Biology Without Borders

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Logbook – Cap. 1

In a recent post, I wrote about the importance of researches in Animal Personality. In fact, it is an interesting topic, but I have to do my “mea culpa” and explicit the real reason: I am working with it!

Since September 2014, I have been working as part of Ben Chapman laboratory group in University of Nottingham. The project that we are developing tries to understand why “individuals of the same species vary in their behaviour and life-history” and in my research, I have been testing two Sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) populations from different places to address this question.

But why I am doing this? If you want to know more about the importance of studing Animal Behaviour and Personality, I suggest you to read my old post: “Animal Personality – Why is this important?”. As I said, there I analyzed the importance and the relevance of studies with Animal’s Personality.

Now the research work begins with its main challenge of getting the knowledge and background about the area which can be sometimes really difficult and time consuming when it is a recent research field or not very well explored. Luckly that was not the case. Thereby I have read several papers and I also did a Literature Review to summarize and put together all the important informations that I have found so far and that could guide my theorical basis throughout the research processes and procedures.

The second step was to choose the specific personality trait that each of the students working on this current research at the laboratory would like to work with. Between boldness, exploration and social traits I chose social one and that was because I found this the most interesting topic to work whit.

My research, basically, seeks to know if the individuals of the Sticklebacks population prefer to live alone or in group and compare the different populations.

The next steps were to create an aquarium. After some difficulties to build the perfect aquarium that suits for the research, it was time to start my trials. Trials are necessary to get used to all the equipments, especially to the video cameras, minimizing errors due to handling. Also, doing that I would be able to face possible problems that could arise during the process.

11103892_805826419497118_909823830_nTaking a good picture is most difficult than building an aquarium

After some adaptations in the light system due to water reflection, the trials were finally performed. Below you can see a frame of the video test.

Screen Shot 2015-03-31 at 02.36.14

The research is now in progress and the next step will be to go to a fieldwork in Scotland during April where I will use the knowledge gained in the laboratory to study the natural populations of the island. Once the results are coming, I will update the blog with new posts, where I also will explain the methodology of the experiment.

Finally, doing a research during academic year is not easy. To deal with all the time scheduling and to be organized in every single step are the key things in order to not lose any detail and at the end to find the best and reliable conclusion. But after all that, what I can really tell is that it worth it. All the knowledge and responsibility that come with a research, independently of the field, is counted either in your curriculum or in your personal life. Above all, the people that you get to know and to see how group work is done towards a real project is a priceless expirence.

Rafael Arnoni Trovó