Date of Award:

5-2020

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Mathematics and Statistics

Committee

Luis F. Gordillo

Committee

Brynja Kohler

Committee

Yan Sun

Abstract

This paper presents a three-part lesson plan to improve student’s understanding of Holling’s type II functional response model. This model describes the interaction between a predator and how much it is able to consume given a constant number of prey. According to the model, while increased availability of prey allows predators to consume portionately more prey for low values, after some number of prey, predators will only be able to capture a limited number of prey even as the prey continues to increase. This phenomenon is known as saturation. Holling first develop this important ecological theory through his “disc experiment” which used an artificial predator-prey system. As students progress through this lesson they will attend a lecture based on the mathematical theory underlying the model, participate in a hands-on replication of Holling’s disc experiment using marshmallows, and then reiterate the experiment using a computer program that simulates the functional response phenomena. Throughout this lesson, students will gain important experiences in mathematical modeling and a deeper understanding of saturation.

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