To investigate how populations are affected by predator-prey relationships over several generations.
- 6cm x 6cm squares cut from stiff colored paper: the lynx.
- 200, 2cm x 2 cm squares cut from a different color of paper: rabbits.
- One sheet of green paper (approx. 43 x 28 cm): the meadow
- Graph Paper
- The game contains a meadow (the playing field) and stacks of reserve cards for lynxes and rabbits. Lynxes and rabbits added to the meadow are taken from this reserve stack.
- All animals that are removed from the meadow are placed back in the reserve stacks.
- Play the game in groups of four. Work in pairs. One pair manages the prey (rabbit population), and the other pair manages the predators (lynx population).
- Record the numbers of rabbits and lynxes in the meadow at the beginning of each round for the 25 generations in the game. Stop after the 25th generation.
- Rabbit managers:
- The rabbit managers add active rabbits by spreading them evenly in the meadow
- To start the game, the rabbit managers distribute three rabbits evenly on the meadow.
- The rabbit managers remove rabbits when they are caught by a lynx.
- For the beginning of the next generation, double the number of surviving rabbit and place them in the meadow.
- If there are no surviving rabbits, a new generation is begun with three new rabbits, which immigrate into the meadow.
- Lynx managers:
- The lynx managers throw active lynx cards and add or remove active lynxes from the meadow.
- The toss must leave a lynx manager's hand outside the meadow area. As long as the lynx square touches a rabbit square, that rabbit is considered to be caught.
- Start the game with one lynx. Probably, the first lynx catches fewer than three rabbits and starves.
- If a lynx catches three rabbits in a round the lynx survives.
- If a lynx cannot catch three rabbits in a round, the lynx starves and is removed from the meadow.
- If there are no surviving lynx, the lynx managers get a new lynx that immigrates into the meadow.
- If a lynx catches more than three rabbits in a round, each three extra rabbits caught allows the lynx to have a cub. If a lynx catches six (6) rabbits total it has enough energy to have one cub. Nine (9) rabbits caught is two cubs, etc.
- Graph your data using the number of individuals as the dependant variable and the number of generations as the independent variable. Use a separate line on the same page for rabbits and lynxes (one graph - two lines).
- Study your graph lines for the two populations. How are the lynx and rabbit populations related to each other? How do the sizes of each population affect each other?
- Under what modifications can both populations continue to exist indefinitely?
- What do you think would happen if you introduced an additional predator, such as a coyote, which requires fewer rabbits to reproduce?
- What would happen if you introduced another type of rabbit, one that could run faster and escape its predators? (In the game, you could give the new type of rabbit a chance to escape by tossing a coin after it is caught and letting it live if you got heads.) Which type of rabbit would predominate after many generations of predation?
- How does this simulation relate to the human population and its interaction with its environment? Are there any predator-prey relationships?
- What predator-prey relationships have you observed in your community?
- If a population biologist visited your classroom, what are some questions about the human population you could ask?
Leonard, W.H. and Penick, J.E. 2003. Biology - A Community Context. Glencoe McGraw-Hill.
Predator-Prey Simulation Data Table
|Generation||Rabbits||Lynx||Rabbits Caught||Lynx Starved||Lynx Surviving||New Baby Lynx||Rabbits Left|