Some experiments call for controlled conditions, which is where lab experiments on housed colonies can be useful. I love building experimental apparatus, and at NJIT I was able to build state-of-the-art ant filming setups. These were environmentally stable, light-controlled gantries equipped with full-spectrum and ultraviolet illumination settings and customisable experimental arenas.

 

Time lapse

Time lapse of internest trails in Argentine ants (Linepithema humile):

Time lapse of slime mould (Physarum polycephalum) exploring the surface of a bowl of water:

Time lapse of slime mould solving the U-shaped trap problem on a blank agar substrate (using its extracellular slime trail as an externalised patial memory system):

Time lapse of slime mould trying to solve the U-shaped trap problem on a substrate coated in extracellular slime (memory system disabled):

Time lapse of a large P. polycephalum plasmodium on a glucose nutrient agar:

Microscopy

I love to use microscopes when I can. I could sit for hours watching the hypnotic flow of cytoplasm inside a Physarum polycephalum tubule! (this video has been sped up around 20x):

3D Printing

I like using 3D printers for producing custom, replicable apparatus for experiments. They are also great fun!

Gear design
Retractable bridge apparatus for army ant experiments
3D-printed bull ant 1
Bull ant (Myrmecia) I repositioned and printed from an online design, for my previous boss Tanya Latty
trophy design
Trophy design for an Entomology competition – an articulated Mantid raptorial appendage

 

Advertisements