• Darwin – The Expression of Emotions of Man and Animals (1872) – Natural selection for body structures and behavior. It is not adopted for 60 years (still not by some).
  • Frisch, Lorenz, and Tinbergen demonstrated that behavior was measurable. (Nobel Prize – 1973) – Cataloged vocalizations and activities during feeding, courtship, and also seemingly insignificant activity.
  • Tinbergen wrote Study of Instinct (1951)


Image by NauticalVoyager from Pixabay

Contributing Sciences


  • Initially: animals in their natural habitat; "character study."
  • problem: no independent variable
  • Many seek confirmation by manipulating the or laboratory work.
  • Today’s definition: a study of all animal behavior, simple and complex, that animals employ in their natural environment as they resolve problems of survival and reproduction.


Comparative psychology finds general laws that can be applied to many species, including humans. Most work is done on Norway rats (white), pigeons, dogs, and primates.


Co-operative behaviors through reciprocal communication promoting the organization.

Fundamentals of Animal Behavior


  • Proximate – How we behave. Direct explanation (hormones, stimuli, mechanics,
  • Ultimate – Why? – Evolutionary origins and purpose for a behavior. Why we attract mates versus how we invite them.

Stereotyped Behaviors

  • Tinbergen and Lorenz – orderly predictable sequence
  • Greylag goose
  • Cottontail rabbit, Wood duck, Hognose snake, dog tricks

  1. Fixed attraction pattern (FAP) – Lorenz – movement that is invariable, no learning (Goose will retrieve any object)
  2. Stimuli - releasers and signs – simple environmental features or events that trigger innate responses
  3. Vacuum behaviors – response to the stimuli is independent of the environment (alarm calls – freeze response)
  4. Innate Releasing Mechanism – a programmed motor message – once it starts, no additional motivation is needed. Advantage – reasoning is less efficient (shadows and fish hiding).


  • Genetics
  • Natural Selection

Fundamentals of Animal Behavior (continued)


  • Habituation and sensitization
  • Imprinting
  • Socialization

Agonistic Behavior

  • Dominance
  • Aggression
  • Submission
  • Inter-species vs. Intra-species
  • Learned rules of attack
  • Principle of Antithesis


  • Range
  • Feeding Range
  • Individual
  • Social Unit


  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Olfactory
  • Touch
  • Chemical

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