The Insect Predation Game: Evolving Prey Defenses and Predator Responses
In this activity, learn about predator-prey interactions by pretending to be generalist insect predators foraging for three prey species (candy). Three feeding adaptations are used (mandibles, raptorial forelegs, and unmodified legs). Students conduct several simulations, each of which lasts about a minute. After each simulation, prey reproduce and predator numbers are adjusted to reflect mortality and reproduction. One prey type becomes poisonous, and the predator-prey dynamics that result in stable populations of each predator and prey species are explored. A graphic representation of the results can be used to lead a discussion about the influence of evolutionary trade offs on ecological communities.