Michelle Brock

Mentor: Dr. Lisa Taylor
College of Agricultural and Life Sciences
 
"During my first semester of college, I signed up for the Science for Life Seminar. I have always loved to explore the world around me and learn more about the things that inhabit this planet with us. So, when Dr. Lisa Taylor came to speak in the seminar, I immediately wanted to know more about the arachnids that she worked with."

Major

Chemistry

Minor

Communication Studies

Research Interests

  • Arachnid mental capabilities
  • Insect Behaviors
  • Insect Colorations

Academic Awards

  • Florida Bright Futures
  • National Beta Club Scholarship
  • University Scholars Program

Organizations

  • Safe Animal Shelter
  • American Cancer Society

Volunteer

  • Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation
  • Northwood Oaks Veterinary Hospital
  • UF Department of Entomology and Nematology

Hobbies and Interests

  • Rock Climbing
  • Hiking
  • Swimming
  • Art/Crafts

Research Description

Narrowing Down the Memory Capabilities of South Eastern Arachnids in the Salticidae Family
This project's main focus is to begin the process of pinpointing how long Jumping Spiders (Salticidae) can recall negative experiences with food prey. The three different species of spiders that will be tested are the Green Magnolia (Lyssomanes viridis), Thiodina sylvana, and the Regal Jumper (Phidippus regius). All spiders are to be collected in the Gainesville area and will be at approximately the same maturity. They will have a single exposure to a toxic red milkweed bug, and then will have varying amounts of time assigned over which they will have to remember to not attack another toxic red milkweed bug. This capability to recall negative encounters with toxic prey insects could explain why some insects have evolved certain colorations, appendages, behaviors, etc. Larger aviary predators have been accredited for driving evolution in insects, so it will be interesting to see if smaller arachnid predators will have the capabilities of doing this as well.