Sample Report On Behavior Experiment Design
1. Please in one paragraph, summarize your observation making sure to include the following: description of the animal(s) you are observing, type of behaviour, common name and scientific name if possible and other necessary information that which leads to your question.
The best candidate to study animal behavior is that of a Syrian hamster (Mesocricetus auratus ) . These are direct decendents (not bred) from the Syrian hamsters found in the wild and are used today as household pets. The hamster I am observing is X years old, female and weighs approximately ounces. The hamster has brown hair. The hamster lives in a cage (dimensions WxHxL) with a running wheel of (dimension 8” in circumferance). There is appropriate food and water resources available. Hamsters in captivity are known to display some characteristic behaviours: i) sleeping - hamsters sleep at different times in the day and may move their sleeping place (1-3). ii) running (up to five miles a day in a 24 hour period) they run these distances to go foraging for food (2) iii) storing, sorting, eating and moving there food (2) iv) housekeeping hamsters are exceptional housekeepers and do a lot of cleaning in their cages, v) sleeping hamsters are said to be nocturnal or perhaps crepuscular (appearing in twilight) vi) chewing on toys - hamsters keep their teeth in shape and do this by chewing on toys, vii) urinating - hamsters do not urinate in the same place they eat unless they are old. viii) burrowing- Syrian hamsters can dig burrows generally at a depth of 0.7 m
2) RESEARCH QUESTION
The hamsters behaviour could be nocturnal or crepuscular (only doing activities during specific period of darkness). These behaviours are thought to be due to antipredator adaptations (hamsters are small preyed upon animals). Additionally, as Syria is hot so hamsters may have adapted this behaviour to avoid the hot climate. However, since hamsters live buried in the ground in their natural habitat it is not really known whether the animal is asleep or awake underground. However, this behaviour may be shifted in house pets (1-3).
My research questions is: Why does my hamster run on its wheel only during certain hours? (Is my domesticated hamster nocturnal or crepuscular )
Key objective of the experiment: we will be looking into the differences of wheel running behaviour in relation to the changes in sunlight.
3) TESTABLE HYPOTHESE
The hypothesis of the hamster movement can be tested by observing the hamster during the course of the day and night. As explained earlier hamsters move through the use of their wheel at certain peak times. The wheel movement would be simulation of their foraging behaviour in the wild. We will like to observe when the hamster is moving on the wheel.
Based on anecdotal evidence I predict that the hamster might move on its hamsters wheel at key times during the night and day (making it more crepuscular than nocturnal). A graph of my prediction would show the hamster moving on the wheel at key times with corrections for sunrise and sunset.
5) METHODOLOGY (TENTATIVE)
As it will be difficult to observe the hamster 24/7 we implement the following method: we will observe the animal at key times of twilight (as per the current sunrise and sunsets) (5). The hamster will be placed in its cage. The cage will be placed so that the window and sunlight can be observed. . If the hamster is running during those time the distance will be measured using a bike odometer. The circumference of an 8" wheel is 16π. (the lowest setting on the odometer is for 20” wheels so or 40π, so the hamster so we have to multiply the amount by (40/16) times). We can measure and track the hamster progress on the odometer at different time points in during the day.
2. My control experiment would be to do the same experiment except the cage will be in a place where the sun can not be observed.
3. The dependent variables in this experiment is time in hours and the independent variables are the distance run meters.
4. Include a table (with or without data) showing the kind of data to be collected.
I will take a sample of two times during the day at twilight indicated in red. However, over the times and distances the hamster moves on the wheel will be tracked using the odometer. The outside weather will also be taken from the national weather bureau as that might affect the test conditions (6).
6) ANALYSIS OF RESULTS (TENTATIVE)
1. I am going to analyze my subject by plotting the graphs of the two conditions and doing regression analysis to plot whether we get specific patterns of running (e.g. foraging)
2. A regular scatter plot would be good for graphing this data as the animal may move at different unpredictable times.
7) POSSIBLE CONCLUSION (TENTATIVE)
1. We can learn whether domesticated animals change their habits according to circadian rhythms. Also we can measure the distance that a domesticated hamster travels.
2. The limitations to the experiment are that we do not give any indications of the other movements the hamster does and only focus on the foraging. We can improve this with sophisticated cameras or gps tracking which would learn about all sorts of movement the hamster does over the course of the day. Unfortunately this is not within the budget or scope of this work.
1. Sinclair, Sherrill V., and Ralph E. Mistlberger. "Scheduled activity reorganizes circadian phase of Syrian hamsters under full and skeleton photoperiods." Behavioural brain research 87.2 (1997): 127-137.
2. Fritzsche, Peter. 2008. Hamsters: A Complete Pet Owner’s Manual. Barron’s Educational Series Inc., NY
3. Ralph, Martin R., et al. "Transplanted suprachiasmatic nucleus determines circadian period." Science 247.4945 (1990): 975-978.
4. Gattermann, R., Fritzsche, P., Neumann, K., Al-Hussein, I., Kayser, A., Abiad, M. and Yakti, R., (2001). Notes on the current distribution and ecology of wild golden hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus). Journal of Zoology, 254: 359-365
Please remember that this paper is open-access and other students can use it too.
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