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Review and Animal Behavior. Animal behavior. Examples? Definition Why study behavior?. How to study animal behavior. Ethology: The study of animal behavior in its natural environment Mid 20 th century Tinbergen, von Frisch, Lorenz 4 foundational questions

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animal behavior
Animal behavior
  • Examples?
  • Definition
  • Why study behavior?
how to study animal behavior
How to study animal behavior
  • Ethology: The study of animal behavior in its natural environment
    • Mid 20th century
    • Tinbergen, von Frisch, Lorenz
    • 4 foundational questions
      • Mechanistic basis of the behavior
      • How does development influence behavior
      • Evolutionary history of the behavior
      • How does the behavior contribute to its fitness?
  • Behavioral ecology: Stems from ethology, and attempts to explain how animal behaviors are controlled and why they developed
proximate versus ultimate explanations
Proximate versus ultimate explanations
  • Proximate: the mechanism (how)
  • Ultimate: Evolutionary significance (why)
  • With your partner, write down a proximate and ultimate explanation
fixed action pattern fap
Fixed action pattern (FAP)
  • Sequence of unlearned behaviors
  • Nearly unchangeable
  • Carried out to completion
  • Sign stimulus (releaser) behavior
  • Example of an innate behavior
  • Generally irreversible
  • Sensitive period
  • Imprinting stimulus
  • Innate and learning components
  • Lorenz
  • Proximate, ultimate explanations?
nature versus nurture
Nature versus nurture
  • Can behavioral traits be treated like physical traits?
  • How do your determine whether genes, environment, or both cause behavior?
  • Example behaviors: intelligence, musical/artistic talent, love?
directed movements
Directed movements
  • Strong genetic influence
  • Kinesis versus taxis
  • Migration
    • Migrating blackcaps kept in captivity exhibited behaviors of “migratory restlessness” at night
    • Migratory and nonmigratory blackcaps mated and subjected to both environments
    • 40% of offspring exhibited “migratory restlessness”
signals and communication
Signals and communication
  • Signal causes change in another organism’s behavior
  • Difference between communication and language
  • Pheromones (reproductive and nonreproductive behaviors)
auditory communication
Auditory communication
  • Songs of birds are partly learned
    • Critical period
  • Some insects, such as male Drosophila, produce a song even when reared in isolation
    • Very little variation, why?
  • Definition?
  • How do we learn?
  • Habituation: Loss of responsiveness
spatial learning and cognitive maps
Spatial learning and cognitive maps
  • Spatial learning (Tinbergen): experience consists of spatial structures of the environment
    • Use of landmarks. Reliable?
  • Cognitive maps: Internal representation of spatial relationships
how natural selections leads to behavioral traits
How natural selections leads to behavioral traits
  • Variation exists: fraction of the species T. elegans (garter snakes) had ability to recognize slugs by chemoreception
  • Increased fitness: That variation has higher chance to survive and reproduce (genes passed on)
  • Led to changes in the population over time

Your friend Jim comes to you with a problem: His dog barks too much. He tells you that it is getting worse and the only way he can get his dog to stop barking is to give it a treat. Explain to your friend what kind of learning the dog is exhibiting and what can be done about it.

  • Most birds cannot fly when they are first born, but only at a certain age. A scientists decides to isolate 2 groups of birds after being born. One group can practice flapping their wings at any point. The other’s groups wings are tied so that they cannot practice flapping. At the expected age, both groups are allowed to attempt to fly, and both groups do successfully with no apparent difference. What would account for these results. Innate, learned behavior? Both? Neither?
  • The magnolia warbler only breeds in spring/early summer. Propose a proximate and ultimate explanation for this situation.
lab 11 animal behavior18
Lab 11: Animal Behavior
  • Concepts
    • innate vs. learned behavior
    • experimental design
      • control vs. experimental
      • hypothesis
    • choice chamber
      • temperature
      • humidity
      • light intensity
      • salinity
      • other factors
lab 11 animal behavior19
Lab 11: Animal Behavior
  • Hypothesis
    • Tentative, testable explanation
    • It is the hypothesis in an experiment that is tested
  • Deduction
    • If hypothesis AND experiment THEN prediction
lab 11 animal behavior20
Lab 11: Animal Behavior
  • Hypothesis development
    • Poor:I think pillbugs will move toward the wet side of a choice chamber.
    • Better:IF pillbugs prefer a moist environment, AND they are randomly placed on both sides of a wet/dry choice chamber and allowed to move about freely for 10 minutes, THEN most will be found on the wet side.
lab 11 animal behavior21
Lab 11: Animal Behavior

sample size

  • Experimental design
foraging behavior
Foraging behavior
  • Optimal foraging theory: behaviors exist as a compromise between benefits of nutrition and cost of obtaining food
  • Predation must be a factor
mating behavior
Mating behavior


Strong bonds


(sex morphology similar)





Showy males)

  • Factors influencing evolution of mating systems
  • Need of young
  • Paternity certainty
    • certainty increases with external fertilization




Showy females)

sexual selection
Sexual selection
  • Sexual selection (selective pressure)  evolution of male behavior and anatomy
  • Stalked-eyed flies
    • Females more likely to mate with males with longer eyestalks
    • Why? Correlation between genetic disorders and inability to develop long eyestalks
agonistic behavior
Agonistic behavior
  • Ritualized
  • Winner gains access to resources
  • Physical and behavioral characteristics involved
  • Usually harm is not done
game theory and behavior
Game theory and behavior
  • Game theory evaluates alternative strategies where outcome depends on strategies of other individuals
  • Why don’t less fit mating strategies disappear?
    • Depends on abundance of certain strategies
  • Cost/benefit of selfish vs. unselfish behavior?
  • Altruism reduces individual fitness but increases fitness of others
inclusive fitness
Inclusive fitness
  • Helping close relatives would increase the inclusive fitness (own offspring and survival, reproduction of close relatives)
  • Hamilton’s rule
    • Natural selection would favor altruistic behavior when rB > C
social learning
Social learning
  • Experience involves observing others
  • Culture: information transfer through social learning
  • Vervet monkey alarm calls
  • Memes (Richard Dawkins)
sociobiology e o wilson
Sociobiology (E.O. Wilson)
  • Connects human culture to evolutionary theory
  • Social behaviors exist because they are perpetuated by natural selection
  • Does not mean all social behaviors are hardwired (nature vs. nurture)