Laboratory exercise in which students collect data on parasitoid wasps and fit Lotka-Volterra competition models. The authors' abstract:
In this investigation, students first design experiments to examine intraspecific and interspecific competition using two species of parasitoid wasps. Second, students are guided to a consensus experiment that examines the effect of both types of competition on reproductive output in the parasitoids. Third, the students conduct the consensus experiment in which one or two females are placed on a single host, alone, with conspecific competitors, or with interspecific competitiors. In subsequent labs, students check cultures for emergence of new adults. Six weeks later, students gather data on the number of offspring produced by females under each of the initial densities of founding females. The resulting data are used to estimate the parameters of the Lotka-Volterra competition model. The predictions of the model are then compared to the outcome of interspecific competition treatments. Information is also included on using the appropriate statistical analyses to compare the relative importance of interspecific and intraspecific competition on offspring production.
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