Norwich students spend summer researching flatworms

Uploaded by NorwichUniversity on 10.08.2011

These little critters are so fragile that as soon
as we could do anything – if we looked
cross-eyed at them,
they’d burst like a balloon.
There’s no research in Vermont
on them, so we’re trying to identify
them and make a key.
We’ve tried dozens of preserving
solutions and techniques. None of them
seem to work longer than a day or two.
Basically, we’re performing a survey
of local Turbellarians. We’re going out
to different aquatic environments and we’re
utilizing a couple of different collection
techniques to gather Turbellarians
and then we’re coming back to the lab
and we’re trying our best to key them out.
Being part of research in the summer is cool
because we get to go out independently and figure
things out by ourselves.
They are increasingly being looked at
because of the remarkable powers of regeneration.
These animals can be cut into pieces
and they will regenerate their body parts.
They can be taught to run a maze like a white rat.
They’re easy to catch, easy to find but
difficult to identify and even harder to preserve.
It’s hit or miss really with any site we go to.
Sometimes they’re so small, even, we miss them on
the microscope.
We got all these samples back to the lab
and we couldn’t identify them. And so
we thought we’ll just preserve them and we
can identify them later, and that’s when
we realized all the hassles in trying to preserve these.
Field research, in particular, never
goes correctly, and so they are constantly having
to figure out how they can do something
and get it to work.
It’s a little frustrating. I’m learning
to be pretty patient.
Yeah, I’m really happy with the results,
although I wish there were more results
from the streams. I’m doing ponds, Jameson’s
doing streams, but we’re working together.