Limiting Factors/Evolution Game
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Limiting Factors/Evolution Game

Amy Quillen and Gail Corey

Target age or ability group: High school.
Class time required: One class period.
Materials and equipment: Photo copies of game board

Tokens

Summary of activity: The success of a population is dependent on the limiting factors impacting on its environment. A limiting factor may be abiotic or biotic. These critical factors may restrict an organism in its development and productivity. This activity is design to help students understand how limiting factors may have directed evolutionary pathways. Because of the speculation regarding the evolution of marine mammals, we have taken the liberty to create a series of scenarios involving land and marine mammals only.

At the completion of this activity students should be able to apply what they have learned to current environmental problems:

Students will understand the relationship between limiting factors and evolution.

Students will be able to hypothesize possible evolutionary pathways for modern day organisms.

Students will be able to construct their own phylogenic tree.

Students will be able to identify biotic and abiotic limiting factors.

Students will be able to discuss the theory of common descent and divergent evolution

Students will be able to hypothesize the impact of today's environmental problems on sustainable development.

Prior knowledge, concepts or vocabulary necessary to complete activity: Before you begin this activity students should have an understanding of the following concepts: limiting factor, abiotic, biotic, evolution, phylogenic tree, common descent, divergent, convergent, sustainable development, biotic potential, environmental resistance.
Teacher instructions: 1. Cut out mammal tokens and scenario cards in advance.

2. Divide the students into groups of no more than five.

3. Have each student select a mammal from the phylogenic "board" provided.

Game Rules

4. Play begins with a student selecting a card from the pile. If the card does not relate to the student's mammal, he or she loses a turn, which passes to the next individual. Note: a few cards will apply to both land and marine mammals. Once a card is selected, it is returned to the bottom of the pile.

5. The game ends when the first student has evolved into his or her chosen mammal.

Recommen-
dations:
Time should be taken to discuss the various scenarios that appear on the cards. That is, identify the limiting factors. Is this scenario plausible, etc.?

You may wish to stop the game after ten minutes play to model the scenario discussion. This sets the stage for later student group discussion.

An increase in atmospheric CO2 causes an increase in phytoplankton in the ocean. This increases the fish population (your food supply).

Evolve 1 Space

Congratulations! You've evolved to the point where you have lungs! If you will eventually be a marine mammal,

Evolve 2 Spaces

A meteor has created a nuclear winter. The added insulation provided by your fur has increased your chance for survival. If you are a land mammal…

Evolve 2 Spaces

As a marine mammal you are having difficulty "deciding" whether life as a reptile was better.


Regress 1 Space

As a result of tectonic movement your desert habitat has become a rain forest. You fail to adapt.


Regress 1 Space

Your species has contributed to the biodiversity of the land mammal population.


Evolve 2 Spaces

Increased CO2 in the atmosphere has melted the polar ice caps, decreasing the ocean's salinity and upsetting the osmotic balance of your food supply (small plankton). If you live in the sea…

Regress 2 Spaces

An El Niño has created a major upwelling event within your aquatic environment reducing the temperature of your favorite feeding area and killing off many of the species that you feed on.

Regress 1 Space

Due to the flatulence ("gas") of a group of dinosaurs, the increase in methane has contributed to higher carbon dioxide levels. Land mammals…

Regress 1 Space

Because of the continued good work of the autotrophs, all oxygen breathing land animals…


Evolve 1 Space

A volcanic eruption on Skull Mountain has distributed ash on all the land vegetation.


Regress 2 Spaces

A sulfur spring has been releasing sulfur ions into the atmosphere contributing to acid rain. Your marine mammal cannot tolerate the low pH.

Regress 2 Spaces

A herd of Apatosaurus have uprooted so many trees that erosion has caused many of the waterways to become shallow. Marine mammals…

Regress 1 Space

An abundance of food in the ocean has increased the biotic potential of your species.

Evolve 1 Space

You are a winner in the Darwin gene pool.



Evolve 2 Spaces

An increase in the population of krill has brought different species into your area of the ocean. Your ability to compete allows you to evolve to the next level.

Evolve 1 Space

You have the ability to give birth to live young. Since you need not "worry" about egg snatchers,


Evolve 1 Space

An increase in C02 has contributed to an increase in land vegetation. Land mammals …


Evolve 1 Space

A decrease in temperatures has caused freezing of the polar ice caps. Land mass has increased. If you live on land,

Evolve 3 Spaces

There has been a decrease in temperature. A land mammal's ability to increase its metabolic rate to produce the heat needed to maintain body temperature allows you to…

Evolve 3 Spaces

A decrease in temperatures has caused freezing of the polar ice caps. Land mass has increased. If you live on land,

Evolve 3 Spaces

There has been a decrease in temperature. A land mammal's ability to increase its metabolic rate to produce the heat needed to maintain body temperature allows you to…

Evolve 3 Spaces

A sulfur spring has been releasing sulfur ions into the atmosphere contributing to acid rain. Land vegetation in your niche has been destroyed.

Regress 1 Space

The salinity in your ocean increased due to a long period of increased temperature. These stresses reduce reproductive capacity. Marine mammals …

Regress 1 Space

Your food supply is successful and provides you with a stable food supply for a long period of time.


Evolve 4 Spaces

Your water environment filters out much of the solar radiation before it gets to you.


Evolve 3 Spaces

Volcanoes are erupting all over the earth's surface, but you are relatively unaffected due to the buffering effect of your ocean.

Evolve 2 Spaces

Your ability to filter feed on krill using your baleen allows you to eat lower down on the food chain (a helpful adaptation).

Evolve 3 Spaces

The loss of your legs has made you more streamlined. This increases your swimming speed and hence your success as a species.

Evolve 2 Spaces

Your forelimbs have broadened, making you a much better swimmer.



Evolve 2 Spaces

On to Using Concept Maps to Teach Evolution
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