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1 The Rot Trot: Ecology in a Zombie Apocalypse Misty Hensley EVPP 607, Su10 Instructions: This apocalypse is in the theme of “choose your own adventure.”

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Presentation on theme: "1 The Rot Trot: Ecology in a Zombie Apocalypse Misty Hensley EVPP 607, Su10 Instructions: This apocalypse is in the theme of “choose your own adventure.”"— Presentation transcript:

1 1 The Rot Trot: Ecology in a Zombie Apocalypse Misty Hensley EVPP 607, Su10 Instructions: This apocalypse is in the theme of “choose your own adventure.” Based on your choices, you could survive or become a zombie buffet. Choices also affect your learning opportunity. Some ecological topics are covered in one section and not in another, so if you find yourself at a dead (or undead in this case) end, go back and try another choice to learn more! Be sure to follow links to learn more about a topic through articles, games and videos! So, sit back and enjoy the lurching zombie ride and ignore any feelings of disbelief or nausea that may occur, they’re only natural! Goal: The goal of this paper, as stated in the abstract, is to educate, through humor, the average person (junior high to college age) on ecological concepts and terms. Next page

2 2 It’s a quiet Wednesday night, you have been cramming in the Johnson Center for midterms when a student runs in screaming something crazy about zombies. You think it’s a joke and ignore it. A minute later a student walks in limping, bleeding and groaning. Do You: A. Check to see if the student is ok.Check to see if the student is ok. B. Run away and find a safe place to hole up.Run away and find a safe place to hole up. The Beginning

3 3 A. The shambling student doesn’t look sick upon closer inspection. You wonder if they are dressed up as a joke. You remember Peter Dendle’s argument that zombies are a cultural metaphor for anxiety around an issue, a representation of the mindless, powerless drone. For instance, zombies have been used as a metaphor for slavery, and women’s liberation (Dendle 48). Could this be a cynic’s metaphor for the passive “student?” You know that some faculty have been wanting to bring a zombie crawl tozombie crawl campus, maybe that is what is going on! But as the student shuffles up to you, grabs your arm, pulls you close, and bites your neck, you realize this is no joke. As the unknowing prey, you didn’t realize you should fear this new predator, but you have become its food. You just personally experienced predation (EoE 282).predation After blacking out, you come to and feel great. Well, really, you don’t feel anything other than hungry. People are moving around you and they look tasty. You don’t realize it, but you have become a zombie. Some might argue that the zombie that attacked you was only trying to start a deep mutualistic relationship (EoE 318). He gets your tasty organs/brain/blood,mutualistic and you become like him, a stronger, faster being. Others may say, he’s a pervasive parasite (Ibid 309), feeding off you to his benefit and not yours.parasite But who cares about that, you’re hungry! And its good to be at the top of the food chain. Do you: C. Go after some of that tasty human food.Go after some of that tasty human food. D. Walk around to contemplate the beauty of brains.Walk around to contemplate the beauty of brains. Part 1: I got the Rotus, but I thought I was using protection!

4 4 C. You may be a new zombie, but you know what you’re about! There are so many tasty morsels running about, you can nearly just reach out and grab one without breaking a sweat (not that you sweat anymore, but you do seem to be emitting a foul odor!). No one seems to be trying to stop you. In fact, you could eat all you want. You have found your fundamental niche, conditions couldn’t be better (a lotfundamental niche of food and no competition) (EoE 270)! The future feels full of exponential opportunities. There can only be one way to express this feeling: dNzombie/dt = rNzombie (EoE 283) Because you are a smart zombie, you know that this exponential populationexponential population growth growth means that your population will continue to grow quickly over time. This can happen when a species is introduced into a new environment. In this case, an outbreak of Rotus Zombicus creates a growing population of zombies! You’re undead. Whether that is a win or lose is up to you.

5 5 D. Brains are good and all, but you realize that there is more to being undead than running around and chomping humans, and just because you’re undead doesn’t mean that you’re brain dead. You are a zombie with a vision, a zombie for the new millennium. Being a human has taught you to use the resources at hand; domesticate and breed your food so that you don’t run out. A hungry zombie is a sad sad zombie. Yes, top-down control of your prey like this is definitely the waytop-down control to go (EoE 359). This means that you will control their population and always have food at hand! The relationship you’re looking for with humans is commensalism (Ibid 317)!commensalism You’re a kind zombie overlord and you’re sure that your affect on humans will be neutral on a species scale, because you will not eat more humans than are produced. Regardless of your views on prey, you’re undead. Whether that is a win or lose is up to you. GMU: the Happening Place for the Discerning Zombie

6 6 B. You quickly realize that something is wrong, subconsciously your instincts have kicked in and you have recognized this student as a threat, possibly even a predator. It’s the way he is looking at you. The shape of you, height, weight, the healthy glow of your skin, all match the search image of prey that he hassearch image developed through feeding on humans (EoE 287). You grab a nearby chair and fight your way towards safety. You take as many people with you as you can, which ends up being the two friends that were sitting with you. You run to the top floor and with their help, block off the four sets of stairs to the floor. You can hear screams throughout the building, but your floor is safe. You have become a metapopulation of humans, ametapopulation subset of other humans on campus who may or may not be zombie bait. You hope that other metapopulations have been able to find places to hide, but for now you are surviving the best you can with what you have. This floor was a good choice because the George’s restaurant has a back kitchen with a fridge and food, there are water fountains and bathrooms, wifi to access information on this new threat, there is also roof access, for whatever that is worth. You’re safe for now. You call 911 to report this nightmare, and a harried operator tells you that they know about the situation and to sit still in your safe location, they’re working on the problem. You call your friends and family to see if they’re safe but either get a busy signal or voic . Next, you jump on the internet with your laptop to see if any news reports are happening (luckily your bag stayed with you the whole time). A Fairfax news station is reporting that calls have been coming in for the last hour of gruesome attacks. A professor from the University was hospitalized first with acute symptoms. He is being called patient zero. After some blood work and tests, the hospital contacted the CDC to report a new outbreak. The reporter explains that this outbreak is the result of an uncanny combination. Patient zero, a faculty person at George Mason University in the Anthropology department, returned from a trip during spring break to southern Africa. Ironically, this professor was doing research for a class on Zombies for the fall and hadZombies unknowingly contracted sleeping sickness, or Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense,sleeping sickness. Next Page Safety First

7 7 during his travels (World Health Organization). This is a rare form of the disease occurring only in 10% of cases, causing an acute infection that can appear a few weeks or months from infection. Normally, symptoms include restlessness, lack of hunger and inability to sleep. However, in combination with pharmaceuticals inpharmaceuticals our drinking water, this disease affected the Anthropology professor in unexpected ways, creating what the reporter is calling "Rotus zombicus,” which is possibly the dumbest name you have ever heard. The reporter says that despite our dependency on water, humans have spent hundreds of years polluting it. Recently, studies have shown that we have inadvertently been dumping pharmaceuticals into our water (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Leonnig). From pain medication, anti- depressants and other mood modifying drugs, hormonal drugs like viagra, antibiotics and much more. Since our bodies do not take up all of these drugs, we excrete the excess, which goes into water treatment plants that do not scrub for pharmaceuticals. These pharmaceuticals come back to us in our drinking water. Reverse osmosis will treat for pharmaceuticals and may become necessary in the future as demand for water increases with population increase, but is currently considered too costly (Radjenovic 3602). The reporter explains that unknown to us, the combination of these drugs in our water and the prolonged exposure, has changed our biochemistry. It has made us more vulnerable to infection, dulled our senses, increased our tolerance to pain, and both suppressed and over-excited our nervous system. This sounds a little like a personal soap box, but you listen on. Symptoms began to show for the hospitalized faculty person during finals. He attacked a student in his classroom, biting them in the process. That student in turn was treated for the bight and sent back to his dorm room, where he began attacking other students. It was an unfortunate time to hit the student population, as they tend to stay in public areas studying to all ours of the night. This means that the outbreak is hitting both resident and non-resident students heavily. The reporter concludes that the CDC has been called to the area and has started quarantining campus. After making sure that all of the stairs are still securely blocked, you and your friends take turns sleeping. Go to Day 7

8 Day 7 Having attacked everyone living in the building, the zombies have moved on to other areas. You have noticed that for every human they use solely as food they use another human only as a snack, thus making those snacks zombies. From the roof, you can see a lot of zombies still wondering around and attacking the random unfortunate student that arrives on campus or anyone that makes a run for it. Strangely, the zombies don’t seem to be leaving campus. Perhaps they have claimed campus as their territory, the area they hunt and defend as their ownterritory (EoE 232). You can’t see the CDC anywhere and have been trying everyday to reach the authorities to no avail. The internet connection has been down since you watched the news story the first day, but the electricity still works. Since your building seems to be zombie-free, you and your friends begin to quietly collect food from the first floor restaurant storage areas and bring them back to your top floor hideout. This food stash plus the water running through the building helps clearly define the carrying capacity, or natural resources for your survival, of the buildingcarrying capacity (your new home for now) (Ibid 218). You estimate that you have 2 months or more of food if you ration things. You begin eating perishables first in case the electricity goes off and the fridges no longer work. While one of your friends has gone to grab everyone a sandwich for a job well done of gathering food (survival is a hungry business), you notice that your other friend is very quiet. As you lean forward to check on them, you notice a little bight mark on their arm. They look like they’ve passed out. Do you: E. Try to clean the bite and hope that you’ve caught the infection in timeTry to clean the bite and hope that you’ve caught the infection in time F. Throw them over the railing to play it safeThrow them over the railing to play it safe 8

9 9 Day 21 There is still no help in sight and zombies continue to roam in larger and larger groups. Without facilities mowing and trimming everything, trees, grasses and other plants have started to grow tall and begin succession (EoE 369).succession Succession is a process where a community of grasses, shrubs and trees change structure over time from field to forest. Zombies don’t seem to eat nonhumans, so deer and other animals have started to openly wonder across campus grazing on grass. You know that eventually without local predators, they will begin to reproduce more and experience population growth (Ibid 200). This means that deer and other animal populations will have more births than death. Your friend tells you about the paper they read by Philip Munz at Carleton University on a zombie apocalypse. They thought it was funny at the time but now are worried. Munz had worked out the mathematics of surviving a long term zombie attack. It doesn’t look good unless the government and citizens respond decisively and violently (no mercy or quarantine) (Munz 146). She remembers that there was a graph that showed the population of zombies and humans over time, and that quarantine gave zombies more time to infect and reproduce until nothing but zombies were left (below). (Munz 142) Next Page

10 Unfortunately, to your knowledge no decisive action is being taken and there are no weapons in the building besides some small melee weapons (knives and other cooking utensils). So sitting and waiting seems like the thing to do. Rationing food also is a good idea but you’re worried about how long the food will last. You have counted and recalculated your capacity, and it looks like you should have enough for 4 more weeks, but that is assuming that the electricity stays on. If it were just you though, the food would last much longer. Do you: G. Keep all the food for yourself & throw your final friend over the railingKeep all the food for yourself & throw your final friend over the railing H. Keep your friend, you’re not a monsterKeep your friend, you’re not a monster

11 11 E. You clean the wound with warm water and soap. Your friend stirs. You can tell now that mercy was not the best answer as your bitten friend lurches toward your friend returning with sandwiches, and takes a bight (of your friend, not the sandwiches, which just goes to show zombies have no taste because those were quality dagwood sandwiches that even the most discerning Scooby Doo character would have eaten on the spot!). Your friend, and sadly the sandwiches, fall to the ground as your old friend (now new zombie) turns for you next. You have no weapons and scream like a little girl as you are chomped on like a favorite dog bone. Your last view is of a zombie shoe lurching over uneaten sandwiches. Such a sad waste. You now have the Rotus

12 12 F. History may portray you as a cold hearted killer, but at least you have a better chance of reading that history than if you had let your friend turn into a zombie and eat you! You hear a zombie-like groan from the bottom floor and know in your heart you made the right choice. Your other friend returns with sandwiches and there is more to go around, bonus! How they found the ingredients for a dagwood sandwich, you never learn, but it is a magical moment (if you ignore the noise of thousands of zombies outside). You become temporarily philosophical and think about how your community has shrunk from three to two, leaving a landscape of a shifting mosaic that hasshifting mosaic changed phases in its successional development (EoE 409). The problem with that, however, is that the mosaic is made mostly of zombies. Go to Day 21Day 21

13 13 G. You are hardcore! Because you’re extremely sneaky, you’re able to lure your friend to the railing and then quickly throw them over. You cry a single tear as their screams are quickly cut off, but its the end of the world so its every person for themselves! You don’t make the rules, you just take advantage of them. You just exhibited intraspecific contest competition (EoE 222). This means that youintraspecific contest competition competed with another of your own species for a limited resource and as a result gained more of that resource while limiting your competition to that resource. In this example you eliminated your competition. However, you realize at dinner time that your friend had the key to the kitchen and end up starving to death 3 days later. You should have learned to share as a child! The End, Start Over!

14 14 H. Having a friend for a zombie apocalypse seems like a good idea. They may have some skills you don’t (like making sandwiches, telling jokes or making weapons out of everyday materials like books). Plus, you know that sometimes the difference between survival and death in a changing or hostile environment is a tolerance for stress (EoE 227). Even plants can experience stress and havestress adapted ways to survive in difficult environments. That is what you can do with the help of your friend, adapt to this new stressful situation, because the alternative of becoming a zombie is too ugly (and smelly) (Ibid 76). In this case, you adapt by turning to the books in the library around you to try to understand this outbreak, how to survive, and in general learn whatever may be helpful. You also have started watching the behavior of zombies to try to understand them and stay alive. You have considered mimicry, that is acting likemimicry a zombie to get past them, which many species from butterflies to snakes, employ to fool predators (Ibid 296). Other students have tried this to little avail. You try to think of other behavioral defenses to avoid detection by predators but come up empty (Ibid 297). It has been several days since any student has attempted to escape campus. Having limited prey to feed on has made the zombies strangely cooperative. They have begun hunting in groups and devouring whole any student they come upon. This means that if one eats, they all eat and vice versa. The books you have been reading on animal behavior and predation tell you this is like scramblescramble competition competition (EoE 222). In essence the zombies seem to be self- thinning their population because they are limiting their reproduction (the creation of a new zombie) by gorging themselves instead (Ibid 224). Because there have been fewer prey, the zombies have been slowly dying off and dropping where they stand. From your position on the roof, you can tell that decomposition and the nutrient cycle has begun, with aerobic and anaerobicnutrient cycle bacteria breaking down tissue and chemicals in the zombies and returning their nutrients to the soil, water, and animals (EoE 440). Animals have also started feeding on the detritus (Ibid 427), or dead matter of the zombies. So far, you havedetritus not seen any zombie-like animals. Next Page

15 The End is Nigh Well, take a deep breath and stretch a little because you have survived to the end of the story! Congratulations, a zombie apocalypse is easy as pie for you! As a well earned reward, you get to choose how it ends! Do You: V. Wake up, it was all a bad dream!Wake up, it was all a bad dream! W. Get rescued by a helicopterGet rescued by a helicopter X. Give into peer pressure and run down to join the zombie hordeGive into peer pressure and run down to join the zombie horde Y. Magically develop the cure for Rotus zombicus and become aMagically develop the cure for Rotus zombicus and become a millionaire by selling the vaccine Z. Develop a sustainable way to live out your days on the top floor of theDevelop a sustainable way to live out your days on the top floor of the JC by becoming a mighty rooftop hunter of pigeons and using rope and homemade arrows to capture other animals and plants. You mate with your friend and start a second generation of JC interlopers.

16 16 Good Choice! Your reward for surviving (be sure to turn your sound on) This movie from the game Plants vs Zombies. Movie accessed here 7/28/10.Plants vs Zombieshere Next Page

17 Concepts explored & Lessons Learned Humans have used storytelling and humor to share knowledge for centuries. Parts of this paper can be combined into a story told to any age range to share concepts and terms from ecology. Most ecological terms or concepts have an educational link, game or article for more information to be clicked on by the student. Because my and younger generations are technology users, having multimedia available for education keeps everyone engaged! These links could be made more age appropriate depending on specific audience, for now they range. After letting participants choose from pre-arranged story nodes to learn these concepts, facilitators could then open up the conversation to see what other choices participants could make (adaptations). Each choice could then be related back to further ecological concepts or used to delve deeper into a particular concept, such as clean water. By using pharmaceuticals in the water explored in the story, facilitators can discuss the water cycle. Facilitators can compare this to the water treatment system and discuss how this overlaps with the natural water cycle (such as water for treatment overflowing into natural waters during heavy rains). Discussion for keeping our waters clean and how students can participate could then ensue. Parts of this project were more challenging than expected. For instance, finding informational links (that weren’t high-level research papers) for every concept just wasn’t possible. I had also hoped that our readings would relate to animal nutrient cycle (decomposition) so that I could discuss how that affected the local environment (if a lot of zombies suddenly die at once). Unfortunately that turned out to be too time consuming to try to research. Overall I found this project was a great way to review my own learning and have been sharing my enthusiasm with my friends, family and undergraduate students that I work with, who all want to see it when I’m done. For me, that makes this project a personal success, because I not only had fun with it, but I now get to share my learning with others! 17 Bibliography

18 18 Bibliography Blustein, Dan. Grown Ass People. "The Ecology of Zombies." Accessed June 23, BBC News. "The disease that makes people zombies." Accessed July 6, George Mason University, Institutional Research & Reporting. Spring 2010 Enrollment. Google Public Data. 撤 opulation of Fairfax City � Accessed July 10, unty:51600&dl=en&hl=en&q=population+fairfax+city unty:51600&dl=en&hl=en&q=population+fairfax+city Latto, John. Disease Ecology: "Mortal Terror in a Partial Zombie Population." Accessed June 23, in-partial-zombie.html in-partial-zombie.html Leonnig, Carol. The Washington Post. 鄭 rea Tap Water Has Traces of Medicines. � March 10, Accessed July 11, dyn/content/story/2008/03/09/ST html dyn/content/story/2008/03/09/ST html Munz, Philip, Ioan Hudea, Joe Imad and Robert J. Smith Infectious Disease Modelling Research Progress. "When Zombies Attack!: Mathematical Modelling of an Outbreak of Zombie Infection." Nova Science Publisher, Inc.: Accessed June 23, National Geographic. "Aftermath: Population Zero." Accessed June 27, 2010. zero-3225#tab-Overvie zero-3225#tab-Overvie Next Page

19 19 Bibliography cont. Radjenovic, J. Water Research. 迭 ejection of pharmaceuticals in nanofiltration and reverse osmosis membrane drinking water treatment. � 42: 14 (p3601 – 3610). August Accessed July 11, 2010. &_udi=B6V73-4STYTSC- 8&_user=650615&_coverDate=08%2F31%2F2008&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_ori g=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C &_version=1& _urlVersion=0&_userid=650615&md5=2902c537f024e74c6efc78ddaa29de04 &_udi=B6V73-4STYTSC- 8&_user=650615&_coverDate=08%2F31%2F2008&_rdoc=1&_fmt=high&_ori g=search&_sort=d&_docanchor=&view=c&_acct=C &_version=1& _urlVersion=0&_userid=650615&md5=2902c537f024e74c6efc78ddaa29de04 Sandberg, Anders. Essays on Technology, Science and the Human Condition. Accessed June 23, ogy.html ogy.html U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. "Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products in Water." Accessed July 5, World Health Organization. "African Trypanosomiasis (Sleeping Sickness)." Accessed July 6, Learning Links (accessed July 27, 2010): Arizona Game & Fish. “Carrying Capacity.” 07/30/09. Attenborough, David. BBC Wildlife. “Male Elephant Seals Defend Territory.” 02/09/ Duffy, J. Emmette. The Encyclopedia of the Earth. “Predation.” Created 12/28/ Dukas, Reuven. Behavioral Ecology. “Limited Attention: Constraint Underlying Search Image.” 12:2 ( ) Holistic Management. “Insects mean Fertile Soils and New Growth.” Kuijper, D.P. Ecology. “Top-Down Control of Small Herbivores on Salt-Marsh Vegetation along a Productivity Gradient.” 86:4 Apr 2005 (914 – 923). 45.pdf 45.pdf Next Page

20 Bibliography Cont. Learning Links Cont. Lima, Steven. Behavioral Ecology & Sociobiology. “Predation, scramble competition, and the vigilance group size effect in dark-eyed juncos.” 46, 1999 ( ). McGinley, Mark. The Encyclopedia of the Earth. “Mutualism.” Created 01/4/ McGinley, Mark. The Encyclopedia of the Earth. “Intraspecific Competition.” 01/17/08. “Mimic Octopus.” “Bugger Off with Metapopulation Theory.” Neartica. “Commensalism.” Nitrome Limited. Parasite Game. Wikipedia. “Patch Dynamics.” Pidwirny, M. Fundamentals of Physical Geography. “Concepts of Ecological Niche.” Science Dad. “Detrivores.” 12/03/09. Sharov, Alexei. Dept of Entomology, Virginia Tech. “Exponential & Logistic Growth.” Created 1/11/96. “Succession.” 01/16/09. Images (accessed July 25, 2010): JC picture: Student zombie: protect-my-son-from.html protect-my-son-from.html Zombie road sign: Zombie food chain pyramid: Hug a zombie: 20

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