The Application of X-RAY Computerised Tomography for the Advancement of Non-Invasive Imaging in Entomology

  • Mark Greco

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisPhD


Current methods for assessing the health of insects and their colonies are carried out by researchers making dissections on individual insects (which inevitably kills them) or making visual inspections of colonies and then documenting their observations. For colonies, researchers look for behavioural signs which indicate healthy individuals where foragers are regularly bringing in resources or in weak colonies, where there are fewer foragers working with a more lethargic and less purposeful manner. These methods are prone to large errors and they kill many insects in the process. The research detailed in this thesis addresses the subjective and destructive nature of these methods. This thesis also describes new methods using x-ray CT to develop and adopt protocols to accurately study insects non-invasively. Chapter one covers the current literature on tomography and some background on the different CT methods. Chapter two gives a thorough description of the new methods being developed to study insects non-invasively and details techniques that can be adopted by researchers who require non-invasive approaches to their work. Chapter three describes in detail three examples of research that has been conducted on locusts, ladybirds and butterflies to non-invasively study aspects of their morphology. The methods described maintain the integrity of the specimens for future use if so required. Chapter four covers a specific example of a fine detail study on plasticity of the honeybee brain using X-ray MicroCT and discusses the potential for live scanning to observe brain plasticity in insects. Chapter five extends the work from chapter two to show the usefulness of CT for studying insect behaviour by documenting and describing previously unreported honeybee storage behaviour. Chapter six draws conclusions from the other chapters and discusses future research.
Date of Award31 Dec 2013
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Bath
SupervisorCathryn Mitchell (Supervisor) & Manuchehr Soleimani (Supervisor)


  • tomography
  • bees
  • imaging

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