Animal Behaviour

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Animals behave in ways that enhance their survival and reproductive capacity.

It may be innate or learned:

  • Innate (instinctive) 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. E.g. 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 direction, of the 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 darkr conditions and less liable to desiccation. 

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


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