babies is “enough” for reproductive success for an animal?
  7. How many babies are “enough” in the life of a whale?
  8. What three features determine reproductive rate in mammals?
  9. Why would it be easier to recover a rat population than a whale population?
  10. What was the estimated number of killer whales in the 1800s?_________ What was the all time low?_________.
  11. If you saw a whale while you were on a boat, how would you know if it were a transient or a resident?  Use this as an opportunity to show that you understand the differences.

EXAM 1   


    1.      What is an indicator species? 

    1. Name a carnivore that rarely eats more vegetation than meat.
    2. Name a carnivore that usually eats non-meat foods.
    3. Explain the relationship between urine and muscle mass in a hibernating bear.
    4. Explain the phenomena of delayed implantation.  What is the benefit to bears?
    5. Are bears altricial or precocious?  Justify your answer.
    6. Why do bears need so much land to survive (it’s not because they are large)?
    7. In terms of reproduction, how many babies is “enough”? 
    8. There are three characteristics that confer “low reproductive rate” on an animal.  What are those characteristics?
    9. Define niche.
    10. Define diurnal.
    11. What is the relationship between torpor and hibernation?
    12. What is the role of daylight and pineal gland and melatonin and torpor?
    13. Are small animals more likely than large to have prolonged torpor?
    14. List three triggers of torpor.
    15. There are three ways to manage winter energy crunch (two from the reading and one from lecture). 
    16. Be able to convert Cº to Fº without a calculator.

    18.  Review reading articles and their related questions.

    19.  Tell me a trait of mustelids.

    20.  What is a generalist?

    21.  Why are endangered animals usually not generalists?

    22.  What other animals are in the same genus as the coyote?

    23.  Coyote’s range is growing in most places.  There is an exception, however.  Explain the exception.

    24.  What is altricial?  Give an example.

    25.  What do juvenile coyotes eat?  Discuss.

    26.  How do coyotes practice resource partitioning? 

    27.  What is the significance of Valentines Day and Tax Day in the life of a coyote?

    28.  I mentioned that natural selection has had a dramatic culling effect on coyotes and that they are a very tough species.  Discuss.

    29.  Name a carnivore from the following habitats:

    a.      Marine

    b.      Terrestrial

    c.       Semi-aquatic

    d.      Arboreal

    30.  Discuss the fur of sea otters.

    31.  Why are sea otters considered a keystone species?

    32.  Scientists are hoping that on some spring day, a male from Vancouver Island will . . . Complete that thought and explain it.

    33.  Describe genetic bottlenecking with regard to sea otters.

    34.  One thing sea otters do that only a few other animals do (primates and some birds):

    35.  Are sea otters altricial or precocial?

    36.  Sea otters may mate year round but babies are born in late spring.  Explain.

    37.  How many sea otters are in Washington today?

    38.  Realizing that there are two sides to a debate, what would you recommend if you were a policy maker regarding sea otters and the potential conflicts in Washington?

    39.  Explain one of the ecological advantages of otters in a given area?

    40.  Genetically, explain why Washington’s sea otters are vulnerable.

    41.  Describe where a bear might den according to author Bernard Heinrich.

    42.  Humans’ waste nitrogen goes into ________. During hibernation, bears’ waste nitrogen goes into _________.

    43.  Humans would not tolerate hibernation very well. Describe one physiological capability that a hibernating bear has that humans do not have.

    44.  Find and memorize a formula for converting Celsius temperatures into Fahrenheit. Convert 35° C to Fahrenheit ________.

    45.  See the questions for the reading articles.

    46.  Name three facets of rodents’ teeth

    1. Name a rodent from each habitat:
      1. Arboreal
      2. Terrestrial
      3. Aquatic
      4. Subterranean
    2. What does Diastema mean?
    3. Why do biologists claim that rodents are successful?
    4. As an evolutionary strategy, why must rodents be fecund?
    5. Why are rodents characteristically fecund?  Use the term niche in your answer.
    6. What role do rodents typically play in their ecosystem?
    7. Where do deer mice live?
    8. What do deer mice eat?
    9. What is the meaning of the Latin names for the deer mouse?
    10. Discuss the eyes of Peromyscus.
    11. What prevents mice from too much interbreeding?



Exam III Questions below.  Note: There will be some overlap with rodent questions.


1.                  Expect questions about any of the reading assignments including succession.

2.                  Essay.  Explain how beaver are responsible for succession.  Draw a diagram to support your answer.

3.                  Describe three adaptations that facilitate the beaver’s aquatic life style.

4.                  Why might beaver be an exception to the vaunted fecundity of rodents?

5.                  Are babies altricial or precocial?

6.                  Why might a beaver be said to only have 355 days in a year?

7.                  How have humans impacted beaver?  Do humans still impact beaver?

8.                  How do beaver get nutrition from their environment?  Address their food supply and their way of using it.

9.                  How are beaver able to extract calories from wood?

10.              What is a circadian rhythm?

11.              What is the function of the nictitating membrane?

12.              Discuss the nictitating membrane

13.              Give several specific reasons why beaver might be a keystone species.

14.              Discuss the dive reflex.

15.              Discuss haying behavior for the pika.

16.              Pika act as sentinels except when­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­_________________.

17.              How do the pika use their cheek scent glands; what is their purpose?

18.              Describe pika’s specialist characteristics.

19.              What is haloarctic distribution?

20.              How are pika becoming genetically isolated?

21.              In what way do lagomorphs benefit from being coprophagic?

22.              Explain three differences between rabbits and hares.

23.              List two rabbits and two hares.

24.              Why is the pygmy rabbit endangered?  (Include in your answer what plant the pygmy rabbit is dependent on).

25.              Most of our rabbits don’t burrow.  Where do they sleep?

26.              Why are lagomorphs often considered keystone species?

27.              Why do snowshoe hares starve to death in ten year cycles? L

28.              Which statement about snowshoe hares is false?

a.       Snowshoe hares may become white before their habitat has snow.

b.      Snowshoe hares occasionally eat carrion.

c.       Snowshoe hares have altricial young.

d.      Snowshoe hares do not dig burrows.

29.              Explain how the pygmy rabbit is an “obligate.”

30.              What causes antlers to shed?

31.              Artiodactyla have distinct teeth and skulls.  Explain.

32.              What does feral mean?

33.              Draw a 4 chambered stomach and explain what happens as food goes through it.

34.              How do artiodactyla benefit from their complex stomach system?  (this may be answered in terms of predators (a minor point) or in terms of calories (the main point).

35.              What is rut?

36.              At the end of rut, the females and males are in very different circumstances (relating to winter survival).  Discuss.

37.              Give an example of how elk are matriarchal in social structure.

38.              Mt. goats are bellicose.  What is an advantage of that behavior?

39.              What kills Mt. goats?

40.              Based on the reading by Lindsey Cornelius, mountain goats’ genetic diversity may be doing OK.  How so?

41.              How do marmots keep their population down?  Why do they do that?  Isn’t it contrary to evolution?

42.              Tell me about the male deer mouse’s role regarding babies.

43.              Suppose a healthy male flying squirrel mates with a female.  What is the evolutionary benefit of the chastity plug?

44.              What odd behavior is shared between primates and porcupines?  What might be an advantage of this behavior?

45.              Name a rodent that hibernates.

46.              Name a monogamous rodent.

47.              What is a baculum?

48.              In the non mating season, it’s very hard to determine the sex of some rodents.  Why?

49.              Describe the teeth of insectivores.

50.              Give an example of an insectivore.

51.              Why is the metabolism of insectivores often very high?


On the Final Exam,  you can earn points by using the proper Latin names for mammals.  Here are the instructions that you will see on the test:

"You are required to use Latin names six times on this test.  Use them wherever you want and use a highlight pen for each of those times.  That will be worth 3 points.  You may earn an additional 2 points by using four more Latin names . . ."  So there will be opportunity to use Latin names 10 times.  As long as they are germane to the questions asked, I will count them.

Please bring a highlighting pen to the final (if you have one).