Reading Test 1

TEST- 1                                                                                                          (PASSAGE 1)                                                                                                 

Chronobiology might sound a little futuristic – like something from a science fiction novel, perhaps – but it’s actually a field of study that concerns one of the oldest processes life on this planet has ever known: short-term rhythms of time and their effect on flora and fauna.

This can take many forms. Marine life, for example, is influenced by tidal patterns. Animals tend to be active or inactive depending on the position of the sun or moon. Numerous creatures, humans included, are largely diurnal – that is, they like to come out during the hours of sunlight. Nocturnal animals, such as bats and possums, prefer to forage by night. A third group are known as crepuscular: they thrive in the low-light of dawn and dusk and remain inactive at other hours.

When it comes to humans, chronobiologists are interested in what is known as the circadian rhythm. This is the complete cycle our bodies are naturally geared to undergo within the passage of a twenty-four hour day. Aside from sleeping at night and waking during the day, each cycle involves many other factors such as changes in blood pressure and body temperature. Not everyone has an identical circadian rhythm. ‘Night people’, for example, often describe how they find it very hard to operate during the morning, but become alert and focused by evening. This is a benign variation within circadian rhythms known as a chronotype.

Scientists have limited abilities to create durable modifications of chronobiological demands. Recent therapeutic developments for humans such as artificial light machines and melatonin administration can reset our circadian rhythms, for example, but our bodies can tell the difference and health suffers when we breach these natural rhythms for extended periods of time. Plants appear no more malleable in this respect; studies demonstrate that vegetables grown in season and ripened on the tree are far higher in essential nutrients than those grown in greenhouses and ripened by laser.

Knowledge of chronobiological patterns can have many pragmatic implications for our day-to-day lives. While contemporary living can sometimes appear to subjugate biology – after all, who needs circadian rhythms when we have caffeine pills, energy drinks, and shift work and cities that never sleep? – keeping in synch with our body clock is important. 

The average urban resident, for example, rouses at the eye-blearing time of 6.04 a.m., which researchers believe to be far too early. One study found that even rising at 7.00 a.m. has deleterious effects on health unless exercise is performed for 30 minutes afterward. The optimum moment has been whittled down to 7.22 a.m.; muscle aches, headaches and moodiness were reported to be lowest by participants in the study who awoke then.

Once you’re up and ready to go, what then? If you’re trying to shed some extra pounds, dieticians are adamant: never skip breakfast. This disorients your circadian rhythm and puts your body in starvation mode. The recommended course of action is to follow an intense workout with a carbohydrate-rich breakfast; the other way round and weight loss results are not as pronounced.

Morning is also great for breaking out the vitamins. Supplement absorption by the body is not temporal-dependent, but naturopath Pam Stone notes that the extra boost at breakfast helps us get energised for the day ahead. For improved absorption, Stone suggests pairing supplements with a food in which they are soluble and steering clear of caffeinated beverages. Finally, Stone warns to take care with storage; high potency is best for absorption, and warmth and humidity are known to deplete the potency of a supplement.

After-dinner espressos are becoming more of a tradition – we have the Italians to thank for that – but to prepare for a good night’s sleep we are better off putting the brakes on caffeine consumption as early as 3 p.m. With a seven hour half-life, a cup of coffee containing 90 mg of caffeine taken at this hour could still leave 45 mg of caffeine in your nervous system at ten o’clock that evening. It is essential that, by the time you are ready to sleep, your body is rid of all traces.

Evenings are important for winding down before sleep; however, dietician Geraldine Georgey warns that an after-five carbohydrate-fast is more cultural myth than chronobiological demand. This will deprive your body of vital energy needs. Overloading your gut could lead to indigestion, though. Our digestive tracts do not shut down for the night entirely, but their work slows to a crawl as our bodies prepare for sleep. Consuming a modest snack should be entirely sufficient.

Questions 1–7

Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading passage 1? Answer True, False or not given to questions 1–7.

Trueif the statement agrees with the information
Falseif the statement contradicts the information
Not givenif there is no information on this
1) Chronobiology is the study of how living things have evolved over time.
2) The rise and fall of sea levels affects how sea creatures behave.
3) Most animals are active during the daytime.
4) Circadian rhythms identify how we do different things on different days.
5) A ‘night person’ can still have a healthy circadian rhythm.
6) New therapies can permanently change circadian rhythms without causing harm.
7) Naturally-produced vegetables have more nutritional value.

Questions 8–13

Choose the correct letter, A, B, C or D.

8) What did researchers identify as the ideal time to wake up in the morning? A) 6.04 B) 7.00 C) 7.22 D) 7.30
9) In order to lose weight, we should A) avoid eating breakfast B) eat a low carbohydrate breakfast C) exercise before breakfast D) exercise after breakfast
10) Which is NOT mentioned as a way to improve supplement absorption? A) avoiding drinks containing caffeine while taking supplements B) taking supplements at breakfast C) taking supplements with foods that can dissolve them D) storing supplements in a cool, dry environment
    11) The best time to stop drinking coffee is A) mid-afternoon B) 10 p.m. C) only when feeling anxious D) after dinner
12) In the evening, we should A) stay away from carbohydrates B) stop exercising C) eat as much as possible D) eat a light meal
13) Which of the following phrases best describes the main aim of Reading Passage 1? A) to suggest healthier ways of eating, sleeping and exercising B) to describe how modern life has made chronobiology largely irrelevant C) to introduce chronobiology and describe some practical applications D) to plan a daily schedule that can alter our natural chronobiological rhythms

TEST – 1                                                                                         (PASSAGE – 2)

Part A
To make political decisions about the extent and type of forestry in a region it is important to understand the consequences of those decisions. One tool for assessing the impact of forestry on the ecosystem is population viability analysis (PVA). This is a tool for predicting the probability that a species will become extinct in a particular region over a specific period. It has been successfully used in the United States to provide input into resource exploitation decisions and assist wildlife managers and there is now an enormous potential for using population viability to assist wildlife management in Australia’s forests. A species becomes extinct when the last individual dies. This observation is a useful starting point for any discussion of extinction as it highlights the role of luck and chance in the extinction process. To make a prediction about extinction we need to understand the processes that can contribute to it and these fall into four broad categories which are discussed below.

Part B
     A)  Early attempts to predict population viability were based on demographic uncertainty whether an individual survives from one year to the next will largely be a matter of chance. Some pairs may produce several young in a single year while others may produce none in that same year. Small populations will fluctuate enormously because of the random nature of birth and death and these chance fluctuations can cause species extinctions even if, on average, the population size should increase. Taking only this uncertainty of ability to reproduce into account, extinction is unlikely if the number of individuals in a population is above about 50 and the population is growing.

, all future individuals in the species must be descended from that one male. For most animal species such individuals are less likely to survive and reproduce. Inbreeding increases the chance of extinction.

     C)  Variation within a species is the raw material upon which natural selection acts. Without genetic variability, a species lacks the capacity to evolve and cannot adapt to changes in its environment or to new predators and new diseases. The loss of genetic diversity associated with reductions in population size will contribute to the likelihood of extinction.

    D)  Recent research has shown that other factors need to be considered. Australia’s environment fluctuates enormously from year to year. These fluctuations add yet another degree of uncertainty to the survival of many species. Catastrophes such as fire, flood, drought or epidemic may reduce population sizes to a small fraction of their average level. When allowance is made for these two additional elements of uncertainty the population size necessary to be confident of persistence for a few hundred years may increase to several thousand.

Part C
Besides these processes, we need to bear in mind the distribution of a population. A species that occurs in five isolated places each containing 20 individuals will not have the same probability of extinction as a species with a single population of 100 individuals in a single locality. Where logging occurs (that is, the cutting down of forests for timber) forest-dependent creatures in that area will be forced to leave. Ground-dwelling herbivores may return within a decade. However, arboreal marsupials (that is animals which live in trees) may not recover to pre-logging densities for over a century. As more forests are logged, animal population sizes will be reduced further. Regardless of the theory or model that we choose, a reduction in population size decreases the genetic diversity of a population and increases the probability of extinction because of any or all of the processes listed above. It is, therefore, a scientific fact that increasing the area that is loaded in any region will increase the probability that forest-dependent animals will become extinct.

Questions 14-26:
Do the following statements agree with the views of the writer in Part A of Reading Passage 2?

In boxes 14-26 on your answer sheet write:

YES                if the statement agrees with the writer
NO                  if the statement contradicts the writer
NOT GIVEN   if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

Example: A link exists between the consequences of decisions and the decision-making process itself. Answer: YES.            

14.   Scientists are interested in the effect of forestry on native animals.
15.   PVA has been used in Australia for many years.
16.   A species is said to be extinct when only one individual exists.
17.   Extinction is a naturally occurring phenomenon. 

Questions 18-21:
These questions are based on Part B of Reading Passage 1.

In paragraphs A to D the author describes four processes which may contribute to the extinction of a species.
Match the list of processes (i-vi) to the paragraphs.
Write the appropriate number (i-vi) in boxes 18-21 on your answer sheet.

NB. There are more processes than paragraphs so you will not use all of them.

Paragraphs 18.   Paragraph A
19.   Paragraph B
20.   Paragraph C
21.   Paragraph D
i   Loss of ability to adapt
ii   Natural disasters
iii   An imbalance of the sexes
iv   Human disasters
v   Evolution
vi  The haphazard nature of reproduction

Questions 22-25:
Based on your reading of Part C, complete the sentences below.

Use NO MORE THAN THREE WORDS for each answer.

Write your answers in boxes 22-25 on your answer sheet.

While the population of a species may be on the increase, there is always a chance that small isolated groups ………. (22) ………. Survival of a species depends on a balance between the size of a population and its ………. (23) ……… The likelihood that animals which live in forests will become extinct is increased when ……….  (24) ………..

Question 25:
Choose the appropriate letter A-D and write it in box on your answer sheet.

25.  An alternative heading for the passage could be:

        A.  The protection of native flora and fauna
        B.  Influential factors in assessing survival probability
        C.  An economic rationale for the logging of forests
        D.  Preventive measures for the extinction of a species

TEST – 1                                                                                                                      (PASSAGE – 3)

From the results of an annual Alaskan betting contest to sightings of migra­tory birds, ecologists are using a wealth of unusual data to predict the impact of climate change.

A Tim Sparks slides a small leather-bound notebook out of an envelope. The book’s yellowing pages contain bee-keeping notes made between 1941 and 1969 by the late Walter Coates of Kilworth, Leicestershire. He adds it to his growing pile of local journals, birdwatchers’ lists and gardening diaries. “We’re uncovering about one major new record each month,” he says, “I still get surprised.” Around two centuries before Coates, Robert Marsham, a landowner from Norfolk in the east of England, began recording the life cycles of plants and animals on his estate – when the first wood anemones flowered, the dates on which the oaks burst into leaf and the rooks began nesting. Successive Marshams continued compiling these notes for 211 years.

B Today, such records are being put to uses that their authors could not pos­sibly have expected. These data sets, and others like them, are proving in­valuable to ecologists interested in the timing of biological events, or phen­ology. By combining the records with climate data, researchers can reveal how, for example, changes in temperature affect the arrival of spring, al­lowing ecologists to make improved predictions about the impact of climate change. A small band of researchers is combing through hundreds of years of records taken by thousands of amateur naturalists. And more systematic projects have also started up, producing an overwhelming response. “The amount of interest is almost frightening,” says Sparks, a climate researcher at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology in Monks Wood, Cambridgeshire.

C Sparks first became aware of the army of “closet phenologists”, as he de­scribes them, when a retiring colleague gave him the Marsham records. He now spends much of his time following leads from one historical data set to another. As news of his quest spreads, people tip him off to other historical records, and more amateur phenologists come out of their closets. The Brit­ish devotion to recording and collecting makes his job easier – one man from Kent sent him 30 years’ worth of kitchen calendars, on which he had noted the date that his neighbour’s magnolia tree flowered.

D Other researchers have unearthed data from equally odd sources. RafeSa­garin, an ecologist at Stanford University in California, recently studied records of a betting contest in which participants attempt to guess the exact time at which a specially erected wooden tripod will fall through the surface of a thawing river. The competition has taken place annually on the Tanana River in Alaska since 1917, and analysis of the results showed that the thaw now arrives five days earlier than it did when the contest began.

E Overall, such records have helped to show that, compared with 20 years ago, a raft of natural events now occur earlier across much of the northern hemi­sphere, from the opening of leaves to the return of birds from migration and the emergence of butterflies from hibernation. The data can also hint at how nature will change in the future. Together with models of climate change, amateurs’ records could help guide conservation. Terry Root, an ecologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, has collected birdwatchers’ counts of wildfowl taken between 1955 and 1996 on seasonal ponds in the Ameri­can Midwest and combined them with climate data and models of future warming. Her analysis shows that the increased droughts that the models predict could halve the breeding populations at the ponds. “The number of waterfowl in North America will most probably drop significantly with global warming,” she says.

F But not all professionals are happy to use amateur data. “A lot of scientists won’t touch them, they say they’re too full of problems,” says Root. Because different observers can have different ideas of what constitutes, for example, an open snowdrop. “The biggest concern with ad hoc observations is how carefully and systematically they were taken,” says Mark Schwartz of the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, who studies the interactions between plants and climate. “We need to know pretty precisely what a person’s been observing – if they just say ‘I noted when the leaves came out’, it might not be that useful.” Measuring the onset of autumn can be particularly problem­atic because deciding when leaves change colour is a more subjective pro­cess than noting when they appear.

G Overall, most phenologists are positive about the contribution that ama­teurs can make. “They get at the raw power of science: careful observation of the natural world,” says Sagarin. But the professionals also acknowledge the need for careful quality control. Root, for example, tries to gauge the quality of an amateur archive by interviewing its collector. “You always have to worry – things as trivial as vacations can affect measurement. I disregard a lot of records because they’re not rigorous enough,” she says. Others suggest that the right statistics can iron out some of the problems with amateur data. Together with colleagues at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, environmental scientist Arnold van Vliet is developing statistical techniques to account for the uncertainty in amateur phenological data. With the en­thusiasm of amateur phenologists evident from past records, professional researchers are now trying to create standardised recording schemes for fu­ture efforts. They hope that well-designed studies will generate a volume of observations large enough to drown out the idiosyncrasies of individual recorders. The data are cheap to collect, and can provide breadth in space, time and range of species. “It’s very difficult to collect data on a large geo­graphical scale without enlisting an army of observers,” says Root.

H Phenology also helps to drive home messages about climate change. “Be­cause the public understands these records, they accept them,” says Sparks. It can also illustrate potentially unpleasant consequences, he adds, such as the finding that more rat infestations are reported to local councils in warmer years. And getting people involved is great for public relations. “People are thrilled to think that the data they’ve been collecting as a hobby can be used for something scientific – it empowers them,” says Root.

Questions 27-33

Reading Passage  has eight paragraphs A-H.
Which paragraph contains the following information?
Write the correct letter A-H in boxes 27-33 on your answer sheet.

27. The definition of phenology
28. How Sparks first became aware of amateur records
29. How people reacted to their involvement in data collection
30. The necessity to encourage amateur data collection
31. A description of using amateur records to make predictions
32. Records of a competition providing clues to climate change
33. A description of a very old record compiled by generations of amateur naturalists

Questions 34-36
Complete the sentences below with NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.
34. Walter Coates’s records largely contain the information of
35. Robert Marsham is famous for recording the of animals and plants on his land.
36. According to some phenologists, global warming may cause the number of waterfowl in North America to drop significantly due to increased

Questions 37- 40

Choose the correct letter A, B, C or D.
Write your answers in boxes 37- 40 on your answer sheet.
37. Why do a lot of scientists discredit the data collected by amateurs?

    A. Scientific methods were not used in data collection.
    B. Amateur observers are not careful in recording their data.
    C. Amateur data is not reliable.
    D. Amateur data is produced by wrong candidates.
38. Mark Schwartz used the example of leaves to illustrate that

    A.  amateur records can’t be used.
    B. amateur records are always unsystematic.
    C. the colour change of leaves is hard to observe.
    D. valuable information is often precise.
39. How do the scientists suggest amateur data should be used?

    A. Using improved methods
    B. Being more careful in observation
    C. Using raw materials
    D. Applying statistical techniques in data collection
40. What’s the implication of phenology for ordinary people?

    A.  It empowers the public.
    B. It promotes public relations.
    C. It warns people of animal infestation.
    D. It raises awareness about climate change in the public.

  1. FALSE                                                                                                                 
  2. TRUE
  4. FALSE
  5. TRUE
  6. FALSE
  7. TRUE
  8. C
  9. C
10. B
11. A
12. D
13. C
14. YES
15. NO
16. NO
18. vi
19. iii
20. i
21. ii
22. will(/may) not survive
23. locality/  distribution
24. logging takes place/  logging occurs
25. B
27. B
28. C
35. life cycles
36. droughts
37. C
40. D