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POPULATIONS
Introduction activity
Suppose that one pair of rabbits comes to the school, like what they see, and decide to mate
there. One pair can produce six offspring each year. Assume that males and females are equally
balanced, that all the members of a generation reproduce each year, and that no rabbits die.
Calculate how many offspring will be produced each year for 4 years.

Year
2015
2016
2017
2018

Rabbit offspring
produced
6

Consider this: if in 2014 the population starts with 2, that
one mating pair will produce 6 offspring. Those 6 offspring
will be able to make 3 mating pairs. How many offspring
will they make if each pair produces 6 offspring? Repeat
this pattern to fill in the table.

1) Show your calculations here

What if this pattern continues for 10 years…
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1-J5QRsZjtee1FQ78_V7_33TL_2oeuJ8VVI5G8X52ao8/pub

2) Does this pattern look realistic? Why or why not? What things are not being taken into
consideration?

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Quest #1: How populations grow
For the introduction activity, no factors that affect the rabbits at the school are being considered. So
what do we need to know about how populations grow in order to make realistic predictions about
populations?
To answer most of these questions, go to this slide show presentation. If a question has its own link,
click to investigate.
1) What are the three important characteristics of a population?

2) What is population density? How do we measure it?

3) What units might we use to measure the density of the population in your town?

4) Some populations can grow rapidly, some slowly, and others remain level. What are three factors
that can affect population size?

5) If the population of mountain lions in the Santa Monica Mountains is changed by 3 deaths and 8
births, what will be the new population size? What are the two biggest threats to this population?

6) What do we call movement of individuals into an area? What about moving out of a population?

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7) If individuals in a population reproduce at a constant rate, we call this…

For questions 8-11, follow the link exponential growth
8) How do we describe the shape of the graph for exponential growth?

9) What is the mathematical model for exponential growth? What do the variables represent? What
is happening when r<1, r=1, and r>1?

10) What are the patterns for number of individuals, population growth rate, and rate of change of
population growth rate during exponential growth?

11) Why is the exponential population growth model unrealistic? Consider competition, and the
factors that may change death rates.

12) You learned that while populations may begin with exponential growth, it does not continue
because of several factors, such as limited resources. What do we call the more realistic model of
growth? What is the shape of the curve that represents this?

13) What are some of the limitations? When the population stops growing it has reached its…

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14) Give examples of factors that may slow down population growth

15) What things were we not considering when we calculated the number of rabbits that will be born
at the school each year?

Quest #2: Follow-up for how populations grow
Check out these interactive tools.
These two activities will demonstrate exponential growth. For both activities, answer the questions as
you go. Monitor the population of zebra mussels that are introduced into Lake Ontario, and make
predictions about bacteria growing in a bottle.

Zebra mussels
1) Which professor do you think is making the right prediction? Why?

2) Which variable did you put on the x-axis of the graph (independent)? The y-axis (dependent)?

3) The number of individuals added each new year:

4) Which professor made the correct prediction? How is the population growth like a bomb?

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5) What is the equation for the exponential growth model?
You do not need to do the teleconference activity. Stop there.

Bacteria Growing in a Bottle
1) What time was the bottle half full?

2) If you were one of the bacteria, when do you suppose you'd start to worry about overcrowding?
Would that leave you enough time to do anything about it?

3) Now imagine that just before 12:00, we bring in three more bottles. If we can help the bacteria to
spill over into the other bottles, they'll have four times as much space as they've ever had before!
How much time after 12:00 do you think this will give them?

4) How does the increase in automobiles compare to the increase in population?

5) Use the Rule of 70 to find how long it will take for the number of students at school to double if it
increases by 5% every year

6) How does this apply to the use of petroleum?

7) What is the predicted world population in 2028? In 2054?

These two activities will demonstrate logistic growth. One example is a fish population in a lake. The
other is graphing and analyzing the bison population of Yellowstone Park. For the bison population
activity:




Click this link to go to the website
Select High School Science, California, find your book
Click on Biology 2010
Click on Data Analysis under Activities

Click on Chapter 14: Graph and analyze the bison population of Yellowstone Park.

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Fish population
1) How would you describe the rate of growth in the fish population?

2) A growth rate is a rate of change. What is an analogy for this? dN/dt equals the rate of change, or
on a graph, the ___________ of the function.

3) What does the constant K stand for?

4) What is the carrying capacity of the lake?

5) Skip to the summary activity. What are the properties of Logistic growth? Exponential growth?

Bison Population of Yellowstone Park
1) What type of graph did you choose?

2) What did you put on the x-axis? The y-axis?

3) In what year did the mountain bison population reach its carrying capacity?

4) Describe the population trends from:
a) 1902-1936
b) 1936-1957
c) 1957-1968

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5) What might explain the population trend between 1957 and 1968?

Quest #3: Limits to growth
What factors limit population growth? You have been introduced to this in Quests 1 and 2. Now we will
expand. Follow the instructions for a simulation of populations responding to these factors.
This link takes you to the same website you used for the bison population activity. Follow these
directions to go to Chapter 14: What Limits Population Growth





Click this link to go to the website
Select High School Science, California, find your book
Click on Biology 2010
Click on Animated Biology
Click on Unit 5: Ecology, and Chapter 14: What Limits Population Growth

To answer the following questions, refer to this limiting factors document
1) Growth, abundance, or distribution of an organism or a population of organisms in an ecosystem is
controlled by

2) Define density-independent limiting factors. Give six examples.

3) Define density-dependent limiting factors. Give four examples

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4) From the article “Yellow Perch in Lake Winnipeg,” identify and describe density-independent
limiting factors

5) From the article, identify and describe density-independent limiting factors

Watch this video on predator-prey relationships.

1) Does the relation described apply only to predator/prey relations? Explain

2) Explain the pyramid analogy

3) Describe coevolution

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4) Describe mimicry

Quest 4: Human Population Growth

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Follow these steps for another link:




Click this link to go to the website
Select High School Science, California, find your book
Click on Biology 2010
Click on Animated Biology
Click on Unit 5: Ecology, and Chapter 16: Human Population over Time

Watch this video When will we run out of space? Human Population Growth

For questions 1-2, refer to What Is Demographic Transition?
1) Define demography. What factors are taken into account? What is demographic transition?

2) What are the three stages of demographic transition?

3) Does the rise in human population since the industrial revolution resemble exponential growth or
logistic growth? Refer to previous Quests. Is this growth rate going to continue for the next 25 years?
The next 50 years? If not, what will it look like, what will be the change? Do your own independent
research to come up with explanations

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Check the current world population
4) What is the current world population when you first check the site? Keep track of the population
change for one minute. What was the rate of growth/minute? Calculate how many will be born in an
hour.

5) Pick three countries and give the population, population density, fertility rate, and global rank.

6) How has the population changed from 1970? How long will it take for today’s population to
double?

7) What is the current growth rate? When was it at its maximum, and what was the level?

8) Choose a country(s), region(s), religious group(s), or other such organizing category to research.
Begin with this page and explore elsewhere. Write an essay (400 words minimum) to describe the
pattern(s) you see. Will the current change continue at that rate? What are the factors that will
contribute to the future outcome? Cite resources, and do not plagiarize.