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Life in the Undergrowth

A ladybird eating an aphid

Advances in technology are allowing scientists to learn lots about the micro-world of insects and other mini-beasts allowing the behaviour of insects to be studied in detail over time. The David Attenborough TV series "Life in The Undergrowth" demonstrates that in a breathtaking way by bringing the pictures into our homes. Computer technology for example allows the motion of flies to be slowed to the point that wing motion can be studied. As any wildlife photographer knows often by the time you react to take a picture, the action and the animal has often moved on. New digital filming, however, allows a photo to be recorded of the point just before you "pressed the shutter" so you don't miss the action. How? By recording everything and saving it for a short period - then using the point you press the button to determine which part to save for real. The resulting pictures are both stunning and help scientists better study behaviour.

It works both ways though - as biologists understand more about the insect world, the ideas are carried over by computer scientists to make new kinds of technology as we explore in articles here.