Animal behavior includes all the various ways animals interact with each other and their environment. Animal behavior evolves through natural selection because behavior that promotes greater fitness tends to increase in frequency over time. The root of certain behavioral patterns has sparked a debate over nature versus nurture, where natural behavior is caused by an animal’s genome and nurtured behavior is a result of an animal’s environment. Both factors, however, play a key role in innate and learned behavioral patterns. Types of behavior for animals include cooperation, communication, aggression, courtship, and parenting.
Ethology: The study of animal behavior.
Stimulus: The trigger for a behavior.
Nature-Nurture Debate: The debate over whether certain behavior is controlled by genes(nature or is a result of the organism’s environment(nurture).
Innate Behavior: Behavioral pattern that is controlled almost exclusively by genes and occur instinctively in animals without practice or instruction.
Reflex: An involuntary and consistent behavioral pattern that is in response to a stimulus.
Learning: A change in behavior that is in response to an experience.
Social Animal: An animal that lives in a society.
Society: A group of animals that live and work together.
Cooperation: When animals live and work together for the benefit of the entire society.
Circadian Rhythm: Cyclic changes in behavior that occur during a 24-hour cycle.
Aggression: Behavior that intends to cause harm or pain on another animal. Aggression could be an action or a threat of action.
Mating: When a male and female of the same species come together to reproduce.
Ethology studies animal behavior and tries to determine the stimulus or cause for a behavior, as well as the reasons why and the ways the behavior developed.
Sometimes an organism may behave in a way that endangers itself but helps the survival of its kins (close relatives).
All members of a species have some innate behaviors that occur instinctively. The animal can perform a behavioral pattern the first time it comes across the stimulus.
Aggression may result from competition over the same resources.
When animals are mating, usually the male needs to attract the female. Males may put on courtship displays by performing certain rituals to attract a mate.
In birds and mammals, parental care is common. Usually the mother provides care, but sometimes the father or both parents are the primary caretaker.
Many animal behaviors are cyclic, or occur in a regular cycle. Examples of cyclic behaviors: