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Redemption tends to be partial

Today's cricket injections featured some good news, some bad news.

The bad news: crickets are often cannibalistic. On a couple of previous days, I'd wondered why the numbers of crickets in different boxes weren't quite adding up correctly, but there wasn't much physical evidence to provide clues. Today, my suspicions were confirmed in two cases, which meant that I suddenly had 16 crickets I couldn't use after all. The main issue there is that it means I have to set up more crickets for more injections on an additional day, and hope that those crickets don't eat each other, either. Hmm, perhaps I will subdivide them further to ensure this is the case, or to minimize the consequences. Altogether, I shouldn't be that surprised if an experiment that was supposed to take two weeks actually takes at least three weeks instead, if not four weeks.

The good news: I was able to inject enough crickets to determine that my syringe issue looks like a linear dilution problem. That means that I should be able to go back and make some adjustments to some assumptions about data I've already collected, and actually use most of the data.

The main reason this is a pretty big deal is because I'm observing something that's different and distinct from work by a prior postdoc. If my observations are indeed realistic, they mean that there has been some lab adaptation happening within some of the cricket populations. This is neither a good thing nor a bad thing, but it's a crucial thing to know and be aware of, if we wish to make inferences about how our findings relate back to real animals in the wild.

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( 9 remarks — Remark )
twoeleven
Apr. 21st, 2015 11:54 pm (UTC)
Hmm, perhaps I will subdivide them further to ensure this is the case, or to minimize the consequences.
That seems like a worthwhile effort.

Altogether, I shouldn't be that surprised if an experiment that was supposed to take two weeks actually takes at least three weeks instead, if not four weeks.
You're still coming out ahead: an apocryphal rule of thumb for planning¹ says you should double the value and move to the next unit of time. Thus, this "should" take four months. :P :)

1: I thought that was Hofstadter's Law, but that's "It takes longer than you expect, even when you take Hofstadter's Law into account".
rebeccmeister
Apr. 23rd, 2015 01:55 pm (UTC)
I can never remember Hofstadler's Law by name, but I'm also a fan of Parkinson's Law.

And yes, I started subdividing the hungry lil' buggers further. I suppose if there weren't so many things going in unexpected directions, the whole experiment would be that much more tedious!
randomdreams
Apr. 22nd, 2015 01:35 am (UTC)
So if a cricket eats another cricket that, itself, is full of C14, does that skew the results?
rebeccmeister
Apr. 23rd, 2015 01:53 pm (UTC)
Fortunately, after they're injected, they're all individually isolated. Otherwise that could get extremely confusing.
randomdreams
Apr. 22nd, 2015 01:37 am (UTC)
Also, I'm sure you're familiar with the exponential grasshopper problem seen on the side of the road, where one gets smooshed, and three others come over and start eating the body, and they get smooshed, and nine others come over and start eating the bodies... One of my coworkers was all "why are there so many grasshoppers on the road?" when we were out biking, and I got to horrify him with the answer.
rebeccmeister
Apr. 23rd, 2015 01:53 pm (UTC)
I think you might be thinking of Mormon crickets, which aren't even real crickets, but katydids! I would expect to find a lot of them in your neck of the woods.
randomdreams
Apr. 28th, 2015 01:22 am (UTC)
They're ubiquitous, but these, on the road, are definitely grasshoppers. Occasionally lubber grasshoppers or painted grasshoppers, but mostly bird grasshoppers like so:
http://annmgordon.com/OtherInsects/Spotted_Bird_Grasshopper-3.jpg
rebeccmeister
Apr. 28th, 2015 03:00 am (UTC)
Interesting! They do exhibit many of the same sorts of behaviors as the Mormon crickets, marching in bands, et cetera. And eating each other. One of the professors in Texas who was studying swarm movement in locusts said he would put 100 hoppers into an arena, and would then come back the next day and would be a couple of individuals short. It took him a little while to figure out where the missing hoppers wound up. It turns out they aren't full herbivores, after all!
randomdreams
Apr. 28th, 2015 03:07 am (UTC)
I've seen plenty of places where grass was everywhere and they were opting for the high-protein food source. That may not be surprising. Protein synthesis is expensive compared to just recycling it.
( 9 remarks — Remark )

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