Population Regulation in the Serengeti
In this activity, students learn about the factors that regulate the population sizes of wildebeest and buffalo in Serengeti National Park.
Throughout the activity, students watch clips from the short film Serengeti: Nature’s Living Laboratory featuring scientists involved in this research. They also examine and analyze authentic scientific data for these populations. At the end, students apply what they learned to other populations of their choosing.
This activity can be conducted in large classes as an interrupted case study by using the accompanying “Slide Deck,” which contains links to the film clips and clicker questions to assess and develop students’ understanding. Alternatively, students can complete the accompanying “Student Handout” on their own or in small groups. The handout has the same links and questions as in the slides.
Student Learning Targets
- Explain how different factors (top-down/bottom-up, density-independent/density-dependent) regulate population sizes and apply an understanding of these terms to real populations.
- Compare and contrast exponential and logistic population growth, recognizing the carrying capacity associated with the latter.
- Make predictions and use scientific evidence to identify factors that affect the growth of actual populations.
- Use evidence to infer how migration changes the impact of density-dependent factors on population growth.
- Interpret graphs to make claims based on evidence.
bottom-up, density-dependent, density-independent, exponential growth, logistic growth, migration, population dynamics, predation, top-down, wildebeest
SYI-1.G, SYI-1.H, ENE-4.B; SP2, SP4, SP5
ELA.WHST.9-12.1, ELA.RST.9-12.2, ELA.RST.9-12.7; MP2, MP5