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Population Biology

Activity Description

This lesson sketches out this class and the next on basic ecology.  It is divided into three sections: population, community, and ecosystems ecology.  The latter two are covered next lesson.

This lesson focuses on population biology: the factors that affect a population’s growth and decline.  The four general factors are births, deaths, immigration and emigration.

Estimated Time of Activity: 1.5 hrs

Activity Objectives

Students will be able do the following as a result of the activity:

  • Understand the domains of population, community and ecosystems ecology.
  • Know what causes a population to grow or decline, and the concept of carrying capacity
  • Understand the differences between exponential growth and logistic growth]
  • Know why wildlife scientists study populations and how they change over time

Activity Prerequisites

Basic algebra re: graphs and linear equations

Prior lesson on species concepts

Activity Instructions

  1. This lesson is 90% lecture, however there are a few points at which students should participate.  After looking at some photos of different organisms (lion and banana; lion and cougar, etc.), they should spend some time thinking of their own species concept.  This introduces the BSC in the next section.
  2. They should also participate during the slides of the population growth.  It is tempting for a teacher who understands what is going on to present the population growth tables and the graphs quickly, but this is not a good idea.  Students need to realize that the growth table is a matter of simple multiplication (i.e., that the resulting line is a product of a simple equation: N x death rate x birth rate).  The teacher should walk them through the first few years of the table and then show the graph.


The population biology worksheet (PopBioWS.doc) can be completed for homework or in class.  This is taken from:


PowerPoint (link coming soon)

Pop Bio Worksheet