Question Sheet: Fear Matters


Before reading:

  1. Why might it be important for animals to be afraid of certain things? 
  2. What do you do when you are afraid of something? Give a specific example of

    a situation that scared you, and explain how you reacted.

During reading:

  1. How can frog embryos tell that a snake is about to attack? How do the frogs

    adapt to this danger? 

  2. Why might it be dangerous for a frog to hatch early? 
  3. What happened to Yellowstone’s aspen trees when the number of wolves in the

    park declined? 

  4. What happened to elk and aspens when scientists re-introduced wolves to the


  5. Explain this quote: “There are probably many interconnections and functions

    that we don’t know about yet.” What does forest ecologist William Ripple mean? 

  6. In your own words, explain the meaning of the term, “ecology of fear.”

After reading:

  1. Why did the number of wolves originally decline in Yellowstone Park? 
  2. How might our own fear affect ecosystems? Give an example. 
  3. Besides fear, what other adaptive emotions do species need to survive? 
  4. Is fear always caused by danger? What is the difference between fear and


  5. How does fear affect you? What do you do in your own life to make sure you

    are safe? 

  6. What are some advantages and disadvantages of being a fearful person? What

    are the pros and cons of being a fearless person? 

  7. Which is better for the survival of a species: fearfulness or fearlessness?

    Explain your answer. 

  8. Young animals are often most vulnerable. Pick an animal to research. What is

    your animal most afraid of? How do parents of the species teach their young what

    to fear?


What types of plants and animals live in Yellowstone Park? How do they interact with each other? For help, visit (Yellowstone National



  1. Write a letter to a younger child explaining why fear might sometimes be a

    good thing. 

  2. Argue for or against this claim: Fear can lead to danger. Use three specific

    examples to support your position.