Lab #1 LifeScience 1 Ground Squirrels Essay

Words: 951
Pages: 4

13 January 2014
Introduction: The broader context of this lab was aimed at observing animals and documenting specific animal behavior patterns. Specifically, we were trying to determine if squirrels applied snakeskin randomly to certain areas of their body or if there was a specific technique to it in relation to escaping their predators. After an animal has determined that a predator is nearby, it must then take action to avoid encountering this threat. Encounters are most easily avoided by preventing predators from detecting prey in the first instance (Rosier & Langklide, 2011), for squirrels this type of behavior is known as SSA, “snake scent application”. In this lab we wanted to study two different species of
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Discussion: Although we were able to accept our hypothesis, there is always room for improvement. The process of observing the squirrels and recording the amount of times SSA was applied may have greatly affected the results if not done properly. It was important to determine if the squirrels were in fact applying the SSA, this proved to be difficult during the experiment. In addition, determining whether it was flank or hind leg also proved to be difficult. Since we were able to reject our null hypothesis, we were able to accept our hypothesis that SSA is applied non randomly. The values that we derived from the chi-squared test helped support our hypothesis; we can then conclude that squirrels have a specific technique and process when applying snakeskin to their body. As I predicted these areas that they are constantly applying the snake skin scent proves to have a certain preference to them. We can imply that their preference is based on the idea that certain body parts are more vulnerable or do a great job at masking their scent, therefore hiding well from their snake predators. This is something that has evolved over time, snake-scent application is likely a product of natural selection. Squirrels that had the genetic instinct to use the ploy might have had increased survival and reproductive success, thus passing the trait to following generations (Goudarzi, 2007). I think it would be really interesting to look at different age groups within the squirrel