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Animal Behavior

Fastest Non−stop Flight in the Animal Kingdom! Fastest Non−stop Flight in the Animal Kingdom! The great Snipe bird is able to complete a flight from Sweden to sub-Saharan Africa in as little as two days (without any rest breaks)! How? Scientists think it might be because these shorebirds are chubby. They almost double their body weight before the flight and all this fat will be burned during the flight, and they will arrive lean and exhausted in Africa. Other birds fly faster than the great snipe, but for shorter distances. Snipe holds the current record for the fastest transcontinental migration. Let’s understand how animal behavior is related to genetics, environment, and evolution.

Learning Objectives

After completing the topic, the student will be able to:

  • Explore the wild and wonderful ways that animals interact with each other.
  • Discover how animal’s physiology and anatomy are integrated with its behavior.
  • Understand and explore how genes and the environment come together to shape animal behavior.
  • Illustrate and evaluate the concepts of fixed-action patterns and imprinting of animals with examples.
  • List and discuss various directed movements in animals.
  • Define and discuss the term “animal communication” and recognize the various ways that animals can communicate.
  • Define and discuss the term “learning” in animals and list types of learning phenomena seen in animals.
  • Quote some of the examples of technological innovations developed by observing animal behavior.
Wild and wonderful behavior of animals Wild and wonderful behavior of animals One of nature’s tiny creatures is more sensitive to the dangers and the changes around us than we are. The honey bee seems to be able to sense weather changes, and respond in time.
Animal Behavior

Animal Behavior is the scientific study of the wild and wonderful ways in which animals interact with each other, with other living beings, and with the environment. It explores how animals relate to their physical environment as well as to other organisms, and includes topics such as how animals find and defend resources, avoid predators, choose mates, reproduce, and care for their young.

We humans have probably studied animal behavior for as long as we have lived on Earth. As hunters - and sometimes the hunted - knowledge of animal behavior was essential to human survival. But other animals are also a source of fascination beyond the need for practical information.

The study of animal behavior begins with understanding how an animal’s physiology and anatomy are integrated with its behavior. Both external and internal stimuli prompt behaviors − external information (e.g., threats from other animals, sounds, smells) or weather and internal information (e.g., hunger, fear). Understanding how genes and the environment come together to shape animal behavior is also an important underpinning of the field. Genes capture the evolutionary responses of prior populations to selection on behavior. Environmental flexibility gives animals the opportunity to adjust to changes during their own lifetime.

Behavioral ecology Studying ecological behavior in praying mantises. Why do praying mantises display a unique mating system, called sexual cannibalism, where a member of a male-female pair kills and consumes the other during courtship or copulation? At the end of every summer, why do more than 100 million monarch butterflies sweep across North America to overwinter further south in California and Mexico? Animal behavior is the study of these and other questions about why animals behave the way they do.
Behavioral ecology

Scientists are drawn to the study of animal behavior for varied reasons and the field is extremely broad, ranging from research on feeding behavior and habitat selection to mating behavior and social organizations. Many scientists study animal behavior because it sheds light on human beings. Research on non-human primates, for instance, continues to offer valuable perspectives into the causes and evolution of individual, social, and reproductive human actions. Understanding why some animals help others at the potential cost of their own survival and reproduction, for example, not only gives us insight into their behavior but could also potentially help us to understand the underpinnings of our species’ ideas of altruism (the principle or practice of unselfish concern for or devotion to the welfare of others ) and sacrifice.

Other scientists are motivated by environmental concerns. When we gain insight into animal behavior, we are in a stronger position to understand vexing conservation problems, such as how to save endangered species, assess environmental quality, design nature preserves, and evaluate the importance of human-related threats to survival in otherwise fit animals.

Behavioral ecology is essential to solving critically important problems ranging from the conservation of endangered species to the control of emerging infectious disease. This chapter focuses on such questions and others in a quest to understand how behavior is related to genetics, environment, and evolution. Thus, the modern scientific discipline of 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.

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