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Modeling Scenario

1-139-PlantsVsHerbivores-ModeliongScenario

Author(s): Mary Vanderschoot

Wheaton College, Wheaton IL USA

Keywords: ecology nullclines herbivore plant-herbivore interactions plant linearization

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Abstract

Resource Image In this activity, students will apply a variety of techniques for analyzing nonlinear systems (e.g., nullclines, linearization, and technologies for drawing phase portraits) to study plant-herbivore models.

Citation

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Article Context

Resource Type
Differential Equation Type
Qualitative Analysis
Course Level
Lesson Length
Technology
Approach
Pedagogical Approaches
Vision and Change Core Competencies - Ability
Bloom's Cognitive Level

Description

In a recent study of plants and herbivores on an island in the North Sea, ecologists made a surprising observation:

Instead of more vegetation resulting in more grazers, more vegetation resulted in fewer grazers.

Consequently, the ecologists hypothesized that, as the vegetation grew more dense, it became increasingly difficult for herbivores to reach and/or to digest the vegetation.

Eventually, the vegetation might grow so dense as to be unsuitable for the herbivores.

In this activity, students will apply a variety of techniques for analyzing nonlinear systems (e.g., nullclines, linearization, and technologies for drawing phase portraits) to study plant-herbivore models.

In the final section, students will determine the long-term predictions of two mathematical models used in the North Sea study.

Article Files

Authors

Author(s): Mary Vanderschoot

Wheaton College, Wheaton IL USA

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