Spring semesters are when we teach Intro to Animal Behavior and the lab that goes along with it. We have had our interesting times in the past with crayfish husbandry, but this time we finally have the new aquarium system working in our favor thanks to an enormous amount of effort from Pablo (super TA) and Adam (awesome undergrad). Once we get the old paddlefish tanks in the basement working well again, and a little aquaponics setup in place for lettuce for crayfish snacks, our system will be complete. The crayfish are used in a set of experiments on dominance and conflict, which is pretty much the classic use of crayfish in undergrad animal behavior labs. Plus the students really enjoy it.
Congratulations to Matt Austin and Lynnsey Street for receiving student research awards from the Harris World Ecology Center. Matt wrote his proposal to fund travel to a series of museums for his first dissertation chapter on comparative work with bumble bees. Lynnsey wrote her proposal to finish up the gene expression work on her memory testing with some of our evolved population of flies. Looking forward to seeing how everything turns out!
We are on a roll this week with defenses. Mellissa defended on Thursday and it was the culmination of an enormous amount of work with a 60 population experimental evolution study with some results we definitely did not predict. 5.27 million counted eggs later, and she had her result. So many congratulations to Mellissa for completing such an epic experiment, writing it up, and defending it!
We were all so happy to see Priya Maharaj successfully defend her dissertation last Tuesday. Priya worked with Godfrey Bourne on color-mediated foraging in two passionflower butterflies in Guyana along with some behavioral work at the Butterfly House here in St. Louis. Priya also worked on bumblebee color-mediated foraging in our lab and we are looking forward to finishing up that paper in January once she gets settled into her new job back in Guyana. CONGRATULATIONS!!
(I totally had to steal this picture from FB since I didn’t manage any pictures of my own!)
Lots of congratulations to Ben Abts, who successfully defended his master’s thesis today!! He gave a great talk on his work on forgetting and the value of social information in foraging bumble bees. Ben was the lab’s first official Bee Czar, helping undergrads and high school students in learning to wrangle bees in experiments. He is going to finish up a small experiment now to add to his thesis, and it should make for a great paper!