GATE 2021 Ecology and Evolution Syllabus (EY)

GATE 2021 Ecology and Evolution Syllabus

Get here the GATE 2021 syllabus for Ecology and Evolution (EY). The GATE Ecology and Evolution syllabus syllabus is divided into 4 broad sections. Out of a total of 65 questions, 55 questions will be based on the Ecology and Evolution subject and the remaining 10 questions will be from the General Aptitude section. Candidates can check the syllabus for Ecology and Evolution for GATE 2021 from this page. The GATE 2021 syllabus for all subjects have been released by IITB.

In the Ecology and Evolution syllabus, candidates will find 4 sections – Ecology, Evolution, Mathematics and Quantitative Ecology, and Behavioural Ecology. There are further topics and subtopics under each of these sections.

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; HardyWeinberg 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; learned behavior; proximate and ultimate questions
Sensory ecology: Neuroethology; communication (chemical, acoustic and visual signaling); recognition systems
Foraging ecology: Foraging behavior; 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 behavior


GATE 2021 General Aptitude Syllabus

For the General Aptitude syllabus, candidates can check below. Note that the syllabus for this section is common in all the subjects of GATE 2021. In all the papers, there will be a total of 10 questions carrying a total of 15 marks in the GA section. These total questions include 5 questions carrying 1-mark each (sub-total 5 marks) and 5 questions carrying 2-marks each (sub-total 10 marks). There are two parts in the GA section – Verbal Ability and Numerical Ability. 

Verbal Ability- In this part, there will be topics like English grammar, Sentence completion, Instructions, Verbal analogies, Word groups, Critical Reasoning, and Verbal deduction. 
Numerical Ability- In this part, there will be topics like Numerical computation, Numerical reasoning, Numerical estimation, and Data interpretation. 

GATE 2021 Ecology and Evolution Exam Pattern

Candidates must look at the exam pattern and the marking scheme of GATE 2021 before starting their preparation for the same. This will help them in understanding the exam better. Candidates must know the sections in the exam, the type of questions asked, and how is the marking done in the paper. For the exam pattern, have a look below. 

Section Distribution of Marks  Total MarksTypes of questions
GA5 questions of 1 mark each
5 questions of 2 marks each

     15 marks 

EY- Subject-Based25 questions of 1 mark each
30 questions of 2 marks each 
    85 marks   MCQs and NATs

The GATE 2021 will be a Computer Based Test that will be conducted through online mode. The duration of the GATE 2021 will be 3 hours. There are 2 types of questions in the exam – MCQs and NATs. Also, the exam will consist of 3 sections – General Aptitude and Subject-based. A total of 65 questions will be asked for a total of 100 marks. There will be negative marking in the exam for the MCQs only. 

Marking scheme

Type of questionNegative marking for wrong answerMarking for correct answer
MCQsfor 1 mark questions⅔ for 2 marks questions1 or 2 marks
NATsNo negative marking 1 or 2 marks

How to Prepare for GATE Ecology and Evolution?

Preparing for an entrance examination is no cakewalk. It requires a lot of hard work and no-nonsense attitude to prepare for the big day. You have to complete a huge syllabus in a few months while staying away from all the worldly distractions. This is only achievable if you have proper guidance. For those who have joined some coaching, they already have the said guidance. However, candidates who have decided to self-study will need a lot more than just guidance. To help all of you, we have come up with a few tips that will definitely help you ace this exam. 

Do your research

What we mean by this is that you must do the basic research about the exam. The first thing you should be aware of is the exam pattern. This will help you gain a better understanding of what you are preparing for the next couple of months. Then comes the marking scheme that gives you a fair idea about how is the marking done in the exam and how are you supposed to answer particular questions. The last and the most important is the syllabus of the subject that you are appearing for. You must what and how much you have to prepare. Once you have researched all of these properly, you are good to start your GATE 2021 preparation. 

Set your priority 

The second step is to set your priorities and then move from there. There are a few ways to tackle your preparation. You can start from topics based on the difficulty level. Practice the easy topics, then the moderately tough ones and then the toughest topics. Another way to practice according to the weightage level. You can also prepare the important topics and then move on to the other topics. Your strategy depends on your preference and should be followed seriously. 

Solve papers

Practicing a different variety of sources always helps. It broadens your aptitude and improves your preparation. You must practice weekly mock tests. Don’t skip the analyzing of those mocks thoroughly. Identify your weak topics and work on them more. Also, in the last 2-3 months, start practicing previous years’ question papers. This way you can observe the trend of the questions followed over the past years. Join some online test series and prepare through them. The motive is to do extensive practice through different sources to improve your preparation. 


Revising every topic thoroughly is important. If the revision is not done, then you are likely to forget all that you have learned over the past few months. To avoid that, do daily revision. Make short notes that are easy to glance at anytime. Use these notes in the last month that is kept solely for your revision. Notes will save a lot of your time and you will be able to do a quick revision.  

Stay motivated

Least to say, motivation is important when you are preparing for something big. Motivation is what keeps you going on a day when you don’t feel certain about your capabilities. Have a little more trust in your preparation and never stop trying even if you don’t clear the exam in the first attempt. 

GATE Ecology and Evolution Books for Preparation 

When you are selecting your study material, keep in mind that they are from the best authors and publications only. Also, don’t run after studying a lot. Aim to study correctly whatever book or study material you chose. We have suggested a book for your GATE 2021 preparation, that you can have a look at below. 

Title of the book Name of the Author/ PublicationLink to buy
Fundamentals of Ecology and Evolution Pranav KumarLINK

GATE 2021 Preparation FAQs  

Q1. What types of books should I prepare for GATE 2021?
Ans. Your GATE 2021 preparation should be done from the standard books that explain the concept in an easy language. They are the most reliable study material. Also, pick books that have a few mock tests or sample papers. 

Q2. What section should I prepare first?
Ans. You can start with the General Aptitude section. It is an easy section and is very scoring. After completing GA you can move on to preparing for EY. 

Q3. Is there a negative marking in GATE 2021?
Ans. Yes, there is negative marking in the exam but only for the MCQs. Thus, you should prepare well for those questions and avoid making guesses in the exam.

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