AP Biology: Essay Topics – Part 6 : Destruction by Humans

The key to mastering the AP Biology essay section is practice….there is no shortcut. Make sure that you cover all the key points of every topic because you don’t know what will turn up on the test. Below are some possible essay topics. When writing your essay, include and elaborate on as many of the points as possible. And include definitions and explanations of key terms.

Below are possible essay topics with some key points:

17. Effects of human resources and population growth

Acid rain and pollution – contamination of ground water and air pollution

• Sulfur dioxide
• Precipitation, acidic soil, damage to leave of plants and trees
• Results of industrialization

Global warming

• CO2 levels rising – the greenhouse effect (traps heat)
• CO2 emissions from burning fossil fuels and cutting forests
• Danger – melting ice caps, rising sea levels, altered weather patterns

Ozone depletion (from emitted chlorofluorocarbon (CFC))

• Lessened ability of ozone to block UV light
• Greater amount of UV exposure raises the rate of mutation
• Some animals (marine, frogs) are especially sensitive to UV rays – increased probability of birth defects and non-fertile offspring

 Habitat destruction

• Desertification (turning habitats into deserts)
• Soil erosion as trees and ground cover are cut down
• Species loss and decreased biodiversity

Sample question (from AP Biology 2012 Free-Response Questions – College Board)

The element carbon is contained in all organic compounds.

a)      Discuss the role of photosynthesis and cellular respiration in carbon cycling in the biosphere.

b)     For THREE of the following, predict and explain the effect on the carbon cycle if:

• decomposers were absent
• deforestation occurred
• volcanic dust accumulated in the atmosphere
• the average ocean temperature increased

c)      Explain how increased CO2 in the atmosphere results in greater acidification of oceans and describe the effect on marine organisms. Include in your discussion TWO examples of how human activity can increase atmospheric CO2

When answering the essay questions on the AP Biology exam, make sure that you pay attention to the bolded words in the question as these tell you what the examiner is looking for in your answer.


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