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NIMBioS Education Module

Modeling Predator-Prey Relationships in Soil

This module was created for grades 8-12, but may be adapted to the college level. Soil ecologists are interested in the ways that soil organisms interact and affect each other. One important relationship is that of predator and prey. In this module, students define the terms predator and prey and identify examples from soil ecology. They are introduced to the concept of a mathematical model so that they can identify situations where one may be useful. Students will create a hypothesis about how prey numbers will affect a predator population, then use a given mathematical model to perform calculations that will either support or refute their hypothesis. This activity also involves creating and interpreting a graph of results.

In the second part of the module, students are invited to download and interact with Netlogo, free online modeling software. A simple model adapted to soil ecology predator-prey is provided below, but Netlogo has an extensive library of models available to play with in many areas. A worksheet to guide inquiry is provided.

Presentation, Worksheet, and Netlogo Model Files:

Predator-Prey in Soil Presentation   (.pptx)   (.pdf)
Predator-Prey in Soil Worksheet   (.docx)   (.pdf)
Predator-Prey in Soil Answer Key   (.pdf)
Netlogo Worksheet   (.docx)   (.pdf)
Bacteria-Protozoa Netlogo File   (.nlogo

Materials Needed: Worksheet, calculator, pencil, ruler (and for second part, computer)

Predator-Prey in Soil Module in Action:

Teachers Do the Math: Predator-Prey Modeling in Soils

Other NIMBioS education modules

For further information, please contact:

Suzanne Lenhart
Associate Director for Education and Outreach
Ph: (865) 974-4270 (Math)   (865) 974-9349 (NIMBioS)   Fax: (865) 974-9300
NIMBioS, 1122 Volunteer Blvd., Suite 106
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996-3410

1122 Volunteer Blvd., Suite 106
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, TN 37996-3410
PH: (865) 974-9334
FAX: (865) 974-9461
Contact NIMBioS

From 2008 until early 2021, NIMBioS was supported by the National Science Foundation through NSF Award #DBI-1300426, with additional support from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.
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