I have a question for which I am doubtful about which to choose among the two .. can someone help?

Please select one option for the blank:

After years of unchecked exploitation of its natural resources, the state, predictably, has _________ the population of its native plants and animals.

a) stymied
b) increased
c) reduced
d) normalized
e) decimated

I chose decimated as that is strong as the question says years of exploitation.

Will any other answer fit here? Will reduce fit in? I did not choose reduce as it is lighter than decimated...


Your selection of decimated is indeed the best option here.

Reduced would imply that the decrease was the result of an intentional policy, which seems unlikely.

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Reduced could be an option, if decimated was not on the list. "Reduced" is a rather mild term which just indicates a reduction in number, while "decimated" is a very strong one indicating an extreme change. The phrase "unchecked exploitation" in the first sentence is a very strong wording, so one would expect a similarly strong wording in the second part. "Decimated" is simply a better choice, and with multiple choice questions you must always choose the best choice.

If I may use recent current events, using "reduced" in this situation is similar to saying "Ebola is a highly contagious, life threatening disease with no known cure. It is mildly important to avoid people who have it." While technically accurate, I would expect the second sentence to be more along the lines of, "It is essential to your well-being to avoid people who have it."

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