Most animals begin life as eggs, yet little is known about the lives of embryos. The spinning tadpole Warkentin is watching is one of those escape artists; it hatched three days early. Specifically, he studied how spaceflight influenced the vestibulo-ocular reflex in tadpoles. These eye movements are the first clue that the vestibular system is beginning to function. But preemies have higher rates of mortality than their full-term peers. A hollow plastic tube juts toward her from one end. Further experiments with eggs from Panama showed that embryos as young as 4 days old could accomplish the same feat. The appeal of insect predators, and parasitoids in particular, as research animals derives from the relative ease with which many species may be cultured and experimented with in the laboratory, the simple life cycles of most parasitoids, and the increasing demand for biological pest control. Upon her touch, tadpoles exploded from the tiny gelatinous water balloons and squirmed across her skin.
But preemies have higher rates of mortality than their full-term peers. It is aimed at students and professional working in universities and both government and commercial institutes in the fields of pest management, agriculture, horticulture and forestry. The work launched an entire field of study into variation in hatching timing. They can hatch early to escape these dangers. Karen Warkentin Karen Warkentin escapes from the sticky tropical heat into one of the few air-conditioned rooms in Gamboa, a quiet town on the banks of the Panama Canal. Warkentin has found the eggs of the red-eyed tree frog Agalychnis callidryas to be the ideal study subject; they transform from sacs of dividing cells into fully developed tadpoles in just seven days. But, Warkentin wondered, how did the embryos sense vibrations in the first place? Warkentin discovered that the embryos can hatch early to escape predators. As the tadpoles spin, she snaps pictures and uses them to measure minute eye movements. Could the eggs hatch prematurely to escape danger? These eye movements are the first clue that the vestibular system is beginning to function. Warkentin is finding that the decision to stay put or hatch early is often based on environmental cues — including vibrations. The mechanism stems from the vestibular system — structures in the inner ear that help vertebrates balance, sense movement and determine their position in space. Guidance is provided, where necessary, on the literature that may need to be consulted on particular topics. Warkentin hovers behind her as she presses a black button, and with a faint whir, the tube begins to rotate like a spit over a fire. Inside the slowly spinning tube, the big eyes of a red-eyed tree frog tadpole stare back. In tropical rainforests, tree frogs must outwit many predators to reach adulthood. But how do they sense danger? To find out how eggs can tell the difference between vibrations produced by, say, a harmless rainstorm and those produced by predators, Warkentin teamed up with Greg McDaniel, a mechanical engineer at Boston University, in the early s. She suspects the secret may lie in how the egg senses vibrations, and she built the rollie widget to find out. How did it weigh the risks of early emergence? There is now a massive literature on insect natural enemies, so there is a great need for a general text that the enquiring student or research worker can use in deciding on approaches and techniques that are appropriate to the study and evaluation of such insects. This book fulfils that demand. A Practical Perspective Mark A. As it turns out, they can.
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