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Investigation into the factor of light and dark affecting woodlice.

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Introduction

Investigation into the factor of light and dark affecting woodlice Predictions It was expected that a woodlice would prefer a damp, dark, but moderately warm surrounding. Normally one would expect to find slaters under logs or concrete slabs in one's garden. Under these large objects, the sun cannot reach directly; therefore it is darker, damper and colder than the surroundings. Nevertheless, in winter we do not see woodlice crawling around very often, and, also at night, it may actually be warmer under such objects, because it looses heat more slowly, so I predict that the woodlice would prefer a dark, damp and a temperature of around 15oC. (The ground temperature of a typical Scottish day). This preference to dark and damp surroundings is mainly due to woodlouse's inefficient water-storage system. A woodlouse, if exposed to heat or light for too long, can die due to the dramatic loss of water. They prefer a moderate temperature, because they are so small, and can be damaged by frost if they are exposed to the extreme of cold, but they don't want such a high temperature, either, because they would start loosing too much water. I would also expect the woodlouse to prefer a surrounding of slightly higher pressure (1.05 ~ 1.1 atmosphere), because water evaporates more slowly under a high pressure. ...read more.

Middle

Only one was present in the dry part of the chamber. Figure 2. Temperature of water. In this experiment the woodlouse were exposed to a gradient of water temperature immediately below, starting from 0oC to ~80oC. However, there seemed to be a fairly even distribution of woodlouse in all chambers except the 20oC one. Figure 3. Luminosity. In this experiment the woodlouse were exposed to a selection of lighting conditions, from almost complete darkness to the brightness of a 100 watt table lamp 20 cm above. The woodlice have preferred a surrounding of dim lighting, covered with 80 gsm copier paper. (The luminosity under 80 gsm papers is approximately equal to drawing the curtains up on a dull/rainy day.) Criticisms and Discussion (Possible Errors/Comments) It was impossible to use the photographic technology since all practical work must be ceased by the end of an 80 minutes double period, and I did not possess a Polaroid, therefore a technique of drawing diagram was adopted instead. It was found that the woodlouse would actually settle down to a suitable surrounding unless it is irritated by external means, so this made the counting much easier as well. In experiment 1, a woodlouse settled down in the dry part of the chamber, but it was quite near to the moist part. ...read more.

Conclusion

In experiment 3, the woodlouse preferred the dim lighting rather than complete darkness, but two of them settled in the dark area. It was expected that they would prefer a dim area, because the lower temperature. However, they did not like the dark area, probably because of the nature of the aluminum foil. Aluminum is a metal and thus can transfer heat much more efficiently by conduction. This is probably why that it may actually be hotter under the aluminum foil than under the 80 gsm copier. A piece of black paper should have been used instead. Because of the time limitation, it has been very difficult to do any short-term observation. I think the choice chamber should really have been left for about 5 minutes before woodlouse are allowed in, and a further 15 minutes must be elapsed before the photos may be taken. The photos may also be taken at 1 minute intervals between 10 and 15 minutes, and an average calculated. The procedure should really also be repeated with different samples of woodlouse (e.g. woodlouse from Biology, woodlouse from my own garden, and woodlouse from South of England, or even different types of woodlouse). That would have given us a more generalized result, rather than doing an investigation on "the Edinburgh Academy Biology Department's woodlouse's preference to the environment". ...read more.

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