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2018年12月1日托福阅读机经预测

2018-11-28 14:32 小马过河 admin

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摘要:The harmony present in any ecological system relies on the inclusion of different types of species, each with a specific role or set of roles.

预测文章1- Foundational and Keystone Species

The harmony present in any ecological system relies on the inclusion of different types of species, each with a specific role or set of roles. Although to some extent all species contribute in important ways, scientists are now learning about the pivotal parts played by, what are being called foundational and keystone species. Interestingly, the latter represent only a small fraction of the overall animal population within an ecosystem while the former can make up a significant portion of it. In both cases, though, their removal often results in massive changes to, if not the complete destruction of, their ecosystems. Efforts to conserve these species are currently based on the new idea that they prevent the start of a domino effect that would, once started, be unstoppable.

Foundational species are the backbones of the systems they inhabit. These species are referred to as primary producers, which means that they generate a large amount of the abundance other species require to survive. In most cases, they are a type of vegetation or stationary animal. Coral, which tends to grow in large colonies, is often pointed to as an example. Eventually a group of colonies will form a coral reef, which can sustain a complete ecosystem around it. The reef contains the skeletal remains of coral at its bottom and living coral on the top. Numerous animals, including zooplankton and sponges, live in the small crevices located in the rock-like bottom. At the top, the coral interacts with seaweed and other forms of vegetation to regulate the levels of nutrients and gases in the water. There are also more than four thousand types of fish that live on or around most coral reefs. Fish rely on the holes in the reef for protection. The more colorful species of coral provide excellent camouflage for fish, as well. Obviously, without its foundational species, an ecosystem would collapse. 

Keystone species play less apparent but equally important roles. The name comes from the keystones used in the building of stone archways. The keystone receives the smallest amount of pressure of all the stones in the arch, but, if it is removed, the arch will collapse. In the same way, research is now showing, certain species within ecosystems, although they are smaller in numbers and biomass than most of the other species present, act like keystones. These species are being categorized as either predators or engineers, depending on their relationships with the various species around them. These categories are not absolute, though, and animals are moved from one to the other as new facts come to light. 

In the case of predator keystone species, there are four carnivores that prey on herbivores and other animals. Also, the herbivores usually have no other natural predator in the ecosystem. The sea otter is now considered by many scientists to be a keystone species, because it controls the number of sea urchins, which have few other predators. Both species can be found around kelp forests, which are in the warm parts of the world's oceans. Because kelp is an underwater plant, its roots are not used for the collection of nutrients. Instead, they are there to anchor the plant. As soon as enough sea urchins chewed on the roots, which are fragile, the kelp would be removed from the ecosystem. If the sea otter were to disappear, the urchins would quickly grow in number and destroy all the kelp. 

Engineer keystone species maintain the balance in ecosystems in different ways. ■Although bears tend to live in forests, they bring in important sources of nutrients from ocean and sea-based ecosystems. ■ The bears capture large salmon from the water and take them into the forest to eat them. ■ This distributes large amounts of protein in the form of bear waste matter as well as uneaten portions of salmon. The protein eventually supports life in the forest, either as a food source for smaller animals or the vegetation. Another species that plays a part similar to that of bears is the beaver. Through the construction of dams, beavers convert small rivers into ponds and marshes. The new landscape in turn supports a variety of fish, which in turn provides a dependable source of food for the beavers. The removal of beavers from an ecosystem would also remove the landscape it depends on.

预测词汇1

extent=amount

sustain=support

in the same way=similarly  

预测文章2- Costs and Benefits of Social Life

Many think that the reason so many animals live with others of their species is that social creatures are higher up the evolutionary scale and so are better adapted and leave more offspring than do animals that live solitary lives. However, in each and every species, generation after generation, relatively social and relatively solitary types compete unconsciously with one another in ways that determine who leaves more offspring on average. In some species, the more social individuals have won out, but in a large majority, it is the solitary types that have consistently left more surviving descendants on average. 

But how can living alone ever be superior to living together? Under some conditions, a cost-benefit comparison favors solitary life over a more social existence. For example, among most social species, animals have to expend time and energy competing for social status. Those that do not occupy the top positions regularly have to signal their submissive state to their superiors if they are to be permitted to remain in the group. This can take up a major share of a social subordinate's life. In fact, even in small social groups there are both subtle competition and not-so-subtle competition.

Social groups also offer opportunities for reproductive interference. Breeding males that live in close association with more attractive rivals may lose their mates to these individuals. In addition, sociality has two other potential disadvantages. The first is heightened competition for food, which occurs in animals as different as colonial fieldfares (a kind of songbird) and groups of lions, whose females are often pushed from their food by hungry males. The second is increased vulnerability to parasites and disease, which plague social species of all sorts. While it is true that some social animals have evolved special responses designed to combat parasites and disease, those responses can only reduce, but cannot totally eliminate, the damage caused by those threats, and the responses may even carry their own costs. Thus, honeybees warm their hives in response to an infestation by a fungal pathogen, which apparently helps kill the heat-sensitive fungus, but at the price of time and energy expended by the heat-producing workers.

If social living carries a heightened risk of infection, then the larger the group, the greater the risk. This prediction holds for cliff swallows, which pack their nests side by side in colonies composed  of anywhere from a handful of birds to several thousand pairs. The more swallows nesting together, the greater the chance that at least one bird will be infested with swallow bugs, which can then readily spread from one nest to another.

The parasites and fungi that make life miserable for swallows and other social creatures demonstrate that if sociality is to evolve, the asorted costs of living together must be outweighed by compensatory benefits. Cliff swallows may join others to take advantage of the improved foraging that comes from following companions to good feeding sites, while other animals, such as male imperial penguins, save thermal energy by huddling shoulder to shoulder during the brutal Antarctica winter. Still others, such as lionesses, join forces to fend off enemies of their own species.

The most widespread fitness benefit for social animals, however, probably is improved protection against predators. Many studies have shown that animals in groups gain by reducing the individual risk of being captured, or by spotting danger sooner, or by attacking their enemies in groups. Males in nesting colonies of bluegill sunfish cooperate in driving egg-eating bullhead catfish away from their nests at the bottom of a freshwater lake. While bluegills have adopted social behavior to avoid predation, closely related species that nest alone have evolved means to protect themselves while nesting alone. Thus, the solitary pumpkinseed sunfish, a member of the same genus as the bluegill, has powerful biting jaws and so can repel egg-eating enemies on its own, whereas bluegills have small, delicate mouths good only for inhaling small, soft-bodied insect larvae. Pumpkinseed sunfish are in no way inferior to or less well adapted than bluegills because they are solitary; they simply gain less through social living, which makes solitary nesting the adaptive tactic for them.

预测词汇2

potential=possible

heightened=increased

assorted=various

tactic=strategy

预测文章3- Comets

Comets are among the most interesting and unpredictable bodies in the solar system. They are made of frozen gases (water vapor, ammonia, methane, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide) that hold together small pieces of rocky and metallic materials. Many comets travel in very elongated orbits that carry them far beyond Pluto. These long-period comets take hundreds of thousands of years to complete a single orbit around the Sun. However, a few short-period comets (those having an orbital period of less than 200 years), such as Halley’s Comet, make a regular encounters with the inner solar system.

When a comet first becomes visible from Earth, it appears very small, but as it approaches the Sun, solar energy begins to vaporize the frozen gases, producing a glowing head called the coma. The size of the coma varies greatly from one comet to another. Extremely rare ones exceed the size of the Sun, but most approximate the size of Jupiter. Within the coma, a small glowing nucleus with a diameter of only a few kilometers can sometimes be detected. As comets approach the Sun, some develop a tail that extends for millions of kilometers. Despite the enormous size of their tails and comas, comets are relatively small members of the solar system.

The observation that the tail of a comet points away from the Sun in a slightly curved manner led early astronomers to propose that the Sun has a repulsive force that pushes the particles of the coma away, thereby forming the tail. Today, two solar forces are known to contribute to this formation. One, radiation pressure, pushes dust particles away from the coma. The second, known as solar wind, is responsible for moving the ionized gases, particularly carbon monoxide. Sometimes a single tail composed of both dust and ionized gases is produced, but often two tails—one of dust, the other, a blue streak of ionized gases—are observed.

As a comet moves away from the Sun, the gases forming the coma recondense, the tail disappears, and the comet returns to distant space. Material that was blown from the coma to form the tail is lost from the comet forever. Consequently, it is believed that most comets cannot survive more than a few hundred close orbits of the Sun. Once all the gases are expelled, the remaining material—a swarm of tiny metallic and stony particles—continues the orbit without a coma or a tail.

Comets apparently originate in two regions of the outer solar system. Most short-period comets are thought to orbit beyond Neptune in a region called the Kuiper belt, in honor of the astronomer Gerald Kuiper. During the past decade over a hundred of these icy bodies have been discovered. Most Kuiper belt comets move in nearly circular orbits that lie roughly in the same plane as the planets. A chance collision between two comets, or the gravitational influence of  one of the Jovian planets—Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune—may occasionally alter the orbit of a comet in these regions enough to send it to the inner solar system and into our view.

Unlike short-period comets, long-period comets have elliptical orbits that are not confined to the plane of the solar system. These comets appear to be distributed in all directions from the Sun, forming a spherical shell around the solar system, called the Oort cloud, after the Dutch astronomer Jan Oort. Millions of comets are believed to orbit the Sun at distances greater than 10,000 times the Earth-Sun distance. The gravitational effect of a distant passing star is thought to send an occasional Oort cloud comet into a highly eccentric orbit that carries it toward the Sun. However, only a tiny portion of the Oort cloud comets have orbits that bring them into the inner solar system.

The most famous short-period comet is Halley’s Comet, named after English astronomer Edmond Halley. Its orbital period averages 76 years, and every one of its 30 appearances since 240 B.C. has been recorded by Chinese astronomers. When seen in 1910, Halley’s Comet had developed a tail nearly 1.6 million kilometers (1 million miles) long and was visible during daylight hours. Its most recent approach occurred in 1986.

预测词汇3

exceed=go beyond

detected=noticed

propose=offer the theory

roughly=approximately

预测文章4- Agricultural Society in Eighteenth-Century British America

In the northern American colonies, especially New England, tight-knit farming families, organized in communities of several thousand people, dotted the landscape by the mid-eighteenth century. New Englanders staked their future on a mixed economy. They cleared forests for timber used in barrels, ships, houses, and barns. They plumbed the offshore waters for fish to feed local populations. And they cultivated and grazed as much of the thin-soiled, rocky hills and bottomlands as they could recover from the forest.

The farmers of the middle colonies-Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and New York-set their wooden plows to much richer soils than New Englanders did. They enjoyed the additional advantage of setting an area already partly cleared by Native Americans who had relied more on agriculture than had New England tribes. Thus favored, mid-Atlantic farm families produced modest surpluses of corn, wheat, beef, and pork. By the mid-eighteenth century, ships from New York and Philadelphia were carrying these foodstuffs not only to the West Indies, always  a primary market, but also to areas that could no longer feed themselves-England, Spain, Portugal, and even New England.

In the North, the broad ownership of land distinguished farming society from every other agricultural region of the Western world. Although differences in circumstances and ability led gradually toward greater social stratification, in most communities, the truly rich and terribly poor were few and the gap between them small compared with European society. Most men other than indentured servants (servants contracted to work for a specific number of years) lived to purchase or inherit a farm of at least 50 acres. With their family’s labor, they earned a decent existence and provided a small inheritance for each of their children. Settlers valued land highly, for owning land ordinarily guaranteed both economic independence and political rights.

By the eighteenth century, amid widespread property ownership, a rising population pressed against a limited land supply, especially in New England. Family farms could not be divided and subdivided indefinitely, for it took at least fifty acres(of which only a quarter could usually be cropped) to support a single family. In Concurd, Massachusetts, for example, the founders had worked farms averaging about 250 acres. A century later, in the 1730s, the average farm had shrunk by two thirds, as farm owners struggled to provide an inheritance for the three or four sons that the average marriage produced.

The decreasing fertility of the soil compounded the problem of dwindling farm size in New England. When land had been plentiful, farmers planted crops in the same field for three years and then let it lie fallow (unplanted) in pasture seven years or more until it regained its fertility. But on the smaller farms of the eighteenth century, farmers had reduced fallow time to only a year or two. Such intense use of the soil reduced crop yields, forcing farmers to plow marginal land or shift to livestock production.

The diminishing size and productivity of family farms forced many New Englanders to move to the frontier or out of the area altogether in the eighteen century. "Many of our old towns are too full of inhabitants for husbandry, many of them living on small shares of land, " complained one writer. In Concurd, one of every four adult males migrated from town every decade from the 1740s on, and in many towns migration out was even greater. Some drifted south to New York and Pennsylvania. Others sought opportunities as artisans in the coastal towns or took to the sea. More headed for the colonies, western frontier or north into New Hampshire and the eastern frontier of Maine. Several thousand New England families migrated even farther north to the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. Throughout New England after the early eighteenth century, most farmers' sons knew that their destiny lay elsewhere.

Wherever they took up farming, northern cultivators engaged in agricultural work routines that were far less intense than in the south. The growing season was much shorter, and the cultivation of cereal crops required incessant labor only during spring planting and autumn harvesting. This less burdensome work rhythm let many northern cultivators to fill out their calendars with intermittent work as clockmakers, shoemakers, carpenters, and weavers.

预测词汇4

modest=moderate

indefinitely=without limit

compounded=added to

burdensome=difficult

预测文章5- The British Economy Under the Roman Empire

Following the Roman Empire conquering the area in the first century A.D., there is a great deal of archaeological evidence for the economic growth of the British Isles. Prior to this event, the economy of the British Isles, which was based on manufacturing, was centered mainly on the household and on craft skills, and where the best quality and greatest range of goods were largely a monopoly of the tribal aristocracies. This was the nature of the economy which lasted in regions of Britain that were unconquered by the Roman Empire, even though some Roman products were utilized in such areas. The majority of these Roman artifacts were glass vessels, pots, as well as small metal objects that were dispersed over a vast region. They perhaps held a symbolic value and were not necessarily used for their originally designed purposes. The spread of Roman objects beyond Roman Britain does not seem to have happened on an enormous scale. In areas where artifacts are more numerous, it is likely due to gift giving during close interactions between the Roman government and the tribes.

In regions that experienced direct economic control under the Romans, however, economic growth is clearly notable. There was an enormous increase in the number and variety of goods in circulation and the range of settlements in which they were found. This is clearly true in the overwhelming majority of excavated sites in Roman Britain, with the only exceptions being some rural regions that continued the pre-Roman, Iron Age pattern. The majority of sites resulted in the discovery of an abundance of iron, glass, and pottery, and good quantities of copper alloys, lead, tin, silver, and occasionally gold. For example, the humble iron nail is found in numbers not repeated until the Industrial Revolution.

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