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Education
Species Distribution and Biogeography
 

Species Distribution and Biogeography

Learning Objectives

At the end of this lab, students should know...

What is the relationship between habitat size and extinction rate?

As the size of a habitat increases, extinction risk generally decreases due to greater population sizes.

What is an endemic species?

An endemic species is one that exists in one habitat and nowhere else.

What factors are predicted to balance in the dynamic equilibrium of biogeography?

Immigration and extinction rates become balanced at the point of dynamic equilibrium.

In oceanic biogeography, how does the colonization rate of an area change with proximity to the mainland and why?

With increasing proximity to the mainland, the colonization rate of an island increases, as it is easier for organisms to disperse or travel over smaller distances.

What is the purpose of man-made corridors between habitats?

Corridors allow organisms to travel more easily between separated habitat areas, facilitating immigration to promote species survival.

List of Materials

  • 16 oz plastic party cups, Red (18/group)
    54
  • 16 oz plastic party cups, Blue (18/group)
    54
  • Ping pong balls
    20
  • Rolling dice (six sided)
    10
  • Permanent marker
    1 per station
  • Marking Tape
    1 per station
  • Measuring tape
    1 per station
  • Computer with spreadsheet program
    Dependent on the lab size

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.

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