Past Participant Survey
Challenge Team Interim Report
Team Number: 030
School Name: Bosque Preparatory School
Area of Science: Environmental Sciences
Project Title: Modeling Black Bear Populations
New Mexico is unique for its weather. Because of that, we are faced with many droughts, long and short during our hot unrelenting summers. One consequence of these droughts has been a decrease of food in wildlife reserves. In the fall, bears need to substantially increase their body fat for hibernation. Bears from the Rocky Mountains have been seen wandering around streets and houses searching for food and shelter when they could not find enough in the wild. We chose this project because we felt that perhaps the media was overplaying the bear situation. We wanted to see how rare it would be that a bear would come in contact with a residential area. We tailored that idea to simulating the effects of a growing residential area on a Rocky Mountain bear population.
To do this, we had to be able to create an accurate model of a bear population and add variables to it that would simulate the effects of a growing residential area. To create such a model, we had to study and combine modeling and simulation methods to accurately create a mathematical representation of a real situation. Variables such as harvesting, range/territory size, and carrying capacity of the land will be incorporated into the program for the purpose of accuracy. We had to write a program, a foundation, which was a simple model to simulate an unrestricted population of bears. This population model is known as a Malthusian Model. We will then add variables to the existing program, creating sub-programs where necessary, and keep it as simple and user-friendly as possible. Our program will grow and be changed until it reaches the point where it is able to produce data for a bear population that is impacted by a loss of territory. We also need to do extensive research on the bears to make sure that our program is accurate. Then we need to find values to test our program based on the data. All the while we need to make sure that we didn't loose ourselves in the program or the user, so we were constantly looking for the most "user-friendly" route to writing the program.
Progress to Date:
We have collected some information on the bear population in New Mexico and we have a C++ program that computes bear populations including variables for growth rate, carrying capacity, hunting, and habitat loss. We evolved the program from a simple population model. It first started out with a Malthusian Model, which became a logistic model and from there we added variables and made it more complicated. The bear population information we have gathered has come from the New Mexico Game and Fish Department. From this information, we will pull out the necessary information, and then later use it as input to our program. Our program is currently a logistic growth model with hunting and carrying capacity decline. This program also writes the output to a file.
Currently, our team is defining and extracting values from our data. We intend to input the values into the program to allow us to compare the data produced by the program to real life statistics. When fully completed, our program will be able to accurately simulate a bear population in the Rocky Mountains. We will have added variables that would simulate the impact of a growing residential area into the program. During the process of making our program specifically about bears, we will have made the program moldable to almost any living thing. We will create an export file for the data that will display it tabular form as well as graphically.
- Geoffrey Comber
- Hal Meyer