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20.4: Overview of Animal Behavior

Created by: CK-12

Lesson 20.4: True or False

Name___________________ Class______________ Date________

Write true if the statement is true or false if the statement is false.

_____ 1. The branch of biology that studies animal behavior is called psychology.

_____ 2. Some behaviors are controlled by genes.

_____ 3. Hunting in packs is an adaptive behavior because it increases the chances of killing prey and obtaining food.

_____ 4. A spider spinning a web is a learned behavior.

_____ 5. Innate behaviors must be practiced to be learned.

_____ 6. Innate behaviors involve basic life functions, such as finding food.

_____ 7. A society forms from all the different species that live together.

_____ 8. Animals can communicate with sounds, chemicals, or visual cues.

_____ 9. Social animals live and work together for the good of the group.

_____ 10. Ants communicate with sounds while frogs communicate with chemicals.

_____ 11. Circadian rhythms are regular changes in biology or behavior that occur in a daytime-nighttime cycle.

_____ 12. Aggression is behavior that is intended to cause harm or pain.

_____ 13. Two male deer competing for mates is an example of interspecific competition.

_____ 14. In most species of mammals, parents provide little care to their offspring.

_____ 15. In many mammals, females are more selective than males in choosing mates.

Lesson 20.4: Critical Reading

Name___________________ Class______________ Date________

Read these passages from the text and answer the questions that follow.

Evolution of Animal Behavior

To the extent that behaviors are controlled by genes, they may evolve through natural selection. If behaviors increase fitness, they are likely to become more common over time. If they decrease fitness, they are likely to become less common.

Nature vs. Nurture

Some behaviors seem to be controlled solely by genes. Others appear to be due to experiences in a given environment. Whether behaviors are controlled mainly by genes or by the environment is often a matter of debate. This is called the nature-nurture debate. Nature refers to the genes an animal inherits. Nurture refers to the environment that the animal experiences. In reality, most animal behaviors are not controlled by nature or nurture alone. Instead, they are influenced by both nature and nurture. In dogs, for example, the tendency to behave toward other dogs in a certain way is probably controlled by genes. However, the normal behaviors can’t develop in an environment that lacks other dogs. A puppy raised in isolation from other dogs may never develop the normal behaviors. It may always fear other dogs or act aggressively toward them.

How Behaviors Evolve

It’s easy to see how many common types of behavior evolve. That’s because they obviously increase the fitness of the animal performing them. For example, when wolves hunt together in a pack, they are more likely to catch prey (see the figure below). Therefore, hunting with others increases a wolf’s fitness. The wolf is more likely to survive and pass its genes to the next generation by behaving this way.

(Image courtesy of Doug Smith and the U.S. National Park Service and under the public domain.)

The evolution of certain other types of behavior is not as easy to explain. An example is a squirrel chattering loudly to warn other squirrels that a predator is near. This is likely to help the other squirrels avoid the predator. Therefore, it could increase their fitness. But what about the squirrel that raises the alarm? This squirrel is more likely to be noticed by the predator. Therefore, the behavior may actually lower this squirrel’s fitness. How could such a behavior evolve through natural selection?

One possible answer is that helping others often means helping close relatives. Close relatives share many of the same genes that they inherited from their common ancestor. As a result, helping a close relative may actually increase the chances that copies of one’s own genes will be passed to the next generation. In this way, a behavior that puts oneself at risk could actually increase through natural selection. This form of natural selection is called kin selection.

Questions

1. Is behavior controlled by genes? If a behavior is controlled by a gene, does that behavior evolve?

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2. What is the nature-nurture debate?

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3. How do many common types of behavior evolve in animals? Give an example.

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4. “Helping others often means helping close relatives.” What does this statement refer to?

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5. What is “kin selection”?

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Lesson 20.4: Multiple Choice

Name___________________ Class______________ Date________

Circle the letter of the correct choice.

  1. Examples of animal behaviors include
    1. a spider spinning its web.
    2. children playing.
    3. animals hunting.
    4. all of the above.
  2. The branch of biology that studies animal behavior is
    1. veterinary biology.
    2. ethology.
    3. psychology.
    4. behaviology.
  3. Behaviors that are closely controlled by genes with little or no environmental influence are
    1. innate behaviors.
    2. instinct behaviors.
    3. learning behaviors.
    4. cooperation behaviors.
  4. The nature-nurture debate is a discussion of
    1. the effects of nature on behavior.
    2. the effects of one's parents on their behavior.
    3. whether behaviors are controlled mainly by genes or by the environment.
    4. the effects of the constant struggle between nature and the environment.
  5. A reflex is a
    1. response that always occurs when a certain instinct is present.
    2. response that always occurs when a certain stimulus is present.
    3. response that always occurs when a certain behavior is present.
    4. response that always occurs when a certain learning is present.
  6. Social animals
    1. must have a way to communicate.
    2. cooperate together for the good of the group.
    3. can do many things that a lone animal could never do.
    4. all of the above
  7. Circadian rhythms
    1. are regular changes in biology that occur in a 24-hour cycle.
    2. are seasonal movements of animals.
    3. refers to the union of a male and female of the same species for reproduction.
    4. is a rhythm that develops as a result of learned experience.
  8. Aggression
    1. is a learned behavior.
    2. is based on one's circadian rhythms.
    3. is intended to cause harm or pain.
    4. all of the above

Lesson 20.4: Vocabulary I

Name___________________ Class______________ Date________

Match the vocabulary word with the proper definition.

Definitions

_____ 1. branch of biology that studies animal behavior

_____ 2. whether behaviors are controlled mainly by genes or by the environment

_____ 3. something that triggers behavior

_____ 4. are regular changes in biology or behavior that occur in a 24-hour cycle

_____ 5. a close-knit group with other members of their species

_____ 6. a change in behavior that occurs as a result of experience

_____ 7. the ability of an animal to perform a behavior the first time it is exposed to the proper stimulus

_____ 8. behaviors that are closely controlled by genes

_____ 9. allows animals to do many things that a lone animal could never do

_____ 10. a response that always occurs when a certain stimulus is present

_____ 11. behavior that is intended to cause harm or pain

_____ 12. animals that live in a society

Terms

a. aggression

b. circadian rhythm

c. cooperation

d. ethology

e. innate behavior

f. instinct

g. learning

h. nature-nurture debate

i. reflex

j. social animal

k. society

l. stimulus

Lesson 20.4: Vocabulary II

Name___________________ Class______________ Date________

Fill in the blank with the appropriate term.

1. Animal ____________ includes all the ways that animals interact with each other and the environment.

2. ____________ the branch of biology that studies animal behavior,

3. ____________ behaviors are closely controlled by genes with little or no environmental influence.

4. A dog drooling when exposed to food is an ____________.

5. ____________ is a change in behavior that occurs as a result of experience.

6. A reflex is a response that always occurs when a certain ____________ is present.

7. ____________ animals live together in a society.

8. ____________ rhythms are regular changes in biology or behavior that occur in a 24-hour cycle.

9. Animals can ____________ with sounds, chemicals, or visual cues.

10. ____________ is behavior that is intended to cause harm or pain.

11. Parental care is generally longest and most involved in ____________.

12. ____________ refers to seasonal movements of animals from one area to another.

Lesson 20.4: Critical Writing

Name___________________ Class______________ Date________

Thoroughly answer the question below. Use appropriate academic vocabulary and clear and complete sentences.

Define innate behavior. Give an example.

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