A Model Organism for Inquiry-based Undergraduate Laboratories

Cost of Reproduction in Bean Beetles

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Synopsis

Reproduction though required for survival of a species is an energetically costly endeavor for an individual. Energy gained as the larval bean beetle feeds on its bean host is used for survival, growth and ultimately reproduction after pupation is complete. Since adult bean beetles do not require food or water following pupation, energy consumption can be directly correlated with longevity in the adult. In this lab, students are tasked with designing an experiment to determine which components of reproduction are physiologically costly for the beetle. Basic experiments include examining the cost of behaviors such as mating and egg laying, but extensions of this experiment include looking to see if there are correlations between factors such as the number of eggs laid, the number of available mates and the natal bean, with lifespan of the adult beetle.

Topic: Reproductive physiology

Level: Non-major and Introductory majors

Class Time: This lab is designed as a multi-week experiment with the initial introduction to bean beetles and set-up taking place during the studentsí weekly lab period (2-3 hours). Group members are then responsible for checking on their experiment (approx. 5-10 minutes) every day (30-40 days) until all beetles have died

Learning Objectives:

Design and conduct an experiment to determine which components of reproduction are physiologically costly for bean beetles.

 

Emily Boone

Department of Biology, University of Richmond, Richmond, VA