Friday, November 14, 2008

Escape Routes

Though cockroaches are often viewed as disgusting or terrifying insects, they are actually the focus of many scientists. Recently, scientist Paolo Domenici conducted a study in which he hoped to understand the cockroaches escape behavior. Upon observation it appeared that there was no pattern to the route that they took in avoiding a predator.

Domenici found that the direction they run in is not random, but instead depends on the position of their predator. From each angle that they could be startled at there is about four possible escape routes they could take that are at fixed angles from the source. You can therefore predict the four possible directions it may run in, but there is no pattern to which of those it actually chooses. How exactly they manage this behavior is yet to be determined.

You can find this article here

19 Comments:

At 2:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thats very interesting. Is there any other internal mechanism that turns on when in the presence of a predator? Is angle the only thing they look for? It seems like there must be more?

Mia DiFabbio

 
At 3:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although its kinda cool I still think that cockroaches are disgusting creatures.....sorry.
I know there's not alot known at this time but do you know what determines which of those four options a cockroach will choose?

Noam Pelleg
11/15/08

 
At 10:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is rather intriguing! I wonder, if there is no method to the reactions of the roaches then how can we be sure that there are only four patterns? I am also curious about the sign stimulus that triggers this particular chosen pattern. Could there be different stimuli at certain angles that trigger something?

- Sarah Moltzen

 
At 1:33 PM, Blogger PWH said...

This is an interesting idea, my only question is are there any species of cockroaches that choose the escape route facing directly at the predator in an attempt to startle the predator and maybe get away? Or does this idea sound way to crazy?


-Joe Alonzo

 
At 2:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if the cockroaches themselves are even aware of this. I know what I have an emergency response to something I interpret as danger, I usually don't put much thought into the direction that I run. I do however, believe that I am subconsciously making the best decision based on what my brain is telling me to do. Interesting topic, great work!

Ericka Adey

 
At 3:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting, I guess it makes sense to have different options of escape. Whatever they're doing, it's been working pretty well for them!

Jane de Verges

 
At 3:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could you, perhaps, show an example diagram or some kind of picture of video in the update to show this happening? It would give me a better understanding of the process.
-Sasha Rogers

 
At 4:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Seems odd that the researchers know alot about a cockroach's neural connections in regards to behavior and yet they are not sure as to how the cockroaches make their escape choice. This kinda makes me think that when scientists do figure this out the discovery will generate new advances in the behavioral sciences.

Allan Eldridge

 
At 5:19 PM, Blogger PWH said...

I dont know if cockroaches are a terrifying creature but their pretty nasty. I dont see why someone would study this about them. Although they did find a unique pattern I would assume most animals have a pattern of escape based on where the threat is coming from. I mean if a gazelle sees a lion hes not going to run at it. Also if there is no pattern to choosing the direction, the basic approach to this expirement needs to be redesigned.

Patrick Salome

 
At 6:11 PM, Blogger PWH said...

I wonder if the cockroaches have some kind of mechanism like the moth escaping from the bat situation that we learned about in class. The moth had the mechanisms that involved its neural network which was set up in a way that told them how to respond in a specific way depending on where the bat was coming towards them. Maybe this is similar to what is occuring in the cockroaches. What do you think?

Posted by: Lindsay Goodyear

 
At 7:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This surprises me. I thought the moths escape behavior was very interesting because it was so specific and down to the point so I would assume other insects also had very detailed escape behaviors. The cockroaches seems pretty random, it runs in the opposite diretion of its predator. I wonder if in future experiments they will learn why it chooses one of the four directions.

-Julie Riley

 
At 9:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is some interesting research...This is the first time I've heard of a scientist focusing on cockroackes... Maybe if we figured out how cockroaches decide where to escape to then we'd have an easier time catching them when crawling around our house!? Yuck!

Brena Sena

 
At 10:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does it choose the escape behavior at random? This is interesting and I hope to hear more about this in the future.

Duy Nguyen

 
At 10:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This reminds me of the escape route stimulus that we learned about in the beginning of the year, such as which way a month chooses to fly when trying to escape from a bat. It's interesting to note that both the moth and apparently the cockroach decide on their escape route based on the angle of the predator. You said that there is no pattern to which direction they actually choose? I'm a bit confused with this point. Does the direction they not depend on the direction the predator is coming? Couldn't that be considered a pattern, if it was observed repeatedly?

Maura Mulvey
11/16/08

 
At 10:56 PM, Blogger PWH said...

I always assumed that cockroaches escaped in a random manner because I didn't think they had much time to decide where to run. I wonder how they figured out that there are only 4 movements. Is it something acquired or something imprinted in the genes?

-Helen Thi

 
At 11:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are cockroaches studied as model organisms? Are their genes even manipulated for the purpose of understanding genetic pathways? I have heard of very little research done with cockroaches. Perhaps some genetic manipulation of cockroaches could provide the answer to this set angles of escape routes.

Jordan Grinstein

 
At 8:53 PM, Anonymous Jen Kodela said...

UPDATE:
Here are the answers I could find for the questions you had.

There are quite a bit more internal mechanisms that guide this response, which all have to do with neural pathways and which neurons are stimulated.

Scientists believe that there is no actual pattern to which of the four paths the cockroach takes.

From what I have read there is no instances of the cockroach coming at the predator. They seem to scurry away from the stimulus as soon as they detect it. Maybe they are not aggressive?

There is a pattern to narrowing down the possible angles of direction that they'll run away in.

The moth example from class was the first thing I thought of when I read this article. The actual pattern that the moth falls in is unpredictable, but how it will fall is.

Cockroaches are actually widely researched and considered model insects for many studies.

 
At 7:09 PM, Blogger PWH said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 7:10 PM, Blogger PWH said...

This is funny because I was trying to observe something like this at the beginning of the semester. My dorm had a problem with roaches and we kept finding huge ones everywhere. There was one in my room and we were trying to catch it but it moved to fast so we were trying to figure out if it had a pattern of movement so we could catch it. One of my floor mates said that I should catch it with the lights off cause when it sees the light it goes and hides, is this true? Also, they said not to kill it cause it would leave behind eggs, it this true?

Chantal Gomes

 

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