|contract to = reduce to||promoted＝encouraged||sparse= thinly distributed||mundane=ordinary|
|decisive = determining||rival = competitor||exclude =keep out||fortunately=luckily|
讲有毒的昆虫。一段是讲昆虫的毒素作用，会引起心脏病但不一定致死。鸟吃了会引起怎样的反应。是否致死和摄入量也有关，有举例。一段讲昆虫毒素的来源(monarch butterfly)是吃一种含milkweed 的植物获得毒素，还有一个例子是自己本身产生毒素。一段讲有毒昆虫使鸟类发展一种保护机制。不致死的相应机制比致死的发展得好，因为死了的鸟地盘都被流浪的没地盘的鸟抢了没啥贡献。再有一段讲毒昆虫用自己的牺牲使得族甚至是接近种族的其他虫得永生，因为吃了它们没吃死的鸟一般不会再傻第二次。
TPO47- Termite Ingenuity
Termites, social insects which live in colonies that, in some species, contain 2 million individuals or more, are often incorrectly referred to as white ants. But they are certainly not ants. Termites, unlike ants, have gradual metarnorphosis with only three life stage: egg, nymph, and adult. Ants and the other social members of their order, certain bees and wasps, have complete metarnorphosis in four life stages; egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The worker and soldier castes of social ants, bees, and wasps consist of only females, all daughters of a single queen that mated soon after she matured and thereafter never mated again. The worker and soldier castes of termites consist of both males and females, and the queen lives permanently with a male consort.
Since termites are small and soft-bodied, they easily become desiccated and must live in moist places with a high relative humidity. They do best when the relative humidity in their nest is above 96 percent and the temperature is fairly high, an optimum of about 79°F for temperate zone species and about 86°F for tropical species. Subterranean termites, the destructive species that occurs commonly throughout the eastern United States, attain these conditions by nesting in moist soil that is in contact with wood, their only food. The surrounding soil keeps the nest moist and tends to keep the temperature at a more or less favorable level. When it is cold in winter, subterranean termites move to burrows below the frost line.
Some tropical termites are more ingenious engineers, constructing huge above-ground nests with built-in “air conditioning” that keeps the nest moist, at a constant temperature, and well supplied with oxygen. Among the most architecturally advanced of these termites is an African species, Macroternes natalensis. Renowned Swiss entomologist Martin Luscher described the mounds of this fungus-growing species as being as much as 16 feet tall, 16 feet in diameter at their base, and with a cement-like wall of soil mixed with termite saliva that is from 16 to 23 inches thick. The thick and dense wall of the mound insulates the interior microclimate from the variations in humidity and temperature of the outside atmosphere. Several narrow and relatively thin-walled ridges on the outside of the mound extend from near its base almost to its top.
According to luscher, a medium-sized nest of Macrotermes has a population of about 2 million individuals. The metabolism of so many termites and of the fungus that they grow in their gardens as food helps keep the interior of the nest warm and supplies some moisture to the air in the nest. The termites saturate the atmosphere of the nest, bringing it to about 100 percent relative humidity, by carrying water up from the soil.
But how is this well-insulated nest ventilated? Its many occupants require over 250 quarts of oxygen (more than 1,200 quarts of aire) per day. How can so much oxygen diffuse through the thick walls of the mound? Even the pores in the wall are filled with water, which almost stops the diffusion of gases. The answer lies in the construction of the nest. The interior consists of a large central core in which the fungus is grown, below it is “cellar” of empty space, above it is an “attic” of empty space, and within the ridges on the outer wall of the nest, there are many small tunnels that connect the cellar and the attic. The warm air in the fungus gardens rises through the nest up to the attic. From the attic, the air passes into the tunnels in the ridges and flows back down to the cellar. Gases, mainly oxygen coming in and carbon dioxide going out, easily diffuse into or out of the ridges, since their walls are thin and their surface area is large because they protrude far our from the wall of the mound. Thus air that flows down into the cellar through the ridges is relatively rich in oxygen, and has lost much of its carbon dioxide. It supplies the nest’s inhabitants with fresh oxygen as it rises through the fungus-growing area back up to the attic.
TPO8- The Rise of Teotihuacán
The Rise of Teotihuacán
The city of Teotihuacán, which lay about 50 kilometers northeast of modern-day Mexico City, began its growth by 200-100 B.C. At its height, between about A.D. 150 and 700, it probably had a population of more than 125,000 people and covered at least 20 square kilometers. It had over 2,000 apartment complexes, a great market, a large number of industrial workshops, an administrative center, a number of massive religious edifices, and a regular grid pattern of streets and buildings. Clearly, much planning and central control were involved in the expansion and ordering of this great metropolis. Moreover, the city had economic and perhaps religious contacts with most parts of Mesoamerica (modern Central America and Mexico).
How did this tremendous development take place, and why did it happen in the Teotihuacán Valley? Among the main factors are Teotihuacán’s geographic location on a natural trade route to the south and east of the Valley of Mexico, the obsidian resources in the Teotihuacán Valley itself, and the valley’s potential for extensive irrigation. The exact role of other factors is much more difficult to pinpoint―for instance, Teotihuacán’s religious significance as a shrine, the historical situation in and around the Valley of Mexico toward the end of the first millennium B.C., the ingenuity and foresightedness of Teotihuacán’s elite, and, finally, the impact of natural disasters, such as the volcanic eruptions of the late first millennium B.C.
This last factor is at least circumstantially implicated in Teotihuacán’s rise. Prior to 200 B.C., a number of relatively small centers coexisted in and near the Valley of Mexico. Around this time, the largest of these centers, Cuicuilco, was seriously affected by a volcanic eruption, with much of its agricultural land covered by lava. With Cuicuilco eliminated as a potential rival, any one of a number of relatively modest towns might have emerged as a leading economic and political power in Central Mexico. The archaeological evidence clearly indicates, though, that Teotihuacán was the center that did arise as the predominant force in the area by the first century A.D.
It seems likely that Teotihuacán’s natural resources, along with the city elite’s ability to recognize their potential, gave the city a competitive edge over its neighbors. The valley, like many other places in Mexican and Guatemalan highlands, was rich in obsidian. The hard volcanic stone was a resource that had been in great demand for many years, at least since the rise of the Olmecs (a people who flourished between 1200 and 400 B.C.), and it apparently had a secure market. Moreover, recent research on obsidian tools found at Olmec sites has shown that some of the obsidian obtained by the Olmecs originated near Teotihuacán. Teotihuacán obsidian must have been recognized as a valuable commodity for many centuries before the great city arose.
Long-distance trade in obsidian probably gave the elite residents of Teotihuacán access to a wide variety of exotic good, as well as a relatively prosperous life. Such success may have attracted immigrants to Teotihuacán. In addition, Teotihuacán’s elite may have consciously attempted to attract new inhabitants. It is also probable that as early as 200 B.C. Teotihuacán may have achieved some religious significance and its shrine (or shrines) may have served as an additional population magnet. Finally, the growing population was probably fed by increasing the number and size of irrigated fields.
The picture of Teotihuacán that emerges is a classic picture of positive feedback among obsidian mining and working, trade, population growth, irrigation, and religious tourism. The thriving obsidian operation, for example, would necessitate more miners, additional manufacturers of obsidian tools, and additional traders to carry the goods to new markets. All this led to increased wealth, which in turn would attract more immigrants to Teotihuacán. The growing power of the elite, who controlled the economy, would give them the means to physically coerce people to move to Teotihuacán and serve as additions to the labor force. More irrigation works would have to be built to feed the growing population, and this resulted in more power and wealth for the elite._ueditor_page_break_tag_2016年7月16日托福阅读真题第三篇
TPO3—The Long-Term Stability of Ecosystems
The Long-Term Stability of Ecosystems
Plant communities assemble themselves flexibly, and their particular structure depends on the specific history of the area. Ecologists use the term “succession” to refer to the changes that happen in plant communities and ecosystems over time. The first community in a succession is called a pioneer community, while the long-lived community at the end of succession is called a climax community. Pioneer and successional plant communities are said to change over periods from 1 to 500 years. These changes—in plant numbers and the mix of species—are cumulative. Climax communities themselves change but over periods of time greater than about 500 years.
An ecologist who studies a pond today may well find it relatively unchanged in a year’s time. Individual fish may be replaced, but the number of fish will tend to be the same from one year to the next. We can say that the properties of an ecosystem are more stable than the individual organisms that compose the ecosystem.
At one time, ecologists believed that species diversity made ecosystems stable. They believed that the greater the diversity the more stable the ecosystem. Support for this idea came from the observation that long-lasting climax communities usually have more complex food webs and more species diversity than pioneer communities. Ecologists concluded that the apparent stability of climax ecosystems depended on their complexity. To take an extreme example, farmlands dominated by a single crop are so unstable that one year of bad weather or the invasion of a single pest can destroy the entire crop. In contrast, a complex climax community, such as a temperate forest, will tolerate considerable damage from weather to pests.
The question of ecosystem stability is complicated, however. The first problem is that ecologists do not all agree what “stability” means. Stability can be defined as simply lack of change. In that case, the climax community would be considered the most stable, since, by definition, it changes the least over time. Alternatively, stability can be defined as the speed with which an ecosystem returns to a particular form following a major disturbance, such as a fire. This kind of stability is also called resilience. In that case, climax communities would be the most fragile and the least stable, since they can require hundreds of years to return to the climax state.
Even the kind of stability defined as simple lack of change is not always associated with maximum diversity. At least in temperate zones, maximum diversity is often found in mid-successional stages, not in the climax community. Once a redwood forest matures, for example, the kinds of species and the number of individuals growing on the forest floor are reduced. In general, diversity, by itself, does not ensure stability. Mathematical models of ecosystems likewise suggest that diversity does not guarantee ecosystem stability—just the opposite, in fact. A more complicated system is, in general, more likely than a simple system to break down. A fifteen-speed racing bicycle is more likely to break down than a child’s tricycle.
Ecologists are especially interested to know what factors contribute to the resilience of communities because climax communities all over the world are being severely damaged or destroyed by human activities. The destruction caused by the volcanic explosion of Mount St. Helens, in the northwestern United States, for example, pales in comparison to the destruction caused by humans. We need to know what aspects of a community are most important to the community’s resistance to destruction, as well as its recovery.
Many ecologists now think that the relative long-term stability of climax communities comes not from diversity but from the “patchiness” of the environment, an environment that varies from place to place supports more kinds of organisms than an environment that is uniform. A local population that goes extinct is quickly replaced by immigrants from an adjacent community. Even if the new population is of a different species, it can approximately fill the niche vacated by the extinct population and keep the food web intact.