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[OCR] Biology A2: Animal Behaviour

A summary of the "Animal Behavior" section of the OCR A2 Biology course. [Update: Now includes "Social Behaviour" section]

Ben Thompson

on 21 November 2013

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Transcript of [OCR] Biology A2: Animal Behaviour

Innate Behavior

Instinct: A natural behavioral response to an external stimulus in the environment that the organism possesses at birth.
There are TWO different forms of
Animal Behavior...
Learned Behavior
Behavior acquired by an organism via teaching or experience of a stimulus or need.
Are Not Taught Or
Is a natural response.
The behavior can occur from birth as it is
inherited via the genes passed on by the
It greatly increases the chances of the
survival of the organism.
It is '
' : An isolated organism will still display
the same behavior.
It is '
' : The action is performed the same
way every time - it is also inflexible and cannot be
changed by external factors.
A Baby Horse
Standing Up After

Bird Migration.


Mother Nurturing A Newborn

A Spider Spinning A Web
al B
There are
forms of animal behavior
It is '
Blood Pressure
Innate Behaviour can be useful for organisms to:
Evade Predators
Remove Potentially Harmful Substances
Find A Suitable Habitat
Find Prey/Food-Source
Keep A Constant Body Temperature
It Is Therefore Is A Very Important Factor In:
Innate Behaviour...
The Responses Are Separated Into
Different Forms...
Reponse to Chemicals
Reponse To Light
Response To Magenetic Lines Of Force
In '
' the organism uses
organelles called '
which contain magnetic crystals that align in a particular direction. For multicelluar organisms, this helps with navigation. In particular, Birds, Green Turtles and Dolphins during periods of migration
The Organism moves towards or away
from a chemical. For example, the eggs
produces chemoattractants that attract
the sperm so that fertilisation may occur.
Thus ensuring the survival of a particular
In '
Response to gravitational pull
Response to Heat
Reflexes are automatic responses to a stimulus. For example, the Knee-Jerk is in response to the stimuli of a sharp tap on the patellar tendon, causing the quadreceps to stretch slightly and then contract to cause the leg to kick .
Reflexes all follow similar pathways via neurons

Stimulus> Receptor> Sensory Neuron> Association Neuron> Motor Neuron> Effector > Response
Results in a change of speed or rate of turning in organisms during
'random walks'. This results in an increased chance of the organism locating the simulus or becoming as close/further away as possible.

For Example, A Woodlouse will walk around until it
has found a suitable climate to live (usually damp and
dark). Thus it helps the survival of the creature by allowing it to locate a sustainable living area away from predators and suitable for its needs
Learned Behavior is also separated into different forms...
Where an organism ignores
certain stimuli due to
repeated exposure to it.
Where an organism learns to
associate an action with a reward
or a punishment, thus encouraging
or discouraging certain behavior
or actions.
Where an organism learns by
exploring its surroundings and
remembering key points of
information or location.
A Very early form of learning in
which a newborn organism follows
the first thing it has a visual, auditory
or tactile response to. In nature, this
is usually the parent.
Where an organism learns to associate
a neutral stimulus with an unconditioned
stimulus that provokes a response. Thus
leading the neutral stimulus to become a
conditioned stimulus
Where an organism learns and remembers
to deal with a problem that does not provoke
a simple fixed, reflex or response via trial and
error repetitions. It is the highest form
of learning.
Perhaps the most famous example of Operant Conditioning was conducted by B.F.Skinner. He used a machine he called a 'Skinner Box' [Above] to encourage (via reward) or discourage (via punishment) a certain behavioural action. He placed behavioural actions into three different categories:
: Neither Encourage or Discourage.
: Encourage.
: Discourage.
The aim was for the animal to repeat the actions it was rewarded for and not repeat the actions it was punished for. Thus it would remember which actions it should not do.
Latent Learning is also known as Observational Learning due
to the fact that the knowledge is not usually expressed immediately, as the action does not need to be performed (e.g. a young child observing their parents set the table).
One example of an experiment that attempted to prove this type of learning was conducted by Tolman and C.H.Honzik who place three groups of rats in a maze that had food at the end. Group 1 found the food and were able to follow the correct route every day to find the food again, Group 2 did not find the food and Group 3 struggled for 10 days before being shown the correct route to the food, where they were able to follow the same route for the remaining days of the experiement.
This Way>
In its habitat, an organism can be exposed to a very large number of stimuli that will provoke a response from it. Habituation acts as a filtration system as it helps the organism to learn to ignore certain stimuli after repeated exposure as it is able to recognise that they will not endanger its survival. The major benefit of this to the organism's survival is that it can focus on the most important features of its habitat, e.g. potential predator signals or entrances.
An example of this is the experiment above. Here a rat is exposed to a sudden loud noise
repeatedly. This intially provokes a strong startled reflex, however this clearly
reduces over time until the rat learns to ignore it.

Imprinting can occur in a large variety of animals, including birds and mammals. However, it has mostly been studied in birds, such as chickens, ducks and geese.
Austrian zoologist, Konrad Lorenz described such behaviour in 1935 with the example of young mallard duckings, whom he appeared to during their hatching, he then immitated a mother duck's 'quacking' sounds so that they would follow him.
Benefit: The young organism can depend on the 'parent' to provide food and further needs to ensure its survival and growth
However, clearly this can also lead to complications if the organism becomes attached to a non-biological or different-species 'parent'. The new 'parent' may be unable to provide for the the young's requirements, e.g. teaching of skills such as flight.
Predators may also attempt to take advantage of this behaviour...

The clearest example of this is Pavlov's Dog, Here, he associated the ring of a bell with food. This caused the dog to salivate and associate the ringing noise with food. Therefore, eventually the dog would salivate to the bell on its own...
Associative behaviour is useful for the training of animals
The point where an organism finds a solution to the problem is now more commonly referred to as a 'eureka moment'. This form of learning is incredibly important as it allows us to understand that animals do not just learn from instinct and copying others' actions. Insight learning suggests that the creature has an independant mind that will help it to overcome obsticles that it may face in the wild.
There are many examples of experiments that show such learning, many of which were devised by Wolfgang Köhler, who placed food out of immediate reach of the animal so that it would find a way to get to it.
An animal's awareness of a society or "social
organisation" built up within its group. This
usually includes a hierarchal figure who is the
leader of the group.
Each member has a particular role. The
relationship between individuals are shown
between the adult members who live together.

Social behaviour is particularly obvious in primates. The advantages of such behaviour include:

Increased likelyhood of group survival (due to independant roles within the group - e.g. Gatherer and Carer).
Efficient food collection.
Cooperative roles / care of young.
Cooperative defense.
Improved social learning (adult teaches young via observation).
Here, social behaviour between primates ensures that each member is hygenic. This awareness can reduce the risk of infection and therefore improve their chances of survival
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