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The Floristic Relay: A game to teach plant community succession and disturbance dynamics.
Ortiz-Barney, Elena*,1, Stromberg, Juliet1, 1 Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ
ABSTRACT- I will demonstrate a board game designed to introduce the concept of disturbance dynamics in plant communities. There are several advantages to using a game for this purpose. First, games are familiar and engaging to the students. Second, the game reproduces and at the same time simplifies the complex interactions among plant species and the environment. Students explore the dynamics of an imaginary system through the rules and outcomes of the game. The objectives of the game are 1) to introduce the concepts of interspecific interaction and disturbance, 2) to teach students that different species respond differently to disturbance, and 3) show how these factors interact to create a dynamic plant community. To play the game, each student represents a different imaginary plant species. The species are classified by early vs late successional status and by the type of disturbance to which it responds. Each species moves across the playing board differently based on the events in the environment. The events are randomly drawn from a deck of cards. Interspecific interactions, encompassing competition, facilitation and tolerance, occur and the outcome of the interaction is also drawn randomly from a deck of cards. Students report on the dynamics and the outcome of the game. Students diagram the species composition at the end of the game. Students can discuss the veracity of the game as compared to real plant communities. They can also play a version of the game where they play the role of land manager by stacking the deck to increase or decrease the occurrence of different types of disturbance events or directly controlling the sequence of events to produce a desired result. Because imaginary plant species are used to play the game, there are no regional constraints on where the game can be played.
KEY WORDS: educational game, lesson, disturbance dynamics, succession