Chapter 35

Chapter 35: Behavioral
Adaptations to the environment
• Animals form a bond with a
single partner and both
partners care for the
• Ex. Prairie vole: after they
mate they associate with
each other exclusively/
relationship begins when
the female sniffs the scent
of a potential male partner,
the smell causes her to
become sexually receptive
• Animals mate with
multiple partners and
form no last bonds
• Example: meadow
voles- do not form a
memory of the
hormones released by
their mate
• An action carried out by • Behavioral ecologistsmuscles or glands under
study behavior in a n
the control of the
evolutionary context
nervous system in
• More examples:
response to an
environmental cue
• Example: courtship
dances, aggressive
Ultimate and Proximate questions
Proximate questions
• Concerns the immediate
reason for a behavior
• How it is triggered by stimuli
and what physiological or
anatomical mechanisms play a
• Ex: how do voles choose their
• Help to understand how a
behavior occurs
• Proximate causes: answers to
the questions
Ultimate questions
• Why a particular behavior
• Look at phenotypes and
adaptive behaviors
• Ultimate causes: answer
ultimate questions and use
evolutionary explanations
for behavior
Innate behavior
• Under strong genetic
• Performed the same
way by all individuals of
the same species
Fixed Action Patterns (FAPs)
• An unchangeable series of
actions triggered by a specific
• Once initiated the sequence is
performed in its entirety
• Ex: graylag goose-if the goose
bumps into one of her eggs
out of the nest she always
retrieves it in the same
manner-she stands up,
extends her neck, uses a sideto-side motion to nudge the
egg with her beak, sits down
on the nest again, if the egg
slips away, the goose still
continues with the sequence
• Baby bird- sense that an
adult bird is near, it
begs for food by raising
its head, opening its
mouth and cheeping
• Adult bird-stuffs food in
the gaping mouth
Ultimate causes of FAP
• Automatically
performing certain
behaviors may
maximize fitness so
much that genes that
may cause variants do
not persist in
• Ex. Kittiwakes show an
innate aversion to cliff
FAP for reproductive behaviors
• Each king penguin takes a
turn incubated the egg
while their mate feeds
• Standing face to face the
pair must execute a
delicate series of
maneuvers to pass the
egg from the tops of one
penguin’s feet to the tops
of its partner’s feet, if one
of them misses the egg
may roll onto the ice and
freeze to death
Behavior is the result of genetic and
environmental factors
• Experiments with fruit
flies have led to the
discovery of genes that
govern learning,
memory, internal clocks
and mating behaviors
Cross fostering experiment
Loss of response to a stimulus after
repeated exposure
Learning that is irreversible and limited to
a sensitive time period in an animal’s life
Spatial Learning
Use of landmarks to learn the spatial
structure of the environment
Cognitive mapping
An internal representation of the spatial
relationships among objects in the
Associative learning
Behavioral change based on linking a
stimulus or behavior with a reward or
punishment, includes trial and error
Social Learning
Learning by observing and mimicking
Problem Solving
Inventive behavior that arises in response
to a new situation
Imprinting requires both innate
behavior and experience
• Learning often interacts
closely with innate
• Imprinting: learning
limited to a specific time
period in an animal’s life
and is generally
• Sensitive period-limited
phase in an animal’s
development when they
can learn certain
• Male birds memorize
the song of their
species during a
sensitive period
• They do not sing during
this phase but several
months later they being
to practice the song and
eventually reproduce it
• Random movement in
response to a stimuli
• May be starting or
stopping, changing
speed or turning more
or less frequently
• Sow bugs: live in moist
habitats, in dry areas
they exhibit kinesis to
the moist areas
• A response directed
toward or away from a
• Trout-exhibits positive
taxis in the current they
automatically swim or
orient themselves
Spatial learning
• Animals establish
memories of landmarks
in their environment
that indicate the
locations of food, nest
site, prospective mates
and potential hazards
Cognitive map
• An internal representation or code of the
spatial relationships among objects in an
animal’s surroundings
• The regular back and forth
movement of animals
between two geographic areas
• Enables many species to
access food resources
throughout the year and to
• Ex. Gray whale-feast on small,
bottom-dwelling invertebrates
that live in northern oceans, in
autumn they leave their
feeding grounds an begin a
long trip south, females give
birth before migrating back
north with their young
• Many birds migrate at
night using the stars to
find their way
• Ex. Indigo bunting
seems to avoid the
need for a timing
mechanism by fixing on
the North Star
• Some only migrate
using innate
environmental cues
Trial and error learning
• Associative learning is
the ability to associate
one environmental
feature with another
• Trial and error learning
is when an animal
learns to associate one
of its own behaviors
with a positive or
negative effect
Social learning
• Learning by observing the
behaviors of others
• Predators learn basic hunting
skills from their mothers
• Vervet monkeys: give distinct
alarm calls when they see
leopards, eagles or snakes all
of which prey on vervets,
vervet sees the leopard, it
gives a loud barking sound
when it sees an eagle it gives a
short two syllable cough and
the snake alarm is a chutter
• The process carried out
by an animal’s nervous
system to perceive,
store, integrate and use
information gathered by
the senses
• Problem solving-the
process of applying past
experience to overcome
obstacles in novel
• Food obtaining
• Search, recognize,
• Crows-generalists
• Koala-specialist
Search image
• Enables animal to find
particular food
• Optimal foraging
theory-an animal’s
feeding behavior should
provide maximal energy
expense and minimal
risk of being eaten
while foraging
Wagtails and dung flies

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