Monday, October 10, 2016

Patrick's Research

 Ant colony system





General Notes

  • Most ant colonies are so united toward the common purposes of survival, growth, and reproduction that they behave like a single organism, or a “superorganism.”
  • Colony anatomy
    • Each colony is a close-knit family
    • Usually including a mother (queen)
    • Her adult daughters (workers)
    • And brood (eggs, larvae, pupae)
    • During the mating season
      • New queens and males may also hang around the colony, but not for long.
      • Queens initially have wings and fly to find a mate(s)
        • But they tear them off before starting a new colony
      • Males have wings and fly to mate with queens
        • They live for only a few weeks
        • Never help with the chores of the colony.
  • Ants build their homes in all sorts of places
    • Dig underground nests and/or build mounds of soil
    • Live in leaf litter, acorns, or rotting wood on the forest floor
    • Take cover underneath rocks, which can also provide warmth
    • Some nest only in trees.
    • Excellent architects
    • Nests are designed to provide just the right environment for larvae to grow
    • Some have a built-in ventilation system to circulate fresh air
  • An ant colony is like a factory
    • Work together to convert resources (food) into products (more ants)
    • Division of labor, where different individuals specialize on different jobs
      • Younger ants work inside the nest
      • Older workers go outside to gather food and defend the nest against enemies
    • The queen doesn’t boss the workers around
    • Workers decide which tasks to perform based on personal preferences, interactions with nestmates, and cues from the environment.
  • Communication skills
    • Members of an ant colony ‘talk’ to coordinate their activities
    • Communicate mainly using chemicals, which they smell with their antennae
      • Workers release pheromones with specific messages
        • “Follow me to food!”
        • “Attack the intruder!”
      • Recognize one another by chemicals that cover their bodies
      • The queen is coated with a unique blend of chemicals that advertises her presence
      • Also use touch and vibration to communicate in some situations
  • Ants of a colony combined are pretty smart
    • Ant superorganisms can solve difficult problems by processing information as a group
    • Example:
      • A colony can compare potential nest sites before collectively choosing the best one
      • A solitary insect would not be able to weigh as many options, and could more easily make a mistake
  • Hunting and farming
    • Hunting in groups allows ants to overcome much bigger and stronger prey
    • Ants such as the leafcutter ants collect vegetation to grow nutritious fungus gardens inside their nests
    • Some ants make a living as ranchers
      • They herd plant-sucking insects like livestock and feed on their sweet leftovers
  • Ants are very loyal to their own colony
    • Competition among colonies for food and other resources often leads to aggression
    • Many species establish a territory around their nest that is off-limits to neighboring ants
    • If members of a rival colony invade
      • All-out war can erupt
      • Workers sometimes sting, spray, and/or bite to the death during these battles


Northern Cardinals





General Notes

  • The mating season
    • Begins in March
    • The males are so hot-blooded they will never allow one of their own to nestle in their territory.
    • Male cardinals can be seen following another from bush to bush, emitting a shrill note of anger and diving aggressively towards the trespasser.
    • Combative action will continue until the transgressor is ousted.
    • The victor will perch himself in his favorite tree and pour his heart out in an unmistakable song of cardinal exultation.
  • Because of their territorial instinct (if put in front of mirror or glass) the male cardinal can spend hours trying to expel his reflected image that he perceives as an intruder.
    • Attacks should end (though one female kept up this behavior every day or so for six months without stopping).
  • Cardinals are good parents
    • The male cardinal shares in the duties of parenthood with his mate
      • feeding and caring for the mother during and after incubation
    • While the male is caring for his family
      • His bright red color will change to a duller shade of brown
      • His appearance will be more like that of his female counterpart
      • This transformation of color occurs as a camouflage helping him to fulfill his duties as a dedicated parent
  • Unlike many other songbirds in North America
    • The male and female cardinals can sing
    • Usually, only a male songbird is capable of singing.
    • Female cardinal sings from the nest
      • Usually means she’s telling the male she needs more food.
      • Female has a more elaborate song, which is unusual in singing birds.
  • The oldest Northern Cardinal ever recorded was 15 years and 9 months old.



Planarian Worms


General Notes

  • Live in saltwater and freshwater waters
  • Have the ability to regenerate body parts.
    • If you cut a planarian worm in two
    • The part without a head will grow a fully functional head with a new brain.
    • The other part will grow a tail.
    • Does all of this within 7 to 10 days.
  • They can regenerate any part of themselves due to the abundance of stem cells they have.
  • In a study entitled “Stem cells and regeneration in planarians.”
    • they found that a fragment as small as 1/279 of the animal can regenerate completely within a few weeks.

13 Facts about planarians

  1. SOME SPECIES PRACTICE CHEMICAL WARFARE.
  2. THEIR MOUTH IS LOCATED AT THE MIDDLE OF THEIR BODY—AND IT’S NOT ONLY USED FOR EATING.
  3. THEY ALMOST WERE THE ANIMAL MODEL THAT DEFINED GENETICS IN THE 20TH CENTURY.
  4. MOST PLANARIAN SPECIES HAVE TWO EYES, WHICH ALWAYS LOOK “CROSSED”; NOBODY KNOWS WHY.
  5. THERE WAS AN ACTUAL COMIC BOOK TITLED PLANARIAN MAN.
  6. PLANARIANS DISPLAY BEHAVIORS VERY SIMILAR TO ADDICTION WHEN GIVEN MANY OF THE SAME DRUGS THAT HUMANS ABUSE.
  7. PLANARIANS HAVE BEEN MENTIONED ON THE BIG BANG THEORY.
  8. TWO OTHER TV SHOWS ALSO MENTIONED PLANARIANS... BOTH IN THE SAME DAY AND THE SAME TIME!
  9. MANY SPECIES OF PLANARIANS CAN REGENERATE LOST PARTS—INCLUDING THEIR HEADS, WHICH CONTAIN RUDIMENTARY BUT FULLY-FUNCTIONAL BRAINS.
  10. IF YOU CUT PLANARIANS IN A PARTICULAR WAY, YOU CAN MAKE THEM GROW MULTIPLE HEADS.
  11. PLANARIANS ARE CAPABLE OF LEARNING, AND UPON DECAPITATION, THE BODIES WITH NEWLY REGENERATED HEADS WILL REMEMBER WHAT THEY LEARNED.
  12. IF YOU TRANSPLANT THE BRAIN OF A PLANARIAN TO THE BODY OF ANOTHER PLANARIAN, THE TRANSPLANT WILL HOLD AND EVENTUALLY CONTROL ITS NEW BODY.
  13. DARWIN STUDIED PLANARIANS.



Ruppell’s Griffon Vulture


  • The Ruppell’s griffon vulture is the highest flying bird ever recorded
    • Can fly at an altitude of 37000 feet
    • Vulture’s body contains a special type of hemoglobin
      • Makes oxygen intake more effective
    • Wingspan measures between 2.3 - 2.5 meters
      • Flight speed of 22 mph
      • Can stay in the air for hours
  • The scavenger has keen eyesight
    • Can spot carcasses from great heights
  • Habitat - Africa
    • Woodlands
    • Grasslands
    • Montane regions
    • Highly social
    • Roost on inaccessible rock ledges or in Acacia trees
  • Diet
    • Feed on the carcasses of dead animals
    • Sometimes have to travel great distances to find food
    • Play an important role in nature
      • They clear up a carcass that otherwise would be left to rot
      • A group can clear remains of an antelope in 20 minutes
    • Absence of neck feathers allows the vulture to reach deep into a carcass without becoming dirty
  • Breeding
    • Form breeding colonies of up to 1,000 breeding pairs
    • They pair up for life
    • One egg is laid and both parents share incubation duties for approximately 55 days
    • Upon hatching both parents take care of the chick
      • Youngster fledges at 12 weeks and becomes independent

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