Moisture Matters: Julida Millipedes Prefer Moist Soil and Shelter

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As we know, plant decay and nutrient cycling are slow in dry environments, SO in dry forests like Sagehen, detritivores, which consume decaying plant matter, serve an essential role because they return nutrients to the soil. We chose to study Millipedes, bc they’re detritivores and abundant at Sagehen. In addition to being detritivores, they’re Nocturnal; much like college students, they prefer to sleep during the day Also, 9 out of 10 scientists agree millipedes are cute.

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Since millipedes live in soil, we predicted soil conditions would impact their presence in an ecosystem. Perhaps in unideal soil conditions, millipedes persist by sheltering in microhabitats (under rocks/logs) As ecosystem dries out, shelter may become more important for survival, because shelters stay moist and cool I have a Few Questions for you all. Can I see a show of hands? Water bed vs dirt pit? Apartment/ bare floor

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Lori

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Lori Collected millipedes nightly: Collected Millis (time) 9:15-11:00pm on (loc) Sagehen Road, Sagehen Creek Field Station Placed in terrariums to acclimate overnight Bell peppers provided for food Night 1 (July 5) = approximately 90 Night 2 (July 6) = about 120 Night 3 (July 7) = about 40

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Elyse Tests were for SLEEPING/RESTING choice as they are active at night Number refers to hypothesis Separated tank into two halves Half dry, half moist Poured 20 noodles into the center Leave them overnight, check on them in the morning (7:45am) to see which side

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Elyse In all four overnight trials, all but 1 millipede was found in moist soil (and that one was in the lip of the tank, but counted on dry side) Hypothesis 1 = correct!!

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Elyse Set up two different tanks, one moist, one dry Dumped noodles into each tank Counted how many hidden and how many exposed after 1 hour Dumped out soil, redo steps 1-3 except with a plate “shelter” which is a plate in there Also recorded buried and sheltered noodles separately

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STEVEN SLIDE This is the data we got from the previous experimental methods On the y-axis is the number of millipedes and the x-axis shows all the different treatments we performed on the habitats. Dark brown is if the millipede is buried, light brown is if they were found on the surface, and the grey is for millipedes found underneath the shelter As a whole, fewer millipedes in the dry soil treatments were buried than millipedes in moist soil. BUT, shelter dry uniquely had a noticeable portion of millipedes picking the shelter option Millipedes in the moist shelter treatment didn’t seem to care too much To analyze these results, we combined millipedes that picked shelter with millipedes that buried because they functionally serve the same purpose: to hide during the day.

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STEVEN SLIDE When we analyzed our data, we noticed some super cool trends Note that the y-axis has changed to Percent Millipedes Hidden. First, millipedes in the moist soil treatments were clearly much more likely to be hidden in some way than millipedes in dry soil. However, the more interesting relationship is the effect of soil moisture on millipede preference of being hidden. Looking on the right, we see that moist soil doesn’t seem to affect the amount of millipedes hidden. Most millipedes chose to hide regardless of the presence of a shelter. Interestingly, on the left, dry soil affects the rate millipedes hide greatly, with the percent of millipedes being hidden doubling when a shelter is present versus without. Therefore, it appears that millipede behavior changes according to the moisture levels in the soil, with drier soils causing millipedes to favor hiding. Effect of habitat in general. Moist on average greater than dry. Effect of shelter depends on habitat.

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Skai What are the next steps (future experiments)? How does this affect millipedes in the wild? What should we further research later? Observational study of wild millies, diet prefs Millipedes prefer moist soil and prefer shelter in dry soil but don’t care about shelter in moist soil

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Moisture Matters: Julida Millipedes Prefer Moist Soil and Shelter Elyse Fitzsimons, Linnea Schaefer, Lori Liu, Skai Peterson, Steven Zhou

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Introduction Dry ecosystems cycle nutrients slowly Detritivores (millipedes!) break down plant debris Millipedes: Detritivores Abundant Nocturnal Live in soil

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Where would you rather sleep? Where would you rather live? THE BIG QUESTIONS: Squishy water bed or dirt pit? Furnished apartment or bare floor?

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Hypotheses How does soil moisture affect the habitat choices of millipedes? Millipedes prefer moist soil over dry soil. Millipedes prefer shelter in both moist and dry soils. Preference for shelter stronger in dry soil.

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Collecting & Acclimating the Subjects Why did the millipede cross the road?

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Overnight Soil Choice Dry Moist

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Results Millipedes really prefer moist soil!

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2 & 3. Daytime Burrowing Preferences No Shelter Shelter

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2 & 3. Results Millipedes in dry soil prefer shelter.

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2 & 3. Results Dry Moist More millipedes in dry soil hide when given shelter. PHabitat <0.05 PSoil Moisture <0.0001 PHabitat*Soil Moisture<0.05

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Discussion Implications Drought detrimental but not catastrophic Moist Soil > Shelter > Dry Soil Why these preferences? Moist soil comfy Difficulty burrowing in dry soil Future Studies

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Acknowledgements Sagehen Creek Field Station: millipedes, facilities, and equipment Justin Daniel: photo shoots, millipede search Casey Kwok: millipede search Credit: 1111 comics

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Thank You! We have lived long before you, and we will thrive long after your species is but a distant memory. Any Questions?

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Doin’ Science

Summary: Summer, 2018

Tags: student project

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