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Unit 1:
Ch. 1
Ch. 2
Ch. 3
Interlude A
Unit 2:
Ch. 4
Ch. 5
Ch. 6
Ch. 7
Ch. 8
Ch. 9
Interlude B
Unit 3:
Ch. 10
Ch. 11
Ch. 12
Ch. 13
Ch. 14
Ch. 15
Interlude C
Unit 4:
Ch. 16
Ch. 17
Ch. 18
Ch. 19
Interlude D
Unit 5:
Ch. 20
Ch. 21
Ch. 22
Ch. 23
Ch. 24
Ch. 25
Ch. 26
Ch. 27
Ch. 28
Ch. 29
Ch. 30
Interlude E
Unit 6:
Ch. 31
Ch. 32
Interlude F
Unit 7:
Ch. 33
Ch. 34
Ch. 35
Ch. 36
Ch. 37
Ch. 38
Interlude G

» Getting Started » A Guide to the Reading » Tying it all together

Getting Started

Below are a few questions to consider prior to reading Chapter 30. These questions will help guide your exploration and assist you in identifying some of the key concepts presented in this chapter.

  1. What is a behavior?
  2. What are the differences between a fixed and a learned behavior?
  3. What are the advantages to a learned behavior?
  4. When do animals use imprinting to learn?
  5. What role do genes play in fixed and learned behaviors?
  6. How does the ability to communicate through language influence our behavior?
  7. What does it mean if an animal is being altruistic?

A Guide to the Reading

When exploring the content in Chapter 30 for the first time, the following concepts typically give students the most difficulty. For each concept, one or more references have been identified which may help you gain a better understanding of these potentially problematic areas.

Behaviors are Fixed and Learned

Animals exhibit behaviors that are fixed and do not require learning, or they may be learned over time. Fixed behaviors are genetically determined and are generally related to fulfilling the basic needs of the organism.  In response to a specific single stimulus, a fixed behavior is predictable and repeatable.  Fixed behaviors allow animals the ability to respond to a stimulus without the need to first learn the behavior. Examples include nursing in babies and cowbirds that lay their eggs in other birds’ nests.  The triggers for fixed behaviors tend to be very simple, such as a color cue, and may only work under certain conditions.  Learned behaviors may have a genetic component and tend to be more complex.  A learned behavior is one that is influenced by an animal’s past experiences.  Humans employ a wide range of learned behaviors.  Learned behaviors allow animals to adjust their behavior and cope with new, unexpected stimuli. Imprinting is a type of learned behavior that occurs in very young animals.  A classical example of imprinting is when a newly hatched bird imprints a “vision” of its mother.  This allows the hatchling to quickly and permanently learn to differentiate its parent from other birds.  Both fixed and learned behaviors are dependent on both environmental and genetic factors.  Fixed behaviors tend to be under genetic control.  An example given in the book is honeybees that exhibit specific hive-cleaning behaviors in response to hive infection.  Some honeybees have a resistant genotype that produces animals that clean the hives and others have susceptible genotypes where the hive-cleaning behavior is not fully developed or absent.  In humans, a comparison of identical and fraternal twins has shown that schizophrenia has a strong genetic component.

For more information on this concept, be sure to focus on:

  • Section 30.2, Fixed and Learned Behaviors in Animals
  • Section 30.3, The Evolution of Animal Behavior
  • Figure 30.2, Single Stimuli Triggers Fixed Behaviors
  • Figure 30.3, Some Animals Learn Who Their Parents Are By Imprinting
  • Figure 30.4, Genes Control the Nest-Cleaning Behavior of Honeybees

Animals use Communication and Social Behaviors

Animals often employ behaviors that allow them to communicate with each other.  Communication behaviors can involve sound, touch, visual signals, orders, electrical pulses, and taste.  It is not hard to see why animals communicate.  Communication provides information on self-identity, mating, conflicts, status, and behavioral coordination.  Pheromones are chemicals released by an individual of a species to communicate some cue to other individuals within its species.  Insects, such as the silk worm, employ pheromones to attract mates.  Humans may even produce pheromones involved in sexual attraction.  Pheromones can also be used to communicate alarm signals.  Communication can also occur via visual cues, such as the dancing of bees, or by sound, such as with human language.  Language is a behavioral trait that is only carried out by humans and is tied to communicating simple ideas and forming abstract concepts.  Many animals use communication to help maintain social groups or behaviors.  Living and communicating in groups provides individuals with increased defense against predators and increased access to scarce resources.  Living in groups often requires that individuals exhibit altruistic behaviors that benefit the group while harming the reproductive success of the individual.  

For more information on this concept, be sure to focus on:

  • Section 30.4, Communication Allows Behavioral Interactions between Individuals
  • Section 30.5, Social Behavior in Animals
  • Figure 30.7, Honeybees Communicate By Dancing in Their Hive
  • Figure 30.8, Why Animals Communicate
  • Figure 30.9, The Benefits of Group Life

Tying it all together

Several concepts presented in this chapter build upon concepts presented in previous chapters and are also revisited and discussed in greater detail in subsequent chapters, including:

Genetic Component to Behaviors

  • Chapter 10 – Section 10.5, Extensions of Mendel’s Law

Behaviors are adaptations in animals

  • Chapter 18 - Section 18.1, Adaptation: Adjusting to Environmental Challenges

Pheromones as a means of communication

  • Chapter 26 – Section 26.2, Chemoreceptors: Smell and Taste

Human language

  • Interlude D, Applying What We Learned: Humans and Evolution

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