Biological Bases of Behavior

  • Animal Behavior: Foraging
  • Foraging is the search for food in animal’s environment. Can’t survive or reproduce without it.
    • Cost-benefit analysis associated with it – going out to get food can take up time and energy. Goal is to get highest yield while expending least amount of energy.
      • Includes looking for food, stalking prey.
    • 2 main foraging strategies:
      • 1) solitary foraging and 2) group foraging (can potentially lead to competition when food is scarce, but also means they can take down larger prey and can benefit everyone)
        • Foraging behavior is driven strongly by genetics, but can also be gained through learning, ex. young copy adults.
  • Mating Behavior and Inclusive Fitness
  • Mating is the pairing of opposite sex organisms for purpose of reproduction and propagation of genetic material.
    • Includes act of mating and the behaviours associated with it. Also events that occur after mating, like nest building.
      • The Superb Bird of Paradise does a complicated dance
    • Mating strategies
      • 1) Random mating– all equally likely to mate with each other, not influenced by environment/heredity or social limitation. Ensures a large amount of genetic diversity.
      • 2) Assortative Mating – Non-random mating where individuals with certain personalities tend to mate with each other at a higher frequency, ex. large animals with large animals. Problem is if animals too genetically similar mate (inbreeding), can be harmful to species overall.
      • 3) Disassortative Mating (Non-Assortative Mating) – opposite of assortative mating – situation where individuals with different or diverse traits mate with higher frequency than with random mating.
    • Which is best? Scientists think assortative mating, because despite dangers of inbreeding, help to increase inclusive fitness of an organism.
      • Inclusive fitness is the # of offspring an animal has, how they support them, and how offspring support each other. Inclusive fitness is thinking about fitness on a larger scale – evolutionary advantageous for animals to propagate survival of closely related individuals and genes in addition to themselves.
  • Evolutionary Game Theory
  • Game theory is talked about in reference to decision making, but can also use it for evolution and animal behavior.
    • Evolutionary game theory tells us those with best fit to environment will survive and pass on to offspring, and those genes will become more common in successive generations.
      • Reproduction and environment are central to evolutionary game theory. Helps us predict traits and evolutionary stable strategies/behaviours that persist in population once present.
      • Predicts the availability of resources and social behavior. Strategy of each individual depends on strategy exhibited by other players.
    • However, game theory involves intention reasoning about behaviours of others. Evolutionary game theory different because decisions might not be conscious intention on part of players.
    • Altruism – 2 groups of monkeys, one selfish and one not. Selfish group doesn’t alarm others of predators. Non-selfish group alerts others and leads to overall success of group over time.
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