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One Weakness and One Strength (Lateralization Article)

Submitted by malberigi on Mon, 03/05/2018 - 20:52

One of the strengths of this article was the testing of both scent detection and scent discrimination.  Olfactory cues are more complex in nature than what can normally be reconstructed in a lab.  Therefore, the authors’ decided to drive home the hypothesis of olfactory lateralization by testing bees on two different aspects of olfaction. 

One weakness of this study was that during the comparison of olfactory receptor cells each of the 10 pairs of antennae should have come from 10 individuals.  Instead, only 7 pairs came from 7 individuals and the other three from three individuals.  This could cause some data discrepancies because all antennae were not collected in the same manner.  Also, 10 pairs of antennae is not a high number considering they added this information to their paper.  The authors might want to gather more data with more pairs of antennae in order to be entirely sure of the correlations.

Lateralization of Olfaction in the Honeybee Apis mellifera

Submitted by malberigi on Sun, 03/04/2018 - 17:24

The authors covered the right antennae of one group, the left antennae of another group, and left the final group of bees’ antennae uncovered.  They quantified the bees’ ability to smell by extension of the bees’ proboscis when conditioning them.  There were two experiments to test for lateral differences in olfactory learning.  One version conditioned the bees to extend their proboscis when a scent was experienced and the other version conditioned bees to extend their proboscis to one scent but not another.  The predictions for the first experiment was that one of the groups that had one of their antennae covered would preform worse than the other covered group and uncovered control group for scent detection.  The predictions for the second experiment were similar in that one of the covered groups would preform worse than the other covered group or uncovered control group in scent discrimination.

Methods Project Results

Submitted by malberigi on Fri, 03/02/2018 - 12:14

Between Figure 1 and Figure 2 there are 15 total differences observed.  These discrepancies were observed in panels A, B, and C of the figures.  This section begins with general differences found between the labeling of both figures followed by differences organized by each panel.  Beginning with panel A and panel B differences in color, angle, and orientation are described.  Finally in panel C differences between the maps and countries highlighted are described.

The fonts for each panel label are different, and the font in Figure 1 is not bolded.  The location of the panel labels are also different.  The labels in Figure 1 are located above the images and the labels in Figure 2 are located to the left of the images, however they are both located in the upper left-hand corner for each image.  The panel labels in both figures are not overlapped on top of the images and are both colored black.  

The images of the orchid in Figure 1A have a different hue to them than in Figure 2A.  In Figure 1A the orchid is located closer to the photographer and the sign is facing the camera more dead center.  The sign in Figure 1A is also less straight up and down than in Figure 2A.  In Figure 1A there is less of the plant to the right of the plant of interest included in the photo than in Figure 2A and the bench upon which the plant is sitting is less included in Figure 1A.  

In part B, the amount of blooms included in Figure 1B is different from Figure 2B.  There are also differences in hue between the two figure images.  Figure 1B has only the bottom half of the bloom included instead of the entire bloom included in Figure 2B.  The angle in Figure 1B is pointed more towards the floor, whereas in Figure 2B it is more parallel to the bench.  There is also more of the plant to the left of the orchid and the bench included in Figure 1B in comparison to Figure 2B.  The pot of the orchid is not present in Figure 1B but is included in Figure 2B.

Part C was where most differences between the two figures occured.  The world map in Figure 1C contains an elliptical outline where in Figure 2C there is no outline but there is a rectangular shape.  The world map in Figure 1C is also smaller than that of Figure 2C and is less stretched out on both sides.  The depiction of antarctica in Figure 2C is also a lighter color gray than the rest of the map.  The colors by which the countries were highlighted were both turquoise but Figure 1C was a brighter turquoise than in Figure 2C.  The countries colored in included Central America, but the caribbean islands were highlighted in Figure 2C which was inconsistent with those highlighted in Figure 1C.


Methods Project Introduction

Submitted by malberigi on Thu, 03/01/2018 - 17:31

The Methods Project was assigned in Spring 2018 as part of the Writing in Biology course at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This project directed the writing of a methods portion detailing the creation of a scientific figure (Figure 2) that would then be compared to a previously made original figure (Figure 1).  The project was designed to teach students how to make scientific observations and inferences.  Students would examine both Figure 1 and Figure 2 and quantify explicit differences between them.  The project was also designed to teach students how to write their own methods section and how to follow another student’s method section to produce a comparative figure.

In scientific writing, it is imperative to write a detailed and concise methods section so other scientists can replicate the results of an experiment.  The figure created as a result of this project depicts the orchid species Oncidium Sharry Baby and where it can found indigenously throughout the world.  This orchid is found on the University of Massachusetts campus in Durfee conservatory, which is student accessible.  Oncidium Sharry Baby  was chosen because the morphology of the plant and its flowers made the photo angles easy to control.  The plants location in the greenhouse allowed for the control of the photographer’s distance from the orchid. The blooms are fragrant, unlike many of the flowers surrounding it, further drawing attention towards the orchid of interest.  Utilizing a ‘fragrant flower’ sign located in front of the plant as a reference point regulated the orientation of each image.  The computer program Inkscape was used to create a world map, which allowed for the control of which world maps were less pixelated and which colors could be used to highlight individual countries.  These reasons allow for the controlled creation of a parallel, representative figure of Oncidium Sharry Baby.




Submitted by malberigi on Wed, 02/28/2018 - 19:11

Foraminifera are ocean dwelling amoeba-like protists that build shells known as tests. The shell is referred to as a test because some of the protoplasm of the unicellular organism covers the outside of the test. Tests have chambers that are added as the cell grows. Shells or tests can be made of sand and bits of discarded shells that adhere to an exuded sticky substance, a hard keratin-like material, or calcite (calcium carbonate).  Foraminifera can be planktonic or benthic. Many tropical beaches are composed of sands made primarily from the skeletons of benthic foraminifera. Much of the ocean floor that is less than 4.000 m deep is covered by calcareous ooze composed of microfossil shells made of calcite. Foraminifera that secrete tests of calcite are not typically found below this depth because their skeletons dissolve. The calcite compensation depth (CCD) is the depth at which calcite dissolves and is typically 4,000 to 5,000 meters.  Below this depth forms that construct their tests from cemented grains of sand or other foreign particles are more common. 


Methods Project Abstract

Submitted by malberigi on Tue, 02/27/2018 - 21:16

An original figure was made and a methods proportion written in order for a colleague to create an analogous replicate figure.  Both the original and replicate figures detailing the orchid Oncidium Sharry Baby have differences despite following the same methods.  Photos in parts A and B of figure 2 are taken at angles and distances non-congruent to figure 1, and differ hue due to the usage of two different cameras.  Part C of figure 2 is comprised of a different world map as well as an alternate hue of turquoise.  There was also highlighting of the caribbean islands in figure 2 part C due to a misunderstanding of the countries that comprise central america.  In figure 2 there was differences in font, bolding, and orientation of the panel labels.  The methods were closely followed to produce figure 2, resulting in quantitative differences in comparison to figure 1.

Green Sea Turtles

Submitted by malberigi on Mon, 02/26/2018 - 17:15

Green sea turtles are the largest species of hard-shelled turtle normally found in tropical and subtropical waters around the globe.   The principal cause of the historical, worldwide decline of the green turtle is long-term harvest of eggs and adults on nesting beaches and juveniles and adults on feeding grounds. These harvests are cultural and continue in some areas of the world, compromising the efforts made to recover this species.  Incidental capture in fishing gear, primarily in gillnets, but also in trawls, continues to decrease the numbers of wild turtles inhabiting our oceans.

Methods Project Discussion Part 2

Submitted by malberigi on Fri, 02/23/2018 - 13:20

The location of the bottom bloom in part B is congruent in both figures, but the amount of blooms contained in the images were not.  The differences in distance from the flowers arose because ideal distance was not detailed in the methods.  In part C there were two different world maps used due to methods of finding the first world map not being detailed in the methods.  The world map originally used may not be available online anymore.  The color by which the countries were highlighted was included in the methods, but there are many different shades of turquoise on Inkscape which accounts for the difference in shade.  The caribbean was also highlighted in figure 2, but this could have been due to a misunderstanding of which countries constituted central america.  Overall, the methods did yield a congruent figure with minor discrepancies.


Methods Project Discussion

Submitted by malberigi on Thu, 02/22/2018 - 22:13

Inferences can be made regarding the differences observed between these two figures due to how the methods were written.  The differences in fonts, bolding, and location of panel labels are due to there not being a precise description of how these should look.  There is only a description of which figures are labeled with which letter, allowing room for error.  Both figures contained panel labels that were in black, potentially due to black being the most common font color.  There is also a color difference in parts A and B of both figures.  This may be due to the differences in cameras used, or differences in day time when the pictures were taken.

In part A of both figures, the camera angle and orientation of the sign in front of the orchid differed.  There was explanation of how to orient the plant using the sign as a reference in the methods, but these instructions were followed more closely in the second figure.  The picture was initially taken,then the methods written, making the methods conform less to the picture.   There was also less description about the distance between the orchid and the photographer which could account for there being more of the bench and surrounding plants included in figure 2.


Stotting in Gazelles

Submitted by malberigi on Thu, 02/22/2018 - 10:01

The authors mentioned early in their introduction that there have been eleven hypotheses suggested regarding the purpose of stotting in Thomson’s gazelles.  They theorized that a gazelle’s probability of stotting may change depending on the type of predator pursuing them, if they are singled out by the predator, or their physical condition.  For one prediction, the authors identified two types of predation styles, stalking and coursing, and compared the incidence of stotting between the two. They theorize the purpose of stotting in response to a coursing predator would be to demonstrate a gazelle’s ability to outrun them making the chase futile. Another predition tested was the difference in probability of stotting when approached by African wild dogs, a coursing predator, and how the way the dogs approached a gazelle might change its rate of stotting.  An additional predition the authors tested was how the proportion of stotting in a gazelle might make that animal more or less likely to be chased by African wild dogs.  Their last prediction was that stotting rates were an indicator of each individual’s health.



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