School of Life Sciences | Ask A Biologist

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population ecology lizard illustration

For Teachers

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  • Asexual reproduction: when one organism is able to make offspring without any other organism providing genetic material.
  • Population: a particular group, or type of animals or plants living in an area or country... more
  • Sexual reproduction: when two organisms join their genetic material (often eggs and sperm) to make a new organism.
  • Thermodynamics: the study of energy or heat and related processes.

Games about Animal Ecology

What is Lizard Island? It’s a fun way to help teachers, students, and other learners find out about the limitations of reproduction, and the effect of birth, death, and environment limits on populations.

Players of Lizard Island – Thermodynamics play the role of asexual and sexual lizards to learn how these animals must balance the costs of mating and reproducing with the energy they gain from food.

Once players understand how having a different reproductive strategy or being of a different sex can affect how they approach the mating game, they can move on to learn more about larger populations.

Players of Lizard Island – Populations will calculate population growth of many types of animals, based on different rates of death, birth, and growth rates.

Main Concepts

  1. Energy spent on maintaining health, searching for food, finding a mate, and mating must be balanced by available energy.
  2. Asexual and sexual reproduction have different costs. Similarly, being male or female with a sexual reproductive strategy also has different costs.
  3. Population growth is controlled by population size, the number of births, and the number of deaths in a population, as well as the environmental limitations in that habitat.

Tips for Use

Playing through both games may take students between 30 minutes and an hour. 

If not enough computers are available, we suggest students work in groups of three. For the Thermodynamics game, they can each trade off for the three different lizard types. For the Population game, they can all work together to check their calculations are correct.
 
Make sure in the Populations game, students are writing down all numbers they need to use for future calculations. They should not be rounding during calculations. If students have an issue with a number not registering as correct, they should go back through and make sure they didn't do any rounding during calculations.

Standards

For Lizard Island – Populations

Next Generation Science Standards

High School Life Sciences – Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems, HS-LS2-2. Use mathematical representations to support and revise explanations based on evidence about factors affecting biodiversity and populations in ecosystems of different scales.

 

Arizona Science Standards

Strand 4, Concept 3, PO 3. Assess how the size and rate of growth of a population are determined by birth rate, death rate, immigration, emigration, and carrying capacity of the environment.

 

Common Core Standards

Mathematics, High School: Algebra, Seeing Structure in Expressions:

CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.HSA.SSE.A.1 Interpret expressions that represent a quantity in terms of its context.

Lizard island illustration

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by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.

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Lizard island illustration

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.