Behavioral ecology is the study of how the environment affects behavior.
Habitat SelectionWecker's experiments showed both genetic (ultimate) and learned (proximate) elements in habitat selection of mice.
Foraging BehaviorThe question of the efficiency of foraging behavior is, how does the animal maximize gain relative to expenditure? In studies of the great tit, it was found that suboptimal sites will be tested as alternate sources of food. Aquatic animals chose food items based on the size and ease of handling of the prey.
Both plants and animals respond to a day-night cycle, the mechanisms of which are not entirely known.
The adaptiveness of Rhythms
- Organisms must adapt to annual, lunar, and daily (circadian) cycles (among others).
- Each time has its own characteristics, of which the animal must take advantage.
Communication is an action by one animal that influences another animal.
Communication may be visual, auditory, or chemical in nature. The form of communication used is determined by the environment and the sensory capabilities of the organism.
Visual messages may be sent by color, posture, shape, movement, or timing. Sound messages can be sent by cadence, pitch, or tone. Chemical messages can be sent by molecules called pheromones.
Recognition involves identification of groups or individuals
Species RecognitionSpecies recognition enables one animal to know if another animal is of the same species. This prevents an organism from wasting its time and energy attempting to mate with the wrong species.
Individual RecognitionMated couples and their young are able to identify one another in crowded conditions. Example: many birds and mammals live in very close chaotic conditions during the breeding season. Individual recognition can help reduce conflict by allowing the formation of dominance heirarchies. Once an individual learning its position in the "pecking order" it can save energy by avoiding aggressive behavior.
Kin RecognitionIn many species individuals can recognize their immediate relatives. This is adaptive for a number of reasons.
- It enables an individual to favor a relative over another individual with fewer genes in common.
- It helps reduce competition for limited resources between closely related individuals.
Agonistic Behavior is any behavior that helps stop or reduce conflict including:
Intraspecific Fighting -- a form of aggression
Cooperation (occurs both within species and between species)
SymbiosisMutualism (both benefit)
Commensalism (one benefits the other is unharmed)
Parasitism (not considered social behavior)
Altruism may be defined as any act by one individual that benefits another, where the behavior exposes the benefactor to danger or even injury.
Sociobiology examines the benefits organisms enjoy by working together as a group. Some examples are: