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the way an organism reacts to changes in its internal condition or external environment


the branch of zoology that studies the behavior of animals in their natural habitats

fixed action pattern

AKA FAP, innate behavior that occurs as an unchangeable sequence of actions

sign stimulus

an external sensory stimulus that triggers a fixed action pattern

behavioral ecology

examines the ways in which behavior is adaptive, how behavior varies, how it evolves


the act of searching for food and provisions

optimal foraging theory

The basis for analyzing behavior as a compromise of feeding costs versus feeding benefits, anticipating that animals will attempt to maximize energy obtained as a function of time and/or eneergy spent


a relatively permanent change in an organism's behavior due to experience


the process of an individual organism growing organically


decreasing responsiveness with repeated stimulation


the process by which certain animals form attachments during a critical period very early in life

sensitive period

A limited phase in an individual animal's development when learning of particular behaviors can take place.

associative learning

learning that certain events occur together. The events may be two stimuli (as in classical conditioning) or a response and its consequences (as in operant conditioning).

classical conditioning

a type of learning in which an organism comes to associate stimuli. A neutral stimulus that signals an unconditioned stimulus (US) begins to produce a response that anticipates and prepares for the unconditioned stimulus. Also called Pavlovian or respondent conditioning.

operant conditioning

conditioning in which an operant response is brought under stimulus control by virtue of presenting reinforcement contingent upon the occurrence of the operant response


the psychological result of perception and learning and reasoning

cognitive ethology

The scientific study of cognition; the study of the connection between data processing by nervous systems and animal behavior.


A change in activity or turning rate in response to a stimulus.


a locomotor response toward or away from an external stimulus by a motile (and usually simple) organism


A point of reference for orientation during navigation

cognitive maps

mental representations of how a physical space is organized


The regular back-and-forth movement of animals between two geographic areas at particular times of the year.

social behavior

Any kind of interaction between two or more animals, usually of the same species.

agonistic behavior

A type of behavior involving a contest of some kind that determines which competitor gains access to some resource, such as food or mates.

reconciliation behavior

usually animals in permanent social groups will reconcile after a conflict


a ceremonial act

dominance hierarchy

ranking of individuals in a group based on aggressive behavior


any area that an animal defends against other animals


when an animal sends out stimuli in order to attract a member of the opposite sex

parental investment

What each sex invests-in terms of time, energy, survival risks, and forgone opportunities-to produce and nurture offspring.


each sex has two or more mates with no pair bonds.


a mating relationship wherein one male and one female mate only with each other


a type of relationship in which an individual of one sex mates with several of the other


refers to a social group that includes one adult male, several adult females, and their offspring


mating system in which one female mates with multiple males


communicate silently and non-verbally by signals or signs


The exchange of information between organisms


odorless chemicals that serve as social signals to members of one's species


the quality of unselfish concern for the welfare of others

Hamilton's rule

The principle that for natural selection to favor an altruistic act, the benefit to the recipient, devalued by the coefficient of relatedness, must exceed the cost to the altruist.

coefficient of relatedness

The probability that a particular gene present in one individual will also be inherited from a common parent or ancestor in a second individual.

kin selection

the idea that evolution has selected altruism toward one's close relatives to enhance the survival of mutually shared genes

reciprocal altruism

behavior that benefits another with the expectation that those benefits will be returned in the future

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