Interactive Sessions - Kids' Tech University (KTU) at BGSU    
Paul MooreApril 12, 2014
Why do animals fight? Aggression and contests of strength in the freshwater crayfish

An interactive session led by Paul Moore

Professor, Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green OH
Paul Moore's Personal Website


One of the most prominent scenes shown in nature shows on TV are large animals having aggressive interactions. Images of bighorn sheep butting heads on the side of mountain, elephants pushing back and forth like sumo wrestlers, or even birds flapping their wings against an opponent are commonly shown on the animal planet or national geographic channel. Although these types of fights are rare in nature, they serve an important function for the animals. Often, these combatants are fighting over important resources like food, territory, or even for potential mates. Yet, these fights are quite dangerous for both the eventual winner or loser of the interactions. Both animals can get hurt or die from such intense fights. So why would animals even fight? In addition, how do animals fight? How do they communicate during a fight? How do animals know who has won and who has lost? What are the consequences or outcomes of these fights? In this hands-on demonstration, we will explore these questions using a common backyard or stream organism, the freshwater crayfish. Crayfish have excellent weapons and hard armored plates to protect themselves from attacks. We'll demonstrate fights and have students participate in designing an experiment and watching animals fight.

Paul Moore is marine biologist who used to use lobsters for experiments. Student in his lab study the evolution of fighting in animals and the different strategies that animals use to win fights. His research group is particularly interested in the chemical senses, because many marine and freshwater animals use chemical signals to communicate with their opponent during fights

April 2014 - Hands-On Exhibits
After the interactive session the students will be escorted by their parents to have lunch and then to the hands-on portion of the event. There the students will enjoy the experience of interacting with various exhibits from the Bowling Green State University community.