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Wetland Curriculum Resource
Unit 3. Ecology - Activities

4 :: Food Webs)

Purpose: To simulate predator/prey relationships in a wetland, and recognize various adaptations that increase survival.

What You Need: tubers or other type of plant food (markers - 3 per prey species) :: 5-6 lily pads (hula hoops) :: 5-7 coloured vests or arm bands

What You Do:

  1. Select the predator and prey species for the activity from the following list. The students simulate the mode of locomotion of the species selected. Actions to represent each of the modes can be decided by the students. Designate students as either prey or predator. Ensure that for every predator there are at least 5 prey (1:5 ratio).

  2. Prey Species
    leopard frog (hops)
    Great Blue Heron (flies)
    fish (swims)
    mink (runs)
    dragonfly (flaps hands & buzzes)
    bullfrog (hops)
    snake (slithers)
    Marsh Hawk (soars)
    duck (waddles)
    snapping turtle (crawls)

  3. The playing area, or "wetland" should be large enough to allow the class to run freely without the possibility of running into each other. Designate one end of the wetland as a stand of cattails which provides ample shelter for animals. Designate the other end of the wetland as a large patch of arrowhead which provides a sufficient food source for animals. In between the cattail and the arrowhead are randomly placed hula hoops which represent lily pads for additional shelter and protection.
  4. Place the tubers (markers) in the arrowhead patch (3 per prey involved). The predators put on the coloured vests or arm bands so they are recognized.
  5. The simulation begins with the blow of a whistle. At this time, all prey species are in the cattails. The predators are randomly distributed throughout the wetland. The prey and predators begin simulating the actions of the animal they are representing. The prey species need to move to the arrowhead patch to obtain food. If they arrive, they take 1 tuber and then return to the cattails. They require 3 tubers to survive. They however can be caught by predators as they make their journey to the food source and/or back to shelter. If they are approached by a predator, they can avoid detection by either standing perfectly still to camouflage themselves, or finding a lily pad to hide under (place a foot in it). A prey is caught when a predator tags it. Each predator must capture 2 prey in order to survive. Captured prey are taken to the "boardwalk" which surrounds the wetland and remain there until the activity is over. A time limit of 5-7 minutes is recommended per round in order to maintain interest from all participants.
  6. Record the number of prey captured each round.
  7. Once finished, start again using a different set of prey and predators, and have students reverse their roles.
  8. Discuss the following questions with the students regarding the activity.


  1. Why is there a greater ratio of prey to predators?
  2. Which method of eluding a predator did you use most often? Why?
  3. Why are adaptations important to predators?
  4. What are the three styles used by predators to hunt for prey? How were the predators in the game limited by the style they used?

Click here to see the answers to these questions.
Click here to see the list of activities for this unit.


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