Tarantula Science Projects

cacoseraph

ArachnoGod
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Ohh... now see that's a neat experiment - but it's a HUGE subject. In other invertebrates/vertebrate systems, this is often done with trace levels of pheromones/chemicals to recognise siblings. Unfortunately, this is difficult to detect/measure in most labs. I know a group back home looking at this in frogs, and were having a huge problem measuring/detecting and quantifying this.

To give an indication of what they ended up using, they had tadpoles in jars with water and a 'head-space' of air. This air was then passed into a neat device which costs a cool NZD$200,000 called a Selected Ion Flow Tube (SIFT - and was developed in house for the task) which used mass spectrometry/time of reaction analysis to detect products of pheromone reactions in a vacuum to quantify and detect.

And even after this, they didn't have a good answer.

But Damn, that would make a fantastic project.
don't even get me started on what i could do if i had a GCMS =P




I would caution you to think twice about officially allowing a 7th grader (maybe 13 years old?) to keep and manipulate a P. murinus or any other tarantula that is known to have a potent bite. It's conceivable THE BITE could turn into the science fair project, much to everybody's dismay! And our hobby doesn't need that sort of PR.

How about using Brachypelma albopilosum, the curlyhair instead? The power fed males growth and mature extremely fast.

Good show, though! I love the whole concept!
^ another reason why i love the hobby! how many other times have you had q's answered and custom contributions by a freaking leading author(s)!?
 

Nerri1029

Chief Cook n Bottlewasher
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I would caution you to think twice about officially allowing a 7th grader (maybe 13 years old?) to keep and manipulate a P. murinus or any other tarantula that is known to have a potent bite. It's conceivable THE BITE could turn into the science fair project, much to everybody's dismay! And our hobby doesn't need that sort of PR.

How about using Brachypelma albopilosum, the curlyhair instead? The power fed males growth and mature extremely fast.

Good show, though! I love the whole concept!
Yes very true, I guess that would depend on how much help an adult would be offering. I just put down the fastest grower, that's easy to get ahold of.

I can't wait so to find out how it all turns out. :)
 

cacoseraph

ArachnoGod
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I do have a GC/MS by Varian. running a DB5 column with no flame.
So what would you do?

I'm up for ideas :)
i want to see if i can identify and then quantify the level of pheremones in a cluster of communal pokies...

the mechanism that turns normal locust into plague swarmers is based on concentrations of pheremones.... it ramps up fecundity and drops maturation time by 100% and 50%, respectively

i would try to identify and quantify the tarantula "youth hormone" that suppresses male maturation (if taras work like most insects do).

then, if i ever build a mini- or micro- surgery i can do interesting experiments with gland transplants =P


bear in mind... all my GCMS plans are about as developed as the plans to actually *get* one, you know =P

i have other ideas, but i don't think my vanpool would take very kindly to me expounding upon them at this time. heh.


it would help nutrional analysis a ton, real quick, though. heh.
 

julesaussies

Arachnobaron
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DrAce, Nerri, Caco, Everyone,

Thank you for all this incredible feed back. i think we have pretty much planned on doing some sort of growth rates based on feeding rates without changing any other variables for the eighth grade project. We are basically going to start collecting data now with several groups of slings. We already have second and third instar groups of six of the following species: B. smithi, P. irminia, A. versicolor, P. regalis. i wouldn't mind getting my hands on 6 2nd instar P. murinus as well if i can get them soon so they are the same instar as the rest of the groups. i doubt we would necessarily use the data from all the species but it will give us a lot of data to have available. It will also give us several groups in case we should happen to lose a sling along the way for some unforseen reason. (Knock on wood, haven't lost one yet!)

My niece loves all the ideas people are posting. Right now she is going to try and concentrate on what possible experiment she can do for the project this year as it will need to be something based on behavior or ??? since we don't have time to do the growth rate project this time. We have several other various slings, juvies and adults. If she did something like the burrowing experiment would she repeat it with the same T or several T's of burrowing species? Obviously size of the T would cause some differences in results since slings tend to burrow more than bigger T's. Any other suggestions?

As far as a note or official sign off from a vet, that is already required for any science projects involving live animals but its a great idea. i'll probably have a vet friend give us a preliminary animal ethics release since we are having to start data collection on both assignments so far ahead of time just to keep it on the up and up.

I would caution you to think twice about officially allowing a 7th grader (maybe 13 years old?) to keep and manipulate a P. murinus or any other tarantula that is known to have a potent bite. It's conceivable THE BITE could turn into the science fair project, much to everybody's dismay! And our hobby doesn't need that sort of PR.

How about using Brachypelma albopilosum, the curlyhair instead? The power fed males growth and mature extremely fast.

Good show, though! I love the whole concept!
i appreciate your concern for my niece. She is twelve. However, she is very responsible and already assist me on a regular basis in the care of all our T's. She has a several of her own that she also cares for on her own. As far as our OBT's, Pokies and other venomous T's goes, she is never in any real direct harm. i suppose one could always get loose in the house and anybody here could get bit. However, the chance of that happening is no greater by her simply collecting data on what is already happening within our T collection. The only difference will be that we are feeding half of each species group more often than the other half.

As far as another type experiment based on behavior, i would probably pick a different species than an OBT for the simple reason that i don't care to deal with them out when i don't need to - LOL!! Anyway, thanks for your concern but she is a very responsible 12 year old - probably much more so than many of the adults that purchase T's for the "cool" factor and it isn't like she is handling venomous species or working with them on her own.
 

DrAce

Arachnodemon
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dude... being firmly anchored in the scientific method is helping the boards out TONS... telling someone "no, you are going to be wasting your time..." and then *explaining* why is already helping out the community at large by not having a willing experimenter spinning their wheels in the mud and getting discouraged

and i have a very strong feeling you are going to own me and most everyone else when someone finally publishes a dataset to let us play with!
Ok, I'm blushing. But truthfully, I hate statistics. If you need statistics to get your answer, you've done the wrong experiment, as far as I'm concerned. Mind you, I'm starting to waiver on that, since entering biology.

don't even get me started on what i could do if i had a GCMS =P
I do have a GC/MS by Varian. running a DB5 column with no flame.
So what would you do?

I'm up for ideas :)
Strictly speaking, the SIFT isn't a GCMS. GCMS isn't quite sensitive enough if you want to REALLY look at pheromones. The reason being - they can be there in the part per trillion, and basically, most GCMS units will look the other way.

What SIFT does is introduce the sample into a flow of gas in a vacuum - ionise it, then let it react with a known sample in the gas-flow. The products can be manipulated to make them shine like a drag-queen at Madi Gras, which makes them easier to detect. You can also fragment the sample into smaller glowing bits, which increases the number of things your trying to find. What little I know about it I learned from one of the inventors of the technology - Prof M. McEwan, University of Canterbury. He also designed the mass-spec which went on the Hyeugens (sp?) probe to Titan. They've got a site - I'd invite you to look into the technology, because it's revolutionised the Zoology department back home.

DrAce, Nerri, Caco, Everyone,

Thank you for all this incredible feed back. i think we have pretty much planned on doing some sort of growth rates based on feeding rates without changing any other variables for the eighth grade project. We are basically going to start collecting data now with several groups of slings. We already have second and third instar groups of six of the following species: B. smithi, P. irminia, A. versicolor, P. regalis. i wouldn't mind getting my hands on 6 2nd instar P. murinus as well if i can get them soon so they are the same instar as the rest of the groups. i doubt we would necessarily use the data from all the species but it will give us a lot of data to have available. It will also give us several groups in case we should happen to lose a sling along the way for some unforseen reason. (Knock on wood, haven't lost one yet!)

My niece loves all the ideas people are posting. Right now she is going to try and concentrate on what possible experiment she can do for the project this year as it will need to be something based on behavior or ??? since we don't have time to do the growth rate project this time. We have several other various slings, juvies and adults. If she did something like the burrowing experiment would she repeat it with the same T or several T's of burrowing species? Obviously size of the T would cause some differences in results since slings tend to burrow more than bigger T's. Any other suggestions?

As far as a note or official sign off from a vet, that is already required for any science projects involving live animals but its a great idea. i'll probably have a vet friend give us a preliminary animal ethics release since we are having to start data collection on both assignments so far ahead of time just to keep it on the up and up...

...As far as another type experiment based on behavior, i would probably pick a different species than an OBT for the simple reason that i don't care to deal with them out when i don't need to - LOL!! Anyway, thanks for your concern but she is a very responsible 12 year old - probably much more so than many of the adults that purchase T's for the "cool" factor and it isn't like she is handling venomous species or working with them on her own.
You are, of course, most welcome. WRT safety, in the original 'tube' idea above, you would not need to worry too much, because there is not much manipulation. You get the spider into a sealed tube, which has two ends, and then watch which it spends most it's time in. Simple. Effective. Apart from averaging/graphing over time - no statistics.

Different spider. Compare results. BINGO - conclusion (my Smithi likes light more than my OBT). Change conditions - heat one end of the tube and take the black paper off. Observe as above. New conclusion - OBT prefers warm more than smithi.

Easy - safe - simple - conclusive.

Another problem I have with the feeding one is the food. How consistant is the food? Will the crickets be fed the same thing always? How big is any given cricket? There are actually a lot of variables here.
 

Cheshire

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I really like the burrowing idea, but I think that would really only be effective with semi-arboreals like P. murinis and young pokies.

Oh, but it could be done across species. Does this enclosure size discourage this species to burrow, etc.

What about a 'how big of an enclosure do tarantulas *actually* need' experiment?

I think there are some surprising results that could come of that experiment.
 
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DrAce

Arachnodemon
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I really like the burrowing idea, but I think that would really only be effective with semi-arboreals like P. murinis and young pokies.
Agreed. It would need more repeats and subjects to get a good solid result, though. That's not bad - that's just a comment. Because the behavior is a lot more complicated than "where am I going to spend most of my time in a tube". There will be a lot of variation in depth, distance, time taken to tunnel etc.

There's also nothing stopping her from combining them. It would be a great project if you could combine the tunnel results with the burrowing results in a "My OBT likes darker areas, and he burrows more than my smithi, who also prefers light and cold". The experiments are not mutually exclusive, and would add a lot of weight to each other. The tunnel experiments might be useful for making a predictive hypothesis as well. That would show the judges that there is a deeper thought behind it. "My OBT likes dark more than the smithi, so I predict that it will burrow more". The OBT then does not burrow - hypothesis broken.
 
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cacoseraph

ArachnoGod
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I really like the burrowing idea, but I think that would really only be effective with semi-arboreals like P. murinis and young pokies.

Oh, but it could be done across species. Does this enclosure size discourage this species to burrow, etc.

What about a 'how big of an enclosure do tarantulas *actually* need' experiment?

I think there are some surprising results that could come of that experiment.


i rather doubt they want to do any tests-to-destruction. that is more my hard-hearted end of the experimental spectrum.

plus, i already know a pretty good minimum standard. it is almost along the lines of:
take the DLS in inches. cube it. that is the oz's the cage should be. it starts to work less well at around 9 or 10 inches, though =P
could probably make one for metric land, but mine is short and sweet. heh.
 

cacoseraph

ArachnoGod
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The OBT then does not burrow - hypothesis broken.
one thing i would like to remind ppl (i'm definitely NOT meaning Ace here, just a general comment that this made me think of).


in experiments... having your hypothesis broken is not necesarily a bad thing! it still gives us more info! a well thought out hypothesis that is proved incorrect can actually "tell" us more than a weak hypo that is proven :)
 

cacoseraph

ArachnoGod
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oh heck!

i just thought of an experiment i might do myself =P

what about for your longer term 8th grade experiment measuing the difference between feeding a single feeder species VS. multispecies?

i am a big proponent of multipspecial feeding. would be nice to have something to back it up with beyond "common sense"


this one i would like to do fully longitudinally and bring fecundity into the mix =P
 

julesaussies

Arachnobaron
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oh heck!

i just thought of an experiment i might do myself =P

what about for your longer term 8th grade experiment measuing the difference between feeding a single feeder species VS. multispecies?

i am a big proponent of multipspecial feeding. would be nice to have something to back it up with beyond "common sense"


this one i would like to do fully longitudinally and bring fecundity into the mix =P
Well, the cool thing is we have several groups of various species we could do different experiments on and collect data from. Yeah, and last i heard i think she was also getting 10 G. rosea slings to add to her resources... :clap: Then she could pick which one she actually wanted to present for her science project.

Anyway, in regards to this one. i honestly don't think we could feed any kind of vertibrate but i don't have a problem offering a much bigger variety to one group and the other just crickets. i have a medical triple beam gram scale (i used to use when i bred parrots) that i could actually weigh the "food" if i want to be pretty exact. Obviously a roach might weigh more than a cricket or a worm so should i try to offer similar weight meals or does it matter?? How would you do this experiment?
 

Skulnik

Arachnosquire
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May 8, 2007
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Funny how everyone likes feeding/growth rates as an experiment (great for long term)

But

if you want to do something easy, yet effective (coming from a class "A" slacker), just throw something together about the differences in arboreal vs terresterial webbing. Cite evolution. Quothe the TARANTULA KEEPER'S GUIDE. Take samples, make some slides, throw them under a microscope, take some pics, compare, make notes, put 'em on a posterboard, bring a couple Ts to the event for show and VIOLA, you've got a winner in about 2 hours.

Just a plan B in case plan A falls through.
 

DrAce

Arachnodemon
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Well, the cool thing is we have several groups of various species we could do different experiments on and collect data from. Yeah, and last i heard i think she was also getting 10 G. rosea slings to add to her resources... :clap: Then she could pick which one she actually wanted to present for her science project.

Anyway, in regards to this one. i honestly don't think we could feed any kind of vertibrate but i don't have a problem offering a much bigger variety to one group and the other just crickets. i have a medical triple beam gram scale (i used to use when i bred parrots) that i could actually weigh the "food" if i want to be pretty exact. Obviously a roach might weigh more than a cricket or a worm so should i try to offer similar weight meals or does it matter?? How would you do this experiment?
If I was doing this experiment, this is what I would do.

In terms of feeding more/less, I would have batches of in-bred and same-fed crickets, and using the scales you have, weigh how much food each tarantula eats as you give it to them.

I still have reservations with this though. How much of the cricket is the Tarantula eating? Is water consumption actually more important than the food? How are you controlling for water?

Anyway. In terms of different types of food, you've got the same problem. Different species weigh different, and all you can try to do is control for amount of food given (ten crickets for each cockroach, or some similar thing).

Again, the behavior problems are 'cleaner', and quicker. There is less that can go wrong, and less you need to control for.
 
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