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An Experiment On Animal Behavior Termite Handedness

By Abbeyes Mar 18, 2016 701 Words
Termite Handedness
Summary:
Animal behavior is the underlying concept of how living organisms act when presented a certain situation or environment. Understanding animal behavior in simple organisms such as termites can give us basic insight into how animal behavior works. In our experiment we tested termite “handedness” – if termites prefer to turn left or right. We did this by placing a termite in an ink path with a fork in it which would cause the termite to choose between going left or right. The ink used in the experiment attracts termites insuring they will not run randomly in any direction. The data suggests that termites will prefer to turn left when given a choice even when the right path is identical to the left. Overall, this lab experiment lays the groundwork for more complicated experiments and helps to understand animal behavior at a very basic level. Introduction:

Animal behavior is a complicated subject that we still have much to learn about. How exactly do animals behave in the most basic sense such as deciding where to go? It is known through previous experiments performed that termites will follow an ink path from a pen due to the ink scent being similar to which termite workers use [1]. This experiment is designed to determine if worker termites have a handedness. When a worker termite is presented with the choice between identical right and left ink paths which path will the termite prefer if any? I predict that the termite will have no preference and will choose paths randomly. If the termite does have a handedness I predict it will be due to the biological makeup of termites – they have a dominate side.

Methods:
For this experiment we used worker termites that were placed carefully onto paper by using a soft bristled paintbrush. This was done to prevent the termite from losing legs or being hurt from transportation between trials. They were then placed onto a black ink trial from a Bic pen. The ink in this pen is similar to scent trails used by termites in the wild causing the termite to follow the trail. The results were recorded in Microsoft Excel. [1] Results:

Table 1: Data of Termite Handedness (Experimental)

Left
Right
Group Data
3
0
Class Data (8 Groups)
18
7
Average
2.25
0.875
% of Choice Made
72%
28%

Table 2: Data of Termite Handedness (Control)

Negative (No Ink)
Positive - Left
Positive - Right

Left
Right
Left
Right
Left
Right
Group Data
3
0
3
0
0
3

Our experimental data from Table 1 shows that termites would turn left when provided a choice with the same conditions. The class data also shows termites prefer to turn left 72% of the time. The control data from Table 2 shows that termites will choose the path with the ink every time. Table 2 also shows that when no ink is provided the termite will turn left every time as well. Discussion:

The data from Table 1 shows that worker termites have a left handedness when provided a decision between equal paths. Also, the results from Table 1 show that our group data was not coincidental as the class data had a strong indication of left handedness in termites. The data from Table 2 also shows that termites will always choose the path with ink as expected due to termites being attracted to the ink scent. The data also shows termites have left handedness as when provided with no ink the termite will instinctively turn left with no stimulation such as ink. I am not sure why termites have left-handedness but I assume it is biological; termites might have a stronger and more dominant left side. If I were to perform this experiment again I would perform more trials to strengthen the argument that termites have a left handedness. Overall, this experiment helps researchers understand animal behavior in a basic sense and can help researchers design more complicated future experiments on animal behavior. Works Cited

[1] Hengeveld, James, Richard Holderman, William Ruf, and Evelyn Rynkiewicz. "Laboratory Exercise 5: Behavior of Two Species of Arthropods." Biology L113 Lab Manual. By Jose Bonner. Spring 2014 ed. Plymouth: Hayden McNeil, 2014. F-1-12. Print.

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