Species Distribution and Biogeography — Lab Prep

  1. Simulating Colonization and Extinction on Islands
    • Find a table or desk with a cleared space of at least two meters in front of it in one direction. This will be the area where colonizer Ping-Pong balls are thrown into the island cups on the desk.
    • Label six red cups from 1 - 6 with a permanent marker. Then label six blue cups in the same manner.
    • Place the cups on the table with their top rims touching, and alternating between red and blue cups. This 12-cup set is a large island.
    • Pour 100 mL of water into each cup so that they are about a quarter full, to prevent them from being knocked over.
    • With a meter stick or measuring tape, measure 2 m away from the table out into the cleared area, and place a strip of tape on the floor at this spot. This arrangement will be the far-large island trial.
    • Now, prepare a second colonization area with a large island in the same way, but this time measure 1 m away from the desk, and place a strip of tape. This sets up the near-large island trial.
    • Then, set up a third area using only six cups of the same color, numbered 1 - 6, and placing a piece of tape 1 m from the table. This represents the near-small island trial.
    • Finally, set up a fourth area in the same way as the third, except place the tape 2 m from the table. This is the far-small island trial.
    • Now, print Tables 1 - 4, and place them at their appropriate island stations.
    • Then, mark two dice with a red marker, and two dice with a blue marker.
    • Place one unmarked die at both small island stations, and then set one blue and one red die at each of the large island stations. NOTE: This simulation will run more efficiently if the class is divided into groups of three. Each group should have one data recorder, one colonization simulator, who throws the Ping-Pong balls, and one extinction simulator, who rolls a die.