Animal Behavior, Biology tutorial


Animal Behavior is basically the scientific study of the wild and wonderful manners in which the animals interact with one other, by other living beings and with the surroundings. This discovers how animals relate to their physical surroundings and also to other organisms and comprises topics like how animals discover and defend resources, avoid predators, select mates, reproduce, and be concerned for their young.

Darwin's influence on Animal behavior:

The origins of the scientific study of the behavior of animal lie in the works of different European thinkers of the 17th to 19th centuries, like British naturalists John Ray and Charles Darwin and French naturalist Charles LeRoy. Such individuals valued the complexity and obvious consideration of the actions of animals, and they knew that comprehending behavior demands long-term surveillances of animals in their natural settings. Initially, the principal attraction of natural history studies was to verify the originality of God. The publication of Darwin's on the Origin of Species in the year 1859 changed this approach. From that time, biologists have acknowledged that the behaviors of animals, such as their anatomical structures, are adaptations which exist as they have, over evolutionary time (which is, all through the formation of new species and the evolution of their special features), assist their bearers to reproduce and survive.

Darwin's accomplishment was to describe how such wondrously modified creatures could occur from a procedure other than special creation. He represented that adaptation is an unalterable outcome of four fundamental features of living organisms:

A) There is variation among individuals of the similar species. Even closely associated individuals, like parent and offspring or sibling and sibling, vary considerably. Well-known human illustrations comprise differences in the facial features, hair-eye color, weight and height.

B) Most of such variations are inheritable, that is, offspring look like their parents in numerous traits as an outcome of the genes they share.

C) There are dissimilarities in numbers of surviving offspring among parents in each and every species. For instance: one female snapping turtle (family Chelydridae) might lay 24 eggs; though, just 5 might survive to adulthood. In contrary, the other female might lay just 18 eggs, with 1 of her offspring existing to adulthood.

D) The individuals whom are best equipped to survive and reproduce be responsible for the highest frequency of genes to the successor populations. This is the main principle acknowledged colloquially as 'survival of the fittest', where fitness symbolizes an individual's overall capability to pass copies of his genes on to the successive generations. For instance, a woman who rears 6 healthy offspring has bigger fitness than one who nurtures just two.

Ecological and ethological approaches to the study of behavior:

The natural history approach of Darwin and his precursors gradually evolved into the twin sciences of animal ecology, the study of interactions among an animal and its surroundings, and ethology, which is the biological study of animal behavior. The basic roots of ethology can be traced to the late 19th and early on 20th centuries, when scientists from some countries start exploring the behaviors of chosen vertebrate species: rodents via American psychologists John B. Watson, Edward Tolman and Karl Lashley; dogs via the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov; birds via American psychologist B.F. Skinner; and primates via German American psychologist Wolfgang Kohler.

Sensory-motor mechanisms:

At this stage of analysis, questions concern the physiological machinery underlying the behavior of animal. Behavior is described in terms of the firings of the neural circuits among reception of the stimuli (that is, sensory input) and movements of the muscles (that is, motor output).

Cognitive mechanisms:

The Cognitive psychology recommends yet another manner to study the causal methods of animal behavior. The main aim of cognitive psychology is to describe an animal's behavior in terms of its mental organization for processing the information (that is, how the animal gets, stores and acts on information present in its world). By studying the cognitive methods of an animal, one might study how the animal learns, distinguishes, memorizes and makes decisions.


Just as a methodical understanding of an animal's morphology needs knowledge of how it develops before it hatches from the egg or comes out from its mother's womb, a complete comprehending of an animal's behavior needs knowledge of the animal's growth throughout its life-time. To gain this knowledge, one requests how the individual's genes and its experiences cause it to behave as it does. The ontogeny of behavior is a subject that occur considerable interest, possibly because of the seeming contrast among humans and other animals in how behavioral skills are obtained. While humans extensively adjust their behavior based on experience (which is, through the procedure of learning), the behavior of numerous animal species seems to be automatic, as when it were pre-programmed. And yet, if there in reality were a difference among humans and other animals in how behavior develops, it would surely be one of degree, not of type.

Definition of Ontogeny:

All of the developmental events which takes place all through the existence of the living organism. Ontogeny begins with the changes in the egg at the time of fertilization and comprises developmental events to the time of birth or hatching and afterward-growth, remolding of body shape and growth of secondary sexual features.

Behavioral genetics:

The proof is now compelling which genes influence behavior in all animals, comprising humans. However, an increasing share of biomedical research is devoted to the hunt for genes comprised in human behavioral maladies like obesity, alcoholism, schizophrenia and Alzheimer disease. Often such studies are pursued by employing animal models having subjects which comprise rats, mice and dogs with behavioral symptoms look like those of humans. It is, therefore, unfortunate that the idea which genes influence behavior is the subject of much heated and confused discussion.

Instinctive learning:

An animal adjusts its behavior mainly based on experience, that is, it learns - when experience at one time gives information that will be helpful at a later time. Viewed in this light, learning is observed as a tool for reproduction and survival as it assists an animal to adjust its behavior to the particular state of its surroundings. The needs of animal to know such things as what food is good to eat, when and where to get it, whom to evade and approach, with whom to mate and how to find its way to home. When such things are not genetically preprogrammed as they mainly based on the particular situations of an individual's time and place - the animal should learn them.

Evolutionary history of behavior:

The Biologists have always been interested with the question of where the characteristics or traits which exist nowadays came from, that is, their evolutionary history. Though, examination of the history of behaviors and their underlying methods is very challenging. (Unluckily, the fossil record is mainly uninformative.) Only under infrequent situations, like the discovery of a fossilized dinosaur nest topped by an adult (that is, a condition suggestive of parental care), is there adequate information captured in fossils to allow paleontologists to draw inferences about the origin and successive evolution of complex social or reproductive behaviors. As an outcome, it has been essential to build up alternative and indirect approaches to infer the evolutionary histories of behaviors.

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