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In this activity, students will play the role of a field biologist quantifying and explaining animal behavior using the scientific method (observation – hypothesis – prediction – test). Powerpoint slides contain a series of photos of scavengers at deer carcasses. Students will form hypotheses about the behavioral interactions in the photos, then make predictions that could be used to test their hypothesis. To follow up on their predictions, students will be given data gathered in Oregon and Washington between 2011 and 2017, which will allow them to test whether quantitative observations support their predictions, and help them to better understand scavenger behavior. The exercise allows students to learn core concepts in ecology, including scavenging, competition, mutualism, and social information exchange using self-directed, active learning. It also helps them to better understand how science works by adopting the role of scientists making observations, forming predictions, and testing hypotheses.
Associated files
Temporal and geographic description 2011-2017. Pacific Northwest United States.
Primary or BEN resource type
Secondary resource type
General Biology Core Concepts
Discipline Specific Core Concepts
General Biology Competencies
Life science discipline (subject)
Keywords scavenger, competition, mutualism, social information
Key taxa raptors, corvids, coyotes
Intended End User Role
Educational Language
Pedagogical Use Category
Pedagogical Use Description This exercise can be used for students to think critically and engage in ecological concepts including competition, mutualism, and social information transfer, and to practice hypothesis testing. Higher level students also have the option of analyzing data in Excel to test their predictions.
Uniqueness The material is inherently engaging to students because it contains scavenging and charismatic animals fighting. However, it also contains a surprising discovery of hidden mutualism. Student engagement is encouraged by making and testing predictions and, if desired, analyzing data.
Aggregation Level
Full Name of Primary Author Matthew R. Orr
Primary Author Controlled Name
Primary Author Affiliation OSU-Cascades
Primary Author email
Added By Id
  • mattorr4
Submitter Name Matthew Orr
Submitter Email
Rights NA. The data set is currently submitted to Animal Behaviour and uploaded on Mendeley, but no entity currently has rights to it.
Review type
Drought and Water Ecosystem Services Collection Off
Conservation Targets Under Global Change Collection Off
Big Data Collection Off
Editors Choice No
Resource Status
Date Of Record Submission 2018-10-24
I Agree to EcoEdDL's Copyright Policy & Terms of Use No
Date Of Record Release 2019-01-23 18:16:08
Last Modified By Id
  • JJohnston
Date Last Modified 2021-11-22 06:37:09
Release Flag Published

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