ABLecture1a - Proximate and ultimate questions Two basic...

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Proximate and ultimate questions Two basic types of questions asked in Animal Behavior Proximate (focus on mechanics of behavior). Ultimate (focus on advantages of the behavior)
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Proximate questions Questions about physical mechanisms. Focus on the genetic-developmental aspects and the sensory-motor aspects of the behavior. Focus on things that cause or enable the animal to perform the behavior.
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Proximate questions Examples of proximate questions: How mechanically does the behavior take place? What factors in the environment stimulate the behavior? How do the nerves and muscles generate the behavior? How do the animal’s genes affect the behavior?
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Ultimate questions Ultimate questions are questions about the evolutionary reasons for a behavior. They are questions about the selective processes that shape the behavior.
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Ultimate questions Examples of ultimate questions: What is the purpose of the behavior? In what way does the behavior increase an individual’s reproductive success? Does the behavior increase an individual’s prospects of survival?
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How do we answer behavioral questions? Examples from Niko Tinbergen’s work.
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A proximate question. How do beewolves find their way home?
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Beewolves (type of wasp) nest in sandy areas.
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Beewolf homing When leaving nest to hunt bees, female beewolf covers nest entrance with sand. How does she relocate it?
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Beewolf homing Beewolves circle next before leaving. Do they remember landmarks? How would we test this?
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Beewolf homing Tinbergen cleared objects from around nest after beewolf left and found she struggled to relocate it.
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Tinbergen also set up landmarks around nest for wasp to use.
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Then moved landmarks. Result: wasp searched where landmarks suggested nest should be. .
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Beewolf homing Tinbergen’s second experiment is more powerful than his first because it makes a more specific prediction.
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An ultimate question: Why do Black-headed gulls remove eggshells from their nests?
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Gull egg removal Tinbergen hypothesized that broken eggshells draw attention to the nest and attract predators.
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