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In this activity, learn about predator-prey interactions by pretending to be generalist insect predators foraging for three prey species (candy). Three feeding adaptations are used (mandibles, raptorial forelegs, and unmodified legs). Students conduct several simulations, each of which lasts about a minute. After each simulation, prey reproduce and predator numbers are adjusted to reflect mortality and reproduction. One prey type becomes poisonous, and the predator-prey dynamics that result in stable populations of each predator and prey species are explored. A graphic representation of the results can be used to lead a discussion about the influence of evolutionary trade offs on ecological communities.
Associated files
Resource Group TIEE
Resource Group Link
Primary or BEN resource type
Discipline Specific Core Concepts
Life science discipline (subject)
Keywords predator, prey, evolution, microevolution, predator-prey, adaptation, natural selection, search, recognition, capture, handling, community, predator avoidance
Intended End User Role
Educational Language
Pedagogical Use Category
Pedagogical Use Description Teachers can use this activity to teach students about predator-prey interactions and evolutionary trade-offs. The results of the activity can be a starting point for an exploration of how differences in survival between prey species affect a community. The activity is designed to be adapted to meet an instructor's needs, and so it lends itself to the addition of rules and changes to the traits of the prey and predator species. Changing the rules allows the activity to be extended to cover many aspects of evolutionary biology and predator-prey systems.
Aggregation Level
Full Name of Primary Author Tamara Smith, Wyatt Hoback
Primary Author Controlled Name
Primary Author Affiliation Department of Biology, University of Nebraska at Kearney
Primary Author email
Added By Id
  • educationintern
Rights Authors retain copyright
Review type
Drought and Water Ecosystem Services Collection Off
Conservation Targets Under Global Change Collection Off
Big Data Collection Off
Editors Choice No
Resource Status
Date Of Record Submission 2006-11-09
I Agree to EcoEdDL's Copyright Policy & Terms of Use No
Date Of Record Release 2010-02-16 01:49:20
Last Modified By Id
  • educationintern
Date Last Modified 2018-07-25 09:56:51
Release Flag Published

Resource Comments

Subject: Comment On: The Insect Predation Game: Evolving Prey Defenses and Predator Responses
Posted By: mvasq255
Date Posted: 2018-05-14 18:15:59
The Insect Predation Game module was performed in a non-science majors introductory biology course. Materials can be found here:
Subject: Comment On: The Insect Predation Game: Evolving Prey Defenses and Predator Responses
Posted By: Lazella
Date Posted: 2018-05-10 21:22:47
The TIEE Insect Predation Game was modified for an upper division biology major's ecology laboratory by adding outside reading and data sets for quantitative analysis. QUBES. doi:10.25334/Q4N70N

This message was edited by Lazella on May 10, 2018 at 9:30 pm.

Subject: Comment On: The Insect Predation Game: Evolving Prey Defenses and Predator Responses
Posted By: jdoudna
Date Posted: 2018-05-10 18:51:32
I implemented this module as a simplified game with slideshow introduction and new spreadhseet. I used this module during the last week of an introductory biology course for nonmajors at an open-enrollment community college. The module took about an hour and a half to complete 5 rounds and allow students time to answer the critical thinking questions. The set of files can be found at