Fingers crossed

8 07 2014

At our regular lab meeting on Wed., it turned out that several of us were on the brink of finding out whether or not some things we really wanted to work, were actually going to work. If they didn’t, it would be disappointing or even borderline disasterous.

One was Jamie, who couldn’t come in person, he was so busy on local farms. Two years ago, he found a nice relationship between play and mating success, which totally failed to be replicated (most relationship even flipped) the following year. He’s always wondered if regional differences within each farm were having confounding influences on play, and this year he may possibly have found evidence for such an effect: one mediated by light levels, with dimly lit mink playing more. If this turns out to be right, he could retrospectively add local light levels to his previous analyses, to see if Year 1 and Year 2 now give the same results. Fingers very tightly crossed that this works out.

Meanwhile Heather has to redo some of her comparative analyses of parrots, because Emma found that unlike in our previous survey data, in the new dataset males and females differ in their proneness to self-plucking and other wierd feather-damaging behaviours. This means that she now has to check that the sex ratio of each captive species is not confounded with the natural biology traits (foraging time, brain size etc) that we’re interested in evaluating as risk factors. This is a slightly grim prospect as Mesquite can be tedious, and we already have some lovely results that we don’t want to see vanish as mere artifacts. So, fingers crossed for her too.

Mike and Kammy were also about to begin data collection for real on their motivation experiment, after some pilots. There were still some unknowns that had us crossing our fingers for them as they started.

Then Laura was just in the middle of focal sampling the current batch of mice, to see if some nice effects we found in Carole’s animals (stereotypic mice are more aggressive, at least if they are DBAs) could be replicated in the current batch. We really hope they can be; once again ‘at this point we crossed our fingers’ is part of her unwritten Methods section.


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