Animal Behaviour

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BEHAVIOUR: Externally observable muscular activity triggered by a stimulus.

Dependent on nervous system and endocrine system.


1. INNATE - Dependent on genotype not environment.
Develops without example or practice.
Inherited - an inborn pattern of behaviour. It cannot be altered but can be modified to some degree in response to experience.

There are 3 types: 1. Reflexes
2. Orientational
3. Instinctive/complex fixed action patterns.

1. REFLEXES: Automatic, Involuntary and Stereotyped.
E.g. hands on a hot cooker.

Takes animals away from danger.
Not conscious.
Can be overridden by the Central Nervous System.

There are 2 types: Fexion Responses - the removal of limb from painful stimulus.

Stretch responses - involves balance and posture of organism.

Both are Primarily involuntary.
Both can be modified by brain in light and previous experience and according to circumstances.

Therefore, learned behaviour overlaps innale behaviour and is not said to be conditioned.


An animal changes its position in response to an external stimulus.

There are 2 types: 1. Kineses.
2. Taxes.


A form of orientation in which the animals response is proportional to the intensity of the stimulation.

Non-directional movement response.

The movements produced are random.

There are 2 types:

1. ORTHOKINESIS - The rate of movement a;ters.

2. KLINOKINESIS - The frequency of turning alters.

E.g. Woodlice, which are very active in high humidity and are less active in low humidity.

Orthokinesis - The drier, the faster they walk.
Klinokinesis - The drier, the more often they change direction.

B. TAXES is a form of orientation in which the whole organism moves directly towards or away from a stimulus.

Movement towards: Positive.
Movement away from: Negative.

Some animals are able to move by maintaining a fixed angel to the directional stimulus.

E.g. Magots - larvae of flies.

Phototaxes: Buries in rotting meat.
Moves away from light.

E.g. Euglena, Positively phototaxic. Moves towards light to photosyntheas when it has no food source.


Fixed action pattern.

A highly stereotyped behaviour. Once an animal initiates an FAP, it usually carries out the action to completion, even if for some reaason other stimuli impinges on that behaviour.

E.g. Greyleg Goose - Egg retrieval.

If the egg rolls away from the nest, the goose sees the egg. She takes it under her neck and rolls it back into the nest. She keeps dong this over and over, if the egg keeps being rolled away. If the egg is removed, when the goose is rolling it, she keeps dong it, as she cannot tell if the egg is rolled away ansd removed completely then the goose will roll something into the nest.


A process which manifests itself by adaptive changes in individual behaviour as a result of experience.


1. Classical conditioning

- When an animal learns to associate new stimuli with an existing unconditioned reflex.

E.g. Pavlovs dogs.

1. Presented food to dogs made them salivate (Unconditioned reflex).

2. Rang bell at same time as presenting food, salivated.

3. Repeated until bell alone produced salivation.
/ \
Conditional Conditioned
Stimulus Response

This is positive reinforecement, get something nice.

There is also negative reinforecement.

E.g. Give electric shock to cattle when touch fence. This stops cattle from going near the fence.

If the food is not presented with bell for a long time, then conditioned response (salivation) tops - extinction.

EXTINCTION: This is the disappearing of conditioned response due to lack of reinforcer.

If reinforcer (food) is applied again, then the conditioned response comes about again a lot quicker.


Habituation: Repeated application of a stimulus often result in decreased responsiveness. It is a form of non-conditioned associated learning.

E.g. Birds amd Scarecrows.

A scarecrow in a field will frighten birds away. The birds realise that the scarecrow is not moving then they feed. The scarecrow only works for a short time, so it needs to be moved.

Habituated responses will decline spontaneously, when a stimulus is withheld.


When a trial behaviour is either rewarded or punished and the rewarded behaviour is likely to be repeated.

E.g. Skinners Box (Operant)

1. Hungry ppigeon in box and pecks around.

2. Pigeon pecks at grain glued onto pedal - releases grain into hopper.

3. The grain can be removed and the pigenon will still peck at the pedal to release the grain.

E.g. Thorndikes Box (Instrumental Learning).

1. A cat in a slated box, were there is a lever which opens a door, with food outside the cage.

2. The cat tries to reach the food through the slats by pawing around. It accidently catches leveeeer and the door opens so it gets out.

3. Put cat back in and it opens it again.

4. Eventually, the cat will hit the lever straight away.

Operant and Conditioning are both associative learning, but in conditioning stimulus is reinforcer. In operant response reward is reinforcer.


‘The association of indifferent stimuli or situations without patent reward’. This often comes from an animal exploring its environment.

Tolman and Heinzik devised maze experiments for rats.

There are 3 groups:

1. Received food when successfuly completed maze.

2. Allowed to wander freely and given no reward on completion.

3. Allowed to wander freely, given no reward until after 10th day, when they were given food for completing maze (Day 11 onwards).

The rats develops a map during the first 10 days, due to latent learnng. The map was only pput into practice when a reward was attainable.


This is the highest form of animal learning.

It involves thought and reasoning. An animal is able to perform correct behaviour in the frist attempt. This is due to information learnt in other behavioural activities.

E.g Chimpanzees.

If a chimp is placed in an area with bananas swinging, so that they cannot reach them. They will stack boxes to stand on so that they can reach.


Simple and specialised form of learning, occuring during receptive periods in a n animals life.

It involves young animals becoming associated with another organism.

The mechanism is innate, needs a sign stimuli, called an innate releasing mechanism.

Many species with well developed young will attach itself to the first mobving thing it seese. Geese and ducks are good at this.

Konrad Lorenz raised geese and these followed him around.


Lorenz showed that there were paarticular periods of development to which imprinting was defined.

E.g Ducks 10 - 15 days after hatching, stops imprinting.

Chicks 0 - 3-5 days agter hatching. If kept in groups, chicks stop imprinting after 3-5 days. When in isolation, the time is much longer. Imprint on each other in groups.


1. Filial imprinting - Imprint on parents.

2. Sexual Impringing. Animal learns who they can mate with, e.d Mallard Ducks. If they are raised with another species, they will attempt to mate with forster species.


1. Backs up innate recognition of one’s species.

2. Stops mating across species barrier.

3. Stops mating with close relatives.

E.g. Swans mate with individuals with diffeent face markings.




1. Increased Vigilance.

Rabbits look up every 2 -3 minues. Therefore, at lease one rabbit is looking up.

2. Dilution and Cover.

Safety in numbers. I.e. If a problem comes then by scattering, the predator is confused so they do not know who to go for. There is a smaller chance of being killed.

3. Mobbing Behaviour.

If you are in a large group, you can mob the predator.

E.g. Black-backed gull. It tries to steal tern’s eggs. One tern on its own makes no differnece. A group of terns mob the gull and scare it away.

4. Hydro/Aero - dynamics.

Birds fly in V-shape. This reduces wind resistance.
Fish swim in shoals. This reduces water resistance.

5. Divisioning Labour.

The look outs - Meerkats.
Creches - Ostriches. One or two females look after other chicks to give other mothers a rest.

6. Warmth.

Penguins hyddle together and move in a spiral to maintain warmth and stop anyone freezing.

7. Spreading information.

E.g. Food sources - Bats.

8. Increase chances for mating.

More chance of mating.

9. Keeping rivals away from teritory.

10. Co-operation.

Pride of lions - hel to bring down prey.

Mates )
1. High competition Food > Resources
Space )

2. High risk of disease and parasites.
Most parasites are in colony dwindling species.

3. High conspiciousness.

4. Cannabalism.

5. Cuckoldry (Adultery).


Information conveyed from one organism to another by transmission of a signa. (Chemical, visual, sounds).

There are 2 types: 1. Interspecific
2. Intraspecific.


Communication between the species.

E.g. Pet owners talk to their dogs - discipline.
- praise.

Natural selection fabvours communication between species.

Anti-predator devices: Toads enlarge themselves when a predator is near.
Insects have wingflashes which scare predators. Hedgehogs roll up into a ball.

Anti-predator devices can lead to mimicry. An organism takes on the colouration or display of a dangerous animal without being dangerous themselves.

E.g. Hover flies look and sound like wasps, but they do not sting.
Hawk moth caterpillar inflates itself to look like a snake.
Harmless Coral snake looks like Harmful Coral snake.


A. Ritualised Communication.

Many aspecs of communication come from protective frflexes which have become ritualised.

Ritualisation is the evolutionary process by which behaviour patterns become modified to serve as communication function.

Specific feaatures of animals morphhology can be ritualised and act as sign stimuli to which members of species respond instinctively.

Very simple
Very obvious.

E.g. Fear. Dogs squint eyes, flatten back, lay down ears.

Fear responses are to protect oneself. These responses have become

Conditioning is a behavioural process by which a response becomes more frequent, or more predictable in a certain environment as a result of reinforcement. Reinforcement is the provision of a natural ‘reward’ for production of the desired response.

Classical conditioning is also known as stimulus substitution. It is a form of learning in which a given stimulus becomes increasingly effective in evoking a response, in a stated environment. The learner eventually responds to stimuli other than the one originally producing the response.

The most famous experiments depicting classical conditioning, were those performed by the Russian, Ivan P. Pavlov, between 1898 and 1930. A dog was placed within a sound-proofed room. On each trial, after the sounding of a bell or a metronome, food powder was blown into the dog’s mouth.

The dog’s original response of salivation in response to the food is known as the unconditioned response (UR), and the food is the unconditioned stimulus (US). The tone of the bell is the conditioned stimulus (CS). The salivation is due to the sound, which is the conditioned response (CR). The elicitation of the CR by the CS is known as a conditioned reflex. The reflex is reinforced by the US. The strength of conditioning is measured in terms of the number of drops of saliva the dog secretes before the food is produced.

Conditioning occurs because there is an association made between the 2 stimuli. This means that the dog will salivate in response to the sound.

The type of behaviour being investigated in this experiment is innate behaviour. This is a collection of responses which are predetermined by the inheritance of specific nerve or cytoplasmic pathways in multicellular or single-celled organisms. These pathways produce the same response given the same stimulus. Innate behaviour has been selected for through evolution, as many often have occurred for survival purposes.

There are 2 main types of innate behaviour, taxic responses and kinetic responses. Taxic responses are movements of the whole organism in response to an external directional stimulus. Taxic movements can be positive, negative or at an angle to the stimulus.

Woodlice detect the direction of the stimulus by moving its head from side to side, as it contains the major sensory receptors. This is a klinotaxic response. It enables symmetrically placed receptors on the head to detect the stimulus. If both receptors are equally stimulated, the woodlouse will travel in approximately straight line.

Kinetic responses are non-directional movement responses in which the rate of movement is related to the intensity of the response, not the direction of the stimulus.

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