Elk Population

Using a Computer Simulation to Explore Management Options for an Elk Herd

Students take on the role of wildlife manager.  Their job is to manage the population of an elk herd to prevent it from overshoot and collapse, maintaining a stable population. To accomplish the task they can issue hunting permits and/or natural predators (wolves) into the ecosystem. They use a computer model to test out management theories. Systems thinking concepts: balancing feedback, S-shaped growth, reinforcing feedback, exponential growth, overshoot and collapse and loop dominance.


A team of students collaborates to develop a successful management plan for the elk herd.  Students started with a hypothesis, tested it with the model, took down data, drew conclusions, refined their hypothesis and tested again until they could stabilize the population.


A student shows the results of a successful management plan.

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