Sarah Boyer, biology professor, Penny Kahn '17, Eva Larsen '17, Raine Ikagawa '17

Our overarching goal was to better understand the ecology and species relationships of the daddy longlegs in Minnesota.
—Raine Ikagawa

By Raine Ikagawa ’17
Kailua, Hawaii
Biology

After taking the course Invertebrate Animal Diversity with Professor Sarah Boyer, my eyes were opened to the world of invertebrates, and I was thrilled to conduct research with her this summer. Our research took several different paths. Our overarching goal was to better understand the ecology and species relationships of the daddy longlegs in Minnesota.

We did some molecular work to investigate the species relationships in the genus Leiobunum, extracting DNA from our animal specimens and sending the samples out for sequencing. We also did a lot of behavioral work in observing the reproductive behavior in Leiobunum calcar and Leiobunum ventricosum, drinking endless cups of coffee while spending countless hours watching them mate.

My favorite aspect of our research was the microhabitats project at Macalester’s Katharine Ordway Natural Study Area. We were looking for patterns in where daddy longlegs are found; for example if they prefer certain types of plants or certain amounts of tree cover or vegetation. One genus, Odiellus, clearly favored leaf litter habitats. We found at least six different species of daddy longlegs at Ordway over the summer, possibly seven.

Walking around in the forest with my lab mates counting daddy longlegs was a blast. Despite the discomforts of the forest—gnats and some stinging plants—it was a wonderful experience to take information on the ecology of Midwestern daddy longlegs from our literature review, design our data collection plan of action, and then actually execute our plan.

Raine’s research was supported by the Kraus-Anderson Scholars Fund.

 

February 2 2017

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