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Behavioral Adaptations to the Environment

-A psychology student performed an experiment every day over the course of a summer. Dressed in a black-and-white-striped shirt, he visited the football field of a rival school and spread birdseed on the field, blew a whistle, and then left. That fall, for the opening football game at the rival school, a referee walked out on the field, blew his whistle, and hundreds of birds filled the field. The game was postponed for thirty minutes to clear the field of birds. Explain this in terms of behavioral adaptations to an environment.

For each of the following individuals briefly describe the behavioral studies that made them famous: Karl von Fritsch, Konrad Lorenz, Niko Tinbergen, and E.O. Wilson.

What is a fixed action pattern and how does it relate to survival? Give two examples with a brief explanation.

To get a ewe that has lost a lamb to accept an orphaned lamb, the shepherd has to skin the dead lamb and attach the skin to the orphaned lamb for several days. Explain this type of behavior of the ewe.

Many animals have stylized, innate courtship behaviors. Describe one. How could you prove it is innate? What courtship rituals do humans employ? Are they innate? Explain.

What is the role of signaling in maintaining social organization? Give an example.

What is the role of altruism? Give two examples.

According to Jane Goodall:
A. What is the importance of dominance to male chimpanzees?
B. What is the importance of dominance to female chimpanzees?
C. Why is grooming important?

What is the difference between proximate and ultimate in behavior?

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Solution Preview

1. This first paragraph is a great example of Pavlov's conditioning. The original experiment was done with a dog. A bell was rung before feeding the dog repeatedly. Before long, whenever a bell was rung, the dog would begin salivating, even when not being fed. In that experiment, the stimulus, which is traditionally food, was changed to a bell. The response was salivating. In the example you gave, the stimulus was the whistle and the response was the birds coming down to feed. Classical conditioning is the behavioral adaptation that can be observed here, and it was an idea first studied by Ivan Pavlov.

2. Karl von Fritsch - did a lot of work and studies related to communication among bees. He hypothesized that animals may use methods that are not understandable to humans, such as making noises in a frequency that is above humans' range of hearing. Dancing is another way the bees may communicate. Dr. von Fritsch even got to the point where he could predict bee behavior.

Konrad Lorenz - is best known for discovering the phenomenon of imprinting. He discovered that many species have a critical period in their youth during which they identify their mother and father. Geese were his animals of choice, and he even got young geese to identify him as their parent.

Niko Tinbergen - studied aggression in animals, usually birds, which he later related to human behavior. He also studied seagulls and a lot about mating and courtship rituals they practiced. He also studied ethological approach, which you may want to research further for your assignment.

E.O. Wilson - is best known for his study of ants and their pheromones (body smells they release and use to communicate and in mating, or sexual odor compounds). He related the ants' behaviors to human behaviors, ...

Solution Summary

This solution addresses many behavioral adaptations and describes well known behavioral studies.