Animal Behavior Screencasts
Summary: Dr. David B. Miller, Professor of Psychology at The University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT, U.S.A., is joined by Honors students enrolled in his Animal Behavior course for weekly discussions about course content and issues related to animal behavior and ethology.
Early experience greatly affects behavioral development. Here we look at different ways of experimentally addressing how that takes place. THIS IS THE FINAL EPISODE OF THE ANIMAL BEHAVIOR SCREENCASTS SERIES. ALL EPISODES WILL REMAIN AVAILABLE ON iTUNES.
Konrad Lorenz’s original imprinting question concerned species recognition in relation to mate selection. This reformulation drills down to individual recognition as a possible mechanism underlying incest avoidance in relation to a model of optimal outbreeding posited by Sir Patrick Bateson.
Imprinting is a powerful phenomenon, but the manner in which it is studied experimentally is sometimes questionable, ranging from the tasks that animals are required to do to demonstrate preferences to the issue of redirecting species-typical preferences toward species-atypical objects, as well as mis-imprinting.
The concept of critical periods is often associated with imprinting as well as other phenomena ranging from experimental embryology to language development. The experimental study of critical periods, however, usually ignores a critical methodological problem, which is described here.
An examination of sexual and filial imprinting (social attachments) from an historical perspective.
Important events occur before birth or hatching, both in terms of embryonic movements and the influences of incoming sensory information. The extent of significant contributions to postnatal development can depend on how "altriciality" or "precociality" of the species. Related to this are the kinds of sensory systems that develop both prenatally and postnatally, including an interesting evolutionary constancy.
The ways that experience, both prenatal and postnatal, can affect behavioral development can often times be obvious (linear) or not so obvious (nonlinear). There are also 5 different ways in which either form of experience can greatly affect development, as discussed with many example in this screencast.
Developmental systems and a consideration of evidence inconsistent with genetic determinism, such as the C-value paradox and contextual & experiential activation of genetic activity. Also, epigenetics, and flawed views of so-called interactionism, as well as a description of the transactional view of development.
To paraphrase animal behaviorists T. C. Schneirla and Niko Tinbergen, an understanding of animal behavior necessitates an understanding of how behavior actually develops, beginning prenatally. Here, we look at a few issues concerning developmental science, including multiple developmental pathways and continuity vs. discontinuity, including behavioral examples.
A look at the controversy surrounding the ape language controversy, including the apes Vicki, Washoe, Sarah, Lana, Sherman & Austin, Nim, Kanzi, and Panbanisha.
Some nonhuman organisms use senses that are undeveloped in humans. As discussed here, these include electrical communication, magnetic sensitivity, surface wave communication, and dome pressure sensitivity.
Many species communicate via touch (tactile communication), including allogrooming, allopreening, etc. Here, we look at some examples, including swarming onset by locusts and tandem running in ants.
Many animals communicate via odor molecules. Here we look at comparative aspects of olfaction, including underwater odor communication as well as olfactory receptors in the antennae of cockroaches.
Some bird species have excellent abilities to imitate other species of birds as well as other sounds. This brief episode shows a few examples.
Some animal vocalizations are relatively simple in acoustic structure, but many are also very complex and can be energetically costly to produce. So, why produce them? Here we examine some data on frog and bird vocalizations that offer possible explanations.