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Call for earwigs in classrooms

A University of St Andrews biologist claims that earwigs could become a valuable learning resource for Scottish school pupils.

Dr Joseph Tomkins of the School of Biology is addressing next month’s Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour Conference for Scottish Teachers, explaining that the insects can teach secondary school pupils crucial lessons about ecology.

Dr Tomkins said, “By studying earwigs, pupils would learn about the ecology of a species in terms of where they are found and why. They would also learn about animal behaviour traits like mating and fighting and, because they aggregate using a pheromone, earwigs open up questions about the benefits and costs of this behaviour. Earwigs also illustrate parental care with female earwigs tending their eggs and newly hatched offspring – not many people may appreciate that such things as “motherly love” extend to invertebrates. On a practical level, they are also easy to collect and cheap to feed and house.”

Ultimately, Dr Tomkins hopes to develop a teachers’ resource book on using earwigs in secondary schools.

The Association for the Study of Animal Behaviour`s Conference for Scottish Teachers, to take place at the University of St Andrews on Wednesday 22 May 2002, is aimed at teachers interested in animal behaviour, biology or psychology syllabuses. As well as hearing from Dr Tomkins, attendants will, amongst other things, be given an insight into the work of the University’s Sea Mammal Research Unit and observe a workshop with brine shrimps by Michael Dockery of Manchester Metropolitan University.

Further information on the conference can be obtained from 1. Dr Mike Hansell, University of Glasgow, telephone 0141 330 4779/email m.hansell@bio.gla.ac.uk or 2. Dr Joe Tomkins, School of Biology, University of St Andrews on telephone 01334 463598.

ENDS

NOTE TO EDITORS – Please contact C Grainger for programme of day’s events/details on press access. Range of emailable pics also available.

Issued by Beattie Media on behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information please contact Claire Grainger on 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or email cg24@st-andrews.ac.uk Ref: earwigs/standrews/chg/3april2002

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