Monday, February 8, 2016

Hiding preferences and analysis of pillbugs

Hiding preferences and analysis of pillbugs

Alli Metler

The main analysis portion of the project was observing color preferences for hiding spots in our pillbug specimens. As we found, there seemed to be absolutely no preference for color. However, any unknown specimens were probably actually on the green piece of paper because the green piece was folded and our specimens had the ability to go inside the paper. In many cases, the specimens simply preferred to go underneath any paper in the tank, regardless of paper color or type. The specimens behaved normally during the analysis, however, at the 8:00 time, two specimens were observed chasing each other. The reason for this behavior is unknown, but my personal theory is that this is a behavior for dominance. Interestingly, unlike the Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches, these specimens did not try to climb the wall of the tank. This is possibly due to their fossorial preferences, or simply that they may not have strong enough legs to be able to.

Table of behavior over time for our specimens. Click to enlarge.

At the beginning of the analysis, I answered some questions asked by the research questions about general characteristics of the specimens. As I observed, to sense the environment around them, the specimens mainly used their antennae. Unlike previous specimens I have observed, namely arachnids and insects, these crustaceans had 14 legs rather than 8 or 6. They all seemed to be the same species, given that the specimens were collected in the same place and they all coiled into protective balls when threatened. When they come out of their protective balls and flipped over, they rolled and moved their legs to right themselves. They move very quickly for their size, probably an adaptation due to their placement in the food chain. When I observed them first, they did not seem to exhibit dominance behaviors, but later in the experiment, this was proven false. The specimens sought hiding places, especially underneath objects. When an object was placed in their path, the specimens would go around it and otherwise ignore it.

Sketches. Click to enlarge.

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