Aggression and Territoriality Outline 11_18

Aggression and Territoriality Outline 11_18 - IB C144 Fall...

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IB C144, Fall, 2009 Aggression and Territoriality I Outline November 18, 2009 I. The next couple of lectures we will deal with why, when and how animals act aggressively. Our first problem is to define aggression. A. Aggression is a sub set of AGONISTIC behaviors (note spelling). Agonistic behavior encompasses a wide range of behavior patterns related to inter-animal conflict including fighting, threatening, defensive behavior, fleeing, etc B. Aggression is generally considered an offensive action, but it is difficult to define in objectively observable and measurable phenomena. Some psychologists have tried to quantify aggression in response to various stimuli by measuring the tendency of a rat to bite or kill a frog or mouse. Such measures are of limited utility to us since they usually occur outside the context of the behavior as it would normally function. C. More general definition: Wilson (1975): A physical act or threat of action by one individual that reduces the freedom or genetic fitness of another individual. 1. By these definitions, if you are helping an old lady across the street and accidentally trip and injure her you are acting aggressively. In our human definitions, we typically include "INTENT”. 2. But how do you deal with the concept of intent in animals. In fact, we usually use intent as an anthropomorphic short-hand to explain a set of probabilistic events determined by natural selection. An animal directs an aggressive act towards another. We could say that it intends to inflict cost on its opponent. Actually, we mean that given this situation, selection has favored individuals in the past that directed these behaviors toward opponents. For our purposes, aggression occurs when one animal inflicts or directs behavior towards another that extracts a cost. We will rule out predation since that is part of feeding.
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D. Aggression serves many functions. Let’s use a baboon troop as an example. 1.
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This note was uploaded on 02/11/2010 for the course IB Animal Beh taught by Professor Lacey during the Fall '09 term at Berkeley.

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Aggression and Territoriality Outline 11_18 - IB C144 Fall...

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