I first began research at Washburn University under supervision of Dr. Benjamin Reed. After becoming familiar with radio telemetry and having multiple paper and concept discussions, I felt ready to pursue my own project. Dr. Reed helped me think of a plan and encouraged me to go with a small group of research students to a biological station and pursue my ideas as a summer project.
I came up with an idea of what I wanted to test, and then designed a study utilizing a maze-like field assay. The assay consisted of a Styrofoam hallway with six arches, each leading to a semi-transparent box. The back left box had an additional arch carved out to serve as the exit. After tracking and marking turtle locations and all relevant information, individuals were put through the assay to test the time from start to exit and percent success at exiting. Each turtle (n=18) was tested eight to ten times over the course of the summer.
This location has ten years of both tracking and behavioral type data (exploration, activity, and boldness), so I was able to test some interesting relationships. I found evidence of learning (p=0.07) on the population level, and a slight negative tendency between cognitive performance and boldness (p=0.09). Additionally, there was an inverse tendency between cognition performance and home range size by sex (p=0.06). I look forward to returning and continuing this project with a different subset of turtles this summer 2023.
Kansas Herpetological Conference 2022
and Midwest Ecology and Evolution Conference Poster 2023:
Wilson B, Wagner P, Brighton K, Chanay M, Gauntt, A, Kim S, Munsell K, Trautman A, Speer T, Wagner S, Reed BM. 2022. Learning and BT in Terrapene ornata. Kansas Herpetological Meetings. Missouri Sothern State University, Joplin, MO.
Washburn's Apeiron Conference 2023: SEE POSTER
Wilson B, Wagner P, Brighton K, Chanay M, Gauntt, A, Kim S, Munsell K, Trautman A, Speer T, Wagner S, Reed BM. 2023. Ecological Consequences of Cognition in Terrapene ornata. Apeiron. Washburn University, Topeka, KS.
Initial set-up of the cognition assay.