study of behavior in animals

Published:

Introduction:

When the pillbugs were placed in a Petri dish with just a small amount of bedding, it was observed that they were quite active. The pillbugs moved around a lot exploring the enclosure. However, they stuck to the perimeter of the Petri dish. The only time they ventured into the center was to explore the bedding. Upon closer observation, it was seen that the pillbugs kept at least one antennae on the wall of the dish at all times. They were also easily flipped over. In order to right themselves, they would stretch to their full length then immediately curl into a ball. After which, they would uncurl right side up.

The pillbugs also came in a multitude of colors along with different shapes and sizes. There were brown, gray, and speckled color varieties; large and small sizes; and anywhere from rounded, hunchbacked species to thin and oval shaped species. For the most part, the smaller ones stayed separate from the larger ones. When they were close to each other, the larger ones would climb right over the smaller ones.

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During the second observation, it was discovered that the pillbugs preferred a wet environment over a dry one. Pillbugs need a moist environment because they are a species of Copepods. Copepods are primarily a marine organism.¹ Pillbugs are the only ones that can live on land and need a moist environment to prevent themselves from drying out.

Based on the information above, the hypotheses were that pill bugs will prefer dark areas over light exposed areas and that they will prefer water over sugar water and dry areas. The two experiments will allow observation of animal behavior to occur.

Figure 1: Petri dish setup in the light or dark preference experiment

Materials and Methods:

Light or Dark Preference:

10 pill bugs

Lamp

Aluminum foil

Double petri dish

Stopwatch

Wrap one side of the petri dish in aluminum foil to keep it dark.

Turn the lamp on and place the petri dish under it.

Place 10 pillbugs in the light exposed side of the petri dish.

Figure 2: Petri dish setup in the sugar water, water, and dry preference experiment

User the timer to measure out ten minutes. Every 30 seconds, write down how many pill bugs are on each side. Also, record their behaviors.²

Sugar Water, Water, or Dry Preference:

10 pillbugs

3 pieces of filter paper

Sugar

Water

Pipette

Triple Petri Dish

2 cups

Stopwatch

Place one piece of filter paper in each section of the petri dish.

Fill one cup with a small amount of water. Use the pipette to put 6 drops of water onto the filter paper in section three. Spread out the drops.

Mix sugar and water in another cup. Use the pipette to stir. Once the sugar and water have been mixed, place 6 drops, spread out, onto the filter paper in section 2.

Place 10 pillbugs in section 1.

Use the stopwatch to measure out 10 minutes. Every 30 seconds, write down how many pill bugs are in each section.²

Also, record their behaviors.

Results:

Light or dark preference:

Table 1: Pill bug orientation and behavior in the light and dark sections

Time(minutes)

# of pill bugs in section 1: light

# of pill bugs in section 2: dark

Behaviors

0

10

0

.5

5

5

1

4

6

Different pill bugs than the .5 time

1.5

4

6

Little pill bugs went in the light more often than larger pill bugs

2

3

7

2.5

2

8

3

4

6

3.5

8

2

4

5

5

4.5

2

8

5

2

8

5.5

1

9

A large pill bug went to come into the light side, but turned back into the dark side

6

0

10

6.5

2

8

7

0

10

7.5

5

5

8

3

7

8.5

5

5

9

5

5

9.5

4

6

10

2

8

Figure 3: Pill bug orientation in the light and dark sections

Sugar water, water, and dry preference:

Table 2: Pill bug orientation and behavior in the sugar water, water, and dry sections.

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Time(minutes)

# of pill bugs in section 1: dry

# of pill bugs in section 2: sugar water

# of pill bugs in section 3: water

Behaviors

0

10

0

0

.5

2

4

4

1

4

3

3

1.5

6

2

2

2

2

6

2

2.5

4

4

2

3

1

5

4

3.5

0

5

5

4

2

3

5

4.5

2

4

4

5

0

5

5

5.5

3

1

6

6

0

3

7

6.5

2

3

5

7

1

3

6

7.5

3

0

7

8

2

1

7

8.5

4

1

5

9

5

0

5

9.5

2

3

5

10

3

3

4

Figure 4: Pill bug orientation in the sugar water, water, and dry sections

Discussion:

Light or dark preference:

Table 3: Pill bug orientation and behavior in the light and dark sections

Time(minutes)

# of pill bugs in section 1: light

# of pill bugs in section 2: dark

Behaviors

0

10

0

.5

5

5

1

4

6

Different pill bugs than the .5 time

1.5

4

6

Little pill bugs went in the light more often than larger pill bugs

2

3

7

2.5

2

8

3

4

6

3.5

8

2

4

5

5

4.5

2

8

5

2

8

5.5

1

9

A large pill bug went to come into the light side, but turned back into the dark side

6

0

10

6.5

2

8

7

0

10

7.5

5

5

8

3

7

8.5

5

5

9

5

5

9.5

4

6

10

2

8

Figure 5: Pill bug orientation in the light and dark sections

The data in table 3 and figure 3 shows that pill bugs prefer section 2 over section 1. Pill bugs live under rocks and mulch in the dark. They live in the dark where it is cooler and has more moisture. The larger pill bugs would come out, walk the perimeter and go back into the dark side after fewer than 30 seconds. If they were to stay in the light for longer periods of time, they would become dried out and die. When the aluminum foil was removed after the experiment, the pill bugs were all clustered in the center, whereas in the light-exposed side, they stuck to the perimeter. This is so they could find their way back to the dark side using their antennae.

Sugar water, water, or dry preference:

Table 4: Pill bug orientation and behavior in the sugar water, water, and dry sections.

Time(minutes)

# of pill bugs in section 1: dry

# of pill bugs in section 2: sugar water

# of pill bugs in section 3: water

Behaviors

0

10

0

0

.5

2

4

4

1

4

3

3

1.5

6

2

2

2

2

6

2

2.5

4

4

2

3

1

5

4

3.5

0

5

5

4

2

3

5

4.5

2

4

4

5

0

5

5

5.5

3

1

6

6

0

3

7

6.5

2

3

5

7

1

3

6

7.5

3

0

7

8

2

1

7

8.5

4

1

5

9

5

0

5

9.5

2

3

5

10

3

3

4

sections

Figure 6: Pill bug orientation in the sugar water, water, and dry

Table 4 and figure 6 show that pill bugs preferred section 3 over the other two sections. This is because they prefer moist environments over dry environments. They also preferred the water over the sugar water section because pill bugs don't normally eat plain sugar. They eat plant matter and assist in decomposition. ³

Citations:

Campbell, Neil A., and Jane B. Reece. "Chapter 10: Photosynthesis." AP EDITION BIOLOGY Seventh Edition. Eds. Beth Wilbur, Deborah Gale, and Pat Burner. San Francisco, CA: Pearson Education, Inc., 2005.Print.

College Board. AP Bio Lab Manual. USA: The College Board, 2001. Print.

Smith, John. "Pill Bugs." Pest World For Kids. National Pest Management Association, 13 Nov. 2000. Web. 22 Mar. 2011. <http://www.pestworldforkids.org/pillbugs.html>.