Barrett Klein, the model-making wizard and insect insominator has arrived back in Gamboa. We have all been eagerly anticipating his return, as this will kick off a new interesting experiment: parallel sleep study between an invertebrate and a vertebrate. The vertebrate will most likely be a bat, since the bat lab is one half of the grant, but exactly what type of bat is still up for discussion. For the spineless participant, Barrett makes sure to have everyone think in very broad terms, before mentioning a couple of organisms with good potential for the experiment.
At the beginning of the meeting Barrett describes the approaches we can have with this study. Sometimes you can plan plan plan, and work out all the meticulous details of your project ahead of time. This can reduce later stress, improve efficiency and precision of your experiments. It also tends to work in highly controlled environments with heavily studied subject animals. He says that unfortunately we have neither. Here, instead he suggests that we use the Tinbergen approach. We begin experimentation, but always keep one eye open for oddities in behavior. It is these unusual bits of phenomena which can lead to veins of gold in research. He instructed us to always “keep the tinbergen in you to mine for the greater gold.”
Barrett is very excited and makes us all food while we wait. The discussions are always fast and fun with him. Later in the evening I join Michelle from the bat group and Ashley, who will make making up part of the invertebrate testing team to test out some modded gopro cameras from Bill Wcislo. He had the cameras sent away to be modified into IR cameras for recording high-speed video of creatures moving around at night. In theory they were supposed to remove the normal infrared filter built into most cameras, and then add in a visible light filter. We were going to see if we could use it for recording the bats swooping down to catch the robotic frogs in the flight cage. On the way over, we found a huge, beautiful roach. It fluttered softly in the air and was easy to catch. Its outer wings were a stylistic transparent color.
We were having problems with the new IR cameras. It seemed like the IR floodlights were far too dim. When we looked at my other, unmodified gopro however, we could actually see everything fine. Possibly the IR floodlamps were too short of a wavelength to get blocked by the normal gopro, and not long enough to make it through the newly added visible light filter of the modified one. This was good news for being able to record with my cameras that we already had, and bad news for Bills.