Teaching Population Dynamics and Trophic Cascades Using Large Mammals
This playlist can be used to teach several core concepts of population dynamics and trophic cascades through three diverse ecological examples: wolves in Isle Royale, Michigan; rinderpest and wildebeest in Tanzania; and cougars in Zion National Park, Utah. The topics covered include predator-prey dynamics, top-down population regulation, exponential and logistic population growth, carrying capacity, and trophic cascades.
By completing the resources in this playlist, students will be able to:
- Investigate phenomena to make observations and claims about how predators and prey regulate each other’s populations.
- Develop and interpret exponential and logistic population growth models using novel scenarios.
- Interpret graphs and use evidence to make claims about top-down effects on animal populations, and about the trophic cascade resulting from the removal of a predator from an ecosystem.
This playlist can be used in general biology and environmental high school courses. Implementing this playlist should take about six to seven 50-minute class periods.