New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge

Investigating the Carrying Capacity for the Columbian Mammoth

Team: 86

School: Portales Junior High

Area of Science: Paleoecology


Interim: Problem Definition:
The extinction of mammoths was caused by many factors. We think the Younger Dryas was one of those factors. With it, the Younger Dryas brought a cold and dry climate. We will attempt to make a simulation that models the mammoths’ reaction to this event.

Problem Solution:
In NetLogo, we are going to make a terrain similar to that of the time period. We will incorporate a lake, a grassy field with the occasional tree, and a dense forest area. Predators will also be present in the simulation. With all of this, the mammoths will react to the elements of the model like that of a real mammoth, which is believed to have acted similarly to the African elephant.

Progress to Date:
This program is written in NetLogo. Currently we have created a terrain that the mammoths can move around on. In this terrain there are trees, grass, and a lake or pond. The grass is in a circle like pattern with irregularities on the outside. In the grass area there are randomly placed trees. On the outside of the grass area there are trees that the mammoths cannot pass through. The different terrain types are made to correspond with colors. The grass and trees grow when the program is run. The mammoths at this moment are running towards the water not heeding to any trees that should obstruct their progress and going into the middle of the lake.

Expected Results:
Once this program has been complete, refined, and run many times we hope to gain a better understanding of the past. This program should tell us if the Younger Dryas period was one of the driving forces behind mammoth’s extinction. Also if time allows we will have the added threat of Clovis Man added to the simulation and predators.

Works Cited:
Meltzer, David J. First Peoples in a New World: Colonizing Ice Age America. Berkeley: University of California, 2009. Print.
Ward, Peter Douglas. The Call of Distant Mammoths: Why the Ice Age Mammals Disappeared. New York: Copernicus, 1997. Print

Team Members: Christopher Leap and Nicholas Brown
Sponsoring Teacher: Thomas Brown and Brian Pasko


Team Members:

  Nicholas Brown
  Christopher Leap

Sponsoring Teacher: Tom Brown

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