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Ecology Fair University of Minnesota Monarch Lab

Abstracts from Hazel Park Preparatory Academy 2014

Hazel Park Preparatory Academy
1140 White Bear Ave.
Saint Paul, MN 55106

Year: 2014
Teacher(s): John Weimholt

Effects of extreme cold on benthic vernal pond life

Pa Ia Y, Gaonoukhu H, Phranangchaub X

Vernal, or temporary, ponds are home to many kinds of animal and plant life, including many very small animals and plants that can survive the dry and frozen conditions of long Minnesota winters at the bottom of the the pond, or benthic zone.  Our question is, how cold is too cold for these life forms?  Could they survive temperatures colder than on Mars?  Can they survive liquid nitrogen at -321 degrees?  Our hypothesis is that some winter adapted species can survive liquid nitrogen.  In our experiment, we took mud samples from the bottom of a nearby vernal pond and submerged them in liquid nitrogen, then prepared them to thaw out in petri dishes and checked for signs of life over the following days.  Results pending.


Investigating vibrating behavior of cellar spiders (Pholcidae)

Jonathan R

Cellar spiders (family Pholcidae) are predators of small insects, commonly found in basements.  They have the interesting behavior of shaking their webs if the webs are touched or if they feel threatened, among other possible reasons.  My question is what kind of touch makes them vibrate their web.  My hypothesis is that touching the spiders will make them shake their webs.  I put cellar spiders in large containers and gently touched their legs to see if that would cause the cellar spiders to vibrate.  Results pending.


Isolating Fairy Shrimp eggs from a vernal pond floor

Bright S, Cheng V

Fairy shrimp are very small crustaceans found only in vernal, or temporary ponds, which are free of predating fish.  Fairy shrimp lay thousands of eggs that land on the pond floor, dry out with the pond in the fall, and survive the cold of Minnesota winters.  Our question is, how can we find these tiny eggs in the muddy pond bottom.  Our hypothesis is that we can effectively isolate at least 15 Fairy Shrimp eggs using a filtering screen system.  We will experiment with a variety of filtration methods to maximize shrimp egg yield.  Results pending.


The scale size of Monarch and Rajah Brooke Birdwing Butterflies

John N

The colors of butterfly wings are the results of many tiny scales on their wings. My question is, how big are these scales?  Are they all the same size across different butterfly species?  My hypothesis is that different species can have different sized scales.  I used a microscope to measure scale size of five different butterfly species.  Results pending.


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