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GATE 2021 Ecology & Evolution (EY) Syllabus, Books and Preparation Tips

Exam: 05 Feb `21
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Nikkil Visha

Exams Prep Master

GATE 2021 Ecology & Evolution syllabus is based on the topics of graduation level. Also, the syllabus has been revised and a new section of Applied Ecology & Evolution is added in the syllabus. The maximum number of questions will be asked from the core subject and the remaining questions are from general aptitude.

  • GATE 2021 EY question paper will consist of 65 questions worth 100 marks and candidates need to solve the paper in three hours. Candidates who are planning to appear for Ecology & Evolution paper must go through the syllabus and exam pattern.  Check GATE 2021 Exam Pattern
  • Ecology & Evolution paper does not include the engineering mathematics section. 
  • In GATE 2021, all those candidates who are planning to appear for GATE EY paper as their first paper can only opt for GATE XL as their second paper. 

After qualifying GATE 2021, candidates can apply for M.Tech courses offered at IITs, NITs, etc. Other than admission to M.Tech courses, candidates can apply for  GATE PSU Recruitment  process. Read the article to know more about GATE Ecology & Evolution syllabus, books, pattern, books, and much more.

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GATE Ecology & Evolution Syllabus

GATE 2021 Syllabus for Ecology and Evolution

The syllabus of GATE exam is based on graduation level. Applicants are advised to check the complete syllabus before starting the preparation of the exam. 

Section 1: Ecology

  • Fundamental concepts: Abiotic and biotic components; scales (population, species, community, ecosystems, biomes); niches and habitats
  • Population ecology: Population growth rates (density dependent/independent); metapopulation ecology (colonization, persistence, extinction, patches, sources, sinks); age- structured populations
  • Interactions: Types (mutualism, symbiosis, commensalism, competition, parasitism, predation, etc); ecophysiology (physiological adaptations to abiotic environment); prey- predator interactions (Lotka-Voltera equation etc)
  • Community ecology: Community assembly, organization and succession; species richness, evenness and diversity indices, species-area relationships; theory of island biogeography
  • Ecosystems structure and function: trophic levels and their interactions; nutrient cycles; primary and secondary productivity. 

Section 2: Evolution

  • History of Evolutionary thought: Lamarckism; Darwinism; Modern Synthesis
  • Fundamentals: Variation; heritability; natural selection; fitness and adaptation; types of selection (stabilizing, directional, disruptive)
  • Diversity of life: Origin and history of life on earth; diversity and classification of life; systems of classification (cladistics and phenetics)
  • Life history strategies: Allocation of resources; tradeoffs; r/K selection; semelparity and iteroparity
  • Interactions: Co-evolution (co-adaptations, arms race, Red Queen hypothesis, co- speciation); prey-predator interactions (mimicry, crypsis, etc)
  • Population and Quantitative genetics: Origins of genetic variation; Mendelian genetics; Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium; drift; selection (one-locus two-alleles model); population genetic structure (panmixia, gene flow, FST); polygenic traits; gene-environment interactions (phenotypic plasticity); heritability
  • Molecular evolution and phylogenetics: Neutral theory; molecular clocks; rates of evolution; phylogenetic reconstruction; molecular systematics
  • Macroevolution: Species concepts and speciation; adaptive radiation; convergence; biogeography

Section 3: Mathematics and Quantitative Ecology

  • Mathematics and statistics in ecology: Simple functions (linear, quadratic, exponential, logarithmic, etc); concept of derivatives and slope of a function; permutations and combinations; basic probability (probability of random events; sequences of events, etc); frequency distributions and their descriptive statistics (mean, variance, coefficient of variation, correlation, etc).
  • Statistical hypothesis testing: Concept of p-value; Type I and Type II error, test statistics like t-test and Chi-square test; basics of linear regression and ANOVA.

Section 4: Behavioural Ecology

  • Classical Ethology: Instinct; fixed action patters; imprinting; learnt behavior; proximate and ultimate questions
  • Sensory ecology: Neuroethology; communication (chemical, acoustic and visual signaling); recognition systems
  • Foraging ecology: Foraging behaviour; optimal foraging theory
  • Reproduction: Cost of sex; sexual dimorphism; mate choice; sexual selection (runaway selection, good-genes, handicap principle, etc); sexual conflict; mating systems; parental care
  • Social living: Costs and benefits of group-living (including responses to predators); effect of competition (scramble and contest) on group formation; dominance relationships; eusociality; kin selection; altruism; reciprocity; human behaviour.

Section 5: Applied Ecology & Evolution

  • Biodiversity and conservation: Importance of conserving biodiversity; ecosystem services; threats to biodiversity; invasive species; in-situ conservation (endemism, biodiversity hotspots, protected areas); ex-situ conservation; conservation genetics (genetic diversity, inbreeding depression); DNA fingerprinting and DNA barcoding
  • Disease ecology and evolution: Epidemiology; zoonotic diseases; antibiotic resistance; vector control
  • Plant and animal breeding: Marker assisted breeding; genetic basis of economically important traits
  • Global climate change: Causes; consequences; mitigation

Direct link to download GATE Ecology and Evolution (EY) syllabus PDF 

Sample Question from EY Syllabus

Sample Question of GATE Ecology & Evolution

  • Sample Question 1: A researcher found n number of woody species in a one-hectare tropical forest plot. He employs the same method in another one-hectare plot in the same forest. Based on the principle of species-area curves, the expected number of new species in the second plot is _________?
  • Sample Question 2: While developing his theory of evolution by natural selection, Charles Darwin was influenced by the work of __________?
  • Sample Question 3:  Highly repetitive sequences are most likely to be prevalent in regions of the genome with ______ recombination rate and originate via ______ crossing over. Choose the right pair of words that completes this statement correctly.
  • Sample Question 4: Which of the following statements best explains the patterns of leaf-litter decomposition over time shown in the figure below?

(A) Habitat 1 is cold and wet; Habitat 2 is warm and arid
(B) Habitat 1 is warm and arid; Habitat 2 is cold and wet
(C) Habitat 1 is cold and arid; Habitat 2 is warm and wet
(D) Habitat 1 is warm and wet; Habitat 2 is cold and arid

Check GATE Paper Analysis

GATE Exam Pattern of EY

GATE 2021 Exam Pattern for Ecology & Evolution

There are a total of 25 papers in GATE exam. Hence, the paper pattern is quite tricky. GATE 2021 Exam Patten is quite different for all papers. 

  • GATE consists of 3 sections namely General Aptitude, Mathematics and specific subject of the paper
  • The paper will be held in online mode (Computer Based Test) in multiple shifts.
  • The question paper comprises a total of 65 questions worth 100 marks
  • There are 2 types of questions namely- Multiple Choice type (MCQ) and Numerical Answer Type (NAT).
  • The maximum number of questions in GATE is from the core subject.
  • The duration of the paper will be 3 hours.
Subjects Allocation of Marks
General Aptitude 15% of total marks
Subject Questions 85% of total marks

Best Books for GATE EY

Preparation Books for GATE 2021 Ecology & Evolution

GATE is a national level competitive exam conducted for admission to M.Tech and Ph.D. courses. GATE is considered as one of the difficult exams. Hence, the preparation to qualify it should be very good.  Best books are one of the best ways of preparation. Candidates are suggested to refer good books for better preparation. Thus, we are suggesting some important books for GATE preparation for Ecology & Evaluation.

Preparation Books for Ecology & Evaluation
Books Author/Publisher
Test & Evaluation: Life Sciences / Biotechnology Pranav Kumar,
Pathfinder Academy
Animal Behavior: Mechanisms, Ecology, Evolution Lee C Drickamer,
McGraw-Hill Higher Education
Global Philosophical and Ecological Concepts Rudi Jansma,
Motilal Banarsidass Publishers
Organic Evolution (Evolutionary Biology) Veer Bala Rastogi,
Games of Life: Explorations in Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior Karl Sigmund,
Dover Publications

Also Check GATE 2021 Recommended Books

How to Prepare for GATE EY Paper?

Preparation Tips for GATE 2021 Ecology & Evolution

  • Prepare Time Table: Candidates must schedule their daily time as per their convenience. They must devote 6-8 hours of time fo preparations only. It does not mean you have to study continuously for 8 hours. You can take breaks in between and plan your preparation according to that.
  • Prioritize your syllabus: You can prioritize your syllabus based on the difficulty level, number of topics, etc. Setting up the priority totally depends on candidates that in what order they would like to cover their syllabus. 
  • Take Mock Tests: Candidates must take mock tests to get a better idea about the type of questions and difficulty level of questions. They can also judge their level of performance and preparation. You can also work on your weak areas after appearing for mock tests. Candidates are advised to take the mock tests when their whole syllabus is over.  Download GATE Practice Papers
  • Do not Panic: Candidates must complete their syllabus on time and save the last 1-2 weeks for revisions. If you are not able to do so then there is no need to panic. You can go through your notes for quick revision before 3-4 days of the exam also. Revisions are the best way to memorize things.
  • Stay Motivated: Along with hard work, candidates have to stay motivated also. Have faith in yourself and keep preparing for the exam. Do not compare yourself with others. Concentrate on your preparation plan. 

Read Preparation Tips of GATE Topper

GATE Syllabus of Other Subjects

GATE 2021 Syllabus of Other Subjects

Candidates who are planning to appear for GATE 2021 can check the syllabus of their preferable subjects from the links provided in the table below: 

Frequently Asked Questions

GATE 2021 Ecology & Evolution FAQs

Ques: What will be major sections in GATE 2021 Ecology & Evolution syllabus?

Ans: GATE 2021 Ecology & Evolution syllabus will include General Aptitude and core subject. The syllabus will be based on the topics studied at the graduation level. The maximum number of questions will be asked from the core subject and the remaining questions are from general aptitude.

Ques: What will be the marking scheme in GATE 2021 Ecology & Evolution and what will be the weightage of each section?

Ans: The question paper will have a total of 65 questions worth 100 marks

Subjects Allocation of Marks
General Aptitude 15% of total marks
Subject Questions 85% of total marks

Ques: Do we get an option to select either ecology or evolution in GATE 2021 Ecology & Evolution paper?

Ans: No. There will be no such option. Ecology and evolution is one subject and candidates will have to attempt all the questions related to these subjects. General Aptitude and engineering are also compulsory to attempt.

Ques: GATE 2021 Ecology & Evolution syllabus core subject syllabus will be divided into how many parts?

Ans: The core syllabus will be divided into 5 parts or sections:

  • Section 1 – Ecology
  • Section 2 – Evolution
  • Section 3 – Mathematics and Quantitative Ecology
  • Section 4 – Behavioural Ecology
  • Section 5 – Applied Ecology & Evolution

GATE 2021 : 37 answered questions


Ques. Which is the best coaching for GATE or IES in Allahabad?

● Top Answer By Aniket Atul Mahulikar on 15 Jan 21

Ans. GATE and IES both exams have almost the same syllabus. If you are residing in Allahabad and looking for the best coaching institute, then you have limited options. Both the papers are highly competitive and require experienced faculty for mentorship.  A few of the coaching institutes have associated industry experts to help GATE or IES aspirants. The top choices from which you can opt for includes:  Mechasoft AIEFA Mechasoft:  It is a good coaching institute with trusted faculty like Mr. A.K. Tripathi. Tripathi Sir is an expert in Control Systems who also teaches some other electronics subjects.  AIEFA:  AIEFA had a collaboration with Gateforum before. Now it’s a separate coaching center. It has poor management and the class schedule is not fixed. They teach in extremely long hours sometimes.  You can also go for self-studies and take the help of online guides. If you find it essential to opt for a coaching institute, you can opt for Mechasoft because the batches are small, and doubt clearing sessions are effective. For online classes, you can opt for Made easy, Times, or Ace academy.Read more
1 Answer

Ques. Is it good to prepare for the GATE and the IES simultaneously?

● Top Answer By Sandip Pal on 14 Jan 21

Ans. If you are preparing for IES then you can also simultaneously prepare for GATE as well with just a little extra effort. The syllabus of IES is quite vast as compared to the GATE syllabus. If your primary goal is to crack IES, concentrate more on the IES and study for GATE parallelly. If you are more interested in GATE, you need to make some extra effort. However, if you are equally interested in both you can follow the strategy given below for preparation. IES Preparation:  Read class notes and solve the workbook regularly.  Make short notes for each subject containing formulas, facts, and the new concepts you learned while reading. Solve previous year’s questions for IES and GATE. Note down the important questions you come across. During revision, go through the short notes you made and the questions too.  Give online and offline mock tests regularly.  GATE Preparation: If you follow a smart study plan you can complete the GATE preparation in just one and a half months. The syllabus for GATE is just like a subset of the IES syllabus. Both of them have several topics in common. You can follow this strategy to crack the exam: One month before GATE, thoroughly read all the class notes. Solve previous year’s question paper as much as possible. Take as many mock tests as you can. 10-12 days before the exam, revise the short notes daily. You can prepare for IES for the whole year and do the major chunk of preparation for GATE in the last 1-2 months. One of my friends followed this pattern for his preparation and was successful. But you don’t have to follow this plan blindly, you can make up your own strategy too.Read more
1 Answer

Ques. What is the difficulty level of the BITS HD exam compared to the GATE?

● Top Answer By Sahil Sachdeva on 14 Jan 21

Ans. GATE exam focuses on how much the students' concepts are clear and how they can apply them for solving the questions. Most importantly, it contains numerical questions, so it would be better to expect fewer theory questions in the GATE exam. Whereas, BITS HD exam contains the majority of theory questions. You are required to solve more problems in less time. You also have to prepare for aptitude and English. These sections are quite scoring and help to get a better score.  Difficulty Level - Comparison: GATE consists mostly of numerical, while 80 to 90% of the questions in BITS HD are theoretical.  You will hardly find 10 to 15 numerical questions in HD paper out of hundred questions. Numerical questions are not like GATE. These are mostly the formula and solve type. Nevertheless, some numerical may be found very tricky.  You need to have a thorough understanding of your syllabus for BITS HD. Theoretical questions will come from anywhere, and they will test your understanding of the respective topic. BITS HD consists of 15 maths questions that are way more difficult than GATE, 15 general English, and 70 engineering discipline questions. One most important thing to add is that BITS have also started admitting students by accepting their GATE score. If you have a 55+ GATE score, you can get admission to BITS.Read more
1 Answer

Ques. What should be the proper strategy to excel in both GATE and ESE simultaneously?

● Top Answer By Angana Nath on 08 Jan 21

Ans. GATE and ESE (Engineering Service Exam) are almost similar, so preparing for one exam ensures complete preparation of at least one portion of the other. Given below is the strategy of preparing simultaneously for GATE and ESE. ESE: Technical Subjects: Read the theory properly and solve ESE objective questions. Solve all the previous year Gate questions of ECE, EE, IN streams. Solve ESE Test series only, do not start with the GATE test series. Non-Technical Subjects: For these subjects, students must put in the daily effort. Each day 15-20 minutes for this is enough. If you keep up this practice sincerely for 5-6 months, there is a good chance you will be able to score more than 300 in ESE prelims.  GATE: Now that ESE is dealt with, go for the GATE test series. As the theory portion has already been covered, start with solving questions. Give at least 10 full syllabus mock tests for GATE.  How to Attempt GATE questions: Attempt all the 1 mark questions. Go for the aptitude and English section. This will provide a break from all the formula questions which have been solved. For the last 30 questions, attempt which questions are easier so that there is time to get back to questions that could not be solved. After the prelims of GATE, you will have 4-5 months to prepare for Mains. In the meantime attempt the previous years’ question paper of UPSC to get an idea about what is asked in the examination. Read standard books to clear basic concepts. Practice is the key to score well in these exams. So, attempt mack-tests for Main as well.Read more
1 Answer

Ques. What is the minimum score of GATE one should secure to get into PSUs?

● Top Answer By Poorva Chourasia on 08 Jan 21

Ans. The GATE cutoff for PSU recruitment is quite high. Only top rankers in the GATE examination have a chance of getting a call for an Interview. PSUs invite almost 4 times the candidates they actually recruit. As only the top rankers have the privilege of choosing the company they want to work in. PSU Recruitment Details: More than 50 PSUs recruit students based on their scores in GATE. To be recruited, candidates must score above the GATE-cutoff and also the cut-off mentioned by the company of choice. Some companies directly recruit candidates through their GATE scores while some only shortlist. Some PSUs conduct an additional test for recruiting candidates. Some of the companies that accept PSU scores are AAI, BARC, BBNL, BHEL, BPCL, CEL, CIL, DMRC, NBCC, NTPC, HPCL, ONGC, Powergrid, THDC, etc. PSU-Cutoff: Given below are the branch and category-wise cut-offs for some of the major companies, for PSU-GATE. PSU Branch/Post For General Category HPCL Mechanical  68.45 Civil 70.04 Electrical 58.64 Instrumentation 44.33 E&TC 73.05 Chemical 56.67 ONGC(2019) Geologist 557 Chemist 690 AEE Production Petroleum 703 AEE Cementing Mechanical 895 AEE Electronics 868 Surface Geophysicist 621 Programming Officer 840 AEE Production Chemical 689 AEE Cementing Petroleum 873 AEE Electrical 841 Well Geophysicist 697 AEE Mechanical 856 AEE Drilling Mechanical 845 Transport Officer 899 AEE Instrumentation 730 AEE Reservoir 847 AEE Production Mechanical 867 AEE Drilling Petroleum 803 MM Officer 923 AEE Civil 915 The GATE Cutoff for ONGC may vary with each vacancy. Candidates must score a minimum of 65% in their BTech graduation to appear for GATE. The salaries offered are almost the same for PSUs that recruit through GATE, but the salaries offered to people recruited for senior positions may differ.Read more
1 Answer

*The article might have information for the previous academic years, which will be updated soon subject to the notification issued by the University/College.


How many fields in engineering is available with GATE paper

Dear Pradeepraj

Greetings from Collegedunia. IIT Bombay is conducting the GATE 2021 Examination in all 27 subjects of Engineering. It is expected to be conducted in February, 2021 and the cut-off will be released in the month of March 2021. For more details, kindly go through this link – GATE Cut-Off 2021

uma goenka
How many fields in engineering is available with GATE paper

Dear Uma Goenka

Greetings from Collegedunia. The GATE Examination 2021 is conducted for 27 subjects and you have the choice to select 2 subjects for Paper 2 while Paper 1 General Aptitude. For more details, kindly go through this link – GATE 2021 Syllabus & Pattern

I am a GATE 2021 aspirant from Biotechnology background. Should i also study GK and Reasoning?
rakhisree chatterjee


Preparation Tips for GATE 2021 Biotechnology Paper

  1. Solving Previous Years Papers. 
  2. Improve Speed and Accuracy. 
  3. Do not Mix Topics/Sections. 
  4. Follow a Strict Time Table. 
  5. Maintain Good Health.
Can I get ebooks of the subject online or is it not available?
rakhisree chatterjee

Hi, Yes, You can download the ebooks online from any coaching center’s website.

saurav kumar
Which topic must be focused more to get a good score?

Dear Saurav Kumar

Greetings from Collegedunia. The topics from core subjects contribute to 72% marks out of total marks. So, the focus should be on core subjects by the Applicants to get a good score in GATE Examination. For more details, kindly go through this link – GATE 2021 Syllabus