First discovered several years ago in North American lakes and rivers, the northern snakehead is a nonnative fish with no local predators. To keep the northern snakehead’s population from growing, for the past three years wildlife officials have been paying recreational fishers for each northern snakehead they catch. In this way, the officials hope to stop the northern snakeheads from eliminating rare native fish species.
To evaluate the likelihood that the wildlife officials’ plan will succeed, it would be most useful to determine which of the following?
(This question is from Official Guide. Therefore, because of copyrights, the complete question cannot be copied here. The question can be accessed at GMAT Club)
First discovered several years ago in North American lakes and rivers, the northern snakehead is a nonnative fish with no local predators.
The snakehead is not native to the water bodies it was first discovered in. There are no local animals that prey on the snakehead.
To keep the northern snakehead’s population from growing, for the past three years wildlife officials have been paying recreational fishers for each northern snakehead they catch.
Wildlife officials are trying to keep the snakehead’s population in check (since there are no local predators which could have kept its population in check). For this, they have been paying fishers per snakehead caught.
In this way, the officials hope to stop the northern snakeheads from eliminating rare native fish species.
The officials are going through this plan in order to try to stop snakeheads from eliminating rare native fish species.
Gist: The snakehead has no local predators. Wildlife officials hope to stop the snakehead from eliminating rare native species (goal). For this, they are trying to keep its population in check by paying fishers to catch snakehead (plan).
What data will help us evaluate the likelihood that the plan will succeed in achieving its goal?
In order to evaluate the plan, two questions come to mind:
- Is paying the fishers making a significant impact on the snakehead’s population growth?
- Is this impact helping reduce the decline of native fish species population?
Let’s understand these: what if the fishers are not incentivised enough to fish for snakeheads? Maybe the fish are too difficult to catch, or they can fish some other species that get them better returns. Or, even if the fishers are incentivised, the cumulative capacity of the fishers to fish for snakeheads is too low to make any meaningful impact.
What defines ‘meaningful’? What if the population of snakeheads is so huge compared with the rare native fish species, or what if each snakehead preys on a disproportionately large number of fish? In such a scenario, even if the snakehead population is stopped from growing, the goal may not be achieved.
(A) Incorrect. We’ve been asked to evaluate the likelihood that the ‘given plan’ will succeed. Whether another plan would work does not help evaluate the likelihood of success of the given plan.
This is a very common answer choice in a plan & goal question. Say John wishes to lose weight. In order to lose weight, he considers going on a keto diet. In order to evaluate whether keto diet will help him lose weight, we’ll not get into determining whether Atkins diet will work for him. Whether keto works or not is independent of whether something else works.
(B) Correct. Has there actually been an upward trend? If the local rare fish population continues to diminish, despite the plan being active, the plan will probably not be successful. On the other hand, if the local population has started showing growth (or stabilizing), the plan is probably working. Determining this would be useful to evaluate the likelihood that the plan will succeed.
(C) Incorrect. This is a complicatedly worded statement. This option talks about the fish species on which the snakehead preys in its native regions. The option asks us to consider whether those fish species have become depleted. We need to evaluate whether the plan (to pay fishers to catch snakehead) will succeed. How drastically snakehead preys on other species, and how well the other preyed population is able to cope is immaterial.
(D) Incorrect. This answer choice might look attractive. An absolute number of snakehead caught, however, does not give us an understanding of the success of the plan.
Say 1,000 snakeheads were caught. How does this impact the plan’s success? If there were 1200 snakeheads to begin with, the plan seems to be a success since a significant proportion of snakeheads have been caught. On the other hand, if there were 1,000,000 snakeheads to begin with, the plan seems to be a failure. Thus, an absolute number in isolation without knowing the size of the population does not get us anywhere.
(E) Incorrect. The goal is to ‘stop the snakeheads from eliminating rare native fish species’. Whether the fish species face other threats does not help us evaluate whether this particular goal will be met. If the goal had been to prevent the elimination of rare native fish species, this option would have made sense.
The goal in this passage was actually divided into two stages.
Officials decided to pay fishers to catch snakehead fish (plan)
→ To keep its population from growing (goal – stage 1)
→ to stop the snakehead from eliminating rare native species (goal – stage 2)
The final goal may not be achieved even if the interim goal is met. The final goal will certainly not be achieved if the interim goal is not met.
SC Notes: “rare native fish species” – this is an example of cumulative adjectives. The two adjectives – rare and native – make sense only in the given order, and no comma is used to separate them. One way to understand this: the adjective ‘rare’ modifies the phrase ‘native fish species’ and not ‘species’ separately. ‘Red fire truck’ is another example of such usage.
Some alternate ways to use multiple single-word modifiers:
tall, beautiful girl: both adjectives modify the noun. In such usage, the two adjectives are separated by a comma.
extremely beautiful girl: the adverb ‘extremely’ modifies the adjective ‘beautiful’ and the adjective ‘beautiful’ modifies the noun ‘girl’.