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Animal Behavior


Ethology the study of the behavior of animals in their natural setting. For Discussion: Which behaviors involved learning in this experiment? – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Animal Behavior

Animal Behavior
  • Ethology the study of the behavior of animals
    in their natural setting.

Nobel Prize in Ethology
  • Awarded in 1973 to three men for their
    discoveries concerning organization and
    elicitation of individual and social behavior
  • Konrad Lorenz, Karl von Frisch and
  • Nikolaas Tinbergen
  • Most of their work is from the early-mid 1900s.

Konrad Lorenz
  • Discovered imprinting (learning/instinct) in
    newly hatched ducklings and goslings.

Nikolaas Tinbergen
  • Known for his work on instinct/learning and
    complex animal behaviors

Karl von Frisch
  • Karl von Frisch is known for two major
    discoveries about honey bees.
  • Demonstrated that honey bees have color vision.
  • Showed that honey bees use a dance language to
    communicate food locations to other bees.

Why do animals do the things they do?
  • What is a behavior? A response to a stimulus that
    results from the interaction of an animals body
  • Stimulus (signal)? carries information
  • Stimulus ? results in a response (behavior)

Innate or Instinctual Behavior (a reflex)
  • Fully functional the first time the stimulus is
  • Ex Human infants
  • Stimulus touch on cheek
  • Response turns head in direction of touch and
    begins sucking response
  • Stimulus sudden loss of support (infants under
    4 months old)
  • Moro reflex arms flung upwards

Stimulus - Response
  • Reflex brain does not play a role!
  • Stimulus travels to spinal cord and muscles

Stimulus Response Summary - Reflex
  • Stimulus Example Loud noise
  • Receptor nerves able to detect the stimulus
    Example Ability to sense sound
  • Coordinating process message travels from nerves
    to muscles
  • Effector Muscle responds to stimulus
  • Response Example - Animal is startled

Observing Nervous Responses
  • Activity

Learned Behavior
  • Acquired behavior developed over time and through
  • All learning occurs because of biochemical and
    structural changes in the brain.

  • An animal is able to learn because it has the
  • Necessary genes to make the brain changes
  • Example You cant teach algebra to an
  • An animal is able to learn because it has the
  • Necessary genes to allow it to respond to stimuli
  • Example You cant teach a blind-cave fish to
    respond to light!

Types of Learned Behavior
  • Classical Conditioning
  • Habituation
  • Operant Conditioning
  • Insight Learning

Classical Conditioning
  • Mental connection between 2 stimuli and a

Reading on Pavlov and classical conditioning
Types of Learning Classical Conditioning -
  • Unconditioned stimulus food
  • Unconditioned response dog salivates at food
    (without being taught!)
  • Conditioned stimulus (MUST BE paired with
    unconditioned stimulus) bell ringing
  • Conditioned response dog salivates at bell

Complete worksheet on Pavlovs dogs
Classical conditioning Auto Shaping of animal
  • Rats - autoshaping procedure
  • Light is projected into cage (neutral stimulus)
  • Brief shock follows (unconditioned stimulus)
  • Rat shows fear (unconditioned response)

Classical conditioning Auto Shaping of animal
  • What happens the next time light is shown in the
    cage? _________________________________
  • _________________________________

After a few trials ? Rat shows fear when a light
is projected into cage.
  • Extinction - If a conditioned stimulus (ex.
    light) is presented in the absence of the
    unconditioned stimulus (ex. electric shock) then
    the conditioned response (ex. fear) will stop
    occurring with light.

Types of Learning
  • B) Habituation a process by which an animal
    decreases or stops its response to a repetitive
    stimulus that does not reward nor harm an animal.

Operant Conditioning
  • Learning that is based on trial and error in
    which an action that is rewarded becomes more
    frequently performed or an action that is
    punished becomes less frequent.

Operant Conditioning
  • Dolphins jump out of water and are rewarded with
    food ? animal associates the jump with food ?
    trainer uses this learning to cause dolphin to

Reading on Dolphin Training
Operant Conditioning
  • This continues to work as long as dolphin
    continues to be rewarded
  • In natureanimal eats a toad which tastes badly?
    animal associates toad with bad taste?animal no
    longer eats toads)

Insight Learning
  • Application of prior knowledge to a new situation

Learning AND Instinct
  • Most animal behaviors are a combination of
    instinct and learning and are a function of genes
    and the environment.

Learning and Instinct
  • Imprinting a form of learning in which
    individuals exposed to certain stimuli, early in
    life, form an association with the object. The
    brain of the animal has to be prepared
    genetically to respond to the stimuli, but the
    association depends on the external environment.

Example Two closely related species of birds
blue tits and great tits.
Experiment 1 - What is the role of imprinting on
the selection of a mate?
Experiment 1
Procedures Great tit eggs placed in nest with
blue tit parents and vice versa.
  •  Great Tit nest
  • Blue Tit nest

Experiment 1 Data
  • As adults
  • Great tits reared by blue tits
  • 3 of 11 found mates.
  • All of their mates were blue tits reared by
    great tits.
  • Blue tits reared by great tits
  • 14 mated with blue tits
  • 3 females mated with great tits

Experiment 1 - Analysis and Conclusions
  • In both species there were members of the
    experimental group who mated with the wrong
  • Yet, early imprinting affected the great tits
    more than the blue tits. None of the great tits
    had young.
  • All of the blue tits found mates and had young.
    All of the offspring were genetically blue tits
  • Even the 3 females who mated with the great tits
    and shared parenting with the great tits had
    mated with blue tits on the side.

Question Worksheet
Experiment 2 - How do animals know their
  • Belding Ground Squirrel Background
  • Longest hibernation period (7-8 months) of all
    mammals. Live in the mountains of CA. Eat
    enough food during the spring and summer months
    to last it through its long hibernation.
  • Male squirrels come out of hibernation about 2
    weeks before females. They are ready to mate at
    that time.
  • Males are very aggressive to each other and all
    get injured during the mating period with some

Experiment 2 Background
  • Females live in colonies with individual burrows
    where they raise their young.
  • When females emerge from hibernation they are
    willing to mate for a total of 3-6 hours.
  • Females mate with multiple males and their
    offspring in one litter will have more than one
  • However, only the first two males contribute
    sperm to the offspring (other matings produce no

Experiment 2 - Background
  • Females feed on vegetation in territories outside
    of their burrows.
  • Females are very aggressive to each other. They
    fight to keep other females out of their
    territory and burrowan intruder may kill their
  • Daughters usually make burrows near their
  • Females are LESS likely to fight with close
    relatives than with unrelated females.

Experiment 2 - Procedures
  • Baby squirrels reared in an experimental setting
    under one of FOUR conditions
  • 1. Siblings reared separately from each other
  • 2. Non-siblings reared together
  • 3. Siblings reared together
  • 4. Non-siblings reared separately from each

Experiment 2 Data
  • Non-siblings and siblings who were reared
    together were mostly non-aggressive to each other
    when they met.
  • Non-siblings had more aggressive encounters than
    the siblings.
  • Individuals in groups reared separately showed
    aggressive behavior when they met
  • Fewer aggressive encounters were seen between
    siblings than non-siblings.  
  • Squirrels differentiated between full siblings
    and half-siblings which are raised together.
  • Two full siblings (same mother and father) fight
    less than half-siblings (same mother and
    different father), and a full sibling is more
    likely to assist a sibling while being chased.

Experiment 2 Analysis and Conclusions
  • For Discussion
  • Which behaviors involved learning in this
  • Which behaviors involved genetics?
  • How DO squirrels recognize close relatives reared

Question Worksheet
Experiment 3 How does a bird know to sing its
  • White crowned sparrow
  • In nature, the young begin to sing the song of
    its parents at 150 days.
  • The white crowned sparrow always sings the same
    song as other members of its species.

Experiment 3 Procedures and REsults
  • Eggs taken to lab and baby birds were raised
    under four conditions.
  • 1. Baby birds raised in isolation. Baby birds
    exposed to NO songs at all.
  • At 150 days, all of the birds begin to sing, but
    the song was merely twittering not the full
    song of the species.

Experiment 3 Procedures and REsults
  • 2. Baby birds raised in isolation. When birds
    were between 10-50 days (critical period), they
    were exposed to tapes of white crowned sparrow
  • All were able to sing perfectly at 150 days.

Experiment 3 Procedures and Results
  • 3. Baby birds raised in isolation. During
    critical period the birds were exposed to tapes
    of a different species song.
  • At 150 days they were unable to sing the song.

Experiment 3 Procedures and Results
  • 4. Eggs taken to lab and baby birds raised in
    isolation. During critical period the birds were
    exposed to tapes of a white crowned sparrow song
    and the song of a song sparrow.
  • They all sang the song of the white crowned
    sparrow only.

Experiment 3 Analysis and Conclusions
  • Discuss with your group the role of
  • Instinct Learning Critical period
  • and the ability of white crowned sparrows to sing
    their species song.

Animals, Tool Use, Learning and Instinct