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Unformatted text preview: CHAPTER 51 - BEHAVIORAL BIOLOGY A. Introduction to Behavior and Behavioral Ecology 1. What is Behavior? Behavior is what an animal does and how it does it. 2. Behavioral has both proximate and ultimate causes Proximate questions are mechanistic, concerned with the environmental stimuli that trigger a behavior, as well as the genetic and physiological mechanisms underlying a behavioral act. Ultimate questions address the evolutionary significance for a behavior and why natural selection favors this behavior. These two levels of causation are related. For example, many animals breed during the spring and summer because of the warmth of the seasons. The abundant food supply may increase the chances of offspring surviving. 3. Behavior results from both genes and environmental factors In biology, the nature-versus-nurture issue is not about whether genes or environment influence behavior, but about how both are involved. Case studies have shown this. 4. Innate behavior is developmentally fixed These behaviors are due to genetic programming. The range of environmental differences among individuals does not appear to alter the behavior. 5. Classical ethology presaged an evolutionary approach to behavioral biology Ethology is the study of how animals behave in their natural habitat. Karl von Frisch, Konrad Lorenz, and Niko Tinbergen are three individuals who were foremost in the initial stages of this field. Fixed action pattern ( FAP ) A sequence of behavioral acts that is essentially unchangeable and usually carried to completion once initiated. The FAP is triggered by an external sensory stimulus known as a sign stimulus (stimuli are usually obvious). The FAP usually occurs in a series of actions the same way every time. Many animals tend to use a relatively small subset of the sensory information available to them and behave stereotypically. 6. Behavioral ecology emphasizes evolutionary hypotheses Behavioral ecology is the research field that views behavior as an evolutionary adaptation to the natural ecological conditions of animals. We expect animals to behave in ways that maximize their fitness (this idea is valid only if genes influence behavior). Songbird repertoires provide us with examples. Why has natural selection favored a multi-song behavior? It may be advantageous for males attracting females. Cost-benefit analysis of foraging behavior. Foraging is food-obtaining behavior. The optimal foraging theory states that natural selection will benefit animals that maximize their energy intake-to-expenditure ratio. B. Learning 1. Learning is experience-based modification of behavior Learning is the modification of behavior resulting from specific experiences....
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This note was uploaded on 12/14/2009 for the course BIOCHEM bIO taught by Professor Professor during the Spring '09 term at École Normale Supérieure.
- Spring '09