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Processes that Regulate Patterns of Species and Genetic Diversity

Author(s): Anna M. McKee1, Gary T. Green2, John C. Maerz2

1. U.S. Geological Survey South Atlantic Water Science Center 2. The University of Georgia

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TIEE Module- This activity was developed for an undergraduate upper level course for natural resources majors. Classes of 20 – 30 students work best for the activity.

Licensed under CC Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International according to these terms

Version 1.0 - published on 12 Mar 2019 doi:10.25334/Q4Q153 - cite this


During a single lab period, students simulate colonization and drift in artificial communities to understand how these processes affect distributions of biodiversity in small versus large communities with varying degrees of isolation. Plastic bins represent islands, and are situated to represent different degrees of isolation. Ziploc bags of candy represent individuals in the communities and different candies inside the bags represent the genetic composition of the individuals. Students simulate colonization and drift in communities by tossing, replicating, and removing individuals from their communities. Students record which individuals and candies are removed from and added to their communities over time, graph their data, and discuss results.

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