Animal Behavior

Behavior - any action that can be observed and described. 
Ethology - the scientific study of animal behavior

Kinesis = nondirectional movement in response to a stimulus
Taxis = directional movement in response to a stimulus (toward or away)

Example: When you flip a container of fruitflies upside down, the flies will move toward the top of the container (gravitaxis)

Other examples: thermotaxis, thigmotaxis, phototaxis, chemotaxis

44.1 Nature vs. Nurture: Genetic Influences

Studies of animal behavior often focuses on what behaviors are genetically based and what is learned (Nature vs. Nurture)
Examples: Lovebirds, garter snakes, twin studies in humans (showed genetic basis for many behaviors)

44.2 Nature vs Nuture: Environmental Influences

Learning - change in behavior as a result of experience

Fixed Action Pattern (FAP) - specific behaviors performed in specific ways, they rarely change, though some can improve

Imprinting - form of learning, a response to only one kind of animal or object

Associative Learning - behavior that involves an association between two events

  1. Classical Conditioning (Pavlov's Dogs)
  2. Operant Conditioning (Skinner Box)

Other types of learning: insight, imitation, habituation, trial-and-error

44.3 Adaptive Mating Behavior

Sexual Selection - type of evolutionary selection that increases an animal's ability to mate and produce offspring

Sexual Dimorphism - males and females have distinctive appearances

Photo Credit: fanz via Compfight cc

Female Choice - females invest more in the offspring, tend to be choosier about their mates, this influences male behavior and evolution

Good Genes Hypothesis - females choose mates based on traits that improve chance of survival

Runaway Hypothesis - as a result of female choice, traits in males become exaggerated (peacock feathers)

Male competition - males will compete for access to females, leads to dominance heirarchies and territoriality

44.4 Sociobiology and Animal Behavior (studies social behavior in animals)

Altruism vs Self Interest - altruism has the potential to decrease lifetime reproductive success of an individual, but benefits the success of family members (army ants, honeybees, wolf packs) - kin selection & inclusive fitness

Reciprocal Altruism - offspring or close relatives help each other raise offspring

Photo Credit: Ben Clifford

44.5 Animal Communication

  1. Chemical (pheromones)
  2. Auditory
  3. Visual
  4. Tactile (touch)


Related Resources

AP LAB: Animal Behavior

Chapter 46: Ecology of Populations