Ethogram Development of Trichoplusia ni**


The lepidopteran species, Trichoplusia ni, is an excellent model organism for studying behavior. They are easy to care for in a controlled environment, have short generation times, and exhibit distinct, observable behaviors. To our knowledge, there is no existing ethogram for T.ni, so we plan to establish this detailed behavioral analysis (an ethogram) for the larvae of this species. Our ethogram will serve as the foundation for future behavioral research connecting behaviors with their neurological basis in an organism with a relatively simple neurological system. It can then be used as the baseline for exploring behavior in organisms with more complex neurological systems. To create an ethogram of larval behaviors, we have taken fifteen 30-minute videos of individuals alone in an environment (arena). Currently, we are reviewing the videos to document operationalized behaviors and to establish a high inter-rater reliability so that multiple people can code videos in the future. These operationalized behaviors include, but are not limited to, upward movement attempts, spatial preference, which is measured by dividing the arena in quadrants, locomotion, unique locomotor behaviors, searching movements, and a lack of movement. We will then compare the behaviors of single individuals in the arena to pairs of larvae in the arena to observe how other individuals of the same species affect larval behavior. Ultimately, our goal is to establish T.ni as a model organism by describing its behavior in the format of an ethogram that can then be used as a framework for studying the impact of a variety of environmental conditions on behavior and the neurological system of T.ni larvae.


UNG Dept of Biology

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