Behavior

by Jason Amores Sumpter
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Hi. In this lesson, we'll be talking about animal behavior. Now. Behavior is defined as the actions and organism will take in response to stimuli. And this can include interactions with other organisms and the environment. Now, behavioral ecology is going to study animal behavior, and it's gonna be interested in the ecological pressures that influence it. Behavioral Ecologist. They're really going to be interested in asking two types of questions. They're gonna want to know about what they termed proximate causation, which is how behaviors occur in mechanistic terms, like what genetic factors control this behavior or what neurological factors are involved. So they want to know what causes the behavior. And how does this behavior develop, you know, genetically evolutionarily, How did this biochemically physiologically develop now? They're also going to be interested in the why of this. So proximate causation is looking at, like literally, How does this happen? Step by step. In a mechanistic sense, ultimate causation is why these behaviors occur. What function do they serve and how did they evolve? Not in a mechanistic sense, but in terms off how they affected this organisms survival. Right? So we want to know how these behaviors air going to affect fitness. And how did they evolve in the sense of you know what pressures encouraged them and discouraged other behaviors? What events led to them being the behaviors that best served this organism. Now, here you can see an example of, uh, very well studied behavior which is exhibited by geese. When one of their eggs rolls out of the nest, the mother goose will go out and with her head, basically roll the egg back into the nest. Now, this is what we would call an innate behavior. Uh, the goose just does this automatically, and in terms of what causes this behavior, well, it's the stimulus of seeing the egg outside of the nest. And in fact, you could trick a goose by putting something that, you know they'll think is an eggs not actually their egg. But you can fool them into thinking it's their egg, and they'll exhibit this behavior. Now, how did this develop? You know, uh, did this come from dinosaurs, for example? You know, birds did evolve from dinosaurs. Maybe this was, ah, behavior that dinosaurs exhibited, and that's why thes geese air showing it, you know, it's like genetically programmed in them from long, long ago in their ancestors. I mean, I'm just hypothesizing here, but, you know, that would sort of be how did this behavior developed kind of question. Now, in terms of how does this behavior effect fitness? It should be fairly apparent that if the goose returns the egg to the nest, that egg is gonna have a higher chance of survival, meaning more offspring. So ah, behavior like this will obviously increase fitness because it will lead to a higher rate of, you know, offspring reaching viability in terms of how did it evolve? You know what pressures lead to this, You know it. You know, it could have been a variety of things. You know, I could only really hypothesize here, you know, But perhaps it was something like a the nature of the nests caused eggs to fall out regularly or something. You know, it could be something Azaz, simple and silly, seeming as that. Now I said that this was an innate behavior, and behavior is actually run on a spectrum from learned to a Nate and innate behaviors air genetically programmed. Um, they are going to just happen automatically though it should be noted that some innate behaviors will require organism existing in these two clearly defined categories. Now, a great example of an innate behavior is this yawning, and you can see that this behavior has very little variation between the organisms that exhibit it. And we actually would call that a fixed action pattern. Now, some fixed action patterns will be the result of an external que which will call a sign stimulus. Now, obviously, yawning is going to come from internal cues. However, I'm suspicious that yawning is contagious. I don't know if you've ever experienced that. I certainly have. However, in a more serious sense, uh, a fixed action pattern that is elicited by a science stimulus is going to be something like the behavior of the male sticklebacks fish. Now, these fish will, uh, they have red bellies. The males have red bellies, the females don't. So here you can see a male. This is a female no red belly, and the males have this fixed action pattern off attacking anything they see that has a red belly and the red belly. We know to be the sign stimulus because you can put a UN object that looks just like the male fish in there, but without the red belly on it, it's not going to respond to it at all. You could also put an object just like this that you see here that doesn't look anything like a fish but has that readiness to it, and the male sticklebacks will attack it. So that is an example of a sign stimulus, this red belly, and it's going to illicit that fixed action pattern of the fish attacking it. With that, let's go ahead and flip the page.