Animal behavior
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Animal Behavior. All observed behaviors in some way maximize the individual’s reproductive success (fitness). 4 Questions about behavior. Causation? Physiological mechanisms “How” questions are “proximate” Development? Ontogeny (organism’s lifetime) Evolution? Origins and significance

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Animal Behavior

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Animal behavior

Animal Behavior

All observed behaviors in some way maximize the individual’s reproductive success (fitness)


4 questions about behavior

4 Questions about behavior

  • Causation?

    • Physiological mechanisms

    • “How” questions are “proximate”

  • Development?

    • Ontogeny (organism’s lifetime)

  • Evolution?

    • Origins and significance

  • Function?

    • Adaptive significance

    • “Why” questions are “ultimate”

    • Phylogeny (historical)


What is behavior

What is behavior?

  • What an animal does and how it does it


Proximate and ultimate causes

Proximate and Ultimate Causes


How does behavior happen

How does behavior happen?

  • Behavior results from both genetic (nature) and environmental (nurture) influences.

    • Phenotypic behaviors exist that often depend on environmental cues

    • Some behaviors are strictly “nature”.

    • Environmental factors can include:

      • Chemical environments in cells

      • Hormone and physical conditions

      • Interactions with other organisms


Innate behaviors

Innate Behaviors

  • All behaviors, including innate behaviors, require a environment to be expressed.

  • Innate behaviors are those that appear the same among individuals no matter the environment (developmentally fixed).

  • Ultimate explanation is that automatic performance of these behaviors maximized fitness so that other variations were lost


Ethology and innate behaviors

Ethology and Innate Behaviors

  • Ethology-studying behaviors in the natural environment

    • Lozenz

    • Tinbergen

    • Von Frisch

  • Fixed action patterns

    • Goose behavior

    • Imprinting


Fixed action pattern

Fixed Action Pattern

  • Triggered by a external sign stimulus

  • Goes to completion even in the presence of other stimuli

  • Can sometimes happen in the absence of stimuli

  • Tinbergen’s Stickleback Fish

  • Yawning

  • Supernormal Stimulus

    • Volleyball

    • Cuckoo


Learned bahaviors

Learned Bahaviors

  • Based upon gene created neural systems that are receptive to learning

    • Change in behavior is a result of experience

      • Frog flexible learning

      • Wasps and sand dunes

    • Bird Songs

      • Hearing songs in youth is important

      • Will any song do? Freebird?


Cost benefit in foraging

Cost/Benefit in Foraging

  • Beautiful Mind and Dating


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