o Tinbergen’s second question: can experience modify a behaviour?
o There are two general types of behavior: innate and learned. Innate behaviours (like the
fixed-action pattern) are not modified by experience.
o Many other behaviours are (get better as you do them) – this is known as experiential
o For example, male songbirds need to sing the appropriate song to attract a mate and they
generally learn how to sing it appropriately from modeling their fathers. However,
songbirds that are raised in the absence of a father do not learn the correct song.
o Therefore, the singing action is an innate (genetic and inherited) behavior with a large
o Another example of innate AND learned behaviour is with imprinting. Imprinting is
when young animals go through a sensitive period during which they are sensitive to
o They are prone to forming bonds (generally includes parental bonds that stick with the
organism for a long period of time).
o Lorenz imprinted on geese by providing the young geese with food during their sensitive
period. Now the geese follows him and into adulthood they use the parental image for
mate selection (try to mate with humans – what they think the opposite sex looks like).
o Imprinting is important for various behaviours (many times long-lasting). One example
being mate selection (using their mothers to know what a mate should look like). Carries
with them forever.
o Sensitive period also involves learning migratory paths (parents teach offspring the paths
and this can be passed through generations).
o Whooping crane numbers are low because they imprint on humans and don’t mate.
Therefore, scientists usually wear masks and use puppets to ensure they imprint on their
own species to make proper mate selections. The scientists also teach them migratorypaths.
o Chemical imprinting is also important for some organisms. One example being with
salmon that swim back to thesamestream theywerehatchedin using chemical cues (learn
and remember the smell after they were hatched so they can return to that location). o Experiential learning – how behaviours can be modified with experience. One type of
such learning is with spatial learning where objects in the environmental vicinity is used
to learn your way around.
o The digger wasp digs holes in the ground and lay eggs (nest). She periodically needs to go
back to its nest (and may have several).
o As she leaves the nest, she takes an image of what’s around the nest to remember where to
o Thus, if one place a ring of pinecones around her nest she would remember the spatial
orientation of the objects around the nest to remember where her nest is as she returns.
o If the ring of pinecones is moved after the wasp has left, she will go to the displaced cones
thinking that is where the nest is (thus she is using the environmental objects for spatial
o With another experiment, if one placed a triangle of pinecones around the nest, then
placed a ring of stones in another location, the female would fly to the stones.
o Thus she is learning the orientation of objects around her nest in a form of spatial
learning. Humans also do this to navigate from place to place.
o Associative learning involves associating an experience (stimulus) with a particular
outcome (effect). Can be positive or negative depending on the situation. o One type of associative learning is conditioning in which animals receiving a particular
stimulus can have the knowledge to anticipate the appropriate effect.
o One type of condition is classical condition where the stimulus that is encountered by the
animal (outside of the animal’s control).
o For example, Pavlov rang a bell every time he fed his dogs.
o Eventuallythe dog is able to associate the bell with receivingfood. At which point, ringing
the bell without the presence of food caused the dogs to salivate. The bell ringingis outside
of the dog’s control, however, they still form an association with it and food.
o Similarly, we are conditioned to salivate at the smell of certain foods.
o Operant conditioning is different from classical in that the animal is performing an action
(behaviour) to induce a stimulus. Generally it is a behaviour and the effect of said
o This is a form of trial and error learning. One example involves predators that feed on
monarch butterflies. Monarch butterflies are colourful and easy to see, however, they taste
terrible (chemicals in tissue).
o The naïve predator makes the choice of feeding on the butterfly and the stimulus of
distastefulness is now present. It then associates this distastefulness with the bright colour
pattern so as to not eat the butterfly in the future.
o We similarly perform this type of conditioning with taste aversions to bad tasting foods.
o Cognition is the higher levels of learning (we are a cognitive species). Those with brains
large enough can undergo complex integration in their brains can develop new solutions to
o Octopi are capable of such complex integration and cognition as they can receive sensory
information from various sources and combine that information with past experiences to
come up with ways to solve a given problem.
o They can come across new objects and scenarios and solve them using this integration.
This problem solving capability is a measure of their intelligence and is commonly used
to measure any animal’s intelligence.
o Using past experience to solve new problems is seen as an intelligent trait. o Social animals learn from each other. In a colony of monkeys they need to learn how to
o They learn how to call out for predators from the more experienced monkeys. This is a
form of observational learning.
o Octopi are also great observational learners. They can learn how to open a jar by being
shown how to do so (if it is motivated by the presence of food in the jar).
o One of Tinbergen’s questions – can behaviours improve survivorship.
o The optimal foraging model suggests that animals forage for food by t