Chapter 51 - Behavioral Ecology

Chapter 51 - Behavioral Ecology - Chapter 51 Class Notes...

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Chapter 51 Class Notes – Behavioral Ecology – Page 1 Max Sauberman AP Biology – Mr. Schilp Chapter 51 Behavioral Ecology Studying Behavior: Humans have probably studied animal behavior for as long as we have lived on Earth. As hunters, knowledge of animal behavior was essential to human survival. Cranes are birds that have captivated people’s interests, because they are large and their behavior is easily observed. Behavioral ecology extends observations of animal behavior by studying how such behavior is controlled and how it develops, evolves, and contributes to survival and reproductive success. Proximate and Ultimate Questions: Behavioral ecologists distinguish between proximate and ultimate causes of behavior. Scientific questions about behavior can be divided into two classes: those that focus on the immediate stimulus and mechanism for the behavior (proximate causes), and those that explore how the behavior contributes to survival and reproduction (ultimate causes). Ultimate causes are usually increasing the reproductive success of a certain organism. Behavior: Behavior is what an animal does and how it does it. Behavior includes muscular and nonmuscular activities. Learning is also considered a behavioral process. Proximate and Ultimate Questions: Proximate, or “how”, questions focus on environmental stimuli that trigger a behavior, and genetic, physiological, and anatomical mechanisms underlying a behavior. Ultimate, or “why”, questions focus on the evolutionary significance of a behavior. For example, the ultimate cause of contagious yawning is to keep the entire tribe on the same schedule. Ethology: Ethology is the scientific study of animal behavior, particularly in natural environments. Ethologists developed a conceptual framework defined by a set of questions. These questions highlight the complementary nature of proximate and ultimate perspectives.
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Chapter 51 Class Notes – Behavioral Ecology – Page 2 Fixed Action Patterns: A fixed action pattern (FAP) is a sequence of unlearned, innate unchangeable behaviors that is unchangeable. Once initiated, it is usually carried to completion. A FAP is triggered by an external sensory stimulus known as a sign stimulus. In male stickleback fish, the stimulus for attack behavior is the red underside of an intruder. When presented with unrealistic models, as long as some red is present, the attack behavior continues. Stickleback Fish Case Study: A male stickleback fish attacks other male sticklebacks that invade its nesting territory. The proximate cause is that the red belly of the intruding male acts as a sign stimulus that releases aggression in a male stickleback. The ultimate cause is that by chasing away other male sticklebacks, a male decreases the chance that eggs laid in his nesting territory will be fertilized by another male. Thus, there’s an evolutionary advantage to chasing away other males.
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This note was uploaded on 03/17/2011 for the course BIO 101 taught by Professor Sullivan during the Spring '08 term at Harvard.

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Chapter 51 - Behavioral Ecology - Chapter 51 Class Notes...

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