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What the Antlion Knows

Our guest is Becky Hansis-O’Neil, a Ph.D. student at the University of Missouri, St Louis. Becky has a background on how she got into the field of behavioral intelligence and biology.

She gave a background into the study of animal behavior and introduced the terms that would become useful in the conversation. She explained how bees' activities can be observed and how to narrow down the variables to consider in studying the behavior of the bees. In this episode, we focus on the antlions' behavior based on the paper: Operant conditioning in antlion larvae and its impairment following exposure to elevated temperatures.

Becky discussed how they designed an experiment using a T-maze to understand antlions' behavior. She discussed the experimental setup and the environmental variables that were changed. She also discussed how the researchers accounted for bias.

Becky discussed some interesting findings from the experiment. She discussed the impact of vibrational cues and temperature increase on ant lions' learning, mortality, and memory. She also explained the reasons for the observations.

Becky gave her thoughts on the findings of the paper and the methodologies used.

Paper in focus

Operant conditioning in antlion larvae and its impairment following exposure to elevated temperatures

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This season’s cover art features original photographs by Becky Hansis-O’Neil

Becky Hansis-O'Neill

Becky is a PhD student in the biology department at University of Missouri - St. Louis (UMSL). She received her BS in Psychology and MS in Biological Sciences from Idaho State University (ISU). She has conducted research on topics such as behavioral pharmacology, developmental neurobiology, pollinator ecology, parasite-host interactions, population ecology, and stable isotope analysis. During her time at ISU, Becky discovered a passion for science communication while teaching undergraduate labs in general biology, ecology, and human anatomy and physiology. After her MS, she worked as the Education Specialist for the Idaho Museum of Natural History (IMNH), managing educational programs and designing and implementing digital interactive components for public exhibits. Because of this, Becky moved on to work at an exhibit design firm, Ideum. She led full exhibit design-build projects that integrated interactive multimedia, custom software development, and both print and digital content creation while managing the Creative Services department. Currently, she is a doctoral candidate at UMSL studying learning and behavior in tarantulas and bumblebees. Becky hopes to continue her career as a researcher when she is finished. In her spare-time she enjoys nature photography, dog training, gardening, and creating digital art.