Coming back from my first Measuring Behavior (MB) conference, a number of colleagues asked me how it was - did I enjoy myself, and would I write a blog about it? So here I am, overwhelmed by all the information I received during my two days at the conference, but clueless as to what to write about my experience. Where do I start, which things would I like to highlight, and what struck me the most?
The investigation of movement, activity, and behavior of animals in pens or stables gives great insight into differences between group and individual housing, enriched and plain stables, different types of feeding systems, and so on. Read this blog to learn more about that, but also about cow behavior in paddocks.
And how to study their behavior in great detail
If you want to get on in life, is it better to make friends, or should you trample down the competition? Maybe we can learn something from animals… Take hens for example, we probably all know what a ‘pecking order’ is. As a hen, if you don’t peck back, you will definitely loose out. On the other hand, if you are a pig, being social will get you somewhere. In fact, studies show that social pigs are healthier and grow better, and having social pen mates also has these positive effects.
Reimert et al. wanted to look at the behavior of social pigs more closely. In their recent study (published Applied Animal Behaviour Science), they used both video tracking and scoring of behavior to assess behavior in a combined novel location and novel object test.
Topics: EthoVision XT, The Observer XT, animal behavior research, social behavior research, video observation, coding schemes, animal welfare, tracking, anxiety research, pigs, ethogram, Pocket Observer
However, it is not only body odor, but also body heat, CO2 from breathing and wind direction may also be important for the mosquitoes to find you. Furthermore, different mosquito species use different cues. For many mosquito species it is still not known exactly what they do to find their hosts.
Topics: EthoVision XT, Video tracking, insect behavior, exploratory behavior, Track3D, tracking, Automating behavioral observations, Tracking insects, Animal 3D tracking, 3D movement analysis, Mosquito
By this point, we do not need to tell you how popular zebrafish are in scientific research. We also probably do not need to point out the great technological advances that are being made in research because of the use of optogenetics. It is safe to say that zebrafish and optogenetics are popular in neuroscience research. Today, let us tell you about the study of De Marco et al. (2013), which combined the two.
GPS has always seemed to me to be a kind of magic technology. The idea that a grid of satellites so far above my head that I cannot even see them can tell me exactly where I am and help give me directions where to go is pretty stupendous. And you do not even have to pay for the information! GPS is such a powerful technology that it is being applied to a great diversity of areas. One example is precision agriculture. For instance, if you are growing crops, they will often need water, pesticides and fertilizer. If you don’t give them enough they will have a reduced yield and if you give them too much you spend too much money and you might cause pollution. The image on the right  shows a crop that needs watering. But only the red areas are dry. So if that data is fed into a GIS databank and that is coupled to a GPS receiver on the irrigation system, the farmer will know precisely where to give water (or chemicals) so that the crop gets the right amount and there is minimal waste and runoff.