Novel method for pairing wood samples in choice tests
Choice tests are a standard method to determine preferences in bio-assays, e.g. for food types and food additives such as bait attractants and toxicants. Choice between food additives can be determined only when the food substrate is sufficiently homogeneous. This is difficult to achieve for wood eating organisms as wood is a highly variable biological material, even within a tree species due to the age of the tree (e.g. sapwood vs. heartwood), and components therein (sugar, starch, cellulose and lignin). The current practice to minimise variation is to use wood from the same tree, yet the variation can still be large and the quantity of wood from one tree may be insufficient. We used wood samples of identical volume from multiple sources, measured three physical properties (dry weight, moisture absorption and reflected light intensity), then ranked and clustered the samples using fuzzy c-means clustering. A reverse analysis of the clustered samples found a high correlation between their physical properties and their source of origin. This suggested approach allows a quantifiable, consistent, repeatable, simple and quick method to maximize control over similarity of wood used in choice tests. © 2014 Oberst et al.
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