EcoBeaker®: Keystone Predator
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SimBio Virtual Labs®: EcoBeaker®
A diversity of strange-looking creatures makes their home in the tidal pools along the edge of rocky beaches. If you walk out on the rocks at low tide, you’ll see a colorful variety of crusty, slimy, and squishy-looking organisms scuttling along and clinging to rock surfaces. Their inhabitants may not be as glamorous as the megafauna of the Serengeti or the bird life of Borneo, but these “rocky intertidal” areas turn out to be great places to study community ecology.
An ecological community is a group of species that live together and interact with each other. Some species eat others, some provide shelter for their neighbors, and some compete with each other for food and/or space. These relationships bind a community together and determine the local community structure: the composition and relative abundance of the different types of organisms present. The intertidal community is comprised of organisms living in the area covered by water at high tide and exposed to the air at low tide.
This laboratory is based on a series of famous experiments that were conducted in the 1960’s along the rocky shore of Washington state, in the northwestern United States. Similar intertidal communities occur throughout the Pacific Northwest from Oregon to British Columbia in Canada. The nine species in this laboratory’s simulated rocky intertidal area include three different algae (including one you may have eaten