The species I have chosen to photograph is the eastern gray squirrel, or Sciurius carolinensis. They are abundant on campus, which only makes one wonder how these squirrels have learned how to survive and prosper in an ecosystem so often disturbed by humans. Evolutionarily speaking the eastern gray squirrel is assumed to have adapted to its surroundings, which is an issue I will delve into through my Methods Project. I will examine the ancestral roots and changes that had to take place in order to develop a species so attuned to co-existing with humans on a campus with little animals otherwise.
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The goal of my honors research thesis project is to examine the relationship between preconception and prenatal stress and the prevalence of the human stress hormone, cortisol, later in life. The study focuses on the prediction of child cognitive health outcomes at ages 3.5 and 4.5. It includes extensive interview measures of maternal stress and biomarkers before conception and during pregnancy, creating a unique opportunity to examine prospective predictors of child outcomes. In collaboration with Dr. Chris Dunkel Schetter, PhD, samples will be collected from ~150 ethnically/racially diverse mother-child pairs in lower income areas. The hair samples are one component of a larger study, aimed at determining how much stress a mother endures while pregnant affects the functional ability of their child after they are born. Knowing this could be very important in the future of prenatal guidelines for a healthy child.
Figure1. Black and White Panda in its Natural Habitat
Two common behaviors of panda are eating bamboo and seeking shade to escape hot sun on their thick fur.
I started the day with waking up and walking to the bathroom to wash up before going to class. I then walked back to my room to get dressed, and to the kitchen in my house to make a quick breakfast, as I was running late. I then walked with two of my roommates to the bus stop down the street from me to take the B30 bus to class. After riding the bus for ten minutes, we parted ways and walked to our respective buildings. I walked to Morrill from the Studio Arts Building, and they walked to Herter from the same stop. After class I walked to the Morrill Café to study and nap a bit, and then walked to my Life After Bio discussion in Morrill as well. When that ended I walked to Harvest in the Campus center, then brought it with me to Blue Wall to eat with some of my roommates. I then walked from the Campus center to my next class in Hasbrouck. Once that class ended I walked a few feet down the road to the ILC bus stop to take the B30 bus back to my house off campus. It dropped me off at the Aspen Chase bus stop, which I followed with walking to my house. When I entered the front door I went to the bathroom to shower, then walked to my car so I could drive to my boyfriend’s house to eat dinner and do homework. That concluded my transportation for the day.
The organism observed in class appeared to be a type of larva. It was about 2.5 cm long, in yellow segments, and culminated in a hard red head. Feelers exctended from its front, and seeing that the larva did not have eyes, these feelers were assumed to be used for sight in their place. Though larva are insects and therefore invertebrate, the organism had a thin stripe down its back. Perhaps it was the begginings of a notochord. At first the larva moved slowly towards the wood shavings left in the cup, seemingly because the shavings were a food source. However, over time, the larva stopped moving and remained around the edges of the cup. Soon, to test the larva's movement patterns, a slice of paper was inserted into the cup. The larva was poked, however it did not react. A few minutes later it began to climb up the slice of paper, which allowed detailed observation of its locomotion. In order to move the larva scrunches its body and ripples the bunch forward until the head moves forward. A very interesting point arose regarding its hind legs, in that they are primarily used for suction and do not move. The larva attatched itself to the slip of paper and clung to it even when suspended in air, confirming this observation.
The larva we received in class today was yellow in color and segmented, culminating in an orange head with feelers projecting out of it. It had legs all along the underside of its body, however the organism only used the first four for movement. The rest of the back legs it used for suction, and this was observed upon extending a piece of paper which the organism adhered to. It moves by scrunching its body from front to back in order to propel the front end forwards, and since the organism does not have eyeballs it is assumed it feels where it is going by the hairs on its body and the feelers near its head.