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1 March 2007 Technique and observer presence affect reporting of behavior of damselfly larvae
Robert L. Baker, Merrylee A. McGuffin
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We experimentally tested for systematic biases in techniques commonly used to study behavior of larval aquatic insects. We determined whether larval Zygoptera responded to the presence of an observer and whether live observation missed some behaviors. We found significant differences between behaviors recorded during live observations and behaviors videotaped in the absence of an observer. All behaviors, except Rotate, were exhibited less frequently in the presence of an observer. These results suggest that larvae respond to the presence of observers as if they were predators. Live observation also missed some behaviors. The duration of Crawl Forward, which can be very subtle, and the frequency of Rotate, which can be very rapid and is easily missed, were greater when recorded from the videotape than by a live observer. Wherever possible, use of video recording systems is preferable over reliance on live observations.

Robert L. Baker and Merrylee A. McGuffin "Technique and observer presence affect reporting of behavior of damselfly larvae," Journal of the North American Benthological Society 26(1), 145-151, (1 March 2007).[145:TAOPAR]2.0.CO;2
Received: 2 March 2006; Accepted: 24 July 2006; Published: 1 March 2007

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observer effect
predator avoidance
video recording
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