Island Biogeography with skittles species

Skittles are problematic. They are totally disgusting as a food item. Even during the set up for an in-class activity on migration to islands, my stomach was churning. Sticky, sweet, chewy but hard. I just can’t. But…they do come in 5 colours and there are hundreds in a bag, so skittle species were the obvious way forward today in class. Here are some happy little skittles who recently migrated out to sea. Some landed safely on islands near to (center) or far from (left) the mainland (just outside the right edge of the picture).

Skittle bowling alley 2016-01-26 11.16.20.jpg

The point? I’d just given a lecture, with powerpoint slides and everything, on the equilibrium theory of island biogeography. And nothing is more initially obvious yet deceptively nuanced than a lecture on this. So many details, so many easy to overlook assumptions that underlie the model, so many rates that intersect. So we played a game on the sidewalk (in the wind) to see if they could reproduce the “rules” of dispersal using five species of skittles. Eventually, yes, I think they did! I’ll check in tomorrow to find out if they can reproduce that dispersal is random with respect to species in this model.

Meanwhile, I have 6 bags of dirty skittles in my dormitory. Anyone interested in taking those off my hands? If not, the nightmare continues…skittles are problematic.

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