chapter 3 bio.docx

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25 Apr 2012
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Adaptive Value of Learning:
Learning is a adaptive modification of behaviour based on experience
Learning does not produce behavioural change just for the sake of it, selection
favours investment in the mechanisms underlying, selection favours investment
in mechanisms underlying learning only when there is environmental
unpredictability that has reproductive relevance for individuals
Cost benefit argument- proximate mechanisms for learning come with price tag
East cost vs west coast wrens- WC wrens memorize 100 songs by learning from
others, EC learn about 40 so the brains of WC wrens should be larger and they
are
If learning is costly is should evolve under a counterbalancing benefit
Honey bees capable of learning when searching for food- look for shape, colour,
odour, how to get back home this all related to the fact the conditions a bee will
encounter cannot be predicted so selection has favoured a bee brain that
incorporates variables from the environment <- altering genetic activity in the
brain and modifying behaviour of individual
Male thynnine wasps- spatial learning ability- a mimetic sex pheromones is
released by freshly opened orchid flowers tricking the males into mating with
them, because they smell and sort of look like the female, so males can mate
with the flowers and be fooled and waste energy and time
Males wasps learn not to be deceived again if they learn once they were tricked
So they avoid the spot where the flower was, and when researchers move the
orchid to a new spot the wasps quickly come but a fly away indicating ability to
learn
Male thynnine wasps, evidently store info about locations of pseudo females
The reproductive benefits of this is that the behavioural flexibility of the male are
clear
By using experience to learn where the orchids are, because they cannot know e
verytime they can avoid the orchids as well as still be open to novel sources of
sex pheromone, male wasp saves time and energy and improves his chance of
encountering a receptive female
Figure 3.36 and 3.37
Spatial learning evolving as result of ecological pressures can also be seen by
comparing four birds <- from the crow family corvidae that vary in their disposition
to store food- signifying spatial memory
Clarks nutcracker- food storing specialist and has large pouch for the transport of
pine seeds to storage sites
Pinyon jay- expanded esophagus for carrying large quantities of seeds to hiding
places
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