BIOA02H3 Lecture Notes - Lecture 9: Waggle Dance, Striped Skunk, Population Ecology

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16 Aug 2016
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Lecture 9
Population Ecology
The Science of Ecology
Ecology is the study of the interactions between organisms and their
environments.
Basic ecology – focuses on undisturbed natural systems; the distribution and
abundance of species and how they interact with each other and the physical
environment.
Applied ecology – considers effects of human disturbance; development of
conservation plans to stop and repair ecological damage caused by humans.
Biology of Animal Behaviour
Most behaviours have both instinctive and learned components:
Instinctive behaviour: genetically programmed response that is complete and
functional on first use.
Learned behaviour: dependent on a particular experience during
development.
Part of instinctive behaviour includes fixed action patterns, which are often
functional such as feeding, defence, mating etc. and are repeatable in
response to sign stimuli such as a baby smiling. These fixed action patterns
can be modified by experiences and are of a genetic basis.
Learned Behaviours
Learning – the process of experiences changing behaviour
Imprinting
Imprinting is a form of learning in which a very young animal fixes its
attention on the first object with which it has visual, auditory or tactile
experience with and therefore after follows that object.
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Animals are able to learn key features of stimuli they have imprinted
on during the critical period
Imprinting is often used for parental recognition
Classical Conditioning
Classical conditioning is a learning process that occurs when two stimuli
are repeatedly paired; a response that is at first elicited by the second
stimulus is eventually elicited by the first stimulus alone.
A mental association between unrelated phenomena
Involves a response to a conditioned stimulus when it precedes an
unconditional stimulus
Operant Conditioning
Operant conditioning is a type of learning where behaviour is controlled by
consequences. Key concepts in operant conditioning are positive and
negative reinforcement and punishment.
Linking a voluntary operant with favourable reinforcement
Trial-and-error learning
Insight Learning
Insight learning occurs in humans when people recognize relationships (or
make associations between objects and actions) that can help them solve
new problems.
Uses true problem solving and reason
Derives from work on animal behaviour conducted by Wolfgang
Kohler on chimpanzees
Habituation
Habituation occurs when a repeated stimuli does not produce a useful
outcome so the individual stops responding to the stimulus.
Decrease in response to a stimulus after repeated presentations
Lack of response to unimportant stimuli
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Lecture 9
Population Ecology
Neurophysiology and Behaviour
Research in neuroscience has shown that behavioural responses depend on
an elaborate physiological foundation provided by biochemistry and
structure of nerve cells. Although the anatomical and physiological basis for
some behaviour is present at birth, an individuals experience alters the cells
of the nervous system in ways that produce particular patterns of behaviour.
Singing Behaviour in Birds
Birds learn songs early in life and are able to produce them later (learn them
in a critical period); nuclei make this possible. Specific nerve cells are
stimulated by specific cues and birds are able to use these same nuclei to
discriminate songs within species, marking their territories. Behavioural
genes explain territorial behaviour; birds habituate to singing neighbours
while retaining the ability to hear and repel invaders.
Hormones and Behaviour
Hormones (chemical signals) can trigger the performance of specific
behaviours. This is done directly by regulating the development of neurons
and indirectly by stimulating endocrine organ cells to release chemical
signals. Hormones control neural development. For example, a higher vocal
center is less developed in female Zebra finches, unless estrogens are
applied.
Genes code for hormone production because hormones change gene activity
in target cells. Consequently, gene activity changes in neurons change
behaviour.
Sexual development and behaviour are hormonally controlled (think
testosterone).
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