Predator—prey dynamics are an important concept in ecology, often serving as an introduction to the field of community ecology. However, these dynamics are difficult for students to observe directly. We describe a methodology that employs model caterpillars made of clay to estimate rates of predator attack on a prey species. This approach can be implemented as a field laboratory in almost any natural or seminatural setting, and is designed to allow educators to pursue any number of student-generated hypotheses representing varying degrees of scientific sophistication ranging from middle school to college level.
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Vol. 75 • No. 1