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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. TIEE
Associated files
Resource Group TIEE
Resource Group Link
Primary or BEN resource type
General Biology Core Concepts
Discipline Specific Core Concepts
General Biology Competencies
Life science discipline (subject)
Keywords Biodiversity, Colonization, Ecological drift, Evolution, Extinction, Genetic diversity, Genetic drift, Island biogeography, Species diversity
Intended End User Role
Educational Language
Pedagogical Use Category
Pedagogical Use Description N/A
Aggregation Level
Full Name of Primary Author Anna M. McKee
Primary Author Controlled Name
Primary Author Affiliation Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, The University of Georgia
Primary Author email
Secondary Author Name(s) Gary T. Green and John C. Maerz
Secondary Author Affiliation(s) Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources, The University of Georgia. Current
Added By Id
  • tmourad
Submitter Name Teresa Mourad
Submitter Email
Rights Authors hold 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 2015-01-21
I Agree to EcoEdDL's Copyright Policy & Terms of Use No
Date Of Record Release 2015-01-21 14:10:01
Last Modified By Id
  • educationintern
Date Last Modified 2018-07-30 11:23:14
Release Flag Published

Resource Comments

Subject: Comment On: Processes that Regulate Patterns of Species and Genetic Diversity
Posted By: mmckelly
Date Posted: 2019-06-01 17:40:51
This resource describes an implementation of this activity in an intro non-majors Environmental Science class. Written instructions to students for the overall class activity and for randomizing colonization with a die roll are included. A Google Sheet for students to enter their data is included, along with a data analysis template in Excel. A screencast video to help students with the data analysis in Excel and a link to the HHMI Biointeractive Spreadsheet Tutorial are included. Finally, teaching notes describing challenges of this implementation are included.
Subject: Comment On: Processes that Regulate Patterns of Species and Genetic Diversity
Posted By: jdecker
Date Posted: 2019-05-29 13:50:07
This version of the exercise involves the same general exercise and concepts but differs in the following: (1) it is set up to run in a lecture over the course of a week or so. The timeline of events (in numerical order) included:   1. Homework assignment to view two Island Biogeography Videos (Youtube).  2. A follow-up quiz that is intended to assess student understanding of the basic concepts associated with Island Biogeography learned from watching the videos. The quiz includes two questions: (1) matching: the four curves of the Graphical representation of the theory (Mac Arthur and Wilson 1967) matched with the words "large", "small", "near", "far; (2) short answer: Describe what the graph is telling us. 3. After the quiz, students spend time in small groups of 2 or 3 developing a hypothesis (use the hypothesis development pages from the original Module).  4. Students spend a class period gathering baseline data (Islands prior to manipulations). 5. Students conduct their manipulations (tosses, replication events, etc.) during a second class period. 6. Students evaluate a graphical representation of their data as homework.  7. There is a final class discussion on whether the data support their original hypotheses and how the data could be best graphically presented. 8. Final assessment questions as part of an exam assess student growth over the exercise and allow students to evaluate the exercise.  (2) incorporates supplemental information (i.e. HHMI Biointeractive Excel Tutorials, videos, continuous assessment).  URL: doi:10.25334/Q47M94