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

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

44 1 -1 Wet 0.44 Middle Chamber .44 Dry -3 Type of Chamber Figure 2: Mean number of Isopods in each chamber with error bars Looking at the data.44 Mean number of Isopods in each Chamber 11 9 7 Mean Number of Isopods 5 3 8.11 Middle 1.Mean number of Isopods Wet Chamber 8. A chi-squared test will be conducted to see if this difference is significant. it is apparent that much more Isopods ended up in the wet chamber than in the dry chamber.11 Dry chamber 1. Figure 3: Chi-square test with respect to the numbers of Isopods Chi-square value Degrees of P-value Critical value .

Manipulating environmental factors does indeed draw a response from the Isopods. One such drawback is the failure to control for important variables such as light. This experiment was relatively hastily performed. and vibrations. at least when manipulating the wetness of the environment. These results serve to strengthen the assumption that Isopods need water to breathe through their modified gills. and may cause the results to be skewed. the experiment could be conducted in a dark. I reject the null hypothesis with 95% confidence and conclude that the Isopods do indeed show a preference towards the wet environment. and had several drawbacks.99 at a . In this experiment. 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. These variables may contribute to unexpected responses by the Isopods. If a significant number die in the dry environment.05 5. 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. sound. To improve this. and any variables can be controlled for to the maximum extent. then one can assume that water might be an essential factor to isopod breathing and survival. which may play a factor in skewing the results. the goal was met in terms of observing the responses of the Isopods to the wet and dry environments. and observing the survival rate of the Isopods. At least two species of Isopods were used. Discussion Based on the calculated chi-square value of 43. These results fit quite nicely with my original prediction. cool. This explanation can be tested by isolating Isopods in only wet or dry environments. 10 . This can be fixed by simply making sure that the Isopods used are all of the same species. which is much larger than the critical value of 5. isolated environment much like the natural environment the isopods are found in. Another drawback is the number of species used.43 Freedom 2 . smell. which is much larger that the critical value at a 95% confidence level.99 The Chi-square value is 43.05 significance level with 2 degrees of freedom. as members of the same species might be more attracted to each other.

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

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