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individually, an action carried out by the muscles or glands under control of the nervous system in response to a stimulus; the sum of an animal's responses to external and internal stimuli

Behavior Ecology

the study of behavior in an evolutionary context

Proximate Questions

focus on the immediate causes of behavior

Ultimate Questions

focus on the evolutionary causes of behavior

Innate Behavior

appears to be performed in virtually the same way by all individuals

Fixed Action Pattern

unchangeable behavioral sequences


modification of behavior as a result of specific experiences


loss of a response to a stimulus after repeated exposure


learning that is irreversible and limited to a sensitive time period in an animal's life

Spatial Learning

use of landmarks to learn the spatial structure of an environment

Cognitive Mapping

an internal representation of the spatial relationships among objects in the environment

Associative Learning

behavioral change based on linking a stimulus or behavior with a reward or punishment; includes trial-and-error learning

Social Learning

learning by observing a mimicking others

Problem Solving

inventive behavior that arises in response to a new situation

Sensitive Period

the limited phase in an animal's development when it can learn certain behaviors


random movement in response to a stimulus


an automatic movement directed toward or away from a stimulus

Spatial Learning

based on experience of the spatial structure of the environment; involves the use of landmarks


the regular movement of animals back-and-forth between two geographic areas, allows for the study of internal maps


the ability of an animal's nervous system to perceive, store, process, and use information gathered by sensory receptors


food obtaining behavior

Optimal Foraging Theory

states that an animal's feeding behavior should provide maximal energy gain with minimal energy expense and minimal risk of being eaten while foraging


a behavior that causes a change in behavior of another animal


the sending of, reception of, and response to signals

Courtship Rituals Advertise:

the species, sex, and physical condition of potential mates


no strong pair-bonds


one male with one female


individual of one sex mating with several of the other


an area, usually fixed in location, that individuals defend and from which other members of the same species are usually excluded

Agonistic Behavior

settles disputes over resources through threats, rituals, and sometimes combat

Reconciliation Behavior

includes posturing and physical contact to settle disputes and maintain social bonds

Dominance Hierarchies

partition resources among members of a social group


behavior that reduces an animal's fitness while increasing the fitness of others in a population

Inclusive Fitness

refers to the total effect an individual has on proliferating its genes by producing its own offspring and by providing aid to close relatives to increase the production of their offspring

Kin Selection

a phenomenon of inclusive fitness that is used to explain altruistic behavior between related individuals

Reciprocal Altruism

an altruistic act that may be repaid at a later time by the beneficiary

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