Optimal foraging theory explains that organisms whose foraging is as energetically efficient as possible should be favored by natural selection. However, many individuals must exhibit trade-offs between foraging and other factors in their environment (i.e., predation risk, competitive interactions). We present a hands-on activity for undergraduates using just a deck of cards, bingo chips, and dice to introduce ecological concepts of foraging theory, predator—prey interactions, and energy trade-offs. Specifically, this activity will focus on optimal foraging theory and giving-up density. Students should gain an understanding of how organisms balance predation risk and competitive interactions with energetic demands. Further, this activity can be scaled for nonmajors and introductory courses to introduce general ecological concepts, or for upper-division courses to explore advanced topics in foraging theory.
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Vol. 77 • No. 9