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.

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

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  • Carnivore Featured Article Carnivore Carnivore

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

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Recently Updated
Herbivore Last Updated on 2015-06-11 10:34:01 A herbivore is an animal that derives 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 »
Predation Last Updated on 2015-02-28 19:11:16 Predation is an interaction between species in which one species uses another species as food. Predation is a process of major importance in influencing the distribution, abundance, and diversity of species in ecological communities. Generally, successful predation leads to an increase in the population size of the predator and a decrease in population size of the prey. These effects on the prey population may then ripple out through the ecological community, indirectly changing the abundances of other species. One example of such indirect effects of predation involves the trophic cascade. As the name implies, a trophic cascade occurs when the effects of predation "cascade" down the food chain to affect plants or other species that are not direcrtly eaten by the predator. Typically, a trophic cascade involves a predator feeding on herbivores and reducing their abundance,... More »
Wind turbine bird mortality Last Updated on 2014-11-30 21:32:32 Wind turbine bird mortality is a by-product of large scale wind farms, which are increasingly promoted as an alternative to fossil fuel derived energy production. To adequately assess the extent of impact to avian populations, deeper factors than gross mortality by turbine action must be assessed. In particular, one must examine: (a) impacts to threatened bird species, (b) total impacts due to avian habitat loss as well as direct mechanical kill, (c) ecological impacts due to apex predator bird loss and (d) future siting decisions for windfarms, since much of the prior bird mortality is due to poor siting decisions.  Bird mortality from wind turbines is a significant adverse ecological impact, and threatens to expand in scope dramatically with the rush to develop new energy sources. This impact is measured as high due to the loss of threatened species and due to... More »
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 »