Current Environmental Issue Sample Test Questions

2019 NCF-Envirothon Registration Open

Site Register (Not Competition Registration)


Current Environmental Issue Sample Test Questions

The following questions were selected from the 2002 Canon Envirothon competition hosted in Massachusetts. The current environmental issue test is based on the 2002 issue: "Introduced Species and their Effect on Biodiversity."

Imagine that you have been hired by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts as a Natural Resource Specialist whose job is to focus on the impacts of Introduced Species and Biodiversity in the Commonwealth. Your job is to inform and educate a variety of different audiences about threats to the state's biodiversity covering a host of species - from insects, plants, all types of animals, trees, and more. We hope this exam will help you understand some of the challenges this topic presents to our environment!

  1. Your new supervisor asks you to identify factors that threaten biodiversity in any area. She asks you to incorporate that information into public presentations or brochures you produce for the agency. What 3 factors would you put into your presentation/brochure?

  2. As you begin to plan a presentation, you realize that many people may not be familiar with the term "biodiversity." Biodiversity or biological diversity is a complex concept involving the totality of all living things, their relationships to one another and the environmental processes that maintain them. Scientists, natural resource managers and policy managers look at the concept of biodiversity on several levels. Species diversity is the most commonly understood and known level of biodiversity. Name 2 other types of biodiversity levels.

  3. List 3 ways a non-native species could be introduced to a new habitat.

  4. A caller is complaining about starlings nesting in a box he put up for a native cavity nester. He would like to know what he can do about this situation. You tell him that since starlings are not protected by U.S. or Massachusetts' laws, he has several options available to try. What are 3 actions or controls can you suggest to the caller?

  5. The European starling was first introduced to the U.S. in the 1800's in New York. This bird is a cavity nester and has ousted native cavity nesting birds from potential nesting sites throughout North America. Identify the native cavity nesting birds which suffer from competition with Starlings.

Questions 6 & 7

One of your co-workers specializes in freshwater clams and mussels. She is concerned that the zebra mussel, a highly invasive exotic, will make its way into Massachusetts. The two of you formulate a plan designed to promote actions that can be taken by various groups of people to help prevent the spread of this aggressive species.

  1. In order to focus your campaign, which 2 groups should you target that would most likely come into contact with the mussels and inadvertently introduce them into the state?

  2. Identify 2 management options that help prevent the spread of the zebra mussel.

  3. The president of the local garden club calls and asks you to speak about invasive species at the club's next meeting. As you prepare you presentation, what 3 actions might you recommend to home gardeners to prevent or otherwise eliminate potential problems with invasive species in their landscaping?

  4. Spartina alterniflora or Smooth Cordgrass is a native wetland plant found from Quebec and Newfoundland to Florida and Texas. It is an important component of salt marsh ecosystems. There were characteristics of this plant that inspired people to introduce it to mudflats in the Pacific Northwest coast.

    (a) List one reason it was introduced to that area.

    (b) Identify one impact that had not been anticipated with the introduction of this species.

  5. For the U.S. and/or Canada, list at least 2 agencies involved in the prevention of exotic species entering their respective countries. 

  1. The European Green Crab was introduced to the U.S. Atlantic coast from Europe's North and Baltic Seas over 150 years ago. It has also recently spread to the West Coast in several areas. The annual estimated economic damage caused by the European Green Crab is about $44 million.


    How did the green crab get to North America?


    Was this an accidental or purposeful introduction?


    What industry has been most damaged by the European Green Crab?


    List one positive impact this crab can play in the ecosystem.


  1. This exotic species is from Asia. Scientists have discovered that certain species of ladybugs from Asia are predators of the problem species. Some people would like to release ladybugs in Massachusetts in the infested areas to feed on the eggs and larvae. Other people are not so sure this is a good idea. List one reason why some people might be concerned. 

  1. Some biological controls have been quite successful. What characteristics should natural resource managers look for to find a suitable biological control? List 2 of these important characteristics. 

  1. The forester points out saplings of a deciduous tree. "Here's an example of a similar catastrophe with a common tree species. Before an exotic blight or fungus arrived in the 1930's, one out of every three trees was this species. Its nuts were important foods for all kinds of forest dwelling wildlife and for people." You learn that this blight prevents the trees from growing to maturity. The forester encourages you to key out the tree's identity on your own. What species of tree is it (common name is acceptable)? 

  1. Look at this plant specimen. It lives in damp to wet areas.

    (a) What plant is this?

    (b) Name one benefit or positive characteristic of this plant.

Technical Support provided by Vologon Solutions