In this lesson, students will conduct a simulation to explore the effects predator-prey interactions on population size. Then, students will identify limiting factors and design an experiment on limiting factors and plant growth. Students will:
simulate and explain predator-prey interactions.
explain how limiting factors affect population dynamics.
differentiate between density-dependent limiting factors and density-independent limiting factors.
design an experiment on the effects of limiting factors on seedling growth.
Carrying Capacity: The largest number of individuals in a population that an environment can support.
Exponential Growth: A population growth pattern in which individuals reproduce at a constant rate.
Logistic Growth: A population growth pattern in which the growth rate slows down or stops after a period of exponential growth.
Predator: An organism that kills and eats other organisms.
Prey: An organism that is killed and eaten by another organism.
Limiting Factors: Factors that regulate population growth.
Density-Dependent Limiting Factors: Limiting factors that depend on population size.
Density-Independent Limiting Factors: Limiting factors that affect all populations in similar ways, regardless of population size.
75–90 minutes/2 class periods
Predator-Prey Interactions (S-B-2-2_ Predator-Prey Interactions.docx and S-B-2-2_ Predator-Prey Interactions KEY.docx). Note: Before the lesson, make enough copies of the Predator-Prey Interactions handout for small learning groups.
100 small squares cut from index cards or card stock, to represent mice (prey) (S-B-2-2_ Predator-Prey Cards.docx), one set for each group of three to four students
25 large squares cut from index cards or card stock, to represent foxes (predators) (S-B-2-2_ Predator-Prey Cards.docx), one set for each group of three to four students
Shoe box lid (one/group)
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Predator-Prey Interactions (S-B-2-2_ Predator-Prey Interactions.docx and S-B-2-2_ Predator-Prey Interactions KEY.docx). Note: Before the lesson, make enough copies of the Predator-Prey Interactions handout for small learning groups.
100 small squares cut from index cards or card stock, to represent mice (prey) (S-B-2-2_ Predator-Prey Cards.docx), one set for each group of three to four students
25 large squares cut from index cards or card stock, to represent foxes (predators) (S-B-2-2_ Predator-Prey Cards.docx), one set for each group of three to four students
Shoe box lid (one/group)