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Chapter 1: The Science of Animal Behaviour
1.1Animals and Their Behaviour Are An Integral Part of Human Society
Beginning in prehistoric times and continuing for tens of thousands of years, humans painted images of
animals on cave walls all over the world. The drawings are detailed enough to allow us to identify
different species (both extinct and extant), and many images depict animals exhibiting behaviors like
eating, sleeping, and engaging in acts of aggression.
o Recent research indicates that these paintings likely aimed to present realistic depictions of
animals and their behavior rather than symbolic connotations (Pruvost et al. 2011). Because
humans in prehistoric times relied on animals for food, knowledge about animal behavior was
important for survival (Shipman 2010).
RECOGNIZING AND DEFINING BEHAVIOUR
Animal behaviour: any internally coordinated, externally visible pattern of activity that responds to
changing external or internal conditions
o Internally coordinated refers to internal information processing such as endocrine signaling,
sensory information processing, or the action of neurotransmitters. When two male giraffes
meet during the breeding season, such processes coordinate their aggressive behavior.
o Externally visible activity refers to patterns that we can observe and measure. For example,
we can observe a squirrel eating an acorn and can quantify this behavior. We cannot externally
observe the variation in a lizard’s heart rate.
We can, however, observe an animal’s behavioral response to changing conditions. For example, male
crickets, frogs, and birds vocalize in response to changes in day length, temperature, or moisture at
specific times of the year. Similarly, during a summer day, a desert lizard moves from the top of a hot
rock to the underside of a cool ledge to reduce its body temperature.
MEASURING BEHAVIOUR: ELEPHANT ETHOGRAMS
Ethogram: a formal description or inventory of an animal’s behaviours.
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