Comparative Animal Behavior Notes
∙ Discussion Board 5 Tips
∙ Key Study Points for Quiz 5
One sometimes hears that the reason why so many species resolve their contests via mostly harmless threat signals is to reduce the number of injuries and thereby protect the breeding adults needed to produce the next generation of offspring. What’s the problem with this hypothesis?
The reason why animals resort to non-physical threats has been extensively researched. There is an example of hyenas who walk stiffed-legged while they have their tail raised, and this signifies to another hyena to behave submissively or they will be forced to fight. In a majority of the situations, the other hyena will crouch down or run away, effectively avoiding a physical altercation between the two hyenas.
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Some male birds will also settle territory disputes West Side Story style by singing or fluffing up their feathers without ever touching the other male bird. With elephant seals, the “fighters” will not usually cause harm to each other. The put on a sort of mock fight where one might body slam the other, and the more submissive one will flee as the “victorious” one pretends to be chasing after it.
The problem with the hypothesis could be that an animal will typically not be thinking about how their actions will benefit their species, they just want to pass their genes along. It is not expected of an animal to consider not injuring another animal to protect the gene pool, when many animals merely want to populate the gene pool with their genes only. It is not likely that an animal is concerned about not inflicting injury on another animal.
Many people think that an adaptation is a trait that improves the survival chances of an organism. Under what circumstances would a survival-enhancing attribute be selected against?
Contrary to popular belief, an evolutionary adaptation is not always a trait that is most convenient for a species. The definition of the word adaptation does not always mean that natural selection has done its job perfectly. An adaptation could exist even when it is no longer beneficial to the species. A moth will still stop flying in response to an ultrasonic stimulus, even if the species has lived in a region without bats for generations, the adaptation is never weeded out. It is the same way artic squirrels will react to snakes, even though they do not encounter snakes naturally in their habitat. We also discuss several other topics like Where are mirror neurons located?
Pleiotropy could also occur, which means that an adaptation may have some beneficial features, but there are downsides to the trait, as well. This can be seen when animals have such extreme instincts to care for the young, that they wind up taking care of young that is not their own. This is beneficial for the young animal that was deprived of parental cares, but it takes away resources from the true offspring of the animal, which could have a negative effect.
In nature, coevolution is inevitable, which is also a factor that constrains adaptive value of traits. Sometimes, the balance between a predator and prey species cannot be regulated. When the natural selection of a species does not lead to an effective solution for a problem, generations of a species can carry on without an ideal adaptation. Although a gull believes it has figured out that they can outsmart a fox by diving straight down at it, an exceptional fox with quick enough reflexes would be able to leap up and catch a gull mid-dive.
Study points for Quiz 5
1. Sensory exploitation theory explains why a spider would wrap dark colored food in silk 2. The facts that wasps are attracted to orchids is a Darwinian puzzle because natural selection should favor wasps that can differentiate between females and orchids 3. A difference between descent with modification and evolutionary theory is that descent with modification provides an account of the evolutionary events that took place as a modern species evolved from ancestral ones; natural selection theory provides a means for why some changes spread through a species while others did not 4. A selfish herd member will do all of the things listed If you want to learn more check out What describes the severity of cancer?
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5. A trait has adaptive value if it confers a reproductive advantage or a contribution to the overall inclusive fitness of an individual Don't forget about the age old question of What is the type of theories focused on the aetiology of crime?
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6. Benefits associated with an adaptation must be greater than the costs, and in addition the difference between B and C must be greater than that associated with any other alternative trait
7. A foraging tactic is considered optimal when the behavior confers more fitness on individuals than any other alternative trait in the population
8. You would disagree with a statement that claimed a foraging tactic is only optimal if it is the most efficient way of gathering food because sometimes animals gain more fitness by sacrificing some foraging efficiency in order to better avoid predators
9. Mobbing and formations of dense aggregations are both forms of social defense 10. A seed-eating bird that forages solitarily would be considered optimality theory, while a bird that forages in a competitive group would be considered game theory