SPLATS about animal behaviour
For an explanation, see
the main splats page
Animals all exhibit behaviour, both instinctive and learned, controlling a range of competitive and social interactions in a way that avoids excessive injury.
Animals are consumer organisms with needs and requirements for food, water, shelter and nesting spaces, and they will compete to obtain access to these.
Behaviour influences natural selection because it is normally directed at gaining a larger share of the available food, mates, or shelter and nesting places.
Animals show intelligence in their behaviour and learning, for the very simple reason that their predators behave, and often, their food behaves as well.
Many animals engage in seasonal migration as they follow the available food sources such as plants or other animals, or to find suitable breeding conditions.
Animals interact in a variety of ways that affect their evolutionary fitness, especially when competing for resources: aggression is by no means the only form.
Instinctive behaviour is there from the start, hard-wired into the animals, while learned behaviour is acquired through experience, mainly in a social setting.
Societies of animals develop a dominance hierarchy which works to reduce conflict within the social group, so that competition takes place without injury.
At a very simple level, some forms of learning can be reduced to a series of conditioned reflexes, but most human learning is a great deal more than that.
In humans, most learning is a great deal more than acquiring conditioned reflexes, generally taking place in a social setting and demanding complex responses.
Animals demonstrate agonistic behaviour, an almost ritualized form of simulated attack, submission, threat and flight which rarely leads to injuries.
Animals with vulnerable juveniles will often use a distraction display to lead predators away from their young, offering themselves as potential prey.
Some animals rely on hibernation or aestivation, slowing their metabolism to survive periods of shortage in either winter or summer respectively.
Many animals demonstrate altruism, acting in a way that endangers them, but serves the greater good of the flock or herd, which carries the same genes.
We recognize unusual learning patterns in humans like ADD, ADHD, autism and dyslexia, and that most of these can be present to a greater or lesser extent.
In 1935, Konrad Lorenz described the imprinting behaviour of young birds, where they follow a moving individual, usually a parent, and identify with it.
This file is http://members.ozemail.com.au/~macinnis/scifun/splatsanimalbehav.htm, first created on February 20, 2008. Last
revision (well I get lazy and forget sometimes!) was on February 20, 2008.
©The author of this work is Peter Macinnis, who asserts his sole right to the product as it is packaged here, recognising that many of the ideas are common. You are free to use this as a model to do your own version. Copies of this whole file or site may be made and stored or printed for personal or educational use. You can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, but
if you add my first name to the front of that email address -- this is a low-tech way of making it harder to harvest the e-mail address I actually read.
This site had 219,000 hits on the index page from 1999 to January 2007 and an unknown number on other pages. In January 2007, a combined counter was placed on all of the pages, counting page hits which now total