Many ecological processes unfold over large areas and long time periods—which makes them a bear to study and a challenge for students to visualize. To see ecology in action, try this collection of more than 20 teaching simulations created by programmer Ginger Booth and ecologists Os Schmitz and Dave Skelly of Yale University.
The modules explore classic problems such as the interlocked fluctuations of predator and prey populations, as well as more complicated ecosystem dynamics, such as the effects of climate and moose browsing on a forest. Another set of simulations probes human impact on the environment. For example, students can play town council members who must save the species inhabiting a chaparral ecosystem in fast-growing Southern California. The creators request a small donation from teachers who assign the simulations.