McRobert, professor of biology at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, Pa., wonders about goldfish shoaling behavior. “There is literature suggesting that goldfish shoal, and I feel fairly confident that they will, but it's nice not to know,” says McRobert. “It makes the study more intriguing.”
But McRobert didn’t choose goldfish as an experimental animal just to satisfy his curiosity. “I chose them because of their size and coloration,” he says. “Since they are brightly colored, they will show up well on Fish Cam.”
Fish Cam is much more than just a camera filming fish. “It is actually an exciting and creative way to teach science to school children,” says McRobert, who has set up a 20-gallon tank that is monitored by a wireless Internet camera, which he has dubbed “Fish Cam.” Its online site gives elementary to high school teachers and students an opportunity to participate in the behavioral research McRobert and his university students perform in his Biodiversity Lab.
Karen Snetselaar, Ph.D., chair and professor of biology at Saint Joseph’s, is the director of SJU’s National Science Foundation GeoKids LINKS – Learning Involving Neighborhoods, Kids and Science – program, a collaboration with the Wagner Free Institute of Science that brings hands-on science learning activities to underserved school children. Snetselaar looks forward to incorporating Fish Cam into the GeoKids program for Philadelphia school children. “Fish Cam is a nice use of technology that is not just a gimmick,” she says. “It enables school children to do real science – the same research that Saint Joseph’s students are doing.”
McRobert says the experimental design is fairly simple. For two weeks, students come online once each day and observe the fish for 600 seconds, or 10 minutes. In total, the students will gather data on 10 test fish.
“We start the study with a shoal of five fish, and each day at 9 a.m. EST – including weekends – we will add a new test fish,” he says. “The idea of the experiments is to determine the mean amount of time that the goldfish spend swimming near a shoal of several goldfish in an end chamber, and compare that to the time they spend swimming near an empty chamber. This comparison tells us whether or not goldfish shoal.”
People often think that any group of fish is a school, and are confused by the term shoal. McRobert says, “all schools are shoals, but not all shoals are schools.
“A school is a group of fish that swim together in a synchronized fashion, moving in the same direction, at the same speed and turning simultaneously,” McRobert notes. “To be called a school, a group of fish must demonstrate all of these rather complex behavioral patterns. The word shoal, on the other hand, is the term for any simple social grouping of fish.”
Shoaling behavior is beneficial to fish, McRobert says. “It offers numerous benefits to individual fish, including increased success in finding food, access to potential mates, and increased protection from predators.”
The first experiment is designed to answer the question do goldfish shoal? Ensuing weeks will determine whether they discriminate between shoals on the basis of shoal size, and whether they discriminate between shoals of fish of different coloration. McRobert and his team will help participating teachers and students analyze their data.Teachers interested in learning more about running Fish Cam experiments are invited to visit the Web site at http://www.sju.edu/academics/cas/biology/resources/biodiversity/
Patricia Allen | Newswise Science News
Multi-institutional collaboration uncovers how molecular machines assemble
02.12.2016 | Salk Institute
Fertilized egg cells trigger and monitor loss of sperm’s epigenetic memory
02.12.2016 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
Broadband rotational spectroscopy unravels structural reshaping of isolated molecules in the gas phase to accommodate water
In two recent publications in the Journal of Chemical Physics and in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, researchers around Melanie Schnell from the Max...
The efficiency of power electronic systems is not solely dependent on electrical efficiency but also on weight, for example, in mobile systems. When the weight of relevant components and devices in airplanes, for instance, is reduced, fuel savings can be achieved and correspondingly greenhouse gas emissions decreased. New materials and components based on gallium nitride (GaN) can help to reduce weight and increase the efficiency. With these new materials, power electronic switches can be operated at higher switching frequency, resulting in higher power density and lower material costs.
Researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE together with partners have investigated how these materials can be used to make power...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
02.12.2016 | Medical Engineering
02.12.2016 | Agricultural and Forestry Science
02.12.2016 | Physics and Astronomy