An investigation into the effects of glasshouse on a yellow meadow ants ability to chose a food source Abstract: Yellow meadow ants play a vital role in our ecosystem and this experiment looks at how glasshouse alters their decision making when choosing a food source. To analyses the ants choice making I used a choice chamber with one side containing banana without glasshouse and one side with the herbicide. I hypothesized that there would be more ants moving to the side without the glasshouse because of their highly sensitive receptors on their abdomens and head.
Result showed that there was a significant preference with more ants moving to the side without glasshouse than the other chamber. This was seen on averaging the results and using statistical tests such as chi-squared. The results were expected and is likely due to the sense receptors the ants have. Introduction Ants are everywhere, inhabiting every continent on the planet bar Antarctica, there are estimated to be around 1. 5 million ants for each person on earth. There are around 1 2,000 species scientists have given names to and around double predicted to still be undiscovered.
Ants play a vital role in the ecosystem, performing three necessary procedures: Seed dispersal, pest intro and aerating the soil. Seed dispersal- A worker ants day to day life involves collecting food for the colony and moving it back to the nest, by carrying seeds it gives them nutrient rich ants nest which has great conditions for the seed to germinate. The seed is likely to sprout in a much safer environment, protected from seed predators as well as drought. Pest control- Many types of ants feed on eggs from common pests such as flies, fleas and even cockroaches.
Having a diverse community of ants and other insects helps keep the entire ecosystem in balance, which is important for all the lands, fungi, and animals that share the environment. Aerating the soil- This is an important job for creating fertile soils and often less saturated soils, ants dig tunnels and chambers underground and bring much of the material to the surface. This brings nutrients to the top of the soil making more favorable conditions for plants to grow in. Without these processes being done, soils would be less productive and seed dispersal would be far less widespread.
Ants are important and appear in hundreds of food chains as both predators and prey. Many animals and plants rely on these small returns for survival and if herbicides are effecting the ants its not just the ants that will be effected but many other species. Herbicides are used globally to optimism the growth of crops through the destruction of unwanted plants while leaving the desired plant unharmed. There are hundreds of different herbicides on the market each promising to kill a specific plant. Wanted to find out how glasshouse one of many herbicides affected a yellow meadow ants ability to choose a suitable food source.
While there are hundreds of different types of herbicide they all fit into five different disgorges which are: Broad spectrum- These work on a wide variety of plants Selective-These work on a very narrow range of plants Contact-These destroy plant tissue when it comes in contact with it, this has benefits and drawbacks. It means that even coverage of the plant is required. However, it is quicker and guaranteed to destroy the plant. Systematic- These herbicides are injected into a plant and move via the plants circulation system.
Residual- These kill plants from the root upwards and so are applied to the soil of a certain area and kill all plants in the area for a certain amount f time including germinating seeds. Glasshouse is a broad spectrum herbicide and is one of the most used herbicides in the world today, it is used to kill weeds; especially broadleaved weeds and grasses that compete with commercial crops. It is the most used herbicide in the US with around 3,600 tones applied used in 2007 alone. The way glasshouse works is to inhibit an enzyme involved with the synthesis of the aromatic amino acids, thyrotrophic, tyrosine and phenylalanine.
It is sprayed onto plants and is absorbed by the foliage of the plants it then prevents the plants from making certain proteins hat are needed for plant growth. Glasshouse stops a specific enzyme pathway, the shimmy acid pathway. The shimmy acid pathway is found only in plants and some microorganisms. Most aromatic compounds are formed from the pathway meaning the plants would be seriously affected by the destruction of this pathway it would lead to the killing of the roots and leaves and inevitably kill the plant.
Glasshouse is relatively harmless to us, as animals do not share the seven step shimmy acid pathway with plants. The use Of glasshouse can also affect yellow meadow ants in different ways as the topping of the shimmy acid pathway can affect growth of many plants and alter what foods are available to the ants. If certain plants are killed it means the ants diet is affected which could lead to smaller colonies. Figure 3 shows the shimmy acid pathway, once glasshouse is absorbed by the plant, binds to and blocks the activity of the enzyme multidimensionality-3-phosphate syntheses (PEEPS).
This enzyme is the start of the pathway and converts simple carbohydrate precursors derived from glycoside and the pentose phosphate pathway to aromatic amino acids and many other important plant metabolites. Metabolites are responsible for the plants metabolism and stopping its metabolism will stop the plant from growing. If you stop the syntheses of this enzyme then 5-unhelpfully shimmy acid-3-phosphate (ESP.) wont form aromatic amino acids and ultimately, hormones, vitamins and other essential plant metabolites examples f these amino acids are found in figure 3 like Tyrosine.
Yellow meadow (Lassies Flatus) are a common ant found across central Europe, some parts of N. Africa, N. America and Asia. They are small ants that are subterranean (meaning they live underground in darkness for most of their lives. The queen is 7-?9 mm long, males 3-?4 mm and workers 2-4 mm. Their color varies from yellow to brown, with queen and males being slightly more darkly colored. Their habitat although primarily underground varies from grassland to meadows.
Their diet consists of anything sweet, seeds or insects that crawl into their nests however, from what I have found they will eat a variety of foods from what they can scavenge. The ants are favored as a pet as they are low maintenance, easy to find, tough, long lasting, clean, build fantastic soil/sand structures and are unlikely to bite or sting humans. I chose to perform my study on yellow meadow ants as they are a species found in all places that use herbicides to boost their crop production. So I wanted to discover if these ants can see glasshouse as a bad food source.
Aim My aim is to discover that ants are repelled by the presence of a herbicide as this could impact on their distribution and effect their impact on both a food chain and ecosystem as a whole. My null hypothesis is that there is equal number of ants in both the glasshouse and non glasshouse chambers. The addition of glasshouse will have no effect on the distribution of ants. My alternative hypothesis is that the addition of glasshouse will effect the number of ants deciding to move into the chamber without the glasshouse.
There will be more ants in the chamber without glasshouse than the chamber with glasshouse. It is also that ants can acknowledge the difference between the chambers and move away from the chamber with glasshouse. PLANNING plan on recording the movement of yellow meadow ants after 30 seconds for 6 minutes used these timings as thought if it was any longer the ants wouldn’t move as they would have found the best food source around them ND any shorter wouldn’t give the ants enough time to analyses their options.
I decided to use yellow meadow ants as it was what the school technicians confirmed they could acquire and were relatively easy to locate and look after. They are also found in places around the world where large amounts of herbicides are used in vast quantities. I discovered that these ants are low maintenance as they are subterranean meaning they mainly spend their lives underground and in the darkness. As they require minimal care I found a suitable enclosure to house the ants so that they were comfortable in their environment which meant it wouldn’t effect the results via stress levels.
I had planned to use ants rather than any another type of insect because of how easy they are to count quickly, because yellow meadow ants are so small they move relatively slowly and can be counted with ease. This meant that could get reliable and creditable results. I discovered the tally mark method from a teacher at school who said it may be a good idea and is why planned on using it to count my ants quickly. This way I could count the ants after the experiment had finished with high accuracy rather than rushing and making stakes during the experiment.
Trial Experiments Trial experiments were essential for me to collect reliable results as I was unsure on how to best complete my main experiment. Used two trial experiments to collect data on how many ants were best to use and which type of food ants would eat best. I also used these experiments to see how best to record my data. I decided to try two methods of getting data of what was the most successful chamber, firstly to measure exactly how heavy each piece of food was before and after my trial experiment to see the difference in weight and analyses which food the ants liked best.
Secondly, to count the number of ants in each chamber every 30 seconds for 6 minutes. I found that the first method proved inaccurate as water was lost from foods via evaporation when leaving it, especially the ham which changed dramatically in mass even though barely ants were present in the chamber. Incorporated both my trial experiments into one to avoid disturbing the ants which could potentially change the results as the ants may react differently if they get used to the choice chamber or feel stressed when being experimented with.
I wanted it to be a new environment for the ants because he ants will forage for food usually in foreign environments. Method for trial: used: -A 4 choice chamber, stop clock, 5 g of ham, apple and banana. Blue tack, 50 yellow meadow ant and measuring scales. 1. I weighed out g of each food type and put a type of food in each chamber. I decided So was a suitable weight for the food as it meant the food wasn’t taking up the whole chamber but it was large enough for the worker ants to notice each piece. 2. I then collected either 20, 30, 40 or 50 worker ants and put them in a small beaker. Hough experimenting with multiples of 1 0 would be easiest to count and old require minimal math’s when completing my main experiment as it was under timed conditions. Knowing that it was out of a multiple of 10 meant I could easily record the number in the adjacent chamber allowing me to concentrate on the stop clock and keep the experiment running smoothly. 3. I added blue tack to the sides of the chamber to allow the ants to travel between compartments. 4. Started the stop clock as soon as the ants were put into the chamber and recorded the number of ants in each chamber every 30 seconds for 6 minutes.
I hadn’t decided on a time and running my iris experiment I found that after 6 minutes the ants had settled and had chosen a food to forage, recoding data for longer felt pointless to me which is why decided on 6 minutes. 5. After 6 minutes I took out each food type and re-weighed them recording them in a table. 6. I then repeated each experiment changing the number of ants each time between 20-50 ants. Rest Its of trial From my trial decided that as banana attracted the most yellow meadow ants to its chamber it would be sensible to use it as the food source for my main experiment.
There is no clear point in the experiment where the ants top moving meaning they are searching for the best possible food source and as banana increased the most from 11 ants after 30 seconds to 18 at 360 seconds it is the clear favorite for the ants. This could be due to the fact bananas were the sweetest food and ants enjoy sweet tasting foods. Have decided that 360 seconds is a suitable amount of time as upon observing the ants they had seemed to be settling down and apart from the odd few ants had decided where they would stay.
Upon observing the ants I decided to do further research into yellow meadow ants and discovered that they are very why creatures and were more looking for shelter rather than looking for food however due to restrictions on acquiring certain types and due to where these ants normally live Lassies Flatus was still my best option. Apple is the second best food option as it was also quite popular for the ants again because it was quite sweet. While trailing to discover the best method to record my findings I discarded the use Of weighing the food before and afterwards as it proved ineffective.
This is because the food lost mass not because the ants were eating the food but because it was losing water via evaporation. This was the reason the ham lost a large amount of mass even though relatively few ants were actually in the ham chamber. It is also the reason so much mass was lost so quickly as it is highly unlikely that 40 small yellow meadow ants could eat D. Egg of ham in under 6 minutes showed in figure 6. It is for this reason that felt counting the ants in intervals of 30 seconds would be the best option. Also used the dotting/tally technique which proved effective as as able to count the ants after the experiment with high accuracy meaning I could concentrate solely on getting my timings correct. In figure 5 the yellow filled cells represent what I felt was an anomaly, this is because it din ‘t fit the pattern that I could see. I believe these occurred for the sole reason that ants have their own minds and aren’t meant to follow a simple pattern, they will do what they want. So although there is a general pattern ants had the ability to move freely be;en chambers and did so.
They may have decided to find a better potential food source. This is the reason believe there were anomalies and so have removed them from my overall mean results. I also believe there were anomalies because they were Also looking for shelter. Overall, the results proved a success in giving me ideas of how to conduct my main experiment, it showed what didn’t work and what was a success. Which is why I deemed my trial experiments to be a success. MAIN EXPERIMENT Method You will need: log of banana Choice chamber with two compartments. 0 Yellow meadow ants Stop clock Glasshouse Paper towels Small container Measuring scales Blue tack 1 . Measure out g of banana for each of the two slots in your choice chamber. Used So as it was a sensible sized piece to put in each segment and was a impel round measurement to obtain from the measuring scales. I discovered while trailing experiments that g was large enough in the chamber for the ants to know it is there but at the same time didn’t take up all of the chamber allowing the worker ants to happily carry on towards a different piece of food if it so chooses too. . Collect 30 ants from your colony and keep them in your small container. Of course you can use a different number of ants but from my trial experiment found 30 to be a suitable number as it was easy enough to count each 30 seconds and was a high enough number to see if here was an actual significance to my results. 3. Spray a thin layer of glasshouse over one of the segments of your choice chamber. Make sure there is no places within the chamber that have a slightly thicker layer of glasshouse as the ants are small it has the potential to drown and even kill the ants.
To do this sprayed from a distance of about CACM above the chamber and covered the other segment. 4. Place a paper towel over the clean segment to ensure no glasshouse was spilt onto the incorrect segment. If glasshouse was to appear on the paper towel you could see it as a darker segment meaning you can keep the experiment valid as if there is glasshouse on the incorrect chamber then all results are incorrect and invalid as there isn’t a difference for the ants to choose from. 5. Remove the paper towel and add the banana to both segments.
When adding the banana try to ensure nothing is left on your hands as then the pieces wont be of equal mass. 6. Put small amount of blue tack over the bridges of the chambers to allow the ants to move between chambers. I made sure all bridges were of equal size and width so it meant no particular bridge seemed favorable to the ants over another. 7. Add the ants at the centre of the choice chamber and start the stop clock. Ensure not all ants fall into a single chamber as this will effect results. 8. Every 30 seconds record the number of ants in each segment for 6 minutes.
There are a variety of methods, visually counted the ants every 30 seconds and used the dotted method. Both proved to be a success. 9. Repeat the experiment as many times as possible preferably a minimum of 1 0 times. With more repeats comes more reliability, I managed to repeat it 10 times and it was a suitable amount of repeats and it showed if my results were significant using chi- squared. Variables: Independent variable: My independent variable was was adding a herbicide (glasshouse) to one of the chambers leaving one side completely clean I checked this by dabbing the whole chamber with paper towels. Ensured an even coating of glasshouse throughout all of the chamber. Dependent variable: My dependent variable was the number of ants in each of the two segments, I measured it by counting the number of ants in intervals of 30 seconds for 6 minutes. I accurately measured the number of ants by both counting each individual ant in my head and then writing it down but also placing a dot on a ice of paper after each ant I’d seen. When the experiment was done I counted each dot from each 30 second segment I’d split up on the paper and recorded the number of ants. Marred both my values and each time was identical. This meant it was as accurate as I could make it and was the most effective method of recording the data quickly. Control variables: To ensure my experiment was valid, my variables were controlled as tightly as possible to ensure the dependent variable was only affected by the independent variable. Which is set out in the table below. Variable Effect How it was controlled Mass of banana Having more banana in one chamber over another means there could be a favorable chamber for the ants due to how much banana there is.
I ensured each piece of banana was exactly g by using the same weighing scales for each experiment meaning each piece of banana was the exact same weight even if the scales were faulty. Number of ants If you don’t have the same number Of ants in each experiment you cannot see if it is statistically significant as the results change. I counted 3 times the number of ants before I started the experiment to ensure I had the correct amount each time. Time for each experiment If the ants were given longer in the chambers it will impact the results as it is not consistent for all of the repeats.
I used a stop clock to start and stop the experiment. Type of ants If you have different ants for different experiments then they will react differently as they are separate organisms. Also the same type of ant within the lassies flatus species as using a queen ant with worker ants will achieve different results as they have different roles in a colony. The queen ant may be looking for shelter rather than food. I check that all the ants were the same before each experiment. Amount of glasshouse Having different amounts of glasshouse will effect their sense receptors in different ways.
As there are levels of response an ant will perform. For example if its in danger then it will look to fight or run. Having different amounts will change this response. I sprayed the glasshouse from the same height each time and used exactly two squirts of the bottle and ensured an even coverage Of the chamber. Safety Safety was an important factor in the experiment not just for me but also for the ants as they are delicate and can be damaged or killed. Hazard Risk Precaution taken It has a low toxicity and if ingested can cause damage to internal organs.
Take care and wear eye goggles and gloves. Yellow meadow ants Although unlikely, these ants have sharp mandibles and can bite if they feel threatened causing potential cuts creating a risk of infection. Wear gloves and take great care with the ants. Damaging the ants These ants are very small and can easily be damaged or killed. Take great care when handling the ants not to put too much pressure on them. Allergy’s to ants If you are allergic to ants avoid being involved in the handling of them. If you are allergic have an pep pen close for precaution.
Cuts from a knife Knives are sharp and you could cut yourself creating a risk of infection Wear gloves when cutting the fruit. Allergy’s to banana Ask someone else to handle and cut the banana. Have an pep pen close to you. RESULTS Table shows the number of ants in each individual chamber after a certain amount of time between 30-360 seconds measured using a technique of counting visually and a dotting method. This is the results from 3 of my experiments, actually conducted 10 experiments to get as accurate a result s possible. Experienced relatively few anomalies and as such I didn’t record them as anomalies as felt ant shouldn’t fit a pattern as they are individual organisms that act as they so please.