Caroline's Ethogram - In this age of human domination...

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In this age of human domination, students may wonder why the study of animal behavior, or ethology, still holds such importance to scientists. Psychology and biology are two areas in which results obtained by ethological studies are often used. Psychologists study animal behavior to see changes in the flexibility of an animal's actions in accordance with its surroundings; the aim of biologists, however, is to try to understand how behavior contributes to survival and reproductive success. (Zentall 2002) This goal can be accomplished with the use of an ethogram, or catalog of behavioral patterns of a certain species, and extensive field research on the responses to various stimulai of the particular type of organism. Methods for collecting data to compile an ethogram haven't changed much since the early days of ethology. Konrad Lorenz, a pioneer in the area of animal behavior, began his innovative approach to field research in the early twentieth century by allowing his animals to roam freely instead of being caged. (Olivy 1990) This started a trend which is still today continued; that is, the subjects of an ethogram are studied in their own habitats to see behaviors that occur naturally to the animals. Although animals do not respond to stimuli in the same manner each time, their movements are reflections of normal activity that occurs daily in their lives. The ethogram merely combines the known behaviors of a certain species to aid in further analysis of that animal's means of survival. The Eastern gray squirrel is common in the Hartsville, South Carolina area. It is the ideal subject of an ethogram because of its widespread availability for observation. Also, squirrels are known to stay in a certain area for durations of time long enough to collect data; in fact, many gray squirrels spend their entire lives within an acre of their
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birthplace. (Eastern Gray Squirrel 1998) An arboreal species, the gray squirrel dwells in "large trees, such as oaks and hickories, that produce both food and denning sites." (The Squirrel Family 2002) Its reactions to the many stimuli present in its habitat are related to the squirrel's ability to survive. Methods and Materials A pencil and notebook were used to collect data. Observations were made on the Admin Field at Coker College during both windy and calm periods. The weather was generally cool and sunny and periods of observation usually lasted for half an hour each time. Because of the arboreal nature of these animals, many squirrels were studied while in the trees as well as on the ground in order to maximize the diversity of behaviors seen. The squirrels were randomly selected and observed.
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Caroline's Ethogram - In this age of human domination...

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