Animal behavior

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What is Behavior?

  • Anything an animal does in response to a stimulus
  • Stimulus: environmental change that directly influences an organism
  • Example: change in day length, heat

Innate behavior: Inherited

  • Natural selection favors certain behaviors
  • Behavior that helps survival is passed on to offspring
  • Examples: fixed action responses: unchangeable behavior that once begun, won’t stop till it is finished (toad sees prey, flips out tongue)

Reflexes: Automatic Responses

  • Simplest form of behavior
  • Simple automatic response to a stimulus that involves no conscious control
  • Example: jerking hand from hot stove
  • Fight or flight response

Instinctive Behavior

  • Complex pattern of innate behavior
  • Longer than a reflex
  • Example: greylag goose rolling eggs

Internal and external cues

  • A. Circadian rhythm: 24-hour wake-sleep cycle regulated by light (some nocturnal)
  • B. Migration: instinctive seasonal movement by animals (birds, whales)
  • C. Hibernation: inactivity during cold weather
  • D. Estivation: state of reduced metabolism during periods of extreme heat

E. Suckling: mammal babies instinctively know how to get nourishment from their mother

F. Taxis:

  • responsive movement of a free-moving organism or cell toward or away from an external stimulus, such as light.
  • Positive phototaxis: movement toward light
  • Negative phototaxis: movement away from light

Social Behavior: 1. Dominance Hierarchy

  • “Pecking order”
  • Social ranking within a group
  • Usually a dominant male (“alpha male”) may sire most of young

2. Courtship behavior

  • Courtship behavior: actions males and females carry out before mating
    • Insures that members of the same species find each other and mate
    • May protect male from being eaten long enough to mate

3. Territoriality

  • Physical space an animal defends against own species
  • May include breeding, feeding, or mating areas or all three
  • Reduces competition so improves survival
  • Pheromones may mark boundaries

4. Communication: ants and bees using pheromones

  • Bees “dance” to show hive members the way to food
  • Ants

5. Aggressive Behavior

  • Intimidates others of same species
  • Used to defend young, territory, food
  • Teeth baring, growling, bird calls
  • Rarely leads to death, just submission

Learned Behavior: behavior changes through practice or experience

Learned behavior: Imprinting

  • At a critical time in its life, animal develops a social attachment to another object
  • Usually irreversible
  • Mostly in birds

Learned behavior: Trial and Error

  • Animal receives a reward for a certain response
  • Motivation speeds up this type of learning
  • Usually, satisfies a need such as hunger

Learned behavior: Classical conditioning (Pavlov’s dog)

  • “Learning by association”
  • One stimulus associated with another to receive reward
  • Eventually, first stimulus no longer needed

Learned behavior: Insight

Which is it?

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