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Chapter 51

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Jon Stone

Chapter 51 BehaviourProximate causation explains how actions occur in terms of neurological hormonal and skeletalmuscular mechanisms involvedUltimate causation explains why actions occur based on their evolutionary consequences and historyTypes of Behaviour An OverviewLearning is defined as a change in behaviour that results from a specific experience in the life on an individualInnate BehaviouroHighly inflexible behaviour patterns are called fixed action patterns FAPsoFAPs are stereotyped meaning that they are performed in the same way every time and are usually triggered by a simple stimuli called releasers or sign stimulioEx When a person hears a screamA simple sign stimulus releases a FAP a rapid jumping movement backward away from the direction of the stimulusoFAPs may result in survivaloFAPs are examples of innate behaviour behaviour that is inherited and shows little variation based on learning or the individuals conditionoIt is common to observe innate behaviour in response to Situations that have a high impact on fitness and demand a reflexlike unlearned responseSituations where learning is not possibleConditional Strategies and Decision MakingoAlthough all species studied to date show some degree of innate behaviour it is much more common for an individuals behaviour to change in response to learning and to show flexibility in response to changing environmental conditionsoAnimals take in information from the environment and based on that information make decisions about what to dooAnimals appear to take in information about their environments and weigh the costs and benefits of responding oCosts and benefits are measured in terms of their impact on fitness the ability to produce offspringoWhat Decisions do WhiteFronted BeeEaters Make when ForagingGiven a choice what should an animal eatBiologists answer this question by assuming that individuals should forage in a way that maximizes the amount of usable energy they take in given the costs of finding and ingesting their food and the risk of being eaten while theyre at itThis claim that animals should maximize their feeding efficiency is called optimal foragingResearchers began studying feeding behaviours in a bird called the whitefronted beeeaterMated pairs of this species dig tunnels in riverbanks and raise their young insideAppropriate riverbanks are rare so many pairs build tunnels in the same location forming a colonyTo feed their young pairs have to fly away from the colony capture insects and bring the prey back to the nestEach pair defend a specific area where only they find foodThe key observation is that some individuals forage a few metres from the colony while others have to look for food hundreds of metres awayIt takes only a few seconds to make a round trip to the closest feeding territories versus several minutes to the farthest territoriesThus the fitness cost of each feeding trip varies widely among individualsIf optimal foraging occurs how do individuals maximize their benefits given the cost that they have to pay in time and energyIndividuals that have to find food far from the colony stay away longer on each tripIndividuals foraging far from the colony bring back a much larger mass of insects on each trip on average than do individuals that fly a short distance each time
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