Students will play a game in order to learn about predator-prey relationships, a simple food chain, and the coral reef ecosystem. Students will act the parts of various reef fishes, to explore the relationship between predators and their prey. When the lights are on, damselfish emerge from hiding in the reef to forage for food. At night, however, individual damselfish race against one another to find shelter in the reef. Damselfish that do not successfully find refuge at night may be eaten by nocturnally feeding squirrelfish. Squirrelfish do not come out to eat during the day for fear of being eaten by their predators, large emperors. These predator-prey relationships are altered as the coral reef habitat is damaged by pollution throughout the game.
A follow-up PowerPoint is available on the MCR LTER education website to emphasize the concepts introduced in this lesson in a more formal format.