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Population dynamics in simple two-species experimental microcosms

Author(s): Christopher T. Ivey

California State University, Chico

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A two-week exercise which includes homework calculations and teaching resources. Students establish brine shrimp and Platymonas algal cultures and predict final densities.


This two-week exercise modified from Gibson (2018) and Hudson and Finnerty (2013) emphasizes how trophic interactions and other density-dependent phenomena may alter population growth or decline. In a "flipped" format, students are assigned videos and homework to introduce techniques and calculations required for class. Student groups establish replicated microcosms of known densities of Platymonas and brine shrimp and predict the impact of trophic interactions on final densities of each species. During the second week, groups evaluate predictions using statistical tests, and summarize findings.

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