Honors College | Scholars Week Theses Presentations

Title

The Epigenetic Effects of Predation Risk on Anti-Predator Behavior in Naïve, Juvenile Southeastern Field Crickets (Gryllus rubens)

Presenter Information

Nic NormanFollow

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Biology

Minor

Chemistry

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

Dr. Oliver Beckers; Dr. Laura Sullivan-Beckers

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

Transgenerational effects on behavior have been observed in other species before, but this study attempts to observe the effects in a fully controlled rearing environment. The parents of the offspring being studied were in the second generation (F2) of lab-reared crickets. This insures no lingering parental effects from the wild and allows for a fully controlled system. The gravid mothers were exposed to either a wolf spider or a different species of cricket as well as the corresponding chemical cues, and allowed to lay their eggs. The eggs were then collected and raised separately from the mothers and provided with no predation cues or risks. These offspring were then tested once they reached a late juvenile instar, or molt. They were tested for their boldness (latency to first movement) and their anti-predator behavior (time spent immobile, or frozen). To perform this test the crickets were placed underneath an opaque tube on top of spider exposed filter paper inside a chamber and allowed to acclimate for five minutes. Then the tube was lifted and the movements of the cricket were observed for 25 minutes. Sexes of the offspring were compared as well as the exposure treatment of the mother. As data is presently coming in and will continue to come in, the outcome will become clearer soon.

Key Words: Behavior, Epigenetics, Parental Effects, Anti-Predator Behavior, Cricket, Gryllus rubens

Affiliations

Honors Thesis

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The Epigenetic Effects of Predation Risk on Anti-Predator Behavior in Naïve, Juvenile Southeastern Field Crickets (Gryllus rubens)

Transgenerational effects on behavior have been observed in other species before, but this study attempts to observe the effects in a fully controlled rearing environment. The parents of the offspring being studied were in the second generation (F2) of lab-reared crickets. This insures no lingering parental effects from the wild and allows for a fully controlled system. The gravid mothers were exposed to either a wolf spider or a different species of cricket as well as the corresponding chemical cues, and allowed to lay their eggs. The eggs were then collected and raised separately from the mothers and provided with no predation cues or risks. These offspring were then tested once they reached a late juvenile instar, or molt. They were tested for their boldness (latency to first movement) and their anti-predator behavior (time spent immobile, or frozen). To perform this test the crickets were placed underneath an opaque tube on top of spider exposed filter paper inside a chamber and allowed to acclimate for five minutes. Then the tube was lifted and the movements of the cricket were observed for 25 minutes. Sexes of the offspring were compared as well as the exposure treatment of the mother. As data is presently coming in and will continue to come in, the outcome will become clearer soon.

Key Words: Behavior, Epigenetics, Parental Effects, Anti-Predator Behavior, Cricket, Gryllus rubens