Week 1. What is Animal Behavior and How is it Studied?

August 28th History of Animal Behavior.

August 30th What is Animal Behavior?

Tinbergen 1963 On aims and methods of Ethology (reprinted Animal Biology, Vol. 55, No. 4, pp. 297-321 2005)
bring to class typed answers to 2 of the 4 study questions and be prepared to discuss these topics.

Snowden, CT (2004) Significance of Animal Behavior Research.

Sinervo, Chapter 1.

Tinbergen's1963 paper represents a seminal contributions to Behavior as it formulates a method for studying animal behavior. This method still forms the basis for most courses on animal behavior. These issues are central to developing a philosophical approach to animal behavior. The ethological approach had a strong Darwinian tradition underlying its development. Much of the work in ethology was aimed at understanding the ultimate evolutionary reasons for behavior. Tinbergen listed four areas of inquiry that could be used to understand issues of animal behavior.

The following mnemonic can be used to remember these four areas ABCDEF [Lehrman, 1965]:
A -- Animal refers to the organisms.
B -- Behavior refers to the observable actions of the organism.
C -- Causation refers to the proximate causes of behavior such as genes, hormones, and nerve impulses that control the expression of behaviors.
D -- Development refers to the ontogeny of behaviors such as imprinting, or in the case of cognition, learning.
E -- Evolution refers to the phylogenetic context in which behaviors are found. For example, the prevalence of parental care in birds, but not reptiles (with some exceptions) is an example of the taxonomic affiliations of some behaviors.
F -- Function refers to the adaptive value or contribution that the behavior makes to fitness.

Below is another diagram that may help you to understand these 4 areas. Your goal should be to understand these areas of biology, not memorize them. More specifically, consider how they apply to animal behavior. You may disagree with the exact distinctions, and you may see some areas of inquiry that are difficult to pigeon hole into one of these 4 topics. Great! bring your thoughts and objections to class.
With all this talk about where the field of Animal Behavior came from, you might be interested to know where researchers think that it is going (Owens, 2006)