Animal Behaviour

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  • Animals behave in ways that enhance their survival and reproductive capacity. 
  • Animal behaviour may be innate or learned
  • Innate behaviour is a pattern of genetically determined behaviour that does not require learning or practise.
  • Learned behaviour involves an adaptive change in response - behaviour based on experience. 

Innate Behaviour

  • Escape Reflex - in which a particular stimulus brings about an automatic response. Earthworms contract the longitudinal muscles of the body when they are touched at the head end, and so withdraw into their burrow to escape predation. 
  • Kinesis - a movement in response to an external stimulus, in which the rate of movement is related to the intensity, but not the direction, of a stimulus. Woodlice move rapidly and turn frequently in dry conditions. When damper conditions are found by chance, movement slows down or stops, keeping the organism within optimal conditions. 
  • Taxis - a directional movement in response to an external stimulus. Woodlice move away from light: a negative phototaxis. They will be less visible to predators in darker conditions, and less viable to dessication. 

The advantages of innate behaviour are:

  • it does not need to be learned
  • it has immediate survival value for a young, inexperienced animal in a dangerous situation. 
  • it is appropriate for invertebrates with short life cycles that do not have time to learn
  • it requires few neurones
  • it is likely to be appropriate for the animal's habitat, as the alleles controlling it will have been subject to natural selection. 

Learned Behaviour 

  • Habituation - the simplest form of learning, in which an animal stops responding to a repeated stimulus. In this way, an animal learns to ignore a stimulus that is no longer novel

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