Niche Partitioning and DNA Metabarcoding
This interactive module explores niche partitioning, a mechanism that enables similar species of animals to coexist.
In the two modules of this Click & Learn, students investigate how different herbivores can share the same habitat without outcompeting each other. In Module 1, students collect and analyze data from photos of herbivores foraging in the Kenyan savanna. In Module 2, they learn about the technique of metabarcoding, analyze DNA sequence data to determine the diets of the herbivores, visualize the data using Venn diagrams, and then compare diets by performing Sorensen index calculations. Throughout the Click & Learn, students summarize their data, justify claims, and answer questions in a virtual notebook that can be stored and printed.
The accompanying worksheet guides students’ exploration.
Student Learning Targets
- Identify the types of data needed to test different niche partitioning mechanisms.
- Make claims and offer explanations based on authentic field data.
- Identify limitations of traditional forms of data collection.
- Use DNA sequence data to identify animal and plant species.
- Analyze real data using statistical methods.
barcode, biodiversity, buffalo, coexistence, competitive exclusion, diet, dung, impala, savanna, zebra
Kartzinel, Tyler R., Patricia A. Chen, Tyler C. Coverdale, David L. Erickson, W. John Kress, Maria L. Kuzmina, Daniel I. Rubenstein, Wei Wang, and Robert M. Pringle. “DNA metabarcoding illuminates dietary niche partitioning by African large herbivores.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 112, 26 (2015): 8019–8024. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1503283112.
HS-LS1-1, HS-LS2-1, HS-LS2-2, HS-LS2-6; SEP4
2.E.3, 4.B.2; SP5, SP7
Math.N-Q.1; MP1, MP2