Too Many Bears
For this activity students investigate the effects of population size on an environment by playing the role of foraging bears in a habitat with finite resources. After the activity they shared data and analyzed how many bears could be supported in a habitat, and compared that to the actual number that did. Then they answered the following questions:
- Explain why there might be a difference between the number of bears that survived and the number of bears the habitat could support even if it did not occur in this situation.
- How will limiting the size of the bear population affect the hunt for food for the bears that to hunt? What do you think will happen if only half the class hunted with the same amount of food available?
- What will happen when a population of bears the size of our class hunts for food in their environment?
- How did the population size and the size of the environment affect the animal? Include the following terms in your answer: competition, population, carrying capacity and limiting factor.
For this investigation the students graphed and analyzed data sets in order to make conclusions about the importance of species interactions.
Lesson of the Kaibab
An extension of the previous activity, students analyzed the case of the Kaibab Mule Deer who and discussed the implications of wildlife management.