Team Number:024


School Name: Bosque School


Area of Science: Environmental Science


Project Title: Modeling the Predators of New Mexico

Problem Definition:

Now that Wolves have been re introduced into New Mexico and other states, it becomes important to predict fluctuations in this predatory species population size.  Confrontations continue to exist between ranchers who see wolves as a threat, and environmentalists who feel that they will restore the natural balance of a predator prey relationship to the ecosystem.  Devolving a program that will estimate the growth rate among the wolf population should help these politically opposed groups to understand the reality of this situation.


Problem Solution:

In order to solve this problem, it will require many variables affecting population growth be defined. Most importantly are; the size a litter of pups, the number of males and females in the initial population, the average death rate, as well as food availability which is in turn related to birth and death rate.


Progess to Date:

So far, we’ve learned in the past ten years the population of reintroduced wolves is decreasing. This damages the efforts to reestablish the equilibrium between predator and prey species. Scientists believe that the successful reintroduction of this predator species is important for the existing species of New Mexico to survive. According to the International Wolf Center, wolves breed from February to March, their gestation period is around 63 days, and a liter of pups average from four to six (“ wolf population” 1996 ). Each pack typically only has one liter and this depends on the abundance of prey in their territory (“ wolf population” 1996 ). Mexican wolf telemetry data for 1998-2001 shows that wolf populations in the primary recovery zone as many as 97% of wolves have been recovered (paquet 2001). Although this information seems to contradict the idea that the reintroduced wolf population is declining more research needs to be done to correctly define the problem. The data on birth rates will be useful in writing our program. 

We have worked on defining the mathematical equation that will need to be programmed into Java. We have also downloaded BlueJ which us a Java development environment that will help us to write our program.

Expected Results:

We expect this program to allow the user to input variables for the population such as number of litters a year, litter size and abundance of prey in addition to individuals killed by humans. This will help us to develop a Java program that will produce a more realistic population size from year to year. If time allows we would like to have the program include a variable like rainfall that would relate to the abundance of prey available.

Paquet, Paul C., Mexican Wolf Recovery:Three Year Program Review and Assessment, Apple Valley, MN, University of Calgary and Conservation science, Inc., June 2001


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