Environmental Factors Influencing Certain Behaviors of Isopods

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

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. 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.Mean number of Isopods Wet Chamber 8.44 Mean number of Isopods in each Chamber 11 9 7 Mean Number of Isopods 5 3 8.44 Middle 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 .

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

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

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