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Ecology - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Ecology. “Biological Systems interact and these systems and their interactions possess complex properties”. Introduction to Ecology. Ecology can be studied at a variety of levels…. Inheritance Influences Behavior. Behavior is any action that can be observed and described.

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“Biological Systems interact and these systems and their interactions possess complex properties”

introduction to ecology
Introduction to Ecology
  • Ecology can be studied at a variety of levels…
inheritance influences behavior
Inheritance Influences Behavior
  • Behavior is any action that can be observed and described.
  • The nature versus nurture question asks to what extent both our genes (nature) and environmental influences (nurture) affect behavior.
study love bird nest making
Study: Love bird nest-making
  • How do love birds make nests?
  • Experimental Observations:
    • Fischer Lovebirds cut long strips leaves and carry the strips with their beaks
    • Peach-Faced lovebirds cut short strips of leaves and carry strips in back feathers
    • Hybrid lovebirds have difficulties because they cut medium sized strips and try unsuccessfully to carry strips in their back feathers
  • Conclusions??
study garter snake food preference
Study: Garter Snake food preference
  • Coastal snakes typically eat slugs in the wild, eat slugs in the lab
  • Inland snakes typically eat frogs and fish, don’t eat slugs in the lab
  • Hybrid snakes have an intermediate incidence of “slug acceptance”
  • Tongue-flicking shows prey recognition
  • When newborns are presented with cotton swabs covered in slug juice, what happens?
  • Conclusions?
study human twins
Study: Human Twins
  • Twins separated at birth and throughout childhood often have similar food preferences, activity patterns, and select similar mates!
  • Conclusions?
  • The studies on Love Birds, Garter Snakes, and Humans SUGGEST behavior has a genetic bases
  • Do these studies DEMONSTRATE that behavior has a genetic basis?
study marine snail and egg laying behavior
Study: Marine Snail and Egg laying behavior
  • After copulation, snails extrude long strings with more than a million eggs that are then put into the snails’ mouth, covered with mucus, and wound into an irregular mass that is attached to a rock
  • Researchers isolated gene for Egg Laying Hormone (ELH) and noticed that it forms a string of 271 amino acids while ELH only has 36 amino acids. The gene could be responsible for more than just ELH!
  • Conclusions?
study maternal behavior in mice
Study: Maternal Behavior in Mice
  • Maternal instinct hard-wired?
  • Mice with gene fosB were found to actively synthesize a particular protein after childbirth
  • fosB mice were seen cuddling with their newborns
  • Mice without gene fosB did not have the protein
  • Mice without fosB did not

show maternal

nurturing behaviors

  • Conclusions?
  • Genetics do influence Behavior (“Nature”)
  • But what about Environment (“Nurture”)?
environmental impact on behavior learning
Environmental Impact on Behavior: Learning
  • Fixed action patterns (FAPs) were believed to be behaviors that were always performed the same way, and they were elicited by a signstimulus.
  • Many behaviors formerly thought to be fixed action patterns are found to have developed after practice.
  • Learning is defined as a durable change in behavior brought about by experience.
  • Deer grazing on the side of a busy highway, oblivious to traffic, is an example of habituation.
instinct and learning
Instinct and Learning
  • Laughing gull chicks beg food from parents by pecking at the parents’ beaks
  • Researchers tried to figure out if this behavior was pure instinct or also learned
  • The chicks first peck at any beak model; later they only peck at models resembling the parents.
  • Imprinting, another form of learning, involves a sensitive period.
    • Chicks, ducklings, and goslings follow the first moving object they see after hatching (usually their mother).
    • A sensitive period is the only period during which a particular behavior such as imprinting, develops.
associative learning
Associative Learning
  • Classical Conditioning
    • If paired stimuli presented consistently to produce response, over time one stimulus alone will produce the desired response
    • This suggests that an organism can be trained (conditioned) to associate any response with any stimulus.
    • Unconditioned responses are those that occur naturally; conditioned responses are those that are learned.
associative learning1
Associative Learning
  • Operant Conditioning
    • In operant conditioning, a stimulus-response connection is strengthened.
    • This resulted from reinforcing a particular behavior.
  • Skinner came up with Behaviorism based on his experiments that used operant conditioning
orientation and migration
Orientation and Migration

Ability to navigate

cognitive learning
Cognitive learning
  • Learning through observation, imitation, and insight
  • Insight learning: animal solves a problem it does not have experience with
animal communication
Animal Communication
  • Communication is an action by a sender that influences the behavior of a receiver.
  • When the sender and receiver are members of the same species, signals will benefit both the sender and the receiver.
animal communication1
Animal Communication
  • Chemical Communication
    • These signals are chemicals (e.g., pheromones, urine, and feces) and have the advantage of working both night and day.
    • A pheromone is a chemical released to cause a predictable reaction of another member of the same species.
auditory communication
Auditory Communication
  • Advantages
    • Faster
    • Effective night and day
    • Modified by loudness, pattern, duration, and repetition
visual communication
Visual Communication
  • Visually communicate intensions- no need for chemical signal
  • During the day
  • Fighting/Defense and Courtship Displays
tactile communication
Tactile Communication
  • When one animal touches another to impart information of some sort
can behavior increase fitness
Can Behavior Increase Fitness?
  • Behavioral Ecology assumes behavior is subject to natural selection i.e. really dangerous/stupid behavior will lead to less reproductive success
  • Examine:
    • Territoriality
    • Reproductive Strategies
    • Social Behavior/Society
    • Altruism
territoriality increased fitness
Territoriality: Increased Fitness?
  • Territory: animal’s home range
  • Territoriality: defending the home range
  • Defense could be dangerous if fighting occurs and certainly uses a lot of energy
Territoriality Increased Fitness?Group territoriality and the benefits of sociality in the African lion, Pantheraleo
  • 38 years of data on 46 lion prides in the Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
  • Observed effects of territoriality on fitness of both females and males
  • Say-Mean-Matter activity
different reproductive strategies
Different Reproductive Strategies
  • Some animals, such as gibbons, are monogamous; they pair bond, and both male and female help with the rearing of the young.
  • Most other primates are polygamous; males monopolize multiple females.
  • A limited number of primates are polyandrous.
    • Tamarins live together in groups of one or more families in which one female mates with more than one male.

Monogamous: African Antelope

Polygamous: Hyenas (although


Polyandrous: Bees with their


sexual selection increased fitness
Sexual Selection  Increased Fitness?
  • Sexual selection refers to adaptive changes in males and females that lead to an increased ability to secure a mate
  • In males, this may result in an increased ability to compete with other males for a mate.
  • Females may select a mate with the best fitness (ability to produce surviving offspring), thereby increasing her own fitness.
societies increase fitness
Societies  Increase Fitness?
  • Benefits: avoid predators, raise young, find food
  • Costs: disagreements, individuals may be disadvantaged because of their group affiliation, parasites/disease spread more effectively
  • Cost/Benefit analysis, is it worth it?
altruism vs self interest
Altruism vs. Self Interest
  • Altruism: behavior that potentially decreases fitness of one individual while increasing another’s fitness
  • Inclusive fitness: fitness of individual and close relatives
    • Indirect vs. Direct selection
  • Reciprocal Altruism: short term sacrifice to potentially increase future reproductive success
    • Ex. Birds who help parents raise future generations
foraging and fitness
Foraging and Fitness
  • Foraging for food (gathering food) can obviously increase fitness
  • Benefitss during foraging behavior must outweigh risks
  • Optimal foraging model: natural selection will effect foraging behavior so it is as energetically efficient as possible