How Do Animals Respond to Stimuli?
Taxis is the term that describes the movement of a plant or animal in response to a stimulus, for example heat or food. These responses arose over time through evolution. By observing how an organism responds to a stimulus, scientists can make inferences about how the organism behaves in the wild. For example, scientists can use an understanding of an animal’s responses in pest management. Codling moth are a major pest for apple growers. Apple growers often use traps containing synthetic apple compounds to control the moths. This application is an example of chemotaxis (movement in response to a chemical stimulus).
Watch Video 1
Did the fruit flies prefer the honey or the apple cider vinegar? Why do you think this was?
Identify an Experimental Design Flaw
The experiment used wingless fruit flies. What would have been the difficulty of using winged fruit flies instead?
Refine/Expand the Experiment
How do you think the fruit flies detect the various compounds? How could you expand the experiment to test your hypothesis?
Watch Video 2
Practice Scientific Reasoning
With reference to information in Video 2, explain why you should not touch a nocturnal animal if you see it out during the day.
Connect to Your World
Bees perform a waggle dance to provide other bees directions to a food source. The bees prefer to use the sun as a reference point when performing this dance. What other points of reference might a bee use to communicate this information when it is not sunny?
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At Home Extension
You can build a simple insect trap by inserting a funnel into the neck of a bottle. Build two such devices and place a different bait inside of each to see which is preferred by insects in your area.
If you would like to combine this activity with an in-school experience, try the following laboratory kit: