Environmental Factors Influencing Certain Behaviors of Isopods

Abstract
Through the observation and manipulation of Isopods and the
environmental factors that affect Isopod behavior, I aim to investigate which
type of environment Isopods prefer, whether Isopods will deliberately seek
out preferred environments, and the factors that influence Isopod behavior
with regard to environment selection.
Approaching the problem at hand, I researched the known behaviors of
Isopods, and found that Isopods prefer dark, damp environments. In order to
confirm this, at least the aspect of Isopods preferring damp environments, I
conducted a controlled experiment, manipulating only the dampness of the
environment, and striving to control all other variables. After obtaining
necessary data, I conducted a chi-squared statistical test to calculate
whether the Isopods actually showed preference towards a specific
environment, or if any sign of preference could be entirely attributed to
random and varying behavior.
Through this study, I concluded with 95% confidence that Isopods do in
fact prefer damp environments. The Isopods showed a statistically significant
inclination towards the damp environment. After referencing various
resources, I theorized that such preference may be due to the presence of
modified gills as the main means by which Isopods breathe. Such a theory
must be confirmed through another controlled experiment.
Introduction
Isopods are small, millipede-like creatures that live in the soil. Despite
their appearance, they are not insects, and instead belong to the Crustacean
subphylum. Isopods are terrestrial organisms, but they have modified gills,
and must live in damp areas in order to respire. Isopods are nocturnal, and
are sensitive to light. Isopods therefore prefer cool, damp, and dark areas,
namely in soil or under leaves and logs. Isopods detect their surroundings
through chemoreception, responding to different smells and stimuli using
their olfactory senses. They also detect stimuli using a pair of antennae.
The main problem that is to be solved here is whether or not
manipulating different environmental factors will influence the Isopod’s
choice of habitat; specifically, if Isopods prefer wet environments to dry
environments. This problem is being investigated in order for me to gain
insight on the preferred environments of the Isopod, and how the Isopod will
react when faced with a choice between a wet and dry environment. The null
hypothesis is that if the Isopods are placed in the controlled choice chamber
with a choice between a wet and dry environment, they will show no

and a stopwatch was started immediately thereafter. sound. The filter paper in one of the chambers was dampened uniformly. the majority of the Isopods had moved to the wet chamber. Each of the larger circular dishes was lined with white filter paper. The data obtained was combined with the class data to form a larger sample. I also used my fingers to handle the Isopods instead of gloves or tweezers. and standard error of the Isopods in each chamber was calculated. Results At the end of 10 minutes. Methods and Materials In the experiment. The lids of the choice chamber were placed onto the choice chamber to prevent the Isopods from escaping. standard deviation. and any variation in the data can be wholly attributed to the random movements of the Isopods. Important drawbacks to note in the initiation of the experiment include: I failed control variables including light. I predict that if the Isopods are placed in the choice chamber. namely Armadillidium vulgare (Pillbug) and Porcellio scaber (Sowbug). 10 Isopods were obtained from a large population of Isopods that included a mixture of different species. A chi-squared test was conducted using a significance level of . and vibrations which may influence the Isopod’s behavior. The number of Isopods in each of the 3 chambers was recorded at the very beginning of the experiment. then the Isopods will show preference to and congregate in the wet environment because Isopods need the water in the wet environment the breathe through their modified gills. The critical value was obtained through a chi-squared table using a degree of freedom of 2. the mean. and every minute thereafter until the 10 minute mark.significant preference to either environment. Figure 1: Mean number of Isopods in each chamber as calculated by class data . which may disrupt the chemoreceptors of the Isopods. and 5 in the wet chamber. 5 Isopods were placed in the dry chamber. Using the class data.05. the Isopods were placed in a plastic choice chamber with 2 large dishes separated by a smaller dish in the middle. the total number. The resulting chi-squared value from the chi-squared test was compared with the critical value to see whether I should reject or fail to reject the null hypothesis.

44 Middle Chamber . A chi-squared test will be conducted to see if this difference is significant.11 Dry chamber 1.Mean number of Isopods Wet Chamber 8. it is apparent that much more Isopods ended up in the wet chamber than in the dry chamber. Figure 3: Chi-square test with respect to the numbers of Isopods Chi-square value Degrees of P-value Critical value .11 Middle 1.44 Dry -3 Type of Chamber Figure 2: Mean number of Isopods in each chamber with error bars Looking at the data.44 1 -1 Wet 0.44 Mean number of Isopods in each Chamber 11 9 7 Mean Number of Isopods 5 3 8.

These results fit quite nicely with my original prediction. and may cause the results to be skewed. the experiment could be conducted in a dark. This experiment was relatively hastily performed. These variables may contribute to unexpected responses by the Isopods. If a significant number die in the dry environment. At least two species of Isopods were used. I reject the null hypothesis with 95% confidence and conclude that the Isopods do indeed show a preference towards the wet environment. A new question that arises from this experiment is what is the degree to which females of the same species can attract males? In other words. and observing the survival rate of the Isopods. then one can assume that water might be an essential factor to isopod breathing and survival. as members of the same species might be more attracted to each other. at least when manipulating the wetness of the environment. Discussion Based on the calculated chi-square value of 43. One such drawback is the failure to control for important variables such as light. how significantly do females attract males so as to account for a difference in the data in the wet and dry environment experiment? Such a question could be investigated by putting 10 males in a wet and dry choice chamber.99 at a . 10 . This can be fixed by simply making sure that the Isopods used are all of the same species. which is much larger that the critical value at a 95% confidence level. which is much larger than the critical value of 5. and had several drawbacks.99 The Chi-square value is 43. and any variables can be controlled for to the maximum extent. This explanation can be tested by isolating Isopods in only wet or dry environments. Another drawback is the number of species used. the goal was met in terms of observing the responses of the Isopods to the wet and dry environments. and vibrations.05 significance level with 2 degrees of freedom.05 5. cool. smell. In this experiment. To improve this. Manipulating environmental factors does indeed draw a response from the Isopods. sound. These results serve to strengthen the assumption that Isopods need water to breathe through their modified gills. isolated environment much like the natural environment the isopods are found in.43 Freedom 2 . which may play a factor in skewing the results.

Retrieved October 5. and 5 males and 5 females in yet another set of wet and dry choice chambers.d. Isopod. 2015. 2015.). Retrieved October 5. (n. (Ed. (2004). Painter. Isopods.).females in a different set of wet and dry choice chambers. (n. References Department of Invertebrate Zoology. .). Resource Cards.d. 2015.d.). Retrieved October 5. Retrieved October 5. 2015. T. R. King. (n.

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