Turtles

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Turtles

Postby peachamy » Wed Oct 31, 2012 10:18 am

Hi, I have a science fair coming up and would like it to envolve my two young eastern box turtles. My teacher wants my Hypothesis by Monday, I have no ideas yet and could really use some help!
peachamy
 
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Occupation: Student: 9th grade
Project Question: environmental and animal science
Project Due Date: topic by tuesday, completed by January 6th
Project Status: I am just starting

Re: Turtles

Postby heatherL » Thu Nov 01, 2012 9:30 am

Hi peachamy,

Welcome to Science Buddies! It's nice that you are interested in learning more about your pet turtles.

Since they are young turtles, you could look at how a factor like temperature affects their growth rate. For example, you could keep each turtle in the same tank for a while to monitor their growth rates at the same temperature (as a control), and then move each one to a different temperature (one a bit colder and one a bit warmer, for example) to see whether their growth rates increase or decrease. If you are interested in something along these lines, let me know, and I can help you design your experiment.

If you have other kinds of pets, you might be interested in this Science Buddies project, which compares how different animals eat: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-f ... p029.shtml
Note that ectotherms (cold-blooded animals) like your turtles tend to have lower energy requirements compared to endotherms (warm-blooded animals) like cats and dogs. So if you have other pets, I think this would be a good project for you!

Did you know that migratory turtles are thought to sense the Earth's magnetic field? Check out this Science Buddies project: http://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-f ... p058.shtml
I do not think that eastern box turtles are migratory, but this might be an interesting animal-based project for you. You might be able to find a way to test whether your turtles can sense a magnetic field (even though they're not migratory)! Let me know if this sounds interesting to you.

I hope these ideas help you get started. Please post again (in this same thread) with what interests you, and we'll go from there!

Heather
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Re: Turtles

Postby peachamy » Thu Nov 01, 2012 6:08 pm

My turtles are being affected by the cold as we speak! They have chosen the worst time to dig and burrow, so your idea is sounding very good right now! I am working on getting a uv ray light bulb for them, they say it adds warmth and shell growth. I think the growth rate might take a while, but I am willing to try it once I get the light bulb. :)
peachamy
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:36 am
Occupation: Student: 9th grade
Project Question: environmental and animal science
Project Due Date: topic by tuesday, completed by January 6th
Project Status: I am just starting

Re: Turtles

Postby heatherL » Thu Nov 01, 2012 6:51 pm

Hi peachamy,

I'm glad you like the idea! Let me know when you're ready, and we'll design a good experiment for you.

I think you are looking for an infrared heat lamp for your turtles, not a UV lamp. Keep in mind that UV can be damaging to reptiles (just like us!). You can find appropriate heat lamps for your turtles at a local pet store, and even online.

Looking forward to working with you on your project!

Heather
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Re: Turtles

Postby peachamy » Fri Nov 09, 2012 9:55 am

Hi heatherL,

I am ready to start! A new tank arrived, it is a lot bigger than the old one. It is 1' by 2' 6" . I could divide the tank so they are separated.I am working on getting lights on tuesday if not sooner. Lynn ( older male turtle) is one inch bigger than Amy ( female?). something I noticed was that Amy digs deeper than Lynn even though she is smaller.
peachamy
 
Posts: 3
Joined: Wed Oct 31, 2012 9:36 am
Occupation: Student: 9th grade
Project Question: environmental and animal science
Project Due Date: topic by tuesday, completed by January 6th
Project Status: I am just starting

Re: Turtles

Postby heatherL » Fri Nov 09, 2012 2:21 pm

Hi peachamy,

How exciting! I have some ideas for how you can conduct your experiment.

My thought is to keep them for at least two weeks in the same tank at the same temperature. During those two weeks, you will monitor their growth rates by measuring (1) the standard length (straight-line length) of the shell, (2) the curvilinear length (length along the top, following the curve) of the shell, and (3) mass (weight) of each turtle. I would measure these things every day for both turtles. This part, during which both turtles are in the same tank, will be the control part of the experiment. Make sure you keep the air temperature as constant as possible during this time, and check the temperature daily. (You can get inexpensive terrarium thermometers at a local pet store or online.) A good temperature would be close to room temperature, or 25 degrees Celsius. Note that each turtle will be acting as its own control.

If you are able to detect a growth rate (in mm/day) for the turtles during those two weeks, then you can move on to the experimental portion of the project. For the next two weeks, you will separate the turtles so that one turtle is in warmer air (say, 30 degrees Celsius), and one turtle is in cooler air (20 degrees Celsius). Take the same measurements (standard length of shell, curvilinear length of shell, body mass) for the turtles daily, and make sure the temperatures stay as close to the target as possible. You may have to adjust the distance and/or the number of infrared lamps to get the desired temperature.

You should have a hypothesis as to whether the turtles will grow faster or more slowly in their new temperatures than they did at the control temperature. If you do some background research, you should be able to find previous studies that discuss the effects of temperature on the growth rate of turtles.

Once the experiment is complete, you will be able to compare each turtle's growth rate at the control temperature and at the different experimental temperatures. If temperature has a reliable effect on growth rate, you would expect one turtle to grow faster than it did at the first temperature, and the other turtle to grow more slowly. The reason you start them both at the same temperature is that you can account for each turtle having a different growth rate. You will only be comparing each turtle to itself.

Let me know if this makes sense, and please post again if you have any questions!

Heather
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