Review Questions for Biology 404

HOL Ch. 5: Life in a Changing World

1. According to Cowen, what is the most important characteristic about tropical latitudes that might explain their higher diversity than at higher latitudes? Are there any exceptions to the general correlation, and do these contradict or support his general explanation?

2. How do islands and continents compare in their climate? Compare the relative diversity of coastal marine organisms such as molluscs (snails, clams, chitons, etc.) in the following: 1) oceanic vs. continental regions; 2) fragmented land mass vs. single continental mass. From lecture, how does the distance of an island from a continent influence its: 1) overall species diversity; 2) proportion of endemic species?

3. What is a province? What are examples of provinces on the West and East Coasts of North America and what keeps them distinct? From lecture, how have they changed through recent times? If New Zealand has ecological conditions (e.g., water temperature and patterns of seasonality) similar to British Columbia, why is it still considered a separate province?

4. How has Jack Sepkoski divided the post-Cambrian marine animals into three separate faunas? How do they compare in terms of the ecological roles represented in each fauna?

5. From the lecture and course Web page for HOL Ch. 5, how are continental drift and plate tectonics related? What evidence finally led to the general acceptance of the notion of continental drift, and when did it become accepted? When did Rodinia and Pangea exist and how and why did their existence correlate with patterns of marine animal diversity worldwide?

6. Explain the likely relationship between plate tectonics, sea level changes, and the major extinction at the end of the Paleozoic Era (marking the boundary between the Permian and Triassic Periods). How long ago was this, and how long after the Cambrian Explosion? Why is the extinction event still a bit puzzling in terms of how suddenly it occurred? What major Paleozoic group of animals went extinct at that time?

HOL Ch. 6: Extinction

1. David Raup and Jack Sepkoski analyzed patterns of extinctions large enough to qualify as "mass extinctions." List the six events they found from earliest to latest, and plot them (from Fig. 6-1) onto Figs. 5-12 to 5-14.

2. What are some generalities you can make about these six mass extinction events and their eventual recovery? What are Lazarus taxa? What is the most likely explanation of their absence from the fossil record for a period after an extinction event?

3. What are some physical global phenomena that might explain mass extinction events? For each of these six events, list the presently favored explanation (if any) that is best supported by current evidence.

4. Which is the "Mother of Mass Extinctions" and why? What might this have to do with "plume tectonics" and Siberian Traps? Why is an alternative hypothesis called "Murder on the Orient Express"? What other major factors might help account for this giant extinction event, including models by Yukio Isozaki, Andrew Knoll, and Greg Retallack?

5. What was the supposed connection between periodic extinctions and Nemesis, the Death Star? According to Cowen, what is a more likely explanation for the patterns observed?

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