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Teaching Animal Behavior in the Laboratory


How do animals acquire and use energy for growth? ... about invasive animals, pest animals, and attempts to save endangered animals) ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Teaching Animal Behavior in the Laboratory

Teaching Animal Behavior in the Laboratory
  • An exercise using Betta spendens in an
    introductory zoology class for biology majors and

Zoology 111
  • A course for biology majors and nonmajors
  • Taught in the workshop format
  • 24 students per section
  • Emphasis on active learning, group work, and
    student-designed research

  • How do animals acquire and use energy for growth?
  • How do animals store and transmit genetic
  • How do animals regulate their functions?
  • How do animals reproduce?
  • How do animals develop?
  • How do animals behave?
  • How do animals evolve and what are their
    evolutionary relationships?
  • Where do animals live and how do they interact
    with their environments?
  • What are the different groups of animals and how
    are the similar and different?

  • Integrate information about the basic structures
    and fundamental processes of life
  • Use biological principles to explain the
    evolutionary adaptations and evolutionary
    relationships of animals
  • Apply your knowledge of zoology to analyze
    problems in animal biology and to propose
    solutions to them

  • Design, implement, interpret, and report the
    results of observations of and experiments with
    animals to test scientific hypotheses
  • Analyze and critique news stories that involve
    animals (e.g. stories about invasive animals,
    pest animals, and attempts to save endangered

Agonistic Behavior in Siamese Fighting Fish
Hypothesis TestingScience and BaseballAlison
GropnikSmall WondersNew York Review of Books
  • Imagine if we taught baseball the way we teach

  • Children under 12 would read about baseball
    technique and occasionally hear inspirational
    stories of the great players
  • They would take quizzes about rules
  • Undergraduates might be allowed, under strict
    supervision, to reproduce famous historic plays
  • Only in graduate school would they, at last,
    actually get to play a game

Hypothesis TestingThe Numbers Game
  • Guess the rules
  • Propose a number to see if it fits
  • Publish a possible rule by describing it to the
  • Discuss proposed rules
  • Win the Nobel Prize

1, 2, 4
Betta splendens
  • Brief background on fighting fish
  • Explanation of agonistic (not agnostic) behavior
  • Agonistic behavior of fighting fish
  • Control observations

Agonistic Stimuli
  • Mirror image
  • Clay (3-D) model
  • Colored index card (2-D) model
  • Round robin tournament

Data Table
Questions to Answer
  • How did the behavior of fish exposed to agonistic
    stimuli change from the control situation?
  • Did model shape strongly affect the response of
    the fish? If so, in what way did shape matter?
  • Did model color strongly affect the response? If
    so, in what way did color matter?

  • Propose a HYPOTHESIS for the agonistic behavior
    of Betta splendens. Recall that a hypothesis is
    a testable explanation of some phenomenon.
  • Propose a STUDY (observational or experimental)
    to test your hypothesis. Be sure to provide
    enough detail to enable someone else to perform
    the study.

  • 1 gallon drum-style fish bowls (3.79 from
  • Fighting fish (4.00)
  • Fighting fish food
  • Mirrors
  • Modeling Clay or Play-doh
  • Colored index cards
  • Video clip (youtube.com)

Useful References
  • Simpson MJA 1968 The display of the Siamese
    fighting fish, Betta splendens Anim Behav Monogr
  • Meliska CJ, Meliska JA, Peeke HV 1980 The
    relationship of mirror-elicited display to combat
    behaviors in Betta splendens Behav Neural Biol
  • Bronstein PM 1984 Agonistic and reproductive
    interactions in Betta splendens J Comp Psychol
  • Bronstein PM 1985 Predictors of dominance in
    male Betta splendens J Comp Psychol 994755

More References
  • Allen JM, Nicoletto PF 1997 Response of Betta
    splendens to computer animations of males with
    fins of different length Copeia 1997195199
  • Halperin JRP, Giri T, Elliot J, Dunham DW 1998
    Consequences of hyper-aggressiveness in Siamese
    fighting fish cheaters seldom prospered Anim
    Behav 558796
  • RF Oliveira, McGregor PK, Latruffe C 1998 Know
    thine enemy fighting fish gather information
    from observing conspecific interactions Proc R
    Soc Lond B 26510451049
  • Doutrelanta C, McGregora PK, Oliveirab RF 2001
    The effect of an audience on intrasexual
    communication in male Siamese fighting fish,
    Betta splendens Behav Ecol 12283286

Still More References
  • Mcgregor PK, Peake TM, Lampe HM 2001 Fighting
    fish Betta splendens extract relative information
    from apparent interactions what happens when
    what you see isnt what you get Anim Behav
  • Matos RJ, McGregor PK 2002 The effect of the
    sex of an audience on male-male displays of
    Siamese fighting fish (Betta splendens)
    Behaviour 13912111221
  • Clotfelter ED, Paolino AD 2003 Bystanders to
    contests between conspecifics are primed for
    increased aggression in male fighting fish Anim
    Behav 66343347
  • Dzieweczynski TL, Bessler AM, Shelton DS, Rowland
    WJ 2006 Effect of a dummy audience on male-male
    interactions in Siamese fighting fish, Betta
    splendens Ethology 112127133
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