Module 2: Forest

EcoMUVE Module 2 represents a northern hardwood forest ecosystem. Students visit two different forested islands on 10 different dates over about fifty years. While exploring the plants and animals that live in the forest ecosystem, students learn about individual, population, and community levels in ecosystems.

Students realize the importance of these relationships among organisms when the introduction of deer to the two islands leads to very different effects. After deer arrive, one island has a lot of vegetation, is rich in insect diversity, and has many birds. The second island has little vegetation and seems to lack many of the organisms that depend on the understory vegetation as habitat. By monitoring changes over time, students learn that these two islands look so different due in large part to the relationship between deer and their primary predator, the grey wolf.

Students work in teams to visit the two islands over a span of fifty years to see how the populations and forest structure change on each island over time. The interface and tools are based on those of the first module – students use a camera tool and field guide, collect environmental and population measurements, shrink to view organisms at microscopic levels, talk to NPCs, and travel in time. Other tools in development include tree ring sampling, animal scat analysis, and an interactive food web.