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BIO420 - Animal Behavior: Ethogram

A course designed to provide students with fundamental concepts of animal behavior or ethology.


AggressionA general term for all elements of attack, defense, and threat behavior. Brood parasitismA form of parasitism in which the parasitic species partly or wholly leaves brood provisioning or parental care to members of the host species. CourtshipOvertures to mating. For an ethologist courtship in a narrow sense covers all patterns of behavior that initiate mating or aim to do so.
DimorphismThe existence of two different morphological types or behavioral repertoires within a species or population. EthogramBehavioral inventory; catalogue of actions; a survey, as complete and precise as possible, of all the behavior patterns characteristic of a species. Compilation of an ethogram provides a starting point for experimental investigation of species-typical behavior and for interpretation of the results. A descriptive behavior study or descriptive ethology has to contend with the critical problems of categorizing and labeling behavior patterns, and, if called for, sorting them into principled classes. Food begging: Behavior patterns by which young animals induce their parents to feed them
Grooming: Care of the hair covering (pelage, fur, coat) and skin by mammals; the mammalian equivalent of preening in birds. Grooming includes scratching, rubbing against objects, licking, nibbling, rolling in dust, and washing. Host imprintingThis term is frequently used to refer to the relatively strong fixation of brood parasites on their host species. Incubation: Sitting on eggs to warm them sufficiently for embryonic development to proceed.
Juvenile: Subadult animals, not yet sexually mature. Kin recognition: An animals ability to differentiate between relatives and nonrelated conspecifics. Lek: A communal mating area within which males hold small territories, which they use solely for courtship and copulation.
Mimicry: A kind of imitation in which on kind of organism is conspicuously like another in appearance or behavior, to some biological end. Nidifugous nestlings: In birds, chicks that remain in the nest for some time after hatching, where they receive food and warmth from their parents. Ontogenesis: Ontogeny. Individual development. Development of an organism form fertilized egg to mature adult.
Polygyny: A mating system in which individuals of one sex couple with more than one of the other sex. The arrangement in which a male takes several females is called polygyny, and that in which a female consorts with several males is called polyandry. Quantitative ethology: A term sometimes used for the quantitative recording and subsequent analysis of behavior. Rut: Originally this term referred to the annual reproductive activity of male deer, including the period when the activity takes place, the physiological and motivational state of sexual arousal, and the behavior, called rutting behavior.
Social behavior: Behavior having to do with interactions between conspicifics or between animals of different species where some form of symbiosis exists in which the behavioral communication is similar to that within a species. As this definition indicates, the ethological concept of social behavior is very broad, and the limits of its reference are not sharply demarcated. Indeed, different writers draw them in differenet places. Most behavioral scientists take social behavior to include aggressive interaction, such as territorial defense as well as the more amicable patterns of courtship and parental care; others restrict the term to group behavior of the sorts shown by social animals living in enduring association. Thanatosis: Playing dead; death feigning; tonic immobility in the presence of a predator. Urine Spraying: Urine marking, the forceful ejection of urine that occurs in some mammals.
Vigilance: Alertness; readiness to detect events that could be of serious concern to an animal or its companions. Warning behavior: Alarm behavior. Behavior performed in response to the appearance of a predator that alerts other individuals to the presence of the threat. Zeitgeber: Time giver. An external stimulus that brings an animals endogenous periodicity into synchrony with environmental periodicity.


All definitions are excerpted from A Dictionary of Ethology by Klaus Immelmann and Colin Beer. Ref 591.5 Im6d.