Population dynamics of predator-prey relationships

Predation affects the population dynamics of both the predator and prey population. In this simulation you investigate predator-prey relationships over time and compare your findings with laboratory and field study results.

First work individually. Click the Simulation button in the bottom right corner. Familiarize with the simulation and the variables. Work out a trend that can be observed in the population cycles of predator and prey species and interpret the results if you change different variables.

Then pair up with a partner. Take it in turns to outline your results. Work out general model-based equations and principles of predator-prey relationships over time that can be concluded from the simulation. Eventually, evaluate pros and cons of data obtained in the laboratory, in a field study and in a computer based simulation.

 Weblink: Predator-Prey Simulation (you need to use the Google Chrome browser for this simulation).


Die Bedrohung von heimischen Eschepopulationen durch eine invasive Pilzart

Ein Beitrag des WDR5 Wissenschaftsmagazins vom 1.6.2016 lautete „Auch die Esche stirbt weg – Aber es gibt Hoffnung“. Auf der Grundlage des Beitrags lässt sich die Arbeit zu ökologischen Auswirkungen invasiver Arten auf lokale Populationen zusammenfassen und vertiefen:

WDR5 Leonardo Podcast vom 1.6.2016 [hier klicken]

Aufgabe: Fasst die zentralen Aussagen der Artikel mit Blick auf die Folgen der biologischen Invasion von Arten auf heimische Ökosysteme stichpunktartig zusammen und tauscht euch anschließend mit einem Partner darüber aus; leitet anschließend gemeinsam auf Grundlage bisheriger Unterrichtsinhalte begründet Folgen für das Ökosystem ab (für Schnelle: diskutiert zusätzlich sinnvolle Maßnahmen zur Stabilisierung der Eschepopulationen und begründet diese aus ökologischer Perspektive).

Partner A (eher allgemein gehaltene Artikel): 

WN – Artikel: Bäumen geht es etwas besser 

Spektrum- Artikel: Der Weltenbaum vergeht

Partner B (Fachartikel): 

Waldwissen: Sorgenkind Esche. Stand der wissenschaftlichen Erkenntnis.

Invasive species and their consequences for ecosystems

Invasive species take hold outside their native range.You want to research about examples of invasive species and the consequences for the ecosystem in which they become established.


You research about different examples of invasive species and focus in detail on one local example (Münsterland) as well as on one ‚global‘ example. Explain the consequences for that given ecosystem.

You create an online mind map/cluster on your topic with bubble.us or mindmapfree to visualize your results in a sensible way. Export the mind map as an image and send it via E-Mail/ save on a memory stick.


You design and give a talk on invasive species and the consequences of invasive species for ecosystems (based on your mind map / cluster).


How does interspecific competition affect population growth?

G.F. Cause, a Russian scientist, formulated the competitive exclusion principle in a classic series of experiments in the 1930s: If two species are competing for the same resource, the species with a more rapid growth rate will outcompete the other. Consequently, two species can not occupy the same niche.

Bildschirmfoto 2016-04-24 um 21.11.39This virtual lab is a brilliant exercise in making and testing hypothesis as well as interpreting experimental data with regard to a hypothesis/ question.

Complete the virtual lab „Population Biology“ provided by McGraw Hill: follow the procedure on the left and answer the questions in the journal (bottom row).


A Tale of Two Foxes. The 2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award.

The Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2015 Grand title winner [click here] beat 42,000 entries to win the wildlife photography award.

I Background of the 2015 award

If you wrote the last biology exam, research and read about the background of the photo. All others study the last exam’s materials. Get together and take it in turns to sum up the essential information.

II Arctic Foxes and Red Foxes: Ecological Factors and Principles

Imagine you’ve been invited to support the photographer during the award ceremony with a 3-5 minute talk (a faq on how to give an academic talk can be found here -the first 4 pages sum up essenatial advice- and here: How to give a scientific talk). In your talk you would like to illustrate aspects of the biological background of the photo with special regard to ecological principles that apply here.

If you’re interested in further details and reading, follow these links:

Fact Sheet: Arctic Foxes and Climate Change

Arctic fox versus red fox in the warming arctic

Nutrient and Mineral Cycles

All organisms require various nutrients besides energy. As you know, energy flows through an ecosystem and matter cycles in an ecosystem. For each element, the cycle can involve a reservoir, in which the nutrient is present, an exchange pool, which is the primary source of nutrients, and the biotic community, which consists of the organisms through which nutrients pass (click for an example).

Watch these animations and make an own labeled Carbon Cycle diagram

The Carbon Cycle animation I and The Carbon Cycle animation II.

Please note that the German terminology distinguishes nutrients (= Nährstoffe) and minerals (= Mineralstoffe).

The Nitrogen Cycle – Animation I

The Nitrogen Cycle – Animation II

The Phoshorus Cycle – Animation I

The Phosphorus Cycle – Animation II


Q1 Biology- Independent Learning: Liebig’s Law of the minimum and the intermediate disturbance hypothesis

Research about …

– … the intermediate disturbance hypothesis

– … Liebig’s law of the minimum

What are the consequences of Liebig’s law for populations in their habitat?

Why does -according to the intermediate disturbance hypothesis – a lower number of populations provide more stability for an ecosystem than the climax in the number of species in ecological successions? (here you need to look at figure 2 in your „Ecological successions“ handout)

Try to avoid Wikipedia as there are many different good resources on the internet. It’s also a good idea to begin your research with an image search (here for Liebig’s Law and here for the intermediate disturbance hypothesis). The advantage here is a simple idea: if a website provides high-quality images, it most likely contains (high-)quality content.

You need to be able to present/read out your ideas on Friday.

Introducing Ecology: How Wolves Change Rivers

In the Yellowstone National Park (USA) wolves had disappeared for a long time before they were put back into the park in 1995. The effects are stunning. Watch the film and discuss how ecological interactions (biotic and abiotic) affect the structure and organization of the ecosystem.