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Interpreting Animal Behaviour

Animal Behaviour and Communication

Samuel Jones

on 4 February 2013

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Transcript of Interpreting Animal Behaviour

Interpreting Behaviour This assignment will assess P1, P2, P3, P4, M1, M2 & D2 of the Understand and Interpret Animal Behaviour and Communication unit. This assignment is designed to improve your ability to observe animal behaviour and use the information to infer the animal's welfare and motivational state. You will be assessed on the content of a 25 minute group presentation where groups will consist of four class members. You will be required to observe and research the behaviours of specific animal species in order to comment on an individual's motivational state and welfare. The information needed to complete this assignment will be delivered in the form of formal lectures, practical activities and tutor-directed research. Begin to research and work on assignment 3 Distinguish normal from abnormal behaviour Describe common normal behaviours in animals Normal and Abnormal Behaviour Glossary Deviating from what is normal or usual, typically in a way that is undesirable Abnormal Normal Conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected Choose your favourite three behaviours from Sam’s Amazing Behaviour Game and write full descriptions for each of them. Behaviours Normal Abnormal Buzz Words Health Ill Physical Mental Stress Anxiety Boredom Foraging Behaviour Glossary An animal that feeds carrion, dead plant matter or refuse Scavenger Foraging A search for food over a wide area Hunting The pursuit and killing of an animal for food Recap What is normal behaviour? List five normal behaviours… What is abnormal behaviour? List five abnormal behaviours… List five things that cause animals to behave abnormally… Describe common foraging techniques used by animals Explain the hunting methods of various animal species Design feasible behaviour patterns for given foraging/hunting scenarios How to find food Sharks have specialised pits that detect the electrical impulses generated when their prey’s muscles contract Ampullae of Lorenzini Foraging and Hunting Carnivores: eat only meat (other animals)

They generally hunt and only catch a 1 or 2 big meals everyday

Hunting is generally explosive and uses a lot of energy so animals may abandon a hunt if unsure of the outcome Herbivores: eat only plant material including fruit, leaves, nuts and roots

They generally need to eat a lot because their food has a low calorific content

Foragers generally forage most of the time and the behaviours shown are usually very slow and energetically inexpensive Omnivores: eat a mixture of plants and meat

Spend an intermediate time foraging and hunting

They have access to a lot of food because they eat many different food items Scavenging An animal that feeds carrion (dead animals), dead plant matter or refuse (rubbish) Scavenging is more closely related to foraging than hunting Scavenging gives animals an easy meal but can be dangerous as you don’t know what the food died of Hunting methods Social Behaviour Recap What is the difference between hunting and foraging? When comparing foraging and hunting, which is more energetically expensive? Why do herbivores spend longer feeding? List the six different senses that animals can use to find food… For each sense, give an example of an animal that uses it to find food… Glossary A process of evolution where behaviour patterns are modified to perform a communicative function Ritualization Allo Preformed socially Appeasement Behaviours that serve to reduce conflict and aggression in situations where escape is impossible or disadvantageous State the advantages of grooming and allogrooming Construct a storyboard outline a courtship display that could be used by people in today’s society Explain the methods and consequences of displacement Grooming All forms of care and attention to the body surface (Skin, feathers, fur, scales, teeth etc.) Allogrooming is social grooming where one individual grooms another Why Groom Maintains healthy skin, fur and feathers by spreading oils Removes parasites, waxes and dander (animal dandruff) Stress relief Improve attractiveness Food Maintains and builds social bonds In social animals the main benefit of allogrooming is appeasement to reduce conflict and maintain a good relationship with a dominant individual Over Grooming Where the animal excessively grooms and pays attention to one area of the body This is usually a form of stress relief where the animal is torn between fighting and fleeing either in an aggressive or sexual situation This can therefore indicate poor welfare but has also lead to the development of many courtship rituals Keeping the animal physically and mentally stimulated will reduce boredom/stress and should stop over grooming Displacement Removing an individual (usually of the same species), from a resource that you want, using threats, supplants and aggression Most common when resources are limited and therefore competition is high Generally males are showy and females are choosy The stress that this puts on the male is great and as a result he begins to act abnormally If this abnormal behaviour is attractive then natural selection will allow it to spread throughout the population and over the generations courtship rituals evolve Once established courtship rituals give the female information about the males’ fitness to help her choose which male to mate with Complete the story board to show how a courtship ritual would work in todays society Plenary Defence Glossary Write three multiple choice questions about something you have learned today Plenary Recap Explain methods of avoiding predators in social animals In groups of 4 – 6 you must research then present information on a specific method of predator avoidance. Your presentation should be three slides long and last approximately 3 minutes. Your first slide must include a detailed description of the behaviour, the second must outline the costs and benefits associated with the behaviour and your final slide must include examples of this behaviour in a variety of animal species. Social Predator Avoidance Anti-predatory behaviour can be split into two categories:
Passive Behaviours – where an animal behaves in a certain way in the absence of predators that will be of benefit to the individual when a predator becomes present
Active Behaviours – where an animal specifically changes its behaviour in the anticipation of or the presence of a predator Give three reasons why animals groom themselves… Explain how we believe courtship displays have manifested… Give some species examples of how males can show off and suggest why the males act/look that way? Generally males are _______________ and females are _____________. Why is allogrooming a good tool to reduce social conflict? One female mates with many males Monogamous Where one individual mates with only one other individual from the opposite sex Polygynous One male mates with many females Polyandrous Discuss defensive strategies during courtship Sexual Strategies Monogamous Where one individual mates with only one other individual from the opposite sex
Perennial monogamy: For life or until one doesn’t for fill its parental responsibilities – Swan
Seasonal monogamy: Just for the breeding season - Herrin Gulls
Monogamy is most prevalent in birds where the young need both parents Females will often mate with several males to reduce the cost of male harassment (Waterstriders) Polygamous Where one individual mates with more than one individual from the opposite sex Both males and females mate with more than one individual from the opposite sex Usually minimal parental care is needed (Guppies) One male mates with many females Males have very little time to care for the offspring as he is off finding more mates (Gorilla) One female mates with many males Promiscuous Polygynous Polyandrous Sexual Conflict “The battle of the sexes is no myth. Success at sexual reproduction is at the heart of the evolutionary process. But greater success for her often means less success for him. The upshot? An eternal war and an astounding diversity of strategies” Having sex is highly costly Not only do you half the proportion of genes that you pass on but you must invest a lot of time and energy into courtship

As a result each individual tries to be selfish and devise new ways to ensure their genes have the most success

This has resulted in the ultimate battle of the sexes whereby animals use weapons, sacrifice and rape to try and out compete the opposite sex causing an evolutionary arms race that has caused conflict for millions of years “Dear Dr Tatiana,
My name’s Twiggy, and I’m a stick insect. It’s with great embracement that I write to you while copulating, but my mate and I have been copulating for ten weeks already. I’m bored out of my skull, yet he shows no signs of flagging. He says it’s because he’s madly in love with me, but I think he is just plain mad. How can I get him to quit?
Sick of sex in India ” “Dear Dr Tatiana,
My boyfriend is the handsomest golden potto I ever saw. He’s got beautiful golden fur on his back, creamy white fur on his belly, he smells delicious, and he has ever such dainty hands and feet. There’s just one thing. Please Dr Tatiana, why is his penis covered with enormous spines?
Spooked in Gabon” “Dear Dr Tatiana,
I’m a queen bee and I’m worried. All my lovers leave their genitals inside me and then drop dead. Is this normal?
Perplexed in Cloverhill” “Dear Dr Tatiana,
I’d prefer to keep my identity secret since I am writing to you not about me or my species but about my noisy neighbours, a group of chimpanzees. When those girls come into heat, it’s enough to make a harlot blush. Yesterday I swa a girl screw eight different fellows in fifteen minutes. Another time I saw one swinging between seven fellows, going at it eighty four times in eight days. Why are they such sluts?
Mind Boggling and Eye Popping in the Ivory Coast” “Dear Dr Tatiana,
I’m a marine iguana, and I’m appalled by the behaviour of the young iguanas of today. I keep encountering groups of youths masturbating at me. It’s revolting. I’m sure they didn’t dare act this way in Darwin’s time. How can I make them stop?
Disgusted in the Galapagos” “Dear Dr Tatiana,
Perhaps you can help. I don’t know what’s happened to me. I’m a twenty seven year old African elephant, and I used to enjoy showering at the water hole and other idle pleasures. But the jot has gone from my life. I feel angry all the time, if I see another bull elephant, I want to kill him. And I’m obsessed with sex. Night after night I have erotic dreams, and the sight of a beautiful cow sends me into a frenzy. Worst of all, my penis has turned green. Am I ill?
Anxious in Amboseli” “Dear Dr Tatiana,
I’m a sponge louse, and I recently won a battle for a sponge cavity that is home to a large harem of beautiful girls. But I’m starting to suspect that some of the girls are not what they seem: several look like men dressed as women. Am I being paranoid?
Hoodwinked in the Gulf of California” “Dear Dr Tatiana,
I’m a European praying mantis, and I’ve noticed I enjoy sex more if I bite my lovers’ head off first. It’s because when I decapitate them they go into the most thrilling spasm. Somehow they seem less inhibited, more urgent – it’s fabulous. Do you find this too?
I Like ‘Em Headless in Lisbon” “Dear Dr Tatiana,
I’m an Australian seaweed fly, and I’m a Sensitive New Aged Guy. I know no means no--but that doesn’t get me anywhere. The girls in my species are tough Sheilas: whenever I make friendly overtures I get beaten up. Why are they so hostile, and is there anything I can do about it?
Mr Nice is Mr Frustrated in Mallacoota Bay” “Dear Dr Tatiana,
I’m a sagebrush cricket, and I’ve just moulted into manhood. While checking out my new manly body, I noticed some teeth on my back. This strikes me as a funny place to have teeth. What are they for?
Don’t Know Much about Anatomy in the Rockies” Management Strategies Glossary Hyper Over or in excess of Behavioural Management The process of dealing with or controlling an animal’s behaviour Stereotypy Recap Over/Hyperactivity in Dogs Always moving and very restless
Always wanting to play
Excessive digging, chewing and damaging furniture
Constantly panting with a high heart rate
Stops suddenly when it is worn out
Similar to ADHD but there is currently not enough research to make this assumption Sometimes people can confuse a breed’s natural tendencies as being hyperactive
E.g. working animals that need a lot of exercise Management of Over/Hyperactivity Mental stimulation and training
Physical exercise Medications (Ritalin) and dietary changes to deal with hormone imbalances Avoiding scary situations that lead to anxiety and stress Management of Over/Hyperactivity What is hyperkinesis? Why are crates useful? What would the dietary supplement chamomile do? How many walks per day should a hyperactive dog have? Visual Signs Write three multiple choice questions about something you have learned today Plenary Recap Glossary Brain storm any ideas you may have about Kung Fu Chimp Where an animal has more than one strong motivation driving its behaviour Fear An emotional response to a perceived threat or aggression Dominance A feature of social organisation where individuals hold a higher rank due to aggressive interactions Hierarchy A system in which individuals are ranked one above the other according to status or authority Ambivalent Behaviour Identify causes of conflict in social animals Describe the principles of a dominance hierarchy Identify the visual signs associated with fear and aggression In threatening situations ambivalent behaviour is common and therefore it is sometime difficult to categorise an animal as being either fearful or aggressive Fear and Aggression Aggressive animals are motivated to inflict damage to another individual (see previous lectures)

Fear is a motivational state in response to a stimulus that causes escape or defensive behaviour There are two categories of fear stimuli
Sign stimuli: Where animal show fearful responses without any prior experience (Gazelle and Cheetah)
Conditioned stimuli: Where the animal learns to fear a stimuli (Little Albert) Other Displays of Fear Internal signs: Increased heart rate, faster and more shallow breathing and higher adrenaline levels

External signs: Pilo-erection (goose bumps), changes in colour, facial expression, alarm calls, death feigning, inquisitive approach and mobbing Competition Competition is when two individuals both want to use the same resource Food, shelter, mates etc. Conflict is a disagreement between two individuals for a limited resource Examples Aggression: Inflicting physical damage to another

Supplant: Physically removing another from a resource

Threats: A communicative display to warn others of your fitness at a distance to avoid physical contact

Rituals: Identical sequence of behaviours used to assess how fit another animal is without the need for fighting

These interactions allow the animals to
create a dominance hierarchy! Competitive Strategies Hierarchy: A system in which individuals are ranked one above the other according to status or authority

Many levels
Higher ranking individuals have control over the behaviours of lower ranking individuals
Animals find their rank through aggression (threats and fighting)

Dominant members of the group use their power to gain the best food, shelter, allogrooming opportunities and mates Dominance Hierarchies Simple/linear Complex/branched Social animals need to be quite clever to remember the ranks of all the others

Dominance hierarchies can fail if the group is too big

Once every individual has learned its place there is very little conflict

But introducing or removing animals from the group will make individuals uncertain of their rank and lead to aggression The Pecking Order Dominant and Submissive Behaviour
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