Isle Royale Population Model - Preview

Isle Royale Population Model

Subject: Biology
Time: 1 week


Unit Overview

Teacher Overview


Lessons Overview

1. Lesson 1: Introduction to Ecosystems and Models Overview

Students observe a photograph two real world ecosystems and describe some of the changes they expect to see in that ecosystem over the course of a week, a month, a year, and 30 years. The class develops a definition for an ecosystem and an interaction. The class builds a physical food web of a pond ecosystem as an entire class using string and index cards. The class uses this model of the ecosystem food web to visualize and predict various forms of interactions between populations, describing indirect and delayed effects on population size as other population sizes and resources necessary for survival change in the ecosystem. Through discussion, the teacher helps build consensus on types of interactions in ecosystems and indirect vs. direct effects, and immediate vs. delayed outcomes. The class also discusses how using a model of an ecosystem helped them understand, predict, and explain various outcomes. In their homework students describe what type of objects and interactions they think might be important to include in a computer simulation of an ecosystem, to connect to their upcoming work (throughout the rest of the unit) using computer based models. This homework also helps students understand what it means to use modeling as a scientific practice and models as scientific tools (such as the ecosystem model they made in class). NGSS Lesson Level Learning Performance: ¥ Use a model of a food web to describe how a change in the size of a population and/or a change in the resources available in the environment would affect the size of other populations in the ecosystem. Scientific Principles (re) Discovered in this Activity ¥ Organisms interact with other organisms and the abiotic surroundings both directly and indirectly in an ecosystem and can result in immediate or delayed effects.

2. Lesson 2: Population Dynamics Overview

The Wolf-Sheep Predation NetLogo model simulates the interactions between predator and prey within an ecosystem. These systems are looked at as being stable if these populations are able to maintain a relatively steady population over time, whereas an unstable system will result in the extinction in one or more of the populations.


Compatible With




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Computational Thinking in STEM
  • Modeling and Simulation Practices
    • Using Computational Models to Understand a Concept

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