Animal Behavior Print Friendly and PDF

Google Slides: Animal Behavior

Animal behavior or ethology is studied through various methods and approaches to understand the actions, interactions, and adaptations of animals.

Behavior - An action or series of actions performed in response to a stimuli

Ethology - the study of animal behavior

Innate Behavior: genetically based, animals are born with the ability to perform behavior (sometimes we call these instincts)

Learned Behavior- the development of behaviors through experience

How Animals Are Studied

Animal behavior or ethology is studied through various methods and approaches to understand the actions, interactions, and adaptations of animals. Here are some common techniques used in the field of ethology:

1. Observational Studies: Ethologists often spend time observing animals in their natural habitats. This involves recording behaviors, interactions, and environmental factors without directly interfering with the animals. Observations can be done through visual observation, camera traps, or other non-invasive methods.

2. Field Experiments: Researchers design experiments in natural settings to test hypotheses about animal behavior. These experiments might involve manipulating certain variables to observe the animals' responses, such as changes in their environment or introducing specific stimuli.

3. Laboratory Experiments: Controlled environments in laboratories allow scientists to study animal behavior in a more controlled setting. These experiments can manipulate conditions precisely and measure responses more accurately.

4. Comparative Studies: Ethologists compare behaviors across different species to understand similarities, differences, and evolutionary relationships. This approach involves studying behaviors across a range of animals to draw conclusions about the evolutionary origins and adaptive significance of behaviors.

Types of learning

Classical Conditioning
(Pavlov's dogs)
Operant Conditioning (Skinner box)
Insight Learning (Reasoning, only found in intelligent animals, primates)

Imprinting: birds are geneticaly programmed to follow the first thing they see when they hatch (usually mom)

Animal Communication

Dogs give several nonverbal cues to communicate with other dogs (and humans)

dog afraidThis dog might look mean, but notice the tail between the legs, he's actually frightened and may bite out of fear

dog aggressive This dog is acting agressively, maybe to tell another dog or a human who's boss

dog alert This dog is alert and attentive.

dog intimidated This dog is being submissive, ears are down tail is between the legs

dog playing This dog is lowering the front of his body, this is usually an invitation to play (called a play bow)

dog submissiveThis dog is in an extreme submissive position, exposing his belly to the dominant dog in the pack.

Primate Communication

Primates can communicate basic concepts but humans are the only animals with a true LANGUAGE

Language is learned in humans by trial-and-error. Babies "babble" and parents reinforce meaningful words. As language develops, humans learn to rearrange words and symbols to mean different things.

Social Behavior

Animals that live in groups have structure and "rules". Examples: chimpanzee troops, insect colonies, wolf packs, humans

Honeybees communicate through complex mechanisms, including pheromones, dances, and tactile cues. The famous "waggle dance" performed by worker bees communicates the direction and distance of food sources to other members of the colony.

Competition - occurs between animals over resources (space, food, water, mates) and includes territorial behavior

Resources on Animal Behavior

Territorial Behavior in Crickets - mark and observe crickets as they interact with each other

Isopod Behavior Lab  (with lab report) -  AP Lab 11 modified experiments with pill bugs