Lab (Workbook): Keystone Predator
This laboratory recreates the famous experiments of Paine and colleagues in the Pacific Northwest with the sea star Pisaster (and 8 other marine intertidal species). Students do transplant experiments to figure out competitive relationships and sample gut contents to construct a food web. Next they use their data to predict what will happen when each predator is removed from the system. Finally, they do the removal experiments and compare their results with their predictions. This is a great introductory lab in that it explores basic ecological concepts and although it is not difficult, it asks students to think critically, synthesizing experimental data to make predictions. It also provides a nice foundation for discussions of the important roles that different species can play in a community.
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Key Concepts: Competition; Ecological Communities; Food Webs; Keystone Species
Courses: Community Ecology; Conservation Biology; Ecology; Intro Bio: Eco/Evo/Genetics; Intro Bio: Non-majors; Marine Biology
"I had great success using your EcoBeaker™ labs, Keystone Predator and Sickle-Cell Alleles, in my BIO102 General Biology II class (4 lab sections, 96 students) this spring semester. "
Dr. Daniel Vogt, Plattsburgh State University, General Biology
"They absolutely loved [Keystone Predator]. … [it] allowed them to quickly appreciate how the biology of the organisms played a role, that the species differed in colonizing abilities, and the concept of a species with an effect disproportionate to its abundance. I was amazed how quickly and effortlessly the simulation taught them a dynamic system. We all agreed that the graphics really work. One of the best features is the integrated abundance values so that you can freeze the action at any point and track individual species as opposed to general trends. "
Paula Philbrick, University of Connecticut
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