David Scott Smith-3/27/2013
This report discusses an experiment to study the relationship between the ecological niche and competition. The hypothesis formulated states that if competition traits are identical and resources are abundant than multiple species will be able to coexist, and if one species has an advantage over the others than this species will be more likely to out compete another species for resources. The objective of this experiment is to use a simulation model of a rabbit pen containing four different “species” of rabbits. The model establishes rules for each species that are based on a number of important characteristics reflecting their ecological niches and their competitive abilities. These characteristics include how far rabbits can see (to find food), how fast they can hop (to acquire food), how much energy they use each day just to stay alive, how much energy they must accumulate before reproducing, and how much energy they absorb from each type of food they eat. This simulation model is “parameterized” by assigning values to the variables for the rules. This experiment relates very closely to the competitive exclusion principle sometimes referred to as Gause's Law of competitive exclusion or just Gause's Law, which states that two species that compete for the exact same resources cannot stably coexist. One of the two competitors will always have an ever so slight advantage over the other that leads to extinction of the second competitor in the long run. Methods:
In this experiment, there was 4 different rabbit species (black, white, red, brown) that were competing over 1 resource (lettuce). The species had different characteristic settings that could be adjusted in the attempt to have all 4 species coexisting together. These characteristics include how far rabbits can see (to find food), how fast they can hop (to acquire food), how much energy they use each day just to stay alive, how much energy they must...
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