SimBio Virtual Labs
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Exercise 4. Experimental Tanks
are useful for studying large-scale questions. In contrast, you will see that
are particularly useful for short-term experiments on one or a small number of
individual organisms at a time. They mimic the controlled laboratory setups ecologists might use, for
example, to study food preference, feeding rate, and other aspects of individual behavior.
To mimic the conditions of these short-term experiments, the organisms you add to your tanks will
neither reproduce nor die. In addition, phytoplankton in the
do not move.
Remember this as you design your experiments!
Your Experimental Tools
[ 1 ]
SELECT AN EXERCISE
in the upper left-hand
corner of the screen.
[ 2 ]
panel at the bottom of the screen. As with the previous exercise, you can add
individuals to the tank in any combination and examine gut contents. Observe the
box. Your experiments last only a few hours rather than weeks.
[ 4 ]
For short-term experiments, you might want to take advantage of the
button on the
. This moves the simulation forward one hour at a time. You can use this feature, for
example, to follow the feeding behavior of one individual over time.
[ 5 ]
To clean out your experimental tank and start over with a new experiment, click the
ton on the
What you do with these tools will depend on the questions prompted by your previous experiments,
observations, and findings. Again, to familiarize you with the setup, here is one example of something
you could do in an
. To give you an idea of how you can use the experimental tank
to study behavior, you will conduct a study to determine how long it takes an individual
catch a green algae cell.
[ 1 ]
Add one green algae cell to the tank, and add one
right next to it.
[ 2 ]
button so that you can examine gut contents.
[ 3 ]
Advance the model one time-step by clicking on the
[ 4 ]
If the green algae disappears, click on the
and see if it has anything in its gut. If not, keep
advancing the model one hour at a time until the
gut shows that it ate algae.
[ 4.1 ]
Record the number of time-steps required for the
to eat the algae.