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Lecture

Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology--Lecture Notes


Department
Biological Sciences
Course Code
BIOA02H3
Professor
Kamini Persaud

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Behaviour and Behavioural Ecology
Mar17/2011
What questions do biologists ask about behaviour?
Ethology: study of animal behaviour from an evolutionary prospective
All behaviour is assumed to have both genetic components and external impacts on
behaviour
Behaviour comes from a contribution of genetics and an interaction among the
things learned from the environment
Innate vs. Learned (some behaviours are learned, others genetic, but both interact)
Niko Timbergenformulized animal behaviour and started demonstrated how to do
experiments on animal behaviour through manipulations
oProximate mechanismshow animals behave
oUltimate causeswhy animals behave
How do genes and environment interact to shape behaviour?
Methods that experiments use to relate the influences of genes and environment
on behaviour:
1.Deprivation Experiments:
Deprive animals of its outside influences and still exhibits the
behaviour, its behaviour is genetic
If the behaviour stops over time, it is learned
2.Genetic Experiments:
Selective breedingpair individuals to see how offspring
respond
Interbreedingcertain behaviours in two individuals, and want
to see how the offspring use the mix of behaviours
Gene knockoutsisolating a gene in the genome of an animal
and seeing how the animal behaves (known as fosB knockouts)
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What determines which behaviours are selected under genetic control vs.
environmental control?
oGENETIC controldoes not have to rely on external factors and not as
flexible
oLEARNED controlvulnerable to mistakes and flexible
1.Genetic Control:
Offspring cannot learn behaviours from parents (ex: horse know
how to walk right at birth)
Mistakes are costlyfosB example, or mating with the wrong
species
Some behaviours are expressed only in certain conditions
Releaser: an object, event, or condition required to elicit a
behaviour
Response to a releaser can depend on the motivational state
of the animal
2.Environmental Control (learned)
Environment is variable, but still have a genetically-determined
(inherited) component
ex: imprintingcritical period when animals learn a set of stimuli
(knowing your mother happens right after birth)
behaviours result from both inheritance and learning
How do behavioural responses to the environment influence fitness?
To survive and reproduce in an environment that is variable, individuals must make
certain behavioural decisions
Cost-Benefit Approach: used to analyze how animals make these decisions
oAssumptions:
Cannot perform a behaviour if cost>benefits of the behaviour
oCurrency:
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