New to the community, but not new to loving cephs!

Discussion in 'Introduce Yourself' started by friendofgum, Mar 30, 2011.

  1. friendofgum

    friendofgum Larval Mass Registered

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    Hi!

    I'm currently a 5th year undergrad on the northwest coast of California. I've been in love with cephalopods for many years now, and I've kept saltwater tanks for about 2-3 years. As my time at university draws to a close, I have to choose a project and write a thesis... after much consideration, I've decided I want to do some behavioral research on S. bandensis. My school has an amazing marine lab facility, and keeping multiple cuttlefish should be no problem--we even have a resident cephalopod expert on the tech staff. My problem is coming up with something unique and relevant that can be done with the facilities we have.

    I chose S. bandensis rather than S. officinalis even though it's probable that the university has the ability to obtain S. officinalis because they're smaller and thus easier to keep multiples, easier to get (my LFS can get me 20 eggs at a time if I really wanted and could keep them), have more "personality" (I think? I get this from anecdotal evidence!), but most importantly--NOTHING has been done as far as research on this species. I don't know why. Does anyone have any knowledge about this? My theory is just that it's a precedence thing--everyone uses S. officinalis for research, so they just keep using it because it's available.

    Anyway, lots of research has been done on spatial learning, habituation, and Pavlovian associative learning, but very little operant conditioning with positive food-based reinforcement. I've studied a bit on clicker-training ("clicker" is a misnomer--a visual stimulus could be used as a "click"), and I've seen it successful with fish and reptiles. Have any of you tried to train your cuttlefish? Were you successful? My idea is to train a behavior, then let it extinguish (and see how long it takes to extinguish), then train the same behavior again and see if the cuttle picks it up faster the second time. However, to train them I need to provide them with good (read: "delicious") incentive and tap into a behavior they might naturally do in the wild.

    I've got tons of ideas, but also tons of questions, and tons of worries, like making things too complicated or doing something that's already been done. I want this study to be as amazing as it can possibly be--published in a peer-reviewed journal would be the ultimate! I know folks at TONMO have misgivings about research done by the average layperson, but rest assured my study will be official, complete with a submitted proposal, thought to the care of the animals, supervision by professors, adequate facilities, etc. The design process alone will be several months in the making.

    So my question to all of you is... do you have any other ideas? Does this sound like a good study to you? Is it scientifically relevant? I've already exhausted the published literature on cuttlefish behavior, but is there somewhere else you might want to point me towards? I've been told to try to contact Roger Hanlon at Woods Hole, MA, but he's one of the godfathers of cephalopod research... contacting him with my petty undergraduate questions is very, very intimidating...

    That was a long introduction post. I am sorry! I hope to make some friends at TONMO and expand my knowledge of cephs... eventually I will have some of my own :)

    friendofgum
     
  2. tonmo

    tonmo Titanites Staff Member Webmaster Moderator

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    :welcome: to TONMO! I'll let our resident experts help out here. I'll say this, though:

    Personally I greatly encourage ceph exploration for anyone who approaches it with care and reverence, and an open mind, with willingness to listen to those who are more experienced. It's a big reason why this site is here. "Hands on" research (i.e., actually working with live cephs) requires extreme patience and a full sense of accountability / responsibility for the well-being of the ceph.

    Good luck to you!
     
  3. friendofgum

    friendofgum Larval Mass Registered

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    Thank you! I've been preparing to keep a couple S. bandensis at home, too, but that has stalled because I've been pretty busy with everything else. I've already done LOTS of research and have lurked both TONMO and other sources of information for raising them as well as culturing mysids and such. I'm all about responsibility and care for the animals we keep! None of my cuttles will be harmed in this experiment--they'll be getting treats and exercising their brains :)

    When this finally gets under way, I'll be sure to give updates and lots of pictures!
     
  4. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I am totally a layperson but something I have been wanting to do with my octopuses is actually come up with a clicker. There is a range of sound that they can hear and I don't think anything has been done to examine response training. There is a small range that both octopus and humans can hear but the electronic gismos I have found (casual looking) all start at the top end of the frequency for octos and don't guarantee the range I need (not surprising since it falls off the human ability to hear). It has only recently been established that they DO hear (and I am not sure that it has been established for cuttles and doubtfully for S. bandensis at all) so most anything with sound should be fairly new territory.
     
  5. CaptFish

    CaptFish Colossal Squid Staff Member Moderator

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    :welcome:

    I think you have you species mixed up. S.Bandensis is the smaller dwarf cuttlefish, these are more common and usually easy to obtain. S.officinalis is a larger species that seem to be hard to obtain as of lately.

    Dr.Richard Ross, or Thales as he called around here, has done quite a lot of research with cuttlefish. you might want to send him a PM.
     
  6. friendofgum

    friendofgum Larval Mass Registered

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    Oh, sorry, that was just a sentence screw-up. I meant to say that because I'm affiliated with a university and working on a university-related project, I could probably get S. officinalis, but that I'd prefer S. banadensis because they're smaller :)

    When I can come up with some definitive questions, I'll definitely contact Thales. Thanks for the heads up.

    DWhatley, I have found a paper that tested the hearing range of cuttlefish, but it was a student paper at Stanford and I can't get access to any more than the abstract unless I'm physically there at the library... which obviously I can't be! It was determined that they can hear between 9 Hz and 9260 Hz. I was thinking of finding a device that emitted a low beep into the water. I'll talk to some electronics people about it, and if I find something easy enough to rig up, I'll let you know!

    Here's the paper: http://www-sul.stanford.edu/depts/miller/student_papers/1995_13.html

    I'm wondering if I contacted someone at Stanford, if they'd be willing to scan it into a PDF for me...
     
  7. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    Since it is a student, you might find him listed and contact him directly for both ideas and a copy of the paper :grin:

    Please DO let me know if you come up with something. My wanderings through Radio Shack and the like on-line only brought up a couple (many looking the same) devices that gave an unpredictable range, most outside the desired frequency. CaptFish did find an interesting on-line "buzzer" and I thought about recording a tone in the range or ranges I wanted and that might be an alternative if you can come up with a recording device rather than a tone maker that can be submerged (or made sumersible). I was looking at the little key chains for this use but guaranteeing that I have a sound that can be heard has been a drawback. If you proceed with this idea, please keep posting what you find as it has piqued my interest again.
     
  8. friendofgum

    friendofgum Larval Mass Registered

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    Hmm. I've thought also about a kind of device that you push to make it hit the side of the tank, like a tap, to send vibrations through the water... nothing too jarring, just a light tap. Have you tried this? I've tried physically rapping the tank with my knuckles just before I feed my fish, and although it scared them at first, they're starting to respond positively to the noise.
     
  9. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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    I have not tried tapping on the tank but I know scratching on the live rock will get their attention. However, this is a natural reaction for hunting and probably should not be used in a study.
     
  10. Jean

    Jean Colossal Squid Supporter

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    Can't you get a copy of the paper through Library interloans? Generally if I want a paper our library doesn't have I fill in a form and our librarians organise a copy with the holding library and it gets sent to me! I'm sure your Uni must have something similar.
     
  11. DWhatley

    DWhatley Cthulhu Staff Member Moderator

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