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ANIMAL BEHAVIOR. Ch. 33. Ethology. The study of animal behavior. Behavior. An action or series of actions performed in response to a stimulus. Stimulus. Something in the environment that causes an organism to respond.

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Ch. 33


The study of animal behavior.


An action or series of actions performed in response to a stimulus.


Something in the environment that causes an organism to respond.

Ex: sound, smell, color, another animal, prey, predator, mate


An organism’s reaction to a stimulus

Innate Behavior

Natural responses to stimuli that do not depend on learning

Fixed Action Pattern

Baby cuckoo pushes competing egg out of host parents nest.

(Brood parasitism)

Common Cuckoo being raised

by Reed Warbler

Learned Behavior

The development of behaviors through experience.

Chimpanzees learn to use a stick to get termites out of a mound.




An animal develops a particular response to an object or organism only during a brief period early in life.

Natural Selection

  • Behaviors that increase an individual’s reproductive success are favored by natural selection.

  • Male lions kill or chase off the cubs of a previous male.

Classes of Behavior

  • Foraging

  • Antipredator

  • Cyclic

    • Migration

    • Hibernation

    • Circadian rhythm

Foraging Behavior

Food gathering behavior.

Specialists eat only one or a few things.

Generalists eat many kinds of food.

Antipredator Behavior

  • Spines

  • Chemical defense

  • Play dead

  • Running fast

  • Form groups

  • Camouflage

  • Where's the Octopus? Aug.5, 2011

Seasonal Behaviors


Seasonal movement between distant places.

To find better climate, food, mates, place to raise young.

Humpback whales migrate 5,100 miles between their feeding ground in Antarctica to their mating zones off Costa Rica.



Animal’s metabolic rate and body temperature drop. Animal becomes inactive for varying amounts of time.

Ex: bats, groundhogs, prairie dogs, ladybugs, box turtles, squirrels, bears

Circadian Rhythms

  • A cycle that occurs on a daily basis

  • Internal cycle occurs in almost every animal

  • Body temperature, sleep patterns, activity level

  • Nocturnal - active at night

  • Diurnal - active in daytime


  • Communication: any behavior that contains information and involves a sender and receiver.

  • Animals use signals to influence the behavior of other animals.

Types of Communication

  • Sight

  • Chemicals

  • Touch

  • Sound

  • Language


Visual signals are fast and easy to produce. Bright colors may scare off a competitor or predator.


Termites mark their trail with chemicals called pheromones.


Best over large distances.

May signal food or predators or to attract mates.

Reproductive Strategies

Animals have mating and parenting behaviors to maximize reproductive success.

1. Find and choose mate.

2. May use complex courting behavior or intense competition

3. Either abandon young or provide care.

Territorial Behavior

Defending a portion of habitat against others of the same species.

Competition for food or mates.

Marking territory with scent, sound.

Aggressive displays or fights.

Courtship Behavior

Behavior ritual that precedes and leads to mating.

Sexual Selection

Females prefer a particular trait in males.

That trait may affect the survival of the male.

Female chooses mate!

Parental Behavior

Protecting young and providing food

Mammals nurse young.

90% of birds give care.

Very few amphibians, reptiles, arachnids, insects

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