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Animal Behavior Notes!
• What an animal does & How
an animal does it!
• Think of all of the behaviors
of your pet...or a friends’ pet.
List them and classify them
as either being genetically
“innate” or learned.
the study of animal behavior with emphasis on the behavioral patterns that
occur in natural environments.
Pioneers in the Study of Animal Behavior
Karl von Frisch
Niko Tinbergen
Konrad Lorenz
Behavioral Ecology
• Behavioral Ecology emphasizes
evolutionary hypothesis.
• Based on the fact that animals will act
in a way that will increase their
Darwinian fitness. What does “fitness”
refer to in Darwinian terms?
What is evolutionary fitness?
• Evolutionary fitness measures how many
viable, fertile offspring an individual (or an
allele) leaves in the next and subsequent
generations, relative to others in the
Adaptive behavior
• An adaptive behavior increases an
individual’s evolutionary fitness relative to
other individuals in the population.
When we observe behavior
we may ask both proximate
& ultimate questions OR
offer proximate or ultimate
Proximate questions
about behavior
• Proximate questions address the
mechanisms that produce a behavior:
the environmental stimuli that trigger a
behavior and the genetic and physiological
mechanisms that make it possible.
• For example,
– How does an animal carry out a
particular behavior?
Ultimate questions about
• Ultimate questions address the
evolutionary significance of a behavior:
how a behavior increases the evolutionary
fitness of the animal demonstrating it,
helping it to survive and reproduce in its
• For example,
– Why does the animal show this
Niko Tinbergen
Suggested 4 questions that
must be answered to fully
understand any behavior.
These questions are either
ultimate questions or
proximate questions.
Proximate vs Ultimate
• What is the mechanistic basis of the
behavior, including
chemical, anatomical, &
physiological mechanisms?
• What is the evolutionary history of the
• How does development of the animal, from
zygote to maturePROXIMATE
individual, influence the
• How does the behavior
contribute to survival
& reproduction (fitness)?
Q#1: Red-crowned cranes breed in spring
and early summer. Choose a proximate
A. Breeding is most likely
to be successful in
spring and early
B. Increasing day length
triggers the release of
breeding hormones.
C. Ample food is available
for chicks at this time.
Q#2: Red-crowned cranes breed in spring
and early summer. Choose an ultimate
likely to
A. Breeding
Breeding is
is most
most likely
be successful in spring
and early summer.
B. Hormonal changes in the
spring trigger breeding
C. Breeding is triggered by
the effect of increased day
length on the birds’
Two Classifications of Behavior –
1. innate behaviors
automatic, fixed, “built-in”, no “learning curve”
despite different environments,
all individuals exhibit the behavior
ex. early survival, reproduction, kinesis, taxis
2. learned behaviors
modified by experience
variable, changeable
flexible with a complex & changing environment
Innate behaviors
Fixed action patterns (FAP)
– sequence of behaviors
essentially unchangeable
& usually conducted to completion
once started
– sign stimulus
• the releaser that triggers a
Innate: Fixed Action Patterns (aka: sight stimulus)
Digger wasp
egg rolling in geese
What about other objects?
Sphex wasps drop paralyzed insect near
the opening of the nest. Before bringing
the prey into the next the wasp goes in to
inspect. If the prey gets moved the wasp
will get it again & do the same thing over.
Innate: Directed & Undirected Movements
Kinesis: change in speed of
an animal’s movement in
response to a stimulus.
-speeds up in unfavorable
-slows down in favorable
Taxis: movement towards
or away from the stimulus
Innate: Migration
Long-distance, seasonal movement of animals.
-usually a response to seasonal availability of food or
environmental changes
Konrad Lorentz
He examined animals in their natural
environments and concluded that instinct
plays a key role in animal behavior
From his observations Lorenz
established the concept of
imprinting, the process by which an
animal follows an object, normally its
biological mother. He found that for
a short time after hatching, chicks
are genetically inclined to identify
their mother’s sound and appearance
and thereby form a permanent bond
with her.
-occurs with visual and chemical stimuli
CRITICAL PERIOD-short window of time
for imprinting to take hold
Learned Behavior
• Associative learning
– learning to associate
a stimulus with a consequence
Operant Conditioning – Trial and Error Learning
Big Bang Theory
video clip
B.F. Skinner
Classical Conditioning
Attack of the Quack
Ivan Pavlov
Spatial Learning
• Associative learning:
– Animals associate attributes of a location
(landmarks) with the reward it gains by being able
to identify and return to that location.
Nikolass Tinbergen- observed wasps used pine cones
as markers to locate their nest.
When Tinbergen removed the pine cones the wasps
were unable to locate their nest.
Learning: Habituation
Puppy Habituation
Observational Learning
• Animals copy the behavior of another animal
without having experienced any prior positive
reinforcement with the behavior.
Learning: Insight- Problem-solving
• Do other animals reason?
Survival Responses
• Fight or flight response
– Triggered by stress
• Adrenaline & cortisol is produced which dilates the blood
vessels, increases heart rate, increases the release of
sugar from the liver, slow digestion to conserve energy…
• Avoidance response
– Avoid stressful situations
• EX: areas where predators can hide or areas with little
camouflage, unknown organisms, or things in their
environment that appear inappropriate.
Survival Responses
• Alarm Response
– Triggered when presence of a predator or other
animal that’s a threat is detected.
– Warning is given for other in their group.
Foraging Behaviors
• Herds, flocks, & schools
– Most in a group are hidden
– Individuals in the group can trade off jobs
(foraging and watching for predators)
– Can mob their predator and protect their young
• Packs
– Corner and attack prey with much success
Packs against
Social Behavior
• Interactions between individuals
– Develop as evolutionary adaptations
Agonistic Behaviors
Dominance Hierarchy
Altruistic Behavior
Karl von Frisch
Two major discoveries about honey bees.
First, he demonstrated that honey bees have
color vision.
He trained bees to feed on a dish of
sugar water set on a colored card. He
then set the colored card in the middle
of an array of gray-toned cards
State a null hypothesis and an
alternative hypothesis
Second, he showed that honey bees use
a dance language to communicate food
locations to other bees.
Watch Bee Dance video
Communication by song
Species identification & mating ritual
- Mixed learned & innate
- Critical learning period
Mating ritual & song
Innate, genetically controlled
Agonistic behaviors
Threatening & submissive rituals
-symbolic, usually no harm done
Lizard Behavior
Competition for food,
mates, or territory
Dominance hierarchy
Indicate power and status
relationships among individuals in a
-minimizes fighting for food
and mates
Altruistic Behavior
kin selection
• increasing survival of close relatives
passes these genes on to the next
How can this be of adaptive value?
Warning Calls
• In naked mole rat populations
– Nonreproductive individuals may sacrifice their lives
protecting the reproductive individuals from
Figure 51.33
Communication by scent
When a minnow or catfish is injured: An alarm substance in the
fish’s skin disperses in the water, inducing a fright response
among fish in the area
Spider using moth sex
pheromones, to lure its
Female mosquito use CO2 concentrations to
locate victims
Christian The Lion