So Many Questions? (1/24/2013)


In our sixth class meeting, we all switched our two experimental questions we brought in and presented each other’s ideas!

Austin’s project ideas dealt with how light pollution could affect jumping spider night vision and also how the personality traits of gastropods vary.

Melissa was interested in how predators simulate risk prone behaviors in pipevine swallowtail larvae, and the optimal density at which predaceous and phytophagus mites can co-exist.

Jenn was also interested in whether pipevine swallowtail larvae aggregate in the presence of predators and how they react when there are no predators, and the effect of flow regimes on top predators.

Nuray had questions about mistletoe; Is mistletoe an agent of diversity? And also, is insect diversity greater in trees with mistletoe?

Wenbo also brought in a question about mistletoe, but related to disperser’s preferences of mistletoe.  Wenbo’s other question was how much disturbance can be tolerated in Pacific chorus frogs before they leave their habitat.

Kyle had questions about disturbance in both a terrestrial and aquatic setting.  What is the effect of vibrational disturbance by vehicles and boats on organism communities?

Ivana was really interested in extra-floral nectaries, specifically do spiders respond to plant violatiles  and do EFNs affect spider growth?

Robyn had project ideas about the insect diversity in trees with oak galls and how the behaviors of two types of mites change in the absence of predators.

Esther wanted to know how eucalyptus in leaf litter would affect insect communities.

Carolyn wanted to see how corridors would affect a fragmented bee population and how beetles and ants would interact and affect each other’s fitness.

19 Questions:

Q1: What are the effects of natural or modified flow regimes on top freshwater predators? KF: flow regime.  RV: Predator population/ predator behavior.  Could be important to restoring/ conserving watersheds.

Q2: Mistletoe as an agent of diversity: If mistletoe is transplanted to a new tree, would invertebrate diversity be greater? KF: mistletoe tree vs. mistletoe tree.  RV: invertebrate density

Q3: How do different densities of pipevine swallowtail larvae influence their feeding behavior in the presence of predators?  KF: density of larvae, predator presence.  RV: feeding behavior.  Why it’s interesting: Examines how fine-scale ecosystem interactions shape populations of organisms.

Q4: At which optimal density can predacious and phytophagus mites co-exist without driving one or the other extinct?  KF: Density of both mites.  RV: How the behaviors of both types of mites shift if predators are added or removed.

Q5: How do mite metapopulations change in a predator-prey system when the predator is removed?  KF: Presence vs. absence of predacious mites.  RV: metapopulation dynamics of herbivorous mites.  Why it’s interesting: All mite metapopulation studies focus on a predator-prey system.  Is this metapop. structure driven by the predators?

Q6: How much direct human disturbance can be tolerated in one habitat? (Amphibian) KF: human disturbance from recreation activities (sound & movement). RV: amphibian density (Pacific tree frog).  Why it’s interesting: Disturbances have been found to have significant influences however they are often ignored considering the potential factors that affect amphibian declines.

Q7: What is the affect of vibrational disruption on arthropod communities?  KF: vibrational intensity.  RV: community composition.  Possible significance to road ecology.

Q8: Does reducing parasite virulence to ants increase staphylinid beetles’ overall fitness?  KF: parasite virulence.  RV: fitness.  Possible connection to insect learning.

Q9: Does light pollution give jumping spiders an advantage over common prey items, and if so, what types of lighting (LED, sodium, Tungston) do? KF: source of night-time light pollution over plot.  RV: Density of P. princeps vs. prey over time.

Q10: How do predators stimulate risk prone behaviors in pipevine swallowtail larvae? KF: larvae density on leaves.  RV: positioning of larvae will indicate whether their risky behaviors increase their chances of predation.

Q11: How do oak galls (as shelter for secondary users) affect insect community structure on oaks? KF: presence vs. absence of galls.  RV: insect community structure.  Why it’s interesting: Ecosystem engineers can have positive and negative effects on other organisms in a community.  Most studies have been done on caterpillars and leaf shelters, not galls.

Q12: Is the observed, positive response to normally avoided slug stimuli by A. lusitanicus related to personality traits such as risk taking & boldness?  KF: Varied levels of exploration risk when presented with a beneficial food source.  RV: Slug response to increasing exporation risk.

Q13: Is mistletoe a higher quality fallback food and is it preferred? KF: mistletoe tree vs. other known food source.  RV: insect density.

Q14: Due to dispersers’ preference mistletoes tend to be seen more often on certain tree species. How would that help competitors of favored trees? Can we take advantage of that to slow down the invasion of some tree species?  KF: mistletoe dispersers’ preference.  RV: relative abundance of tree species.

Q15: Do extrafloral nectaries affect spider growth in the field? KF: EFN presence/absence.  RV: spider growth.  Why it’s interesting: Nectar has been beneficial to spiders in lab studies and nectar feeding has been docmented in the field.  However, few lab tests have been done.

Q16: Do spiders respond to plant violatiles? KF: plant VOC emission.  RV: spider attraction.  Importance: Plant VOCs have been studied between plants and herbivores, and some plants and predators.  As an indirect anti-herbivore defense it has been well studied in conjunction with ants.  However, do plant VOCs recruit predators such as spiders?

Q17: How does eucalyptus in leaf litter affect insect diversoty and how does it compare with leaf litter without eucalyptus? KF: Leaf litter with or without eucalyptus.  RV: insect community in the leaf litter.

Q18: Do honeybees have a higher fitness rate in corridor landscapes or stepping stone landscapes? KF: landscape structure.  RV: fitness

Q19: What are the effects of vibrational disruption on aquatic invertebrate communities?  KF: vibrational magnitude.  RV: community composition at different distances from vibrational source.

After all the ideas were presented, we all rated them each from 1-5 and tallied up the numbers.  Those with the highest averages became our list of top ten.  Before our class period ended, we also managed to combine a few similar ones so we now have a list of seven research questions!

Our final questions are:

1. How do substrate-borne vibrational disruptions affect arthropod communities (Terrestrial or Aquatic)?

Notes: This could be achieved using troughs or cattle tanks with a disturbance source (i.e. Vibrating disk) at one end. After a colonization period, samples could be taken at varying distances across a transect of substrate (whether it be leaf litter or water).

2. Does light pollution give jumping spiders an advantage over common prey items, and if so, what types of lighting (LED, sodium, Tungstun) do?

Notes: The experimental portion would happen at night, we must take into account light distance

3. How do oak galls (as novel shelters for secondary users) affect insect community structure on oaks?

Notes: We have access to a box of empty galls

4.  Do the aggregative feeding behaviors of pipevine swallowtail larvae change in response to the threat of predation?

Notes: Are larvae in the middle safer? What kind of predator would we use?

5. How does eucalyptus in leaf litter affect insect diversity and how does it compare with leaf litter without eucalyptus?

Notes: Could eucalyptus keep away some kinds of insects?

6. What is the optimal ratio at which predaceous and phytophagous mites co-exist, and what effect does the absence of predaceous mites have on the phytophagous mites?

Notes: Done easily in lab setting, but how in the field?

7. How do extrafloral nectaries affect spider growth?

Notes: We could possibly wax over the EFNs to ‘remove’ them.


Assignment for next time:

Before next Tuesday, everyone will upload their research paper findings to the files Robyn created for us in Smartsite (EVE 180 Resources/Project readings/by topic)  Preferably we will have at least 3 reference papers under each folder.

And, hopefully we can all collaborate and come up with a list of five or more logistical issues that may arise for each project (e.g. what supplies, funding, amount of time would we need). Everyone should be able to contribute at least three for any of the projects (but if you think of more, by all means, list them).  Please put your contributions in the Smartsite Wiki. At the bottom of the Wiki, there should be a link called Official List of EVE180 Questions.  Click on it, and post your thoughts in the list!  We are aiming to have at least five for each project, so if you see any projects that do not yet have any please post some there.


Agenda for next time:

9:00- 10:00 discussion of logistics for each of the seven projects

10:00-10:20 narrowing down of ideas into 5 project

10:20-10:30 assign pairs to write proposal drafts

10:35-11:50 lab tours

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