"Oh! Deer! & Limiting Factors" adapted from Project Wild Mr. Mark Musselman Audubon at the Francis Beidler Forest

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1 "Oh! Deer! & Limiting Factors" adapted from Project Wild Mr. Mark Musselman Audubon at the Francis Beidler Forest Overview: Student act out the parts of a deer herd looking for food, water, and shelter. Graphing the data collected during the activity shows how population size differs over time and with changes in the environment. Connection to the Curriculum: Recall the basic needs of animals (including air, water, food, and shelter) for energy, growth, and protection Recall the characteristics of an organism s habitat that allow the organism to survive there Explain how changes in the habitats of plants and animals affect their survival Summarize the organization of simple food chains (including the roles of producers, consumers, and decomposers) Explain how an organism s patterns of behavior are related to its environment (including the kinds and the number of other organisms present, the availability of food and other resources, and the physical characteristics of the environment) Explain how limiting factors (including food, water, space, and shelter) affect populations in ecosystems. 6-3 The student will demonstrate an understanding of structures, processes, and responses of animals that allow them to survive and reproduce Explain the interaction among changes in the environment due to natural hazards (including landslides, wildfires, and floods), changes in populations, and limiting factors (including climate and the availability of food and water, space, and shelter) Summarize the factors, both natural and man-made, that can contribute to the extinction of a species. Suggested Grade Range: 2-8 Time: 60 min Materials Needed: 1. Safe, open area 2. White board or flip chart for graphing (with markers) 3. Graph paper for students 4. Lab sheet Objectives: 1. SWBAT explain how limiting factors affect population size. Procedures: 1. Prior to this activity, students should review the basic needs of animals (food, water, shelter, and adequate space). 2. Before going outside, give directions on how to play. Impress upon the students that being honest is the only way to obtain accurate scientific data for the graphing activity. In nature, cheating is not an option! Explain that habitats provide (shelter, food, water, space, mates ) This game simulates the search for three of these: shelter, food and water.

2 Once outside, students will count off in fours. 1s, 2s, and 3s are one side of the field. 4s are on the other. Space the two lines facing each other at least 20 yards apart. The width of the activity area should be slightly wider than the habitat line. The 4s will represent the deer. The 1s, 2s, 3s will be the habitat components. When a deer needs to find food, it will hold its hands over its stomach. When a deer needs water, it will hold its hands over its mouth. When a deer needs shelter, it will hold its hands over its head like a roof. A deer can choose to look for any of its needs in each round, but cannot change its mind after turning around to face the "habitat". The 2s, 3s, and 4s represent the habitat. At the beginning of each round, each member of the habitat will choose to be food, or water, or shelter, using the same hand signals to represent the different components of a habitat. All students line up with their backs to the middle of the field. The teacher directs the students to make their signs: habitat and deer-needs. At the signal, all students turn and face the other side, keeping their signals clearly visible. Each deer must move quickly to the habitat without running and tag a student that is showing the sign for the habitat component for which they are looking: water, food or shelter. If the deer succeeds in obtaining its habitat needs, it lives to reproduce and the habitat student it "tagged" returns with the deer to the start the next round as a deer. If the deer does not "tag" a resource, it dies and becomes part of the habitat. Habitats not tagged stay in the habitat line for another round and may choose to be a different component the next round. Continue for 15 rounds. At around round 8 or 9, introduce a wolf. The wolf must hop on one leg to reduce chance of injury via collision. A deer may only be tagged on the way to the habitat resources. When tagged, the killed deer must be escorted to the den. The killed deer then becomes a wolf. If a wolf fails to make a kill, it dies and becomes part of the habitat. 3. As the play proceeds, keep track (in a table) of the number of deer and subsequently, wolves. Students will use this data to create a graph showing the rise and fall of the deer population. If possible, keep track of the number of habitat players as a number above the deer line. That shows the reduction of abiotic factors (water, shelter). 4. At the end of 15 rounds, have the students complete the lab report. 5. Once the lab reports are complete, post the graphs on a wall where all the students can see all the graphs. Discuss the following: How did the limiting factors control the population growth? Ask the students what the carrying capacity is for this forest. Ask the students to predict what would happen if the wolf population was killed off. (the deer population would increase dramatically) If the wolves were eliminated, what limiting factor would like have the greatest impact on the deer population? (The increased deer population would consume the available food resources and deer would begin to die due to starvation) 6. Return to the classroom and complete the lab report. Teacher note: On the post lab follow up, question 4 is flexible, depending on what happened in the activity. If the wolves overpopulate, ask what will happen to the wolf population next? If the wolves die off, ask what will happen to deer next?

3 Suggested Evaluation: 1. SWBAT list the basic needs of animals (food, water, shelter, and adequate space). 2. SWBAT define limiting factors and provide three examples. (limiting factors prevent the continued growth of a population; examples: predators, drought, disease, habitat loss, pollution, hunting, reduced dietary items, weather, parasites, etc.) 3. Examine the graph: a. What happened to the population size between years 1 and 2? (declined) b. What happened to the population size between years 4 and 5? (increased) c. If the environmental conditions in year 9 are the same as occurred between years 2 and 3, what can you expect to happen to the population between years 8 and 9? Why? (The environmental conditions were favorable between years 2 and 3 and the population increased. The population is on the rise from years 6 to 8, but the population in year 8 is still at or below the population at year 2. With similar favorable conditions as between years 2 to 3, the population should continue to increase into year 9.) Population Size Year 4. In which of the following graphs is the death rate of the population equal to the birth rate? Why? (The first graph, because there is no change in population. For every individual born, one individual dies.) Population Size Population Size Time Time Extending the Lesson: 1. Contact the SCDNR for current deer population data in the state, including estimated birth rates and registered hunting kills. Research the predators of deer and map the current ranges of deer and their predators. Do they overlap? Ask students to predict whether they think current deer populations are

4 higher or lower than at the time natural predators were present in South Carolina. Provide students with data from insurance companies regarding vehicle/deer collisions, including property damage and human injury or death. Provide examples of deer/human conflict in communities, specifically licensed personnel hired to cull the herd. Have students research the topic and debate one side or the other. 2. Research how Native Americans, in addition to eating the deer, used various parts of the animal to make clothing and tools. Resources: 1. Project Wild. Western Regional Environmental Education Council, Inc

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