STUDY GUIDE: EXAM 1, ANIMAL BEHAVIOR, SPRING 2014
1. What is the difference between observations and inferences?
Observation is what u see. Inference is what u interpret from info
- what are parameters that can be measured or identiﬁed biochemically?
Duration, frequency and intensity.
- how can inferential thinking be taken advantage of?
Making ppl think they’re seeing sth their not. E.g. docos
2. How experts deﬁne behavior
- how and why was the Levitis study done?
Levitis did his study because he relized there was no proper deﬁnition of behavior that everyone agreed
on. They were often contradictory and inprecise. He did this by asking biologist to agree or disagree on 2
sets of questions. The ﬁrst was to deﬁne a behavior, the next asked if a given action was a behavior.
- what is the only behavior that all experts agreed upon as being a behavior?
None. But geese in a V-formation got 99.1% approval
- what were the highlights of the study?
o biologists don’t agree with one another on what a behavior is
o biologists don’t agree with themselves on what a behavior is (what is an example of
internal control which showed experts contradicting themselves?) Eg. Ppl who said
only animals behaved also said that alge was. Same as sponges and muscular activity.
- what is the deﬁnition of behavior, as proposed by Levitis?
Behavior is the internally co-ordinated reposes (actions or inactions) of whole living organisms (indv
and groups) to internal or external stimuli, excluding responses more easily deﬁned as developmental
- why is “thinking” not considered a behavior?
It could not be observed? Also behavior should involve a co-ordination of several body systems to
generate a stimulus-dependent response. - e.g. inaction
3. Experimental tools used for behavioral research
All the animal’s action patterns but can also be specialized. Descriptions only
o how do you measure behavior? (Brockmann PDF)
By measuring action patterns: Discrete (involving muscular activity), repeatable acts (stereotyped) and
occur across and species.
o what parameters of an action pattern can you deﬁne and measure? (top of page
Form, velocity (speed), duration, amplitude (height), orientation (directed at object, person, etc.)
o mallard duck example- a catalog of behaviors (ignore time budgets on last page)
! you can count number of occurrences of each behavior
! you can track their typical sequence (one behavior is followed by another)
The number of times that one behavior follows the next. TABLE
! you can calculate their transition frequency
The percentage of time that one behavior follows the next. Sum to 1.0. No of times/total after action
! you can draw a kinematic diagram
Flow of behavior. Arrow, boxes and frequencies • if given a kinematic diagram, make sure you understand what the
arrows, numbers and percentages means (example ﬁgure on page
o ethogram of a shelter dog PDF (you do not need to read this in detail- just an
- hormone extirpation and replacement
- mutant knockout animals
o DAT knockdown mice for studying Tourette’s syndrome
Increased dopamine= more stereotyped behaviors
o MAO-A knockdown mice for studying aggression
It degreages neurotransmitters (serotonin and dopamine), thus knocking it out increases aggression.
HISTORY OFANIMAL BEHAVIOR
- what beneﬁts do we acquire from studying the behavior of animals?
Controlling animals and understanding our own behavior
- what is Darwin’s deﬁnition of sexual selection?
Depends on success of an individual over others of the same sex. Not natural selection
- be able to identity Uexkull, Lorenz, Tinbergen and Skinner by their classic experiments
Uexkull: “Umwelt”= diff animals have difference senses, thus see the world differently. E.g. Tick and its
sign stimuli (light. Buric acid, heat)
Lorenz: Imprinting of geese
Tinbergen: Digger wasps use the arrangement of landmarks to locate their nests. Red dot on gull beaks
Skinner: Classical and operent conditioning
4. Intraspeciﬁc vs interspeciﬁc vs interactions with the environment
- how can success at one type of interaction work against success at another type?
E.g. Fish schooling vs resources
- why are interactions density dependent?
- be able to category examples of different interactions that we discussed in class
5. Instincts and imprinting
- who coined the term instinct and what does it mean?
Whitman. Stereotyped, unleaned behaviours
- instincts, stereotyped (ﬁxed) action patterns, and innate behaviors all do not require
learning but may be trigger by a stimulus (from the environment or other animals) that
may be genetically ﬁxed or variable (must happen during a critical period)
o how does this support a strong genetic component to behavior?
o what are the necessary components of a stereotyped action pattern?
A motor response initiated by an enviro stimuli (sign stimuli) and contiinues to completion (not leart)
o in what way are stereotyped action patterns an “all-or-none” response?
Does or does not happen and continues to completion
- concepts to understand:
o Tinbergen’s herring gull experiments demonstrated that the sign stimulus is a suite of
cues which affect the magnitude of the response
o the red pencil is an example of an exaggerated sign stimulus that causes a “super-
normal” response” - Tourette’s syndrome- what is it? (exaggeration in action, language or thoughts)
o why is rodent grooming used as a model system to study Tourette’s syndrome?
Observable with stereotypic behaviour
how do the grooming bouts of DAT knockdown mice compare to wildtype?
! the behavior sequence is strengthened- grooming bouts are longer and each
bout is more stereotyped and predictable
! they have higher rates of completing each phase of the grooming sequence and
ﬁnishing with body licking (considered a strong IV phase)
o in what way are both Tourette’s syndrome and rodent grooming “context-
! increased number of grooming bouts in an unfamiliar environment
! while the NUMBER of bouts are greater, the total amount of time spent
grooming is LESS than in a familiar environment (more fragmented grooming
bouts that start and stop in an unfamiliar environment)
o what is the effect of using a dopamine blocker in mutant mice?
Less duration of some grooming phases (1&4)
- how is yawning a stereotyped ﬁx action pattern?
o what are different types of yawns and what does that tell us about the necessary
components needed for yawning? (ﬁg 2)
Gaping jaws, a deep breath and a shorter exhalation.
The closed, nose yawn, nose yawn, clenched-teeth yawn
o what is the sign stimulus for a yawn? is a gaping mouth necessary? (ﬁg 6)
Stimulus is whole upper face as well as thinking bout yawning. Not just mouth cuz otherwise it could be
due to singing.
Tiredness and boredom
o yawns are contagious
! how does MRI data refute the idea that mirror neurons playing a role?
Stimulating these neurons do not result in an imitative act. MRI found that exposure to yawns activates
areas of the brain which deals with self-processing and referencing. Thus catching a yawn could be a
way of expressing empathy
! what is the role of empathy and social inhibition to yawning?
Animals with increased self-awareness and empathy catch more yawns
• what neurological condition shows decreased yawning?
Schizophrenia and Autism
Things you can ignore: yawn-stretch linkage, myths about yawning
- how is imprinting different from instinct?
Involves both innate and learned components. Only occurs for a limited time during development.
o how does imprinting enhance ﬁtness?
They can receive more care and learn necessary skills.
o what are other examples of imprinting?
! sexual imprinting and reverse sexual imprinting (Westermarck effect)
! salmon olfactory imprinting
• at what stage in development do salmon imprint?
The Smolt phase, 2yrs when they leave for the ocean
• what are they imprinting to? To the unique chemical odor of the stream
• what hormone increases the number of olfactory receptors in the
olfactory bulb at this critical stage?
Thyroxine increases the no. of olfactory receptors
6. Proximate vs ultimate causes of behavior
- what are Tinbergen’s 4 questions?
1. What causes it?
2. How does it develop?
3. What is its survival value?
4. How does it evolve?
- natural selection favors behaviors that increase survival and reproductive success
o what are different mating systems that accomplish this goal?
Male comp and hierarchy, monarcy, partriachy, sexual selection
o how does aggressive behaviors accomplish this goal?
Defense against other males for territory and resources. Hierarchies
- be able to distinguish proximate and ultimate causes of a behavior (review examples
discussed in class and in readings to practice this skill)
- concept map of Tinbergen’s 4 questions:
o compare hierarchical level to a micro/macro lens
o compare time frame to a camera/video
- example of sexual cannibalism in Australian redback spiders (new topic Spring 14)
o when and how does sexual cannibalism typically happen in this species? i.e.
sequence of mating steps
1. Strand strumming by males
2. Male mounts, inserting one of his palps into a sperm receptacle
3. Male moves into a ‘headstand’, somersaulting to bring its abdomen infront of the female’s jaws.
4. Then male inserts other palp into other sperm receptacle
5. Does the same summersault. It gets eaten
! do all males get cannibalized?
No. More so if the female is hungry
o what are proximate and ultimate explanations for the behavior of both sexes?
Prox: The female is hungry and gets extra nutrients
Ult: Males who are eaten get to copulate twice as long and thus 2x offspring
! to understand the behavior of the female cannibalism and male self-
sacriﬁce, which hypothesis was supported for each and which were not?
Hungrry lover & Nuptial Gift hypothesis were supported.
- example of alternative male morph in midshipman
o what are the morphological and behavioral differences between type 1
(territorial) and type 2 (sneaker) males? (ﬁg 4, 5)
Type 1: Has a territory and hums to attract females
Type 2: pretends to be a female in colour, siz and behavior. But has v.large gonads compared with Type 1
and body size.
o who reaches sexual maturity sooner? (ﬁg 9)
Type 2 o hormones differentially affect type 1 (vocal motor neuron number, size, amount of
vocal muscles, overall size) and type 2 (gonads) males
o by what mechanism is sound produced in midshipman?
Contracts sonic muscles which are attached to the walls of the swimbladder.
o vocalizations are controlled by nuclei found in what area of the brain?
Sonic motorneurons lie in the midline of the brain close to the spinal chord jn. Axons leave the brain to
form the sonic nerve, stimulating the sonic muscle. These sonic motorneurons receive direct inpt from
adjacent pacemaker cells. This determines the frequency of contraction and thus, the pitch.
Ventral medullary neurons connect the two sides of the pacemaker.
o how do hormone levels differ between breeding and non-breeding season
(proximate causes of the behavior)?
! peak in steroid hormones causes vocal behavior in type 1 (territorial) males
and enhances hearing sensitivity in females to higher harmonics- how do both
events favor mating?
Increases the probability of mate detection and location.
! why does external fertilization favor the development of alternative male
morphs (ultimate causes of the behavior)?
It allows for an opportunity give morphs to fertilize eggs too. Thus, their genes survive.
! what is the relationship between population density and the overall ratio
of type 1 vs type 2 male morphs? why is this controlled by population
density and how might population density be a sign stimulus?
Large pops= more type 2? Cuz of comp for space and females.
Things you can ignore: different types of muscle ﬁbers (ﬁg 6)
! detailed neurocircuitry of ﬁgs 7, 8, 10 – simpliﬁed version was given in lecture
- example of natal dispersal in male ground squirrels (new topic and reading Spring 14)
o how does natal dispersal differ from breed