Time is flying! It's already the end of the second week of the program. The crab lab is almost ready for our Dungeness crabs (Metacarcinus magister). There are a few more programming issues that need to be resolved; after that, we can run the system, troubleshoot, and start the experiment. When the crabs are ready, we will be able to create three more of the exact same set-up. We will be able to have 96 crabs with four mixing tanks.
In the meantime, I have been sorting out what I want to do with my isopods (Pentidotea wosnesinkii). I was able to share my current ideas and receive helpful tips and considerations from my peers and program coordinators. I plan on monitoring the isopods' behaviors in relation to certain colors, but I also need to prove whether they are consciously choosing their location. As of right now, I have 4 different tests planned, but I may need more to fully understand their behavior. I have a few pet isopods in the lab that I play with to help me design my experiment.
I have been working with another REU Intern, Chris Carlson, to construct a Y-maze that can test isopod and green crab behaviors. Chris is also considering using our crab lab for his green crab experiment; it's been interesting designing extremely versatile equipment for both of us. Our crab containers have removable dividers to accommodate the size of green crabs and unsecured PVC tunnels for the crabs to hide in but can be taken out as necessary.
This week was largely exploratory and detail-oriented, aimed at finalizing preparations for our experiments. Next week I get to meet my lab partner, Erica, and test our apparatuses. I am hoping that everything works without any issues. I have a strong feeling that my preliminary y-maze will need some tweaking, but not a reworking.