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Transcript
Theory of Island Biogeography Activity
Objective
In this activity, we will be simulating the theory of island biogeography. We will be observing how habitat
size, distance from the mainland, and dispersal mechanisms influence potential for colonization and
species richness on various islands
Materials
 Masking tape
 3 pieces of poster
board
 5 clothespins



5 beads
5 toothpicks
5 beans


5 cotton balls
5 pennies
Procedure
1. In the superlab, create a mainland and ocean by taping off a shoreline boundary
2. Take two pieces of poster board and label them Island 1 and Island 2. These represent large
islands. Cut the third piece of poster board in half, and label the pieces Island 3 and Island 4. These
represent small islands.
3. Place the “islands” in the “ocean” at the following distances from your “shoreline”
 Island 1 is located close to the mainland, approximately 1-2 meters from the tape
 Island 2 is located far from the mainland, approximately 3-4 meters from the tape
 Island 3 is located close to the mainland, approximately 1-2 meters from the tape
 Island 4 is located far from the mainland, approximately 3-4 meters from the tape
4. The 5 clothespins, 5 beads, 5 toothpicks, 5 beans, 5 cotton balls and 5 pennies represent 30
individuals from 6 different species that will be attempting to colonize the islands
5. Beginning with Island 1, attempt to colonize the island by tossing the 5 individuals of each species
toward the island. If the individual lands on the poster board, then it lives on to reproduce and
colonize the island. If it does not, then the organism drowns in the water
6. Record how many of each species land on the island in the data table.
7. Send out a “search and rescue” team to recover all 30 individuals
8. Repeat the procedure for Island 2, then Island 3 and then finally Island 4.
Data
# of
Clothespins
Island 1
Island 2
Island 3
Island 4
Rate the
effectiveness
of dispersal on
a scale of 1-5
# of
Beads
# of
Toothpicks
# of
Cotton Balls
# of
Beans
Analysis Questions
1. Which island had the greatest number and variety of species? Did your results model the theory of
island biogeography?
2. Were all “species” able to disperse effectively? Give some examples of organisms that would be
more likely to colonize an island and examples of species that would be unable to disperse to an
island
3. Habitat fragmentation due to deforestation and road construction can create terrestrial islands.
Therefore the theory of island biogeography is becoming increasingly significant when
considering conservation efforts.
A. What is an ecological reserve?
B. Explain how the theory of island biogeography could be applied when creating ecological
reserves