Animal Behavior

Animal behaviorism--or ethology--is a branch of zoology. The word ethology derives from the Greek words ethos ("character"), and logia ("the study of").

While the behavior of animals has been studied throughout the history of science, modern ethology saw its structured and documented beginnings with the work of such naturalists as Nikolaas Tinbergen, Konrad Lorenz and Karl von Frisch.

Ethological investigation melds field and laboratory research; and benefits from contributions from such other biological disciplines as ecology, anatomy, neurology and evolution.

  • Great barracuda Featured Article Great barracuda Great barracuda

    The Great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) is a large predatory fish in the Family Sphraenidae that is found worldwide in tropical... More »

  • Sumatran Rhinoceros Featured Article Sumatran Rhinoceros Sumatran Rhinoceros

    The Sumatran Rhinoceros is the world’s smallest, and most endangered, living rhinoceros species. For these herbivorous animals, foraging normally takes place during the... More »

  • Reindeer populations Featured Article Reindeer populations Reindeer populations

    Reindeer populations are in decline across their circumpolar range, which encircles the high latitude Northern Hemisphere.  This medium-sized member of the deer family... More »

  • Macaroni penguin Featured Article Macaroni penguin Macaroni penguin

    The Macaroni penguin (scientific name: Eudyptes chrysolophus) is is one of seventeen species of flightless birds in the family of penguins. It is one of six "Crested... More »

  • Big-crested penguin Featured Article Big-crested penguin Big-crested penguin

    Also called Erect-crested penguin. The Big-crested penguin (scientific name: Eudyptes sclateri) is one of seventeen species of flightless birds in the family of penguins. It is... More »

  • Foureye butterflyfish Featured Article Foureye butterflyfish Foureye butterflyfish

    The foureye butterflyfish (scientific name: Chaetodon capistratus) is a member of the butterflyfish family (Family Chaetodontidae) that lives on coral reefs in the... More »

  • Carnivore Featured Article Carnivore Carnivore

    Introduction The term carnivore is used in a variety of ways. The general ecological definition of a carnivore is an organism that feeds on animals, as opposed to feeding... More »

  • Dugongs in Malaysia Featured Article Dugongs in Malaysia Dugongs in Malaysia

    Overview Dugongs were once common throughout the shallow coastal waters of East Malaysia (northeast Borneo).  The hunting of dugongs, particularly off the... More »

  • Geophony, Biophony, and Anthrophony Featured Article Geophony, Biophony, and Anthrophony Geophony, Biophony, and Anthrophony

    What do these words mean? Biophony is the melodic sound created by such organisms as frogs and birds; geophony, the composition of non-biological sounds like wind, rain and... More »

Recently Updated
Mutualism Last Updated on 2014-09-09 10:48:53 Mutualisms are ecological interactions between two species in which both benefit. Many mutualisms involve species living closely together (symbiosis); a species may be so dependent that it cannot live without its mutualistic partner (obligate mutualism). In other cases, a species can interact mutualistically with more than one partner (diffuse mutualism) or even live without its partner(s) under certain conditions (facultative mutualism). Although all species involved in a mutualistic relationship contribute to the partnership, we still expect each species to be "selfish" and to evolve traits that provide the maximum possible fitness benefit while minimizing cost. 1. Trophic mutualisms are interactions in which both species receive a benefit of resources. Organisms require both nutrients and energy to survive. In many trophic mutualisms, a plant provides energy... More »
Climate change effects on birds Last Updated on 2014-09-06 19:35:56 Many birds species all over the world are highly sensitive to the effects of climate change. Scientists have found declines of up to 90 percent in some bird populations, as well as total and unprecedented reproductive failure in others, althought the role of any change in climate is typically not determined. Population declines generally have several associative causal factors including habitat loss, habitat fragmentation and pollution. Specific groups that are at high risk from climate change include migratory birds, mountain birds, island birds,   wetland   birds, Arctic birds, Antarctic birds and seabirds. Bird species that can move easily to new habitat are expected to continue to do well; however, bird species that thrive only in a narrow environmental range can be expected to decline, and to be outcompeted by invasive species. With a 0.8°C average... More »
Herbivore Last Updated on 2014-06-29 19:25:53 A herbivore is an animal that obtains its energy and nutrients by feeding on plants.  Different types of herbivores eat different plant parts.  For example, folivores feed on leaves, frugivores feed on fruits, granivores feed on seeds, pollinivores feed on pollen, and nectarivores feed on nectar. Herbivores can vary greatly in size, ranging from the largest terrestrial animals (elephants) and large marine mammals such as manatees and dugongs, to small insects, nematodes, and thrips.  Herbivores are primary consumers (they receive their energy by consuming primary producers), so they play an important trophic role in ecological communities and food webs.   Because mature leaves are low in nutrients, and difficult to digest because of their high cellulose content, animals use many different strategies to eat leaves. Animals that feed on grass leaves are generally... More »
Bartholomew, George A. Last Updated on 2014-06-23 18:04:09 George A. Bartholomew, an American organismal biologist, developed the foundational concepts of the energetics of animals. His work on energy use in animals, especially in mammals and insects, marked a cornerstone in the field of physiological ecology. Through field and laboratory studies, integrated in part by computer modeling, He used energy flows to synthesize concepts across the fields of animal behavior, ecology, and physiology, combining relevant aspects of these areas to assess the evolutionary significance of adjustments or adaptations of animals to their environments. Bartholomew was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1985. Further Reading Huey, R. B. and G. E. Hofmann, 2005. Introduction: A Symposium Honoring George A. Bartholomew. Integrative and Comparative Biology, 45:217-218. More »
Altruistic behaviors Last Updated on 2014-06-23 18:00:42 Altruistic traits are traits that reduce the fitness (survival or reproduction) of the individual with the trait (known as the “actor”) while increasing the fitness of other individuals (known as the “recipients”). A classic example of an altruistic behavior is the “warning call” given by many species of animals including ground squirrels, prairie dogs, and passerine birds. If an individual observes an attacking predator it may give a call that has two effects. First, when other nearby individuals hear the call they recognize that danger is near and flee to safety. Individuals that hear the early warning (the recipients) benefit by having a decreased chance of being killed by the predator. However, by giving the warning call, the caller (the actor) delays his/her opportunity to flee to safety and attracts the attention of the predator, thus... More »