Today was the annual undergraduate research symposium at ISU. This is a time when all us nerds get to show off all the work we've been doing this year and just how nerdy we really are. We make posters detailing our research and this year we gave a five minute speech about our projects.
My group's topic was grasshoppers, along with the rest of our class. We analyzed data collected from three different sites in Florida. We knew that at one of the sites, Shark Valley, the grasshopper's mass was dramatically different, and we were trying to determine when this happened in their lives.
We took the masses collected at the first three molts, when the grasshoppers shed their exoskeleton. Then we used statistics to determine which of these three molts were significantly different for the Shark Valley grasshoppers. The results were significantly different for all three molts. Therefore, these grasshoppers were born at a lower weight and remained there. The difference between the grasshoppers of the other two sites was not statistically significant.
When we graphed the means of the masses of all three sites during all three molts, we discovered a trend. All three sites had a very similar growth pattern, but the Shark Valley growth rates were a bit lower. Thus the masses started different and actually diverged as time went on. So basically Shark Valley grasshoppers were born smaller, and their growth rates increased the size difference between sites.
The growth rates were not significantly different for any of the sites, which makes sense. The masses showed a similar pattern for growth, and thus the growth rates should be similar. We were very happy with our results since they were consistent. They showed a very real trend, just as we had expected. The reason the grasshoppers from the other two sites (Ally Auto and Trail Lakes) were so similar is because these two sites are very close, while Shark Valley was further away.
Everyone enjoyed our poster, and the assistent dean even stopped by! She took a picture of us and our poster for a newsletter about technology. If I can get a copy of this I will! Overall a good day with great results.